10 April 2007

The Avis scam

Update: 28 June 2011
 Auckland airport
Return the car full, it's checked in by an Avis agent,I get a printout of the bill.
Avis charges me the bill PLUS a "refuelling charge"
Email Avis, they acknowledge that they hadn't needed to refuel the car, refund the charge after 2 weeks.
Next time, they get charged my consultancy fee (€3000 a day and I spent AT LEAST an hour emailing them and reading their response.....)

Update: 3 November 2010

Rent a car in Los Angeles and drive fewer than 75 miles and you'll get whacked with a Fuel Service charge of $17.06.
Even if you've filled up.
And they refuse to consider adjustments under $50

It works like this.

You've booked a car, you pick up the keys and you get your car from the Avis lot at the airport.

It's dark, it's raining, you look quickly to make sure that everything's OK (and far as you can see) and off you go.

Return it the next day and they'll say "Oh, this (supermarket-parking-lot-car-door-ding) dent wasn't there when you hired it. That'll be £/€/$200"

Or you're on the freeway before you notice a stone chip in the windscreen.

Call them up to report it and they'll say "Well, it must have happened since you hired it"

Or you get whacked with a £70 charge on your credit card. Turns out that the radio antenna was missing. (You've picked the car up in the morning, driven to see the CEO of one of my customers, parked in their executive car park (where the security guard tore off the antenna in a fit of pique - yeah, right...) and dropped it back off in the evening. Find out later that one of their valet goons didn't take the antenna off and put it on the passenger seat (which is what they're meant to do) before putting it through the car wash. Don't get your £70 back though)

But this last one was the best. By far

Marseille airport, brand new Opel Astra, perfect condition according to them.


Half the fucking side of the car was missing.

OK, that's an exaggeration, but there were









on the car.

Which was 1/4 empty.

Look at the damn pictures.


It's almost as if the rental locations are given targets for this sort of stuff.

It's the same old greasy number wherever you go

  • You get to pick up a car in a dingy corner of a multistory carpark and return it to to their blindingly well-lit check-in area. (Manchester airport)
  • Fill up the car 3km from the return lot and get charged €20 for refuelling. (Lyons)
  • Get the car delivered to you double-parked in front of the terminal in the rain. You try and check it out thoroughly with an policeman with a sub-machine gun hurrying you along (Birmingham airport)
  • Agree that they'll reimburse you for 1/4 tank of gas and they either calculate the tank smaller or use a gas price that you'll find nowhere but Saudi Arabia. (Marignane airport)
  • Get a (supposedly fully-fuelled) car with the fuel warning lamp burning (Birmingham airport)
  • Try and get someone to check out the car when you return it with a flight to catch and you get "Can't do it now. It'll be at least 30 minutes" (But I can ring up a charge for damage in milliseconds). Manchester and/or Birmingham.
  • Get cars on 3 separate occasions within a month, each with windscreen chips or panel damage. Un-noted, of course. (Auckland)
  • Try and draw these shortcomings (politely put) to their attention and your comments disappear into a central cesspit on the American corporate site. You'll never hear from them. (New Zealand)
And you know what? Boris at Marseille was the only person with the courtesy and common sense to apologise

And if someone from Avis is reading this..



It gets better. Or worse.

It was dark, I was backing out in an unfamiliar parking lot and the motel owner in Auckland, New Zealand had decided in his infinite wisdom to paint the pillars black.

My fault. 

Horrible grinding noise, swiped the side of the car along one of the pillars, took off the wing mirror.
Returned the car  to Avis y and the agent pointed out that there's a $2750 (plus tax) excess.

I was fairly sure that I was covered, but I paid the $3000+ bill and checked it out on the flight to LA.
Sure enough, the confirmation email from Avis had a whole list of things that I'd either accepted or declined and one (Excess Reduction) that was neither nor.
I asked the Avis people in LAX what the excess on the rental that I picked up was - "There is none. It's automatically included, because your profile says so"

So I simulated the booking on their website and IT DOESN'T ALLOW YOU TO MODIFY THE PREFERENCES IN YOUR PROFILE. (I'm an Avis Preferred customer) 
It just generates an email, showing that I haven't declined Excess Reduction (I couldn't decline it) so it's reasonable to assume that it's included.

Challenged the excess with Avis New Zealand.

Prompt response: You declined the Excess Reduction (ER)
I didn't.
"Your profile says that you always want to decline ER"
It doesn't. 
It can't because there's no option to do so and only 3 countries have draconian excesses - UK, Australia, New Zealand.

A couple of weeks after the incident (and having talked to Avis in Germany to confirm the profile status), I underpin my claim with screenshots of the entire process and the Call Centre agent passes the file to the insurance department who IMMEDIATELY see that their system is dysfunctional and refund me the excess.

They also send me copies of the repair bills which total $1700. They've had them for 3 weeks and they hadn't even considered refunding the difference between the excess and the actual repair costs.

By this stage, I've escalated the case to Avis's MD for New Zealand.
She delegates it to an assistant and - in mangled English - I get this response:

There's nothing wrong with their system
The Call Centre agent didn't blatantly lie to me on 2 or more occasions
They've refunded the excess (but they blithely ignore the fact that they would have overcharged me by $1300)

Oh, and of course there was the usual damage that  found when I collected the car, despite the usual reassurances that the car was IMMACULATE.....


Ben said...

Sorry to hear that JB. I never had that bad experience with CAR Hire. Well I never (almost) use AVIS. Stay away from that RentACar giant.

Meg in Nelson said...

NOT TRUE - The guys in Glasgow kept charging us the wrong amount, and I emailed them over 30 pages in 6 months - I spoke to our bank and ASB quickly decided it wasn't incompetence but more like a credit card scam, and flagged the rental car dealership and refunded us. I remember the 30 pages because after refunding us, ASB wanted my correspondence as evidence, and when I sent it to them in a foolscap envelope, the credit card folks in Auckland rang me back and congratulated me for keeping meticulous records; she said "next time, ring us sooner!" And dear husband, you forgot that?????

Ben said...

Now I remember that. They keep charging and refund several times. Because of the exchange rate, every time they refund, we loose some amount. It wasn't Avis but someone else with green logo.

Meg in Nelson said...

I never said it was Avis, Ben.

JB, would you excuse us a moment? We need to sort out our travel memories, the two of us!!!

1933-1934 Pontiac Shop Manuals said...

hey i feel sorry for you, having a bad car and experience.... thanks for the post now aware of it...

1933-1934 Pontiac Shop Manuals

Related Posts with Thumbnails