Europcar: Stalled in customer complaint

Hiring a car in a Europe is full of pitfalls. Mainly the problems arise from trying to read maps in a strange language, understanding road signs and withstanding the abuse from drivers who consider 130km an hour far too slow.

Yet my recent use of Europcar in Italy made for a far worse experience than any fist shaking Italian in a Lamborghini could provide.

Mind you, there was nothing wrong with the car. There were however, some immense problems with the bill. On hiring the car, I told the rental officer that it would be a two day hire between Venice and Siena. That meant the car would be returned to Siena on a Sunday. “No problem!” I was repeatedly told.

After some lovely scenery in Tuscany and some excellent food in Florence, we arrived in Siena for the Sunday return. Don’t try and find fuel on a Sunday in Italy. Self-serve pumps may be available in some service stations yet working them needs a degree from Oxford. I decided to pay the Europcar rate for the half tank of fuel I’d used. Better to pay the fuel rate than miss the train to Rome…especially with two 13 year olds itching to go shopping!

The Europcar office in Siena is so far away from civilisation that not even the Police know where it is. It took us an hour to find, and we eventually hailed a cab and followed it to a back alley off a back street in a back suburb…obviously unknown to the local constabulary.

On arriving, there was no one on duty. There was however, a set of instructions telling us returners to lock the car and put the keys in a box at the side of the building. The car was clean and locked, and the keys nicely placed in the box just short of the two days hire I had intended. In my deluded state, I thought there may be some sort of timing device that recorded the time keys were put in the box. What was I thinking?

On returning to Sydney, I received a bill from Europcar for three full days of hire + fuel. On phoning the Australian Head Office, they said they would investigate the overcharge but ‘…not to hold my breath’.

After two weeks, they had not had a reply to their questions so I asked them to enquire again and also asked for Europcar’s contact details in Italy. I emailed them several times yet received no response. I still haven’t.

After a month I again phoned Europcar Australia, and was told “Oh…They’re hopeless in Italy. You’ll never get a response. We can’t even get a response.”

Finally, some six weeks after receiving the bill, the Australian Office told me that because the car was returned on a Sunday, and Italians don’t work on a Sunday, I would be charged the full three-day rate. This was not explained in the rental contract and there is nothing about it on the Europcar website. It’s clearly an unethical and potentially fraudulent overcharge, and if every tourist who returns a car on a Sunday is being slugged, Europcar is doing very nicely out of it.

Not only that, there has been a recent unexplained deduction from my credit card from Europcar Rome for $97.00. – six months after my European trip! My bank has been notified of possible fraudulent activity. I’m lookEuropcar: ing forward to, but not expecting, Europcar’s response.

On Googling the phrase “problems with Europcar” you’ll find thousands of similar stories. If this was an Australian company, Consumer Affairs would have been on to them in a flash. This is not the way we do business in Australia.

So the lesson is clear. If you’re travelling to Europe, and planning to hire a car, choose Avis, Budget or take the train. Whatever you do, avoid Europcar like the plague.

11 thoughts on “Europcar: Stalled in customer complaint”

  1. Europcar. My Personal Views from A British Airways Pilot (Retired)

    If you are reading this blog then the chances are that you have already been seriously burnt by this unscrupulous organization.

    How they are able to trade in todays day and age is beyond belief especially in Britain, namely Gatwick London Airport.

    1) Do not use this Company
    2) Do not give them your Debit Card or Credit Card details.
    3) If you have done so already then contact your bank or Credit Card Company and limit the amount that they can take off your card.
    4) If it is too late then cancel the transaction and report Europcar for Credit/Debit Card fraud.
    5) Report this Company to Trading Standards. I have doine so already.
    6) If you are concerned about any payment please do not accept any kind of response to your complaint. Europcar have so many complaints running that they do not reply. Even if they think that they have overcharged your bank or debit card/credit card it takes them weeks to refund.

    Europcar is a Company that is clearly running the gauntlet and seeing how long they can go for before being shut down. Dont bother reading their small print because they are going to get you anyway.

    If you feel that you have been ripped off by Europcar then please email me direct at jamesworldwide1956@yahoo.com and I promise that I will place your comments on my new website which is being specifically built to slam Europcar.

    Kindest Regards & Good Luck

    James

    1. Europcar Greece hard-sold the excess-insurance for €100 which we took out
      Had the misfortune of an accident in which, thankfully, no one was hurt but car overturned
      Europcar said you were off-road, so you’re not covered for under-side damage, pay an extra €300 despite comprehensive insurance and excess insurance
      We refused to pay without at least a breakdown of what the €300 was for, and they wouldn’t let us leave their offices and catch my flight.
      We told them they would be in a world of pain if we missed our flight that would make €300 look like pocket change
      Our Greek lawyer is now handling it
      Some interesting facts:
      – It took over 4hours waiting at the scene of the accident before replacement car arrived. This was a weekday and not Sunday
      – They claimed they have a 48hr window in which to replace a car (so if you have an accident, save yourself a lot of waiting & take a cab home)
      – At one point they insisted *we* call out a crane to pick up the overturned car as it is our fault (!)
      – Their contract DOES have a clause saying damage to underside is not covered if not on tarmac surface. Except that in Greece, every beach, every parking area is not tarmac’ed.
      – The route to their own offices (a good 3 miles from the airport in a pre-industrial zone), involved driving off-road for 5 minutes, including through a construction site where we were inches from a wide, very deep and unfenced ditch (filmed on camera)
      – The shuttle bus service they have to return you to the airport was denied unless we paid extras unconditionally, almost causing us to miss flight. Effectively holding us hostage. Highly illegal practice, even in Greece

  2. Europcar had my CC number and overcharged me for extra days, fuel, other unknown charges for about $150. Customer service did not respond to my questions. AmEx was of no help. I am done with both of them.

  3. Apparently I have an outstanding fine with Europcar which means I can’t hire any other vehicles with them. I have phoned at least 7 times to sort it out, emailed 4 times and written in once. No response or I get system down at the moment, can’t find the details will call you, etc etc. Any know the CEO/Managing Director’s details, perhaps he/she’d like to know how much money they’re losing because of this.

    1. Yes. They are a total pain in the neck! The negative PR going around about them is very damaging indeed and you’d think they’d realise it. Phil

  4. Tell everyone you know, Do not use Europe car, especially Europe car in Italy. I have been dealing with Europe car for months, as they charged me over 400 Euro without any authorization from me, months after leaving Italy. They steal, they lie & they cheat !! They even admit it !!!

    I have had to close all of my credit card accounts with HSBC. This is very time consuming & frustrating. I never got the money back. They will take months to answer your complains, that’s if they answer at all. They are also very unprofessional to deal with. Do not trust Europe Car. Simply pay more if you have to but choose another company.

    Europe Car will steal from you

  5. They are a bunch of crooks iin the UK also, and I would advice noone to use this business when hiring a car in Europe or anywhere else for that matter.
    We went to the Oxford branch to collect our car. After completing the contract we were given the keys to the car. When we got to the car in the carpark I pointed out a few very minor scratches and was assured by the ‘friendly’ man at the Oxford branch that he would document the scratches on their system. Of course this never happened, so when we returned the car to an abnoxious women at their Dover branch, outside office hours, she told us that there was nothing on their system so we would have to pay 150 pounds to have ths scratches fixed.
    We have since sent two emails to this company over a two month period and have had no response.
    They are thiefs!!! Beware! If you hire any car from any company I would advice you take photos of car inside and out, in front of staff and let them know that you are not an idiot.

  6. I have a problem with the damage charges after hitting a roo south of Perth. The photo of the damage sustained taken by the repairer and the one I took after the incident are plainly not the same. Their photo shows greater damage than that which I documented. The contest continues!!

  7. Well Phil we do have our local Aussie equivilent in Dodo phone and internet providers. I had to change my VISA card number to stop them taking money.

    Even though I had never made a call or downloded a byte they would just put their hand in my pocket.

    ACCC ???

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