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Extra Rental Car Charges

We rented a car through Auto Europe for our trip in France this last October. Auto Europe contracted for a car through Europcar. We drove the car from Paris to Perpignan France. Outside of Perpignan we got a flat tire. We stopped and called Europcar and they said because we were on the highway the only way we could get assistance was to call the police and they would call a tow truck and take us somewhere. It was really late at night and so we changed the tire and drove the next few miles to our hotel and dropped the car off at the train station the next morning. When we got home we found two charges on our checking account from Europcar the two charges totaled over $800. We called Auto Europe and even though we had paid extra for additional insurance they said that they would not cover a flat tire but that they would submit a request to Europcar for why they charged us so much. We have been back for over a month now and it is still not resolved. The only progress is that we have heard back from Europcar and they said that we had two flat tires that they had to replace. Which was not true. We took photographs of the car when we returned it and you can tell that the other three tires not low. We sent the pictures off to Europcar but we are pretty discouraged.

Does anyone have any experience or advice on how to handle this?

Posted by
6869 posts

I would start by immediately filing a charge back request with your credit card, and notifying Auto Europe in writing of your dissatisfaction.

Two tires wouldn't cost $400 each. And chances are they just plugged one tire and put it back on the vehicle.

In hindsight, if you as a rentor are liable for flat tires, I certainly would have had the flat fixed and reinstalled on the car.

But I would say you have a valid complaint with our credit card.

Posted by
8387 posts

Call AutoEurope again, and again and again. They have a Europe Car representative in their Portland, Maine office and should be able to resolve this immediately--if they want to. David's idea of involving the credit card company is excellent and should help get autoEurope off its duff. In the past AutoEurope resolved these things immediately and to the customer's satisfaction. Those days may be over.

Posted by
7205 posts

Just do yourself a favor and mark ALL rental cars off your list if possible. They really are just extra boat anchors around our necks sometimes. I know sometimes you just definitely need a rental car, but if you can take trains/taxis instead just do it and save yourself the headaches of expensive petrol, overpriced stupid insurance, a $500 miniscule scratch or a $400 tire. I gave up on rental cars long ago and never looked back.

Posted by
3681 posts

We had a similar incident with the return of a Europcar rental at the Amsterdam airport this year. There was a scratch on the rim of one tire. The over-enthusiastic young man who was inspecting the car said we would have to pay 500-700 Euro for the damage. My husband went ballistic and said if it was going to cost that much, way more than the actual cost of a new tire and rim for that car, he wanted the tire and rim. He also called the whole thing a scam. The agent was dumbfounded. I guess no one had ever wanted the damaged rim or tire before.

I dug out my Visa Guide to Benefits, checked the CDW coverage there and called Visa. We were told to NOT sign anything admitting fault and to NOT pay any extra and to tell the agent that we would pay for the damage AFTER we got a copy of the repair bill with 2 photos of the damage. Visa emailed us the form to fill out so we would know what to do when we got home. It turned out that we were charged about 150 Euros by Europcar on my husband's Visa and Visa promptly processed our claim and refunded that money to him.

One key to all this is that our benefits state that "all incidents must be reported immediately following the ... damage, but in no event later than 45 days following the damage." Later it gives more time to get the documentation in, I guess because they know sometimes it can take longer to get the docs from the rental agent.

Hopefully your credit card company has similar benefits and even if you are now past the initial time period for reporting what happened, you might be able to tell them how it happened and get help from them in dealing with the charges. Don't give up!

Posted by
46 posts

Just one of the reasons I am afraid to drive in Europe.

Posted by
40 posts

We are leaving for Germany on Tuesday, 3 Dec and our travel agent has signed us up for a rental car with Europcar via Auto Europe in Maine. Reading the postings about trouble with this company I am wondering if we should cancel and try to rent with another company.
Can anyone tell me if there are any reliable car rental companies? We are flying into Munich and have contraced for the car for a week, returning the car to Munich

Posted by
8387 posts

@Nancy in Fort Montgomery,

We've used Europcar via AutoEurope for the last thirteen years for over twenty rentals and one lease. We have rarely had a problem but when we have, AutoEurope has intervened for us immediately. Our biggest bomb of a rental was with National/Citer through AutoEurope. What AutoEurope could control, they resolved immediately. On the other hand, I now avoid National/Citer when booking by using google steetview to see if the address they/ve given is an EuropCar or National agency. I always go with Europcar.

That said, let me add that in recent years I've sensed a slightly different attitude when I called about a situation. It wasn't a problem to resolve, so I don't know if one would have been handled as seemlessly as in the past.

Finally, in their favor, two years ago I had to use AutotEurope's 800 number from the Riviera to call them in Maine to cancel a prepaid rental that was to begin the next morning. Normally you can't cancel at the last minute without a very good reason. Ours was due to a death in the family, so they reimbursed us 100% without asking for documentation.

What's happened in Annie's case could happen with any agency. We all have to stay sharp as a tack as these companies compete to drain from us whatever they can during a down economy. My worse experience of all time was with National right here in Bloomington, Indiana.

But I just thought of something. If you are traveling in Germany, do you really need a car at all? The train system there is excellent!

Posted by
2876 posts

It's worth noting that most CDW policies - even "super" CDW policies - exclude tire damage. Even the Amex Premium Car Rental Protection policy, which might be the best credit card coverage out there, excludes tire damage.