Please sign in to post.

Avis in Glasgow

Less a question and more a cautionary tale... we just wrapped up a 10 day trip in the highlands, which was wonderful except for the rental car. Once again we got scammed (to my mind) by Avis with the "we don't have the car you reserved, here's a free upgrade to a big car" nonsense which of course costs more when all is said and done. Once you're at the counter and they pull this, you have little recourse when you're trying to get underway. Not the first time this has happened to us. Are we just unlucky?

Also they claimed tire damage, which was pretty bogus, but my own insurance covers it, so whatever. It did reinforce for me though that their own insurance is a waste of $. We went with a middle plan of theirs since they were handing us a quite expensive car and we were concerned. But it wasn't much good as it turns out, I was indeed fully covered by my card and own insurance, while theirs did not cover the alleged tire damages...and shame on me for not reconfirming my own coverage prior to picking up the car.

Next time I'll be more careful and will use a different company to see if any better. I've had better luck with Europcar and Sixt in the past.

Posted by
941 posts

Hi, lyweissler,

I know what you mean about being upgraded. Once I was given a people carrier, which is just way too big for Scottish roads. I took it back the next day and got an old beater, but it was great, because it was a diesel motor, and it got really good mileage. Plus it had a CD player, for all the CDs we acquired along the way.

I'm a bit confused about your insurance, though. My understanding was that your insurance coverage for a rental car is only good in the U.S. and Canada, and only for the limits and deductibles specified by your automobile policy. Using your credit card to cover damages outside the U.S., in this case Scotland, is only good if you decline all coverages (except road service) offered on your rental contract. If you take any of the coverages offered by the renting company, then your credit card (Visa or MasterCard) will not reimburse you for any damage. Actually, that holds true for North American rentals as well. Visa/MC will cover what your own insurance coverage doesn't, but only if you decline all coverage from the rental company.

I've used my credit card (Visa) to cover damage loss the last few times I've been in Scotland, and it came in handy last year, as I had a scratched hubcap. (Yes, Avis does go over the car with a fine toothed comb!) It took about six weeks, with all the paperwork involved, but I got every penny back, plus an extra dollar due to the exchange rate difference.

I've used Avis out of Glasgow Airport the last few times, but have only been upgraded the one time.

If your personal car insurance company covers overseas rentals, I'd love to know which company you use!

Many thanks!

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
21 posts

Thank you Mike for your very helpful response. I misspoke when I said our own car insurance covered us outside the US/ Canada (we have Travellers), my apologies for that. I had spoken with Visa a couple of days ago and explained my situation in Glasgow and the agent told me the tire damage was covered, and he did ask me if I had Avis' insurance, so there's a disconnect there. I'll submit all the paperwork anyway and see what happens. Can't be any worse off than I am already! :-/

I wish we could simply rely on public transportation and ride share services but we are birders and hikers, and seems like having one's own car is still the best way to get around.

Posted by
4450 posts

I've had a few upgrades from Avis and others, I certainly don't see it as a scam and the difference in fuel costs are usually minimal unless you're being upgraded from a Vauxhall Corsa to an Audi A6 Quattro which will be many steps above in class and very unlikely to happen. Typically it's to a vehicle in the class above which shouldn't impact the fuel consumption in any meaningful way.

Sixt have also been quite generous with their upgrades including on one occasion when I had booked two cars for me and my brotherI, I can't recall the cars that we had originally booked however they turned up (they brought the cars to the resort the morning after we had checked in) with a BMW GT and a Mercedes GLS. Sure, they used more fuel but they were great to drive so don't rely on the expectation that Sixt won't upgrade you.

Posted by
278 posts

We had Avis for our 2012 Britain trip. I picked up the car in York and was given a free upgrade to a bigger car I did not want. However, since it was a small place, it was the only automatic transmission on the lot, so I had to take it. I tried to downgrade in Edinburgh, but they only had the same car for automatic transmission on their lot, as well.

The problem came when I turned it in at the airport in Kirkwall, Orkney. That went fine—the issue arose a few days later when a $350 charge showed up on my debit card. I called, and they told me it was returned in Aberdeen with a not-full tank! Luckily, my mom still had the credit card receipt from the Kirkwall gas station where we had topped it off 20 minutes before they had us in Aberdeen, several hours away. I faxed that to them, and they credited me the money.

I will never use Avis again, at least, not in Europe.

Posted by
4450 posts

I will never use Avis again, at least, not in Europe.

Why not? Are Avis any better in the US?

Last August in Miami airport I went to collect my pre-arranged car from Budget (Avis partner). There was a long queue, in fact there were long queues at all the car rentals and some very harrassed looking attendants. Whilst waiting in line we were approached by a member of staff who asked if anyone had rented an SUV, most of us, me included, raised our hands. He stated that they (and many of the other agencies) were rapidly running out of cars due to overbooking and the website was still accepting bookings. He told us the situation had been so bad the previous evening that the police were called due to escalating tensions.

When I reached the desk I was told that I was fortunate to receive the last SUV.

A young couple were told that the car they had paid for was not available and they would have to pay for another one from elsehwere. Unfortunately they didn't have sufficient money for this so had to abandon their plans.

When I reached the parking lot it was almost completely empty with the exception of a few, high end sports cars. I have never seen a rental agency lot like it.

I've had other bad experiences with rental agencies in the US so I'm not sure where this impression that many of the agencies in Europe are scam artists if this forum is anything to go by.

Posted by
21 posts

I've actually not had any bad rental experiences in the US, whether for business or leisure travel. Normally in the US I seem to most often use Thrifty or National. In Europe we've used Sixt or EuropCar. Iceland was Thrifty. Interestingly only ever had issues in the UK. And I can understand when you have many rentals from folks not used to driving on the left, of course they are going to go over that side of the car very carefully. That said, I still think it's a bait and switch to advertise and allow reservation of smaller size automatic transmissions (vw golf) then pull the "free upgrade". The guy in the car park basically said of course you have this car you wanted an automatic...I doubt they ever had any of the smaller cars. Oh well. Most anywhere else we'd be fine with a manual transmission, I just don't want them when in the UK or other left driving countries, I have enough to worry about without shifting with my left hand. :-0
Whatever, lesson learned I suppose, it was still a wonderful trip, even if the car was over 2x what I expected it to cost when all was said and done. At least I didn't get speeding tickets in Iceland!

Posted by
278 posts

I am willing to give Avis a chance in the US, since I have only rented a car four other times in my 50+ years, and those four times have all been Enterprise (in the States), and Dan Dooley in Ireland. The only reason I went with Avis in Britain was because they were the only company I could rent in York and return in Orkney.

Posted by
21 posts

Visa just approved paying for the tire "damage" that Avis assessed me. One of the respondents on this thread said, "Visa/MC will cover what your own insurance coverage doesn't, but only if you decline all coverage from the rental company." Just FYI I did have some coverage from Avis, although as became all too clear later, it didn't cover the tires. Visa was aware of that coverage. So hurray, all's well that ends well.