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Questions on car rental agencies

We are traveling in Germany in May. We would like to rent a car. I have questions about rental agencies. Auto Europe has the best rates but I find conflicting reviews of this organization. Has anyone used them? Problems?

Do you use an agency you can recommend?

Posted by
9110 posts

AE is not an agency, it's a consolidator. It has no cars, anywhere. Thus you're dependent upon which actual agency your car comes from.
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My main problem with AE is that you have to pay up front. Bad enough that they're sitting on your money, but there's a bigger problem: if the agency doesn't have what you ordered up when you arrive (not uncommon since your name isn't taped to a windshield somewhere, you just draw from the pool on arrival and the pool makeup changes by the hour) - - you can't walk over to the next counter and get them to match the deal.
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What you might want to do is use kayak to search and see if AE actually has the best deal. I go ahead and use them if the difference is meaningful, but I grit my teeth and hold my breath.

Posted by
7205 posts

AE has a 24 hour hotline for instances like "they don't have the kind of car I reserved". So before you get snookered into a different car by the rental agency you dial AE and let them sort it out with the agency. I've used them several times with no problem whatsoever.

Posted by
1064 posts

For Germany, I would recommend gemut.com over AutoEurope. But first, have you checked the prices on Kayak for price comparisons among rental companies? AE is one of the outfits listed in the comparisons. Thrifty and Dollar often show up the cheapest for each category; they seem to draw more complaints than anyone else in the business. If you do go with AE or another consolidator, make sure they don't stick you with either of those companies. EuropCar and Sixt are the largest car rental companies in Germany, and I would not rent from a consolidator without comparing prices, options, rental locations, hours, etc., first on these companies' websites.
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Despite the complaints we see online, I believe that most major rental companies and the best-known consolidators are honest and try to please their customers or they would soon be out of business. But when you involve a third party, they will sometimes blame each other for any problems that do occur, and the customer is left holding the bag. That is rare, but problems, in general, are rare with car rentals when you consider the many thousands of rentals that take place every day.
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Unless there is a significant difference in price, I prefer to book online directly with the company. A lot of people like to talk with someone over the phone, but I prefer to do a close reading of the auto descriptions and rental terms and conditions, which I can then print and take with me.
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Adding: A lot of people are afraid of the language barrier, at least on first rental but, in my rentals the agents all spoke better English than some of my own family members, and when I have had to make a change by phone regarding return locations, the agents spoke fluent English. Others may differ on this and I may get burned someday, but my attitude is why call back to the U.S. when I can handle it myself.

Posted by
9110 posts

Here's the deal:

Nobody is going to rip you off. If they don't have what you reserved, you're going to get something better at the original price. My problem is that I don't want better, I want what I ordered. I can't jam a bigger car into a field gate cut-out in Scotland or a small parking place in Tokyo.

Why call somebody else with a problem? Solve it right there yourself. It takes two seconds to walk to the next counter. Business is competitive, the new guy will always match the old guy's deal. If the old guy doesn't have your prepaid money, you've got both freedom and leverage. Total delay is whatever time you spent in the first line and you're off and running.

Everybody seems to agonize over a rental car. It's something you can take care of at the departure gate while you're twiddling your thumbs. If I don't get it done there, I sneak around and do it on the roll. If not then, it can be done waiting for the plane to unload. All that matters is that you get the reservation in the system before you get to the counter. The whole process takes less than five minutes and most of that is entering your personal crap. If you checked the price of a car in Munich for tomorrow way back in December, it's going to be about the same as it is today and you've got exactly the same odds of getting what you reserved.

I probably rent a dozen cars internationally in the course of a year. All I do is stab Kayak, skim for what I want, then compare the unknown of a consolidator against an actual agency. That's a thirty second process.

I've never understood why you need to talk somebody and have your hand held for such a simple process.

Posted by
342 posts

Avoid Dollar, Thrifty in Germany. They use Terstappen, which is a complete sham. See Trip Advisor for a number of threads. Highly recommend Gemut

Posted by
45 posts

I second the recommendation of renting through gemut.com. I rented through them on two trips to Germany and have nothing but great things to say. Andy Bestor will run interference for you dealing with the multiple rental agencies (he works with many of them) to find you the best car, rate and conditions to meet your needs. You will not be paying any more through them than dealing directly with the rental agency. I will be using them again on our trip this fall. For me, it is a no brainer. Visit their website and drop them an email or telephone call.

Posted by
8887 posts

I've used Auto Europe several times with no complaint. They have a free cancellation policy. If you use them and find out after making your reservation that it is with a company you don't want to do business with, call them. They can change it to another company.

Posted by
7205 posts

Of course the best rental car agency is NO rental car agency...take the train and avoid the headaches :-)