Car hire customers demand deposits back months after returning vehicles

LAST UPDATED: 25 Jun, 2014 @ 16:27
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Car hire customers demand deposits back months after returning vehicles

EXCLUSIVE, by Tom Powell

BRITISH tourists have slammed an Andalucian car hire company for failing to repay thousands of euros in deposits despite returning vehicles in perfect condition.

Many are still fighting for their money months after they returned their vehicles to Niza Cars, which has offices around the region.

In an extraordinary exchange, filmed by one angry client, an employee admitted that 130 deposits of between €300 and €900 had not been returned due to a ‘big economic problem’.

The company, which has 2,500 vehicles and opened in the 1960s, also blamed a change of chip and pin Visa machines, blaming the bank.

Briton Steve Moore was told, on camera, this week that while 100 clients had now been paid, 30 were expected to be paid ‘within a few days or two weeks’.

He had confronted staff at Niza’s La Linea office over why he and his friend Luke Senior’s deposit had not been returned after two months of continual ‘fob off emails’.

Luke, who is dual British-New Zealand nationality, had hired the car for 23 days to go kitesurfing in Tarifa and returned it on December 13, before leaving the country.

Moore said: “They immediately tried to fob me off by saying it was all to do with the Malaga head office, absolutely nothing they could do, best to email Malaga.”

Determined for a result, he produced all the documents and email correspondence and placed a camera on the counter to begin filming.

Staff eventually agreed to call the head office and were told by a ‘Jose Ma’ in the bookings department that they were going through a ‘big economic problem with the company in general’.

The male employee then blamed the problem on the bank, and said they have now switched banks but could not explain why this was never communicated in emails.

Another customer Christine Carter, from Essex, told the Olive Press she had flown back to Malaga specifically to demand her deposit back in person.

While she eventually got the deposit back, Niza has so far not reimbursed her for the flights or accommodation, despite promises.

Several other exasperated customers told the Olive Press they only received their deposit back by going into the Malaga office in person.

Welsh pensioners Karen and Tony Wright, who own an apartment in Torrenueva, have struggled to get any answers since returning their hire car on December 16.

“We have all but given up on ever seeing the €500 again and it is a lot of money to lose,” she said.

The company’s commercial spokesman Francisco Lucena explained that the initial problem occurred after they had moved from one bank to another to get better terms for their Visa machines.

“And then the old bank blocked the machines so we couldn’t give deposits back.”

He added that there had been some ‘other problems’ as well but that they were going to be returning all deposits ‘as soon as possible’.

“We have had thousands of happy clients over 40 years and we will get this sorted out,” he added.

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6 COMMENTS

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  1. @john Simpson I suppose it would really be the question of how do you prove that there was no damage to the car?

    there is a systemic failure of all hire car companies the deposit really needs to be paid to a third party where if there is damage the company claim from if they can prove damage within a set time.

  2. Yes that is true. The first thing we do is to photograph the entire car on a camera phone. So many times they give you cars without marking existing damages on the diagram normally on the rental document. ALWAYS check it has or does not have an aerial and wheel trims. Get them to note all imperfections on the documents. They’re all the same and almost all personnel are arrogant, disinterested and impatient. If you have your own private insurance covering their so called chargeable extra coverage, they will take up to a €500 holding deposit with your credit card. You will lose all that, not just part of it, for just the slightest damage. They know the reliable insurance companies will reimburse the driver and it is an easy way for them to make money. Bunch of crooks all of them. Unfortunately if if you want cheap car rental then they are a necessary evil. I ‘speak’ from 25 years hiring cars for up to a month three times a year.
    When you arrive to pick up a pre-booked car you run the risk of an hour in the car rental lobby. Mostly things are OK but at the end of the holiday when you are hurrying to catch the flight they sting you with charges knowing that you are in a rush. Very stressful

  3. We always take photos/videos of the inside and outside of any hire car when we pick it up and when we return it and make sure that we get anything that we noted on pick up on the contract before we leave. We even do this when we hire from really reputable companies, like Helle Hollis and Avis, because you never know when something might happen. Plus, we also have our own excess insurance so we don’t need to buy the company’s own. The problem is so many people don’t read the T&Cs and don’t check the cars over, I know its difficult to check for things underneath or in the engine but so many people don’t even check whether there is an aerial or the tyres are safe before they drive away.

    There are so many complaints on Trip Advisor going back many years about car hire companies so something definitely needs doing about encouraging customers to know their rights, to check the T&Cs and to know that they can fill out the complaints book if they get bad service. If you allow the time to take the car back and wait for it to be checked, rather than last minute drop off, you can make sure that the check is done with you there (I’d film it!).

    Too many people want cheap car hire and accept the base price and don’t think about the added extras, don’t read the T&Cs and then complain about it afterwards.

  4. Whenever you hiring car on rental basis. Most of the car hiring company’s taking deposit amount on that day or one day before and return back to customer after one months but this not an good policy.

  5. Why isn’t it a good policy Paul? If you damage the car and it needs repairing then the car hire company will lose revenue while its off the road and it costs to have it repaired? I don’t have a problem with them taking a deposit, what I have a problem with is if they don’t return it quickly enough. It should be returned the day you take the car back or at least within a few days (as with Helle Hollis) but to have to wait for a month or longer, I agree, is unacceptable.

    We always take out a policy here in the UK to cover us for the excess so we can claim it back if something like this happens.

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