Spanish car hire firm accused of ‘ambushing’ customers

LAST UPDATED: 4 Oct, 2012 @ 16:54
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Spanish car hire firm accused of ‘ambushing’ customers

HOLIDAYMAKERS claim they are being held to ransom by a car hire firm forcing them to pay hidden fees.

Goldcar, based at major Spanish airports including Malaga, is accused of refusing to hand over the keys for online bookings until a mandatory €100 insurance payment is made, claims a report in the Daily Mail.

Online customers are offered a pay-on-pick-up deal where the car is hired for a set price including VAT, unlimited mileage, collision damage, waiver insurance without excess, passenger insurance and theft cover.

While this sounds comprehensive, customers claim they are being stung by the €100 fee on top of the price they signed up for when they go to pick up their car.

Those who refuse to pay it are having up to €1,200 frozen on their credit card to cover possible damage, despite many of them having additional insurance policies to cover such incidents.

A Goldcar spokesman said: “Goldcar takes these claims very seriously and we are continuously looking for ways to improve the information provided to the customer.”

5 COMMENTS

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  1. The same thing happened to me with a hire company based in the lower level of the multi-storey at Malaga airport. Booked through doyouspain.com, the car was reserved well in advance for 6 passengers. On collection of the car the ‘lady’ at the porta-cabin added additional insurance and cover I didn’t ask for and charged them to my credit card, upon inspecting the bill I returned to the office a few minutes later and asked her to remove these charges. She refused, said I should have objected initially (although I wasn’t informed initially), and said the charges couldn’t be removed. I could either take the car, or hand the keys back and receive a full refund in up to 7 working days. I insisted that I wanted to hire the car and have the extra charges removed now. She then reached over the counter and literally snatched the keys out of my hand, tore up the rental agreement I’d set down on the counter top, and told me to leave. Other tourists at the counter gave us both side-ways glances but not one person who overheard all of this commotion uttered a word in my, or her defense. I tried to fight back the urge to call her ‘una puta’, but gave in just before I left. Meanwhile, I had a party of six relatives waiting in the terminal for a long journey to Jaen province where I live and work. As I can speak Spanish quite fluently, I told her exactly what I thought of her, and warned any waiting tourists (in English) in the reception area outside just exactly what kind of con had just transpired. By this time I had around 25 minutes to arrange alternative car hire before all the companies closed for the evening; a bit of a challenge in the height of the holiday season! After running around the car park in the July night-time heat, and trying half a dozen or so companies, I eventually obtained a car from SIXT, one of the larger global companies who I had overlooked when I’d made on-line reservations months earlier. They came up with a cheaper deal on the spot (half the price), were really professional and pleasant, and found me a fantastic saloon car that was a pleasure to drive. I really do feel sorry for people who fall prey to these sharks after long tiring flights. It’s a really unpleasant introduction to Spain, and a sad taste of just how awful and unprofessional many customer service facilities can be in this country – in supermarkets, with utilities companies etc. Arrogance has no place in a market where customers have lots of choice. However more often than not, you don’t get a choice here in Spain and so many companies and their ‘customer service’ personnel don’t give a damn. This has gotta change!!

  2. gir How I do sympathise with you
    I have a similar tale to tell about the rental company it seems you had the disadvantage to hire from, and through the agents you used. I won’t relate the whole detail but just extras. They charged the car on a credit card that I hadn’t given them on that occasion. Despite me handing over the card I wanted them to use they used the details of a card I gave them on a previous occasion. Keeping those previous card details on the computer was a breach of the privacy laws and credit card rules. In practical terms it invalidated the insurance cover I had with the card I gave them, meaning that I drove the car for about a week before realising I was uninsured. I contacted the hirer and they were not interested and very, very rude and occupied with far more important things. I contacted the HO Hertz in Madrid who apparently have no interest in rental agreements made by their subsidiary company in Malaga Airport UNTIL the rental has been completed. Freezing funds on a card I hadn’t given them restricted what else I was able to spend with that card. Fortunately I related this all to my correct credit card provider at the time and they did cover the extra car insurance. After weeks of hassle getting the card balances sorted out I gave up. The abuse I received at the counter and the ignorance I received at the offices in Malaga and Madrid made me determined never to use this company again. I had used DYS many many times but found their disinterest on this occasion worrying and haven’t used them since. As you have found there are as good deals elsewhere. Unfortunately the delays in the rental hall can sometimes take an hour off your holiday, and the Portakabin and it’s quicker turn around time had previously been a deal breaker. However I mostly use malagacar.com now. Their rates are competitive good and the company as efficient as any I have found over 20 odd years renting car in Spain. I will look again at Sixt but have found them uncompetitive.
    The request for additional rental insurance is nothing new and most companies use it as an extra sale/extortion with varying amounts reserved as a deposit, but none as draconian as the figures quoted about Goldcar. Hope the bad publicity costs them a lot more

    By the way do make sure you check the car has an aerial because that is another scam, used by that disadvantaged company to get you to pay for a missing aerial that in my case wasn’t there at the beginning of the rental. They have you over a barrel because by the time you return the car you are normally in a rush for your flight and the odd €30 euros is an irritation rather then anything else.
    If you do have the misfortune to deal with a company called Advantage then the offsite local manager is a Antonio Pérez Castillo
    Advantage Area Manager
    Hertz de España S.L.
    Avda. Garcia Morato S/N
    29004- Málaga (Spain)
    *****
    Tfn: 952244942
    FAX: 34 952048479
    Mobile: 669093897
    [email protected]

    Best of luck! As usual its CAVEAT EMPTOR

  3. There are some really good blogs and news articles at iCarhireinsurance on how to complain for these types of situations. Goldcar and Budget are now coming up to often as the culprits of treating customers unfairly. The only way to stop them is to stop feeding them. So, let’s not use such firms and show them there is no room for them in the car rental market.

  4. GOLDCAR
    I go to Spain on quarterly basis. The closest airport for my final destination is Malaga. I use to hire a car in the airport. In April 2012 I made the mistake and hired a car from Goldcar. I didn’t have problems during my trip, I returned the car in time as per contract. Flew back home. The next day I arrived home, I checked my bank account statement. Goldcar charged me in USD although I informed them that the bank account assigned to my bank card is in euro. They converted the euro amount in USD and then back to euro. This conversion cost me 56.78 euro. I contacted Goldcar in e-mail and via phone but they never refund me. In August 2012 we went again to our friends in Spain. In August the Malaga airport is pretty crowded so I asked my wife to hire a car while I’m waiting for our baggage. I missed to mention to my wife to avoid Goldcar. By the time I got my luggage, my other half was already waiting with a Goldcar car key. The answer to my question why exactly this company she said: there were less people at Goldcar’s desk. She already paid everything so, I yield to fate. Again: no problems during the trip, car returned in time, flew home. After three weeks on my wife’s bank account an additional charge of 130 Euro appeared. Claimer: Goldcar. Accessed Goldcar’s webpage and found two invoices under our client code: first for the car hire (which was ok) and a second one for unknown reason. There was no description on the invoice just the amount. We contacted Goldcar in e-mail and phone and after more than one month I’ve got the answer: the additional charge relates to special cleaning. And this is not true; we returned the car in the same conditions we received, without damages or dirt. The biggest problem in the whole story is that my bank pays these charges even though I informed them that they shouldn’t. Once your card data were provided to Goldcar (e.g. when you pay for car hire on the spot), later on they can charge you whatever amount they want and several times. They can send invoices to the bank with whatever description – and strange to say the bank will transfer the money to Goldcar. And after then you can chase your money, you can call Goldcar (it’s pretty hard to reach Goldcar’s Customer Service and the international call costs) but the most important you’re wasting your precious time. So, if you don’t want to have stroke, if you would like to have calm après-holiday then avoid Goldcar. Pick another company but read the objective opinions about it before contacting them.
    Please note I didn’t write down the above because Goldcar got me shirt out, but to help others not to experience the same.

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