Are all car rental outfits crooks?

This came up at the end of a long thread about insurance, when someone described a good experience returning a car with a slight scratch, but she did not name the company. That got me to thinking about all the complaints but almost no reports of good experiences with rental car companies. From what I read, all rental car companies and their employees are crooks, just like every third person in the cities is a pickpocket. So, what companies do you trust and why?

Posted by Roy
Auburn, AL
803 posts

I will start things off with my onw example: It may just be the luck of the draw, but in renting a few times from EuropCar -- through a travel agent, then Gemut and now directly -- I have not dealt with any of the nitpicky, shady agents that we read so much about. In fact, the ones I have dealt with all seemed pretty laid-back, so I keep going back to EuropCar. BTW: If you rent through AutoEurope or other consolidator, you still pick up and return the car at another company's site. It would be good to know which ones are more, or less, trustworthy, before you accept or reject AutoEurope's selection.

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3342 posts

"Trust none" is my motto. I would stick with the majors (Avis-Budget, Europcar, Hertz, National-Alamo, Sixt, Maggiore). Nevertheless even with the majors, if there is a way to stick to you, they will. Even Avis stuck it to me once. I returned the car with a full tank, yet they didn't remove the gasoline charge (which they apply by default). I didn't realize it until I was far from the office. Didn't bother to go back and dispute it, on a total bill of 800 euro, I figured it wasn't worth to fight a few tens. Another year, Sicily-By-Car, didn't reimburse me for a burned tail light I had to replace during my trip. I guess it's the price you pay when you travel to a corrupt country like Italy where people take great pride in sticking it to other people or to the government (I'm from Italy, so I'm authorized to call it for what it is). Just review the charges carefully on the receipt when you return the car.

Posted by Carol
Atlanta, GA, USA
679 posts

Really? I rent cars almost weekly. The last horrid experience I had was about 10 years ago. (Granted I won't EVER rent from Alamo again LOL!) In Europe I have always gone through AutoEurope and never had an issue. The one time I damaged a care the charge for the new headlight was about $50. Seemed reasonable to me. However, I find that if you go around in life with an attitude with "everyone is a crook" then you can "self fufill" your predetermined view.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7976 posts

Sounds nuts. I have a rental strapped to my butt six months out of the year and I've never been screwed. Sixt is off my list since three times in a row (various locations) they haven't had my cheapo and I won't take a free upgrade since the gas cost goes up and it's hard to squish into tight spots. Holiday Autos is a consolidator that I won't try again since once in Cairo and once somewhere in the UK? the agency they passed me off to had no idea I existed when I arrived. They show up in the kayak matrix sometimes. Kemwell wouldn't stand a change since I don't need a hand-holder for something as simple as renting a car. Plus the back and forth, check the bid, crap doesn't hack it for what should be a two-minute operation. Europcar and Hertz have been good enough over the years that if they're only a buck or two more a day they'll get the nod. Never been screwed though.

Posted by Robert
Portland
629 posts

I've never had a bad experience in all the years I've rented in France, but I know there will be a first sometime. I've generally gone through brokers (AutoEurope and Kemwel), and I think the majority of times the agency has been Europcar. Yet I've seen comments on some sites about bad experiences with Europcar.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7682 posts

Except for once trusting credit card insurance for a rental, I have never had a bad experience renting cars. Keep in mind that the vast, vast majority of people do not have problems or encounter bad agents, but they do not post reviews to say so. Only those who have had problems post about them, making it seem like that is the rule rather than the exception.

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3342 posts

I would like to add that all my bad experiences with rental cars have been in Italy. I rent a lot in the US (work, pleasure) but I've been nearly always satisfied. Only once did I have a bad experience (Budget) in the US. I rented an SUV to go to Tahoe and I was slapped with a $350 cleaning fee because they saw dog hairs in the trunk (and that was after I vacuumed the inside). On the very same trip they also charged me $10 for the "privilege" of using their FastTrak transponder to pay the bridge toll (so the $5 Carquinez bridge toll became $15). Of course they didn't tell me (nor the contract mentioned) that using their FastTrak meant $10 extra a pop for each passage. I disputed the charges with the Credit Card which investigated and eventually reversed everything.

Posted by Lee
Dallas
898 posts

Perhaps I'm lucky, but I've not had a single bad experience with car rentals. I've used Sixt, Avis, National, Hertz, etc. without problems. I actually expected a big charge from Avis once when I returned a car with a small gash along one side courtesy of a stone wall in Scotland. But I never heard from them nor had a charge against my credit card.

Posted by Sharon
Santa Rosa, CA, USA
892 posts

We now always rent through Hertz. We had some experiences with other rental companies we were not pleased with. On one trip, where my husband had backed into a wall, and there was minor damage, Hertz did charge us, but it was very reasonable (we hadn't expected to be treated so fairly). Since that time we have always rented through them with great results.

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
2276 posts

I expected the Sixt rental car to be gone over with a fine tooth comb when I returned it at Geneva airport. Even took numerous digital photos when I picked it up. I was very disapointed when I returned it and all I got was a receipt and "Thank you for renting from Sixt."

Posted by Angela
Sammamish, WA
403 posts

I think it cuts both ways.
Good: we rented a "pre-dented" car from Avis in Australia and the guy basically told us not to worry about what happened to it. He told us to mark a bunch of stuff on the inspection sheet, "just in case!" We were 4WDing on lots of dirt roads, so that was pretty nice. Bad: I am still trying to clear up an issue from last July, rental through Autoeurope in Germany. Europcar's insurance company claims our car, driven by a Mrs. S., had an accident in Luxembourg. Problem is, we weren't in Luxembourg! And I'm not Mrs. S! Having a devil of a time convincing them it's not us. Perhaps the date of the accident report is wrong, or the wrong license number was recorded, or who knows what. We even have photos of the undamaged car returned in Cologne, but in spite of Europcar's reassurance we are not at fault, the insurance company keeps sending us form letters. Lovely.

Posted by Karen
Santa Rosa, CA
611 posts

Last trip, we rented through AutoEurope with Eurocar. (slight scratch on bumper returned to Florence airport and they didn't say anything. ) We washed the car that morning and vaccuumed to make sure we weren't charged for "excessive" dirt. We spent a week in a farmhouse on a dirt road and parked under a tree that was shedding some type of berries. When I told the guy we turned our car into that we'd washed it, he even said we didn't have to do that, they take care of it. Good experience! 6 years ago rented directly from Eurocar and was great experience, no issues.

Posted by Robert
Portland
629 posts

It looks like Karen has proved Lee Iacocca wrong when he said: No one in the history of the world has ever washed a rental car. I've often returned a rental car dirty, never even thinking that I should wash it, since I figure they'd wash it no matter how clean I turned it in. Anyone ever have a problem turning in an excessively dirty car?

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7976 posts

If you can see out the windshield or still read the license plate it's clean enough.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7209 posts

I've only had one run-in, with Enterprise on a domestic rental. Fortunately I had taken pictures of the car when I picked it up (and when I dropped it off) to show the damage was there when I took the car. I contacted them right away and showed proof that the damage wasn't related to me and never heard any more about it.

Posted by Jeff
Westminster, CO, USA
159 posts

Any problems from anyone regarding the "CDW excess" in Croatia, it appears agencies are including the "CDW" then saying there is a excess that is not covered under the CDW so they reserve that amount (any where from 400 to 1000 euros) just in case then low and behold you have a 500 euro scrap. Thanks for any info

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8756 posts

@Jeff
Westminster, CO USA When you ask the same question half a dozen times it starts to look like spam.

Posted by DH
San Antonio, TX, USA
67 posts

Had a great experience with Hertz in Spain. Rented the car @ Madrid Barajas airport. I, yes I, destroyed, the tire @ at the Alhambra. Cars do not have spares these days. Car was towed. Next day at Hertz expense I was driven from an outlying suburb of Granada into the city center and given a car two grades up from the original rental (I must have an automatic trans. due to left knee problems). Back in Madrid the cost of the repair was modest and reasonable. Everyone was very cordial.