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Crete rental car- scammed

Has anyone every heard of Drive rental car in Heraklion ? They rented me a 2006 Santa Fe which was 177euro for 2 days (we had a manual reserved but didn’t realize it until last minute ) then they put a 930euro deposit on my card which I thought was extreme but thought it’s a different country they do things different ... he then went over the car with us and the car was already extremely scratched up and he marked every little scratch on the paper . He then told us we could bring it back June 24th until 9 pm with no charge for an extra day even though our papers said 2 pm. Being stupid, my sister and I took his word for it and brought it back at 8 pm on June 24th. As soon as we pulled in a different worker started yelling at us about why it was late and he was taking it out of my deposit . I ended up getting in a yelling match with him because he didn’t listen to me and he kept yelling at me “get out or I take you to the police “. Today I get an email and they are take 510euro out of my deposit . 60 for an extra day plus 450 for a scratch and nick they said we put in the windshield but I am positive we did not. This is the only area he skipped and we didn’t even think about checking the windshield and we got photos and videos of all other parts of the car except the windshield. Since my name is on the contract, I accepted charges for damages . I booked the car through HolidayAuto and they opened a complaint but I am unsure if I will win since they have pictures and my contract signed . Could I dispute it with my credit card company ? What should I do because the company is not cooperative , and scam artists ? HolidayAuto is telling me I should resolve it through the rental company but they are my enemy right now and are trying to get me . I have been emailing them and they keep telling me the same thing

Posted by
5648 posts

Sorry you’re in such a contentious dispute. We’re heading to Crete this fall, and haven’t yet reserved any rental vehicle, but I certainly appreciate what you’ve shared.

Are you still in Greece? Any chance you can go back and find the original employee who told you that returning the car “late”was no problem? Between all the nicks and dings, sounds like that Santa Fe has been through a lot, yet they’ve never gone and fixed any of the damage! Apparently employee #2 was more thorough and critical in inspecting the car than anyone when you checked it out.

Athens has a special Tourist Police, and we contacted them on our visit there last year - very helpful and reassuring, but I’m not certain whether Crete or the rest of Greece outside of Athens has anything similar. Definitely check with your credit card company now, to see if they have any suggestions, which may or may not give you any argument in your favor. Hope you get a suitable resolution. Hope the rest of your trip goes well!

Posted by
1675 posts

Thank you for sharing your experience. We can all use this as a “could have, should have, didn’t” reminder. Any changes to the contract should be initialed by the rental company and you.
I don’t understand your comment about reserving a manual transmission. Why did the company rent you a 13 year old car? Could you have refused that car and asked for something newer?
Hertz in Naples tried to give us a diesel which I refused in favor of gas knowing that not all gas stations have diesel (at least in the US). Stick shifts are fine for me since I drive one at home.

Posted by
28131 posts

I've never seen a filling station in Italy that doesn't have diesel. I drive my own diesel from England most years to Italy - I've never had any concern about finding fuel - just for the record, horsewoofie

I wondered about the age of that car, too.

Posted by
6881 posts
  • 177 EUR for 2 days? Wow. That is one expensive rental, especially for such an old car.
  • Definitely never take someone's "word" over a contract because the contract will always win
  • The deposit is probably listed in the contract because the rental company wants to hold back some money in cases of damage (different rental companies have different rules on how much they use as a deposit)
  • Did you do a final walk-through with the rental company? That's when both sides agree that they've met their obligation and there are no surprises. Did you get any sign-off that everything was good and clear when you turned the car in?

Re: other post - As for diesel, that's what they use in Europe everywhere. There was no need to be suspicious of it.

Posted by
1019 posts

I am not aware of this particular car company but the situation you found yourself in is a common scam used by disrepute car companies.

For Crete we book our rental car directly with the rental company. We don't use an intermediary agent.

There are several car companies in Heraklion that have stellar reputations. They are all locally owned, they all operate off site but deliver the car to you at the airport. They all have full insurance included in the rental rate. For the record they are Autorentals Crete, Annas Cars, The Best rental cars, Athenscars Crete and a couple of others that I am forgetting. If I am ever tempted to rent from someone else I always look for reviews such as yours so I can be confident they have good track records. Hopefully your review will help others avoid this company.

By the way, you should understand that Full Insurance covers you and your rental car from Damage caused by you. If there is another vehicle involved and they are in the wrong their insurance is supposed to cover you from their actions. Sometimes local drivers knowing you are in a rental car have been known to say you have insurance so don't worry about it and drive away. You need to be prepared to take pictures of the accident site, the damage to the cars, the other drivers license or at least the license plate.

Posted by
58 posts

I wish I would have walked around the car with the man when we dropped it off and been more thorough with the pictures and video . It made it hard since he started yelling at me as soon as we dropped off the car and yelled at me to get out multiple times.
I just now read that this is a common scam for rental companies to rent out cars that are poorly maintained and then claim you did the damage.
I should have noticed the red flags- older car, already scratched and nicked..
now I started an open complaint with holiday auto but I am not sure that they will resolve it for me.
I am going to try to dispute it with my credit card company as a fraud charge and I just hope i can get my money back .
I wish I could find information on how people who had this same situation handled this and if they were able to get their money back

Posted by
2444 posts

What good is it to book through an agent that refuses to act as your agent? I am not fussing at the OP - but this seems to a recurring theme.

Thanks for posting, and for reinforcing my commitment to always book directly with a business.

Posted by
5648 posts

Years ago, we booked directly from a rental company in Sofia, Bulgaria. We wound up with a very old VW station wagon. Over the next 2 weeks a plastic body panel started to detach from the underside of the car, scraping on the road surface as we drove our “Scrapey Car.” We also had a flat tire, and it turns out there was an inner tube inside the tire, which had patches all over it from previous punctures! Car was inexpensive, compared to otherwise very expensive rental options back in 2004, but we made it back, safe and sound. They covered the repair cost of the tire, and weren’t surprised or accusatory when we reported the dangling body panel, but this was still one of those “you get what you pay for” situations. They didn’t charge us extra, and it all could’ve been worse, but on a budget sometimes you have to deal with some challenges and inconvenience. Hope your next time works out with no problems!

Posted by
6881 posts

I don't think this has to do with whether the car was rented through a third party - folks on this forum rent cars through a consolidator (like Auto Europe) all the time. I also use a third party in the US to rent cars since the direct rates are always much higher. The problem here was not coming to an agreement on what the damages were when the car was turned in (to avoid late surprises) and not knowing the contract terms (relying on one employee's word is worthless). A person could always decline to take the rental that is offered and ask for another one (sometimes you'll have to wait and sometimes that won't be an option). Some oddball company at LAX tried to give me a car that was beat up with broken light and I said "no thanks" - I'll wait for a car that's in good shape. I know it's too easy to blameshift on the customer when one gets a beat up car.

This rental car outfit has good ratings online, so maybe the OP just got unlucky. It happens.

Posted by
8003 posts

Use AutoEurope to book car rentals and they will stand behind you if there are any issues with the car or your agreement. They use major car rental companies such as Hertz, Avis, Europcar.
You should have the document with new hours signed or initials.