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A Cautionary Car Rental Tale...(Frankfurt).

We rented a car for just over 3 weeks via Gemut. The rental was booked through AVIS, & the paperwork and payment was done in advance, I just had to present my voucher at the rental counter in Frankfurt. Included was a free vehicle upgrade from basic to intermediate size car. I had booked a manual transmission & the CSA asked if I wanted an automatic, not thinking much about it, I agreed. When we later got to our car it was a basic (Ford Focus), far too small for 3 adults & luggage. I returned to the counter to inquire why I was not given an intermediate vehicle, and was told by the CSA that the "automatic" was the upgrade. I pointed out that the voucher clearly stated intermediate and that a Focus does not meet that category, as to an automatic being an "upgrade" I was happy to remain with a manual transmission. She grudgingly gave us a Cuga (Ford Escape), it was still an "automatic", and we went off on our adventure.

We returned the vehicle without incident, and since it was prior to AVIS staff being on duty, (0500hrs), I took photos of the vehicle. On my next CC bill, I found that AVIS had slipped an additional 238.00 Euro charge onto my credit card for a vehicle upgrade as well as a pre-paid fill option, (neither of which were requested). I emailed Bob at Gemut about the charges and also supplied a photo of the instrument cluster showing mileage and the full tank on return, (which would negate the inference that we intended to use the pre-paid fill option). Within a day, Bob had secured a full refund from AVIS to my CC, and an apology from AVIS.

FWIW, renting via Gemut was not only more economical, but this issue was likely solved much more easily than I could have done with AVIS in Germany & my CC company directly. Bottom line, if renting in Europe, take vehicle pictures before & after, be wary of upgrades, & only rent from Gemut!

Regards,

Al

Posted by
4700 posts

It sounds like your experience was actually a good one, even though you had to jump through a few hoops. Yes, it's always a good idea to take pictures when returning your car (I always do too) and check your credit card statements afterward!

Posted by
17895 posts

Just one more reason not to rent a car in Europe.

Posted by
1217 posts

Rental car desks everywhere have their clerks trained to trick you into the paid upgrade route. If it's not a 'pick from this lot and go' arrangement that's becoming common with Hertz, National, and the like where if you sign up for their loyalty program, you get to bypass the desk on normal rentals, then always, always ask if there's an additional per day charge when the clerk asks if you want to be upgraded.

I'd still rather deal with the counter clerk for five minutes as they try to upsell me than to be tied to the tyranny of the bus and train schedule.

Posted by
4700 posts

I do both. I love trains so always look forward to taking trains on a European trip if possible. But, some European countries just don't have good train networks, so if you don't rent a car, your only other options is a long distance bus. I dislike long bus rides and will rent a car when practical vs. taking the buses.

For example, in the Baltics a few years ago, because there aren't good train connections between countries, I took the bus from Lithuania to Latvia and then to Estonia. I would have had to drop a car in a different country if I were driving, and that would have likely been pretty pricey. So I took the buses instead. They were...OK. I did not enjoy them (3-4 hour bus rides) at all, but I managed. But I love long train rides.

On the other hand, I've rented cars a few times in Slovenia and Croatia, which also don't have good train networks. I've found driving in both countries very easy and affordable. But I'd never rent a car in Italy, except as a last resort, because the train network is so good in Italy.

Posted by
5011 posts

Another (so far) satisfied customer of Gemut here for rental cars. I've been working with them on a rental for an upcoming trip. It's good to have them in your corner to deal with when something comes up, rather than having to deal with the locals.

Posted by
4295 posts

Just one more reason not to rent a car in Europe.

I've rented cars throughout Europe on many, many occasions and all without problem (apart from Hertz who insist on removing the SD card containing the GPS maps and trying to charge you the cost of a GPS unit to place it back in but this also occurred in the US).

I've never taken any photo of the vehicles before or after rental and never had an issue. I caused damage to one and that was dealt with accordingly. I've received a speeding ticket for one which was also dealt with accordingly.

I rent a car in the US every time we're there and never had an issue either although I'm sure that other people have. What I have found however is that the cheaper agencies are often the most unscrupulous wherever you are.

To rule out renting a car in Europe on the basis of one experience from a stranger (or two or three) is absurd. It's almost as if you're suggesting that car rental agencies in Europe are some hotbed of deception and fraud!

Posted by
3882 posts

Ah - but the reasons to rent a car are multiple - more freedom, not relying on bus/train schedule, being able to visit/stay in smaller places that aren't accessible by public transport (or maybe have a bus go thru twice a day), the option to stop if 'that place over there' looks interesting. We mostly take trains, but there are times when a car is the way to go - like for our upcoming trip to see the lavender fields in Provence - not gonna be able to do that easily on a bus or train or without booking a tour or paying thru the nose for a taxi or private driver. Sorry not sorry. But we've been thru this before...

Glad this was all sorted out for you with no issues!

Posted by
2916 posts

Just one more reason not to rent a car in Europe.

I love trains, but if I had to rely on trains and buses for all my trips to France, I would never have seen about 2/3 of what I've seen by being able to drive. I've made 2 trips to France w/o a car (for various reasons), and while I enjoyed both trips, I was more limited than I would like to have been.
And by the way, I've had Auto Europe intercede on my behalf and fix similar problems to those experienced by the OP. It's why I almost always rent through AE or Kemwel; and it sounds like Gemut would be good also.

Posted by
2690 posts

We also had excellent experiences with Gemut. Once was due to the fact we prepaid the car for x number of days (24 hour periods), and our arrival flight to Munich was delayed by nearly 6 hours, giving us one less “day”. One, yes one, email to Andy and we had the credit for that day on the CC. They make renting a car so easy and less stressful.

A reason not to rent a car? Why? It turned out very well. We always rent a car ifor trips in Germany and Austria. Love the off the beaten track roads and scenery.

Posted by
141 posts

99% of the time way cheaper, faster and less stressful than dealing
with public transport.

Let's not turn this forum into a flight of fancy.

Every situation is different, that is why we are here, to help others with our knowledge and experience, so that they can make better informed choices for themselves.

Posted by
5106 posts

"I love trains, but if I had to rely on trains and buses for all my trips to France, I would never have seen about 2/3 of what I've seen by being able to drive."

True IME as well. Unfortunately, most comments on these forums about train travel tend to blur the differences from country to country. There are BIG differences between the French rail system and the German rail system (the one Lee tends to patronize) - for that matter, between most other rail systems and the German rail system. Words like "tyranny" may well describe some train systems, but they totally miss the mark in Germany. German trains go nearly everywhere and do so efficiently as a rule. At the same time, I've read complaint after complaint after complaint about German car rental agency tactics, which usually result in some unjustified demand for payment in your mail box back home. So I side with Lee's view vis-a-vis Germany. Train travel there tends to be dependable, easy, and hassle-free. While Gemut may buffer some of the pain of renting in Germany, it can still be a hassle-filled pain in the ... just like it was for Al. In France, I've rented (and will probably always need to rent) a car at some point.

Posted by
1217 posts

It really is all about finding the right transportation tool to suits one's travel needs, and that right tool can vary a lot for many different reasons.