Please find enclosed details of my recent experience with Europcar in Manchester. I am launching a claim against the company today in the Small Claims Court but I believe there is enough background evidence here to form the basis of an investigative enquiry into their dealings. It would seem that they operate a number of ways of obtaining money from customers’ that are at best not transparent and maybe even purposefully deceptive.
I would be very keen to discuss my dealings with this company for any article / report that would act as a warning to other customers regarding their practices.
CUSTOMER’S EXPERIENCE WITH EUROPCAR CAR RENTAL .
On Saturday 17th January 2015 I turned up to collect a car from EUROPCAR CAR RENTAL who are based at the CAR HIRE VILLAGE that services Manchester Airport. I had booked and paid for the rental on the Internet and was arriving to collect the vehicle.
What happened over the next two weeks reveals a systematic attempt on the companies behalf to cheat customers out of money through policies that are designed to take advantage of customers.
The Company in question isADDRESS:EUROPCARMANCHESTER AIRPORT CAR RENTAL CENTR,RINGWAY ROAD,MANCHESTER AIRPORT,M22 5WH, , United Kingdom.CONTACT:P: +(44) 3843414P: +(44) 4997541
On arriving at the customer service desk I was told that the company had a better vehicle available if I wanted it. The price for the vehicle would be an extra £ 40. I actually commented that for such a small difference it would seem silly not to upgrade as the rental was for 8 days. The salesman agreed and said that I was just lucky that they had the better vehicle in which is why he could give me a cheap price. Although £ 40 seemed reasonable I had already paid £107 and this increase of 40 % would seem a little high – netherless it was only £ 5 a day for the 8 days so I agreed. I also was talked into an insurance protection payment of around £90 which would mean I did not have to pay higher than £ 250 for any damage. I was tired after a twelve hour journey and just wanted to get on my way. I signed the agreements and left.
I returned the car ( fully undammed ) on Sunday 25th January.
On the 28th January EUROPCAR took a further £ 576 from my debit card. No explanation was given – it was only by checking my account that I realised the amount had gone.
I telephoned the company ( from Spain ) and was told by a person called William that most of the money had been made up by my UPGRADE which was charged at £ 40 PER DAY. He said that this is what I had signed for and so £ 320 was added to the price of the car. They had also charged £ 59 for petrol although I had filled the tank the day before ( Saturday )
I disputed the amount and said that nobody would see an increase from under £ 20 a day to around £ 60 per day as reasonable or a small amount. I said that the form I had signed DEFINITELY said £ 40 on it and that I wanted to have the money refunded. I also enquired how the rental had now increased from the original £ 107 to £ 745 – he said that VAT had been added to the price and that there were a number of other minor charges.
He agreed that the process was not transparent ( I have since requested a copy of the phone call ) and said he spoke to a lot of customers and it was obvious that I had ‘made a mistake ‘ – he could not promise but said that I would almost certainly get a refund. I was pleased with his help and thanked him.
Two days later I received the following email
Dear Mr Sweetman
Thank you for contacting Europcar Customer Services on 2nd February 2015 regarding your recent rental.
I have investigated your query regarding the upgrade of the vehicle. As I was not present in the conversation at the Rental Station, I cannot comment on whether you was advised on the upgrade being a daily rate, due to this I would need investigate based on the documents we have which are provided by the Rental Station showing what was accepted.
I have attached a copy of the Rental Agreement for your records, which provides a breakdown of the additional items. It states on this document that the Daily Vehicle Upgrade Rate has been accepted, in light of this being signed for and accepted I can confirm that the upgrade charge is correct.
I trust this clarifies this matter and if you have any further queries, please don’t hesitate to contact me
Ricky ANDERSON-STRETTONEuropcar UK Group | Customer ServiceOffice: 0371 384 0235 | Fax: +44 207 198 1713James House, 55 Welford Road, Leicester, LE2 7AR, UKEuropcar UK Limited. Registered in England No 875561Europcar Group UK Limited. Registered in England No 1089053Registered Office: James House, 55 Welford Road, Leicester, LE2 7ARSave trees. Print only when necessary.
I was not satisfied with this response and wrote back to the sender explaining my reasons.
Above is the price that I signed for . the salesman pointed at the £ 40 and said that was the price we had agreed. If I had any idea at all that it would be £ 40 a day I would not have dreamed of paying that much. That would cost more than the whole holiday.
The second photo shows the page that I was not shown and it can be plainly seen that I have not signed this. Clearly this page would have alerted me to the full price and I would not have taken the upgrade.
Please also note in the first picture the BASIC RENTAL EXTENSION of £ 18.69This is just a made up amount that has been added as there was NO extension to the rental period.
I had hoped that all of this was just unfortunate luck but following my response from EUROPCAR have been looking into other responses to the company on reputable internet evaluation sites.
What has emerged is a very clear picture that the company appear to use a number of methods to cheat customers out of extra money. The cheap rental price on the Internet can be seen as just a way to hook the customer – the real payment comes from the additional extras that they either sell you at the counter or debit you when they have finished the service. These range from the method that I fell for to very peculiar practices considering speeding fines , damage and other such additions.
There is no doubt that this company resort to dubious practices, the tyre scam is a favorite one, After suffering at their hands to the tune of 150GBP I did a little research and found numerous people who had been scammed by Eurocar. As they know its almost impossible to prove and carry on doing it. One ex employee confirmed that it is common practice throughout the company. Eurocar are a disgrace, dont touch them!
Europcar are complete ***. I worked for them. They pressure you into making sales and encourage you, very strongly if you get my meaning, to upgrade the vehicle even if you don't need it. The reason the web site says "or similar" when you book is so they can scam you into upgrading. The senior managers are mostly just *** bags. They will always try to pin damage on you as well. Use enterprise. Cheaper, much better customer service and they will not try to rob you blind.
I am so upset by Europcar. I never expected that an international company would lack so much integrity. I noticed a week after the car hire that I was charged 490 pounds for one day of car hire from Heathrow to Luton. After another week I finally got a reply from their customer service - who sent us an email to explain why there were these charged. It turned out that they charged 250 pounds for a missing satellite navigation. Now why would I steal a satellite navigation worth half that price knowing that I had left credit card details against something like this. Apparently I should have given the satellite navigation to the counter instead of leaving it in the car. However, I was no informed by any of the staff of this - either in London or in Luton. How was I suppose to know that you can't even trust an international company to do right by their customers.
I was recently scammed by Europcar UK. After several emails to their customer services i was getting nowhere, so threatened to take them to court, still didnt get anywhere. I guess they think people will just lie back and accept it. I went straight to the county court, filed a claim for the full amount plus court fees and interest, Europcar settled in full a couple of days before judgement would have been entered.
Dont let these guys take your money without permission, i thought that was theft....but apparently they are getting away with it a lot.
I too received an email from Europcar to inform me that £62 was being debited from my card to cover damage to a recently hired vehicle from Manchester Airport. When investigated I was told that a wheel trim had a scratch and that the £62 was to cover the damage. My girlfriend has also just been charged a similar amount by Europcar at Manchester airport for a scratched wheel trim too. Both of us have our own comprehensive insurance policies (which are cheaper than the hire company) & both rented from Europcar, Manchester Airport within weeks of each. This should be investigated by trading standards.
The above reviews are examples of literally HUNDREDS that I found . One site had 865 reviews with 757 giving them 1 star out of 5
I am not particularly interested in launching a EUROPCAR campaign so I have tried to be more than reasonable and have sent them the following EMAIL
Dear Mr Stretton
I find your answer unfortunate as I now have to spend time fighting your company on this , a process that will prove to be expensive for both of us but ultimately just for your company.
I will try to put this right with this email - if you do not then refund my money I will be seeking legal advice and will do all I can to show that your company are operating a policy that they know to be potentially fraudulent.
I honestly do not want to go down that path and would kindly ask that you consider the following
1) Your Member of Staff clearly did not indicate that the upgrade was £ 40 per day. No reasonable person would accept an increase from £ 20 a day to £ 60 per day as the 'small' increase that he suggested. he clearly misled me and I now have three other people via social media that have had exactly the same experience . I will continue to gather names to show that this is a POLICY that your company uses unless I have a full refund. I had taken the increase to be from £ 20 a day to £ 25 - an increase of 25 % - however the real increase was 200 % which no court would see as reasonable. 2) On the documentation you have sent I have NOT SIGNED the payments section that shows the OVERALL total- I would not have done so. The section that I have signed gives the TOTAL for the upgrade as £ 40 and even though this says UNIT PRICE and I assume is your way of saying daily your Member of Staff pointed at this and I swear said - as you can see it is only £ 403) I was prepared to treat this as an error or a misunderstanding. If i am forced to take this further I will be doing all I can to prove that this is intentional. this will involve media attention that will not look good for your company.I had intended to copy this in to the Manchester Evening News and Granada reports but would rather give you the opportunity to consider your position before such escalation. 4) The fact that the documents were signed is not proof that the customer was fully aware of the situation as there are important parts on seperate pages. a good lawyer will be able to rip your documents to shreds. You know this .
I would ask you to consider your position again and as a matter of good faith with no implications return the excess that you have unjustly taken from me. I will then be able to drop this and move on. If not I will do all I can to prove that your system is , at best , flawed - and at worst deliberately misleading. If I prove that the deception was intentional it will act as a test case for many customers to take action against you.
I would ask you to reimburse
£ 280 ( for the Car Upgrade ) - that being the £ 320 LESS the £ 40 that I agreed to £ 30 for the telephone call from Spain that I made yesterday£ 30 for the work that has gone into this complaint£ 56 being the VAT on the car Upgrade part in dispute
TOTAL £ 396
I am trying to be reasonable and will ( as long as it is paid within 5 working days ) accept £ 300 as a full refund - as stated above I will take this as good faith on your part and then drop all further action and comments.
Further - during my telephone call yesterday ( 2nd February ) with the excellent William that dealt with me he made it very clear that the company were working at the moment on removing this type of lack of transparency for pricing.
I am still prepared to treat this as a misunderstanding but would ask that a copy of the phone call be KEPT and made available if you are not willing to accept reason. I would suggest that you listen to the call and imagine it as part of my case. we have not even started to discuss the addition of VAT as unsignposted - the excessive charge made for petrol or several minor items on the bill that are clearly nonsense.
The person who dealt with me that Saturday misled me. What remains to be seen is whether he did so with the company blessing OR not.I really am not an awkward man and had been delighted with the service but I will not go away
I would respectfully ask you to reconsider your position.
I have now received this response from Europcar
• They have not answered the issue that the itemised bill was not signed• They have not agreed to make the telephone conversation that I requested available to me• They have not commented on why an extra day charge was added• They have ignored my appeal
Dear Mr Sweetman
Thank you for your further email to Europcar Customer Services on the 3rd February 2015 regarding the upgrade of the vehicle.
I have reviewed this matter based on the comments provided. I must reiterate my last email regarding the documentation that was signed, accepting the daily amount for this upgrade. Due to this we are unable to process any refunds.
I do apologise if this was not the resolution you were seeking however due to the documentation being signed and accepted we are unable to investigate this any further.
If you do have further documents which will allow me to reconsider this, please send them through to me. The claim 6030362 is now closed and we are unable to re-open this until documents are provided.
Ricky ANDERSON-STRETTONEuropcar UK Group | Customer ServiceOffice: 0371 384 0235 | Fax: +44 207 198 1713James House, 55 Welford Road, Leicester, LE2 7AR, UKEuropcar UK Limited. Registered in England No 875561Europcar Group UK Limited. Registered in England No 1089053Registered Office: James House, 55 Welford Road, Leicester, LE2 7AR
Product or Service Mentioned: Europcar Car Rental.
Reason of review: Problems with payment.
Monetary Loss: $1000.
Preferred solution: Full refund.