I sent this to the MD and am awaiting response: DO NOT USE THIS COMPANY...
My problems began even at the booking process. I booked via www.a1nationalvanhire.co.uk and was quoted Â£333.97 for 3 days hire of a Mercedes van. I received an email confirming this price having booked on 12 Mar, yet 3 days later I received another email claiming the price of the hire was Â£392.40. I rang 0116 268 0981 and was told the price added on was the VAT. At no point on the website does it state that the price is exclusive of VAT and so it was a surprise to see another Â£58.44 on top of the high amount I was paying your company for the hire. I am glad to say that the matter was resolved and I did not have to pay the extra money although looking on the website it is still unclear whether the prices quoted have VAT included with them.
The real problems began at the start of the hire. We were moving house from Nairn in north Scotland to London going via Nottingham to offload heavy furniture.
"¢ We set off from Nairn on Fri 2nd April 2010 at 0930
"¢ At 1020 the van broke down on a busy dual carriageway on the A9 which although a sunny day had up to a meter of snow on the edge of the road
"¢ Looking at the paperwork I rang the incident number on 0800 0280 999. There was no ringing or sidetone so I was unable to get through
"¢ I rang the Inverness office on 01463 235337 where the van had originated. This rang through to the national reservation line and after explaining my predicament was told to ring the incident number above which I tried a number of times but again there was no ringing.
"¢ I again rang the Inverness office which went through to the national line and was then given another Inverness number to try
"¢ I rang 01463 238084 and told them there was a breakdown and they were the nearest office. Again I was told to ring the incident line and again I tried but to no avail; again it did not ring
"¢ I tried 01463 238084 again a number of times but this time there was no answer
"¢ I rang through to the national reservation line and was given 01463 238165 which was the back office for the Inverness branch but there was no answer when I tried
"¢ I rang the national reservation line again and was told to ring 0116 2295323
"¢ After explaining the problem the man tried to ring the incident number and agreed with me that there was no ringing, a problem he had not encountered before. He spoke to RAC commercial for me and I was transferred through and was told that they would send someone to assist
"¢ In the meantime, as we had already been at the side of the dangerous dual carriageway for over an hour with no recovery on its way, my partner found a number for LDV recovery in the glovebox and managed to ring them and organise recovery
"¢ Thinking we then had 2 recovery companies on their way to assist, I rang the RAC commercial to cancel with them
"¢ At 1140 my partner rang LDV to confirm they had the correct contact number for him
"¢ After waiting nearly an hour thinking LDV were on their way to assist, my partner rang them to see where they were where he was told it had been cancelled at 1105. He explained that he had rang at 1140 to confirm his number and was not told then that it had been cancelled. After a lot of confusion, we found out that RAC commercial and LDV recovery are in fact one and the same and so unbeknownst to us I had cancelled what I though was a separate company. This was extremely unclear and the fact that my partner rang to confirm his number yet was not told they were not expecting that job is outrageous.
"¢ In the meantime we began thinking towards having to swap vans. I rang 01463 238084 and was told to ring Inverness airport on 01667 460478 to organise another van. The lady told me that there were no vans available in Inverness or Aberdeen (a 3 hour drive from Inverness) and did nothing to help any further telling me they should be able to fix the van.
"¢ As we could get help transferring our heavy furniture across to another van in Inverness, if we were having to go anywhere else this would have been a problem as my partner could not lift the heavy furniture such as a fridge freezer and bed on his own as I would be unable to assist. We rang 0116 2295323 and spoke to Dan (01667 2233645 Ext 2222) who was the most helpful person we spoke to through this entire ordeal and if it wasn't for him I feel that nothing would have been arranged.
"¢ He was able to arrange for the Van to be towed all the way to Nottingham where we would have help from family to offload the heavy items before swapping the van Saturday morning so we could get the remainder of our things to London on time
"¢ At 1520, some 5 hours after we broke down we were recovered and then set off on our long 9 hour journey of 450 miles to Nottingham which we had to make that day. We arrived there at 0105 in the morning and our van arrived 10 minutes later.
"¢ Twice the recovery company rang us to ask us the address in Nottingham and when the recovery driver turned up with the van he had been given a completely made up contact number even though we had confirmed all of our contact details at the time of recovery on the A9
"¢ On Sat 3rd April 2010 at 0915 I rang 0116 2233645 and asked to speak to Dan and was told he was not working until Tues. There were no notes on the system explaining what had happened the day before, and after explaining that the van was towed to Nottingham the young man rudely cut in and asked why the van had not been swapped in Scotland. I politely told him that if he had listened I was trying to explain why the van had to be towed and that we expected the van to be swapped that day in Nottingham. He told me he would put me through to the Nottingham branch so I could organise the swap directly with them although he actually put me through to the RAC
"¢ I therefore had to ring the above number again and got through to a lady and had to explain the entire situation again. She was very helpful and arranged the RAC to recover the van at 1200 which would take us to the Nottingham branch and we would swap vans. I also told her to make sure the London branch who were collecting the vehicle were aware we would be later than the 1500 I had arranged for collection when I had booked. The lady told me that they were not picking it up until 1300 on Mon 4th Apr which at no point I was informed of so if I had been in London on time I would have been waiting for a collection that was never going to happen
"¢ The RAC turned up on time and my partner was taken to the Nottingham branch. When he got there he was told to wait while they sorted the van. They had known since 0930, some 2 and a half hours before so really the van should have been ready straight away for us to take and get to London. There was then confusion as they thought we wanted the van in a couple of weeks, I do not understand how this arose and all they were doing was wasting more of the little time we had to try and move
"¢ Whilst my partner was at the branch there were a number of other dissatisfied customers which really indicates to me how bad a company you really are. One couple had booked a car via the central reservation number that morning and when they turned up to collect in branch they were given a different car and told to pay more. The man at the desk told them they did not have the car they had booked available in that branch and it was the fault of the booking number which is abroad and that they have had problems with them before. It seems there is no communication in your company and that people who work for the same company are dissatisfied at their own service.
"¢ When my partner was asked to sign the paperwork it said the drop off was Sun 4th April in Nottingham. Again it is unclear how this conclusion was reached as the collection was always going to be in London and was on Mon 5th April as I had established earlier. The woman was adamant that he had to sign with the incorrect details on and that people always ignore it and drop off the hire vehicle in a different location. This is a legally binding contract that my partner was made to sign and goes to highlight the inadequacies of your company who cannot even keep track of where their vehicles are or need to be
"¢ After waiting over an hour for a van that should have been ready straight away my partner was told to wait on the courtyard whilst they got the vehicle. He then watched them back the van into a hanger. Upon approaching the driver he was told the van had to be washed. This should have been done before 1200 when we were going to turn up and my partner took the vehicle unwashed. It made no difference to us whether it was clean or not, we were having our time wasted when we needed to be in London to unpack before we had to work the next day.
"¢ When we finally got the van, it had a broken side door which did not lock properly
"¢ On Monday 4th April at 1300, the time we had been informed the van was going to be picked up we rang 0116 2233645 to ensure that the local company were on their way to pick up the van. We were then informed that the office was not even open as it was Easter bank holiday Monday and that the pick up was in fact 1300 on Tues 5th April. Yet again our time was being wasted.
"¢ Tues 5th April 1300 came and went and still the van was not picked up. Ringing the above number again we were put through to the Watford branch and were told they were busy and would probably pick the van up the following day. Our main problem was it was parked in the Visitors car park of the military HQ Northwood where we had moved to and did not want the guards to become suspicious of the van being parked there and an incident arising because of the incompetency of your company to pick up one of their assets and us getting the blame for it a few days into our new job.
"¢ On 8th April, having looked at my bank account Europcar took out Â£393.04, nearly Â£200 more than the Â£200.43 I expected to pay. I have now paid Â£526.58 to yourselves and a1national, thinking at the start I was paying a fairly reasonable Â£333.97 for the hire. Ringing 0116 2233 645 I was put through to customer services who explained Â£50 and then Â£150 was added on for petrol. Notwithstanding the fact that the broken down van had not even been used for the petrol to need replacing, Â£200 on the cost of petrol is an absurd amount. Add to that everything else that has happened and the fact your company took it upon themselves to take Â£200 from me without explaining where the cost came from is paramount to theft. The matter is currently being looked into under Resoloution number 2193508.
Product or Service Mentioned: Europcar Customer Care.