GOLDCAR is the worst scam in rental business
I rented a vehicle directly via the GOLDCAR website prior to a short trip to Andalusia. I needed the car for only one day and needed to save time so I chose a rental station located in the terminal.
The Ford Fiesta I rented was advertised on their website for EUR 14.99 inluding full insurance and free miles. And the car itself was the only good thing about this.
Because what happened to me during pickup was the same as hundreds of other reviewers throughout the internet have experienced:
The clerk at the desk told me that I needed an extra insurance against damages to the car for a surplus of 45 EUR. Three times the price of the complete rental!!
I claimed that I already had paid for that insurance as it was described in the advertisement and the booking process. The clerk then said that this insurance only covers basic damages but not -amongst many others- broken windscreens. I know how quickly you can get a rock chipped at your windshield and how expensive they are. First I denied getting extra insurance. The clerk said, in this case I would have to deposit 500 EUR with my credit card. Or, if I wanted to cancel my booking now, they would charge me a fee of 37 EUR.
So, instead of paying 14.99 plus 37 EUR for nothing and still having to rent a more expensive car somewhere else, I reluctantly agreed to pay the insurance and handed him over my credit card to pay.
It was only then that the clerk said, he would have to charge me another 110 EUR for the full tank of fuel. I was shocked and asked how this would be possible to have a Ford Fiesta with 110 EUR worth of Diesel in the tank. He replied that they charge more as the fuel price includes a service fee, but I wouldn't have to worry, because I would get a refund for the unused fuel when I return the car. Their so-called "flex fuel tariff" was the fairest and best tariff on the market. However, there was not a single word on those costs in their advertisement, nor in the booking process, nor in their terms and conditions. So I thought to myself, that if I return the car full, the usage would be ZERO and I would get a full refund.
Together with the rental price and the insurance they now charged 166 EUR from my credit card. Mind you: I had expected to pay only 15. So it was now TEN TIMES as much as advertised.
Another scammy detail: When I booked the car online I was considering returning it on the same day before going to my hotel at the airport, as my flight home was in the early morning of the next day. So during booking I entered the date from Jan., 10th 2014, 10am to Jan., 10th 2014 8pm.
I asked the clerk about the return of the car. How long the office would be open and what would happen if I wouldn't make it back in time. He said again, that I shouldn't worry, as I had rented the car for a minimum of 24 hours. So if I wouldn't make it until they close the office at 11pm. I should only drop the keys in their mailbox and I would be safe, as my flight was leaving at 7am the next morning, and the car was rented until 10am of that morning.
But: The rental contract, which he gave me, stated the hour of return that I had entered in the booking form. As I wasn't worried about the return time, I kept the car until the next morning and returned it -with a full tank!!- at 5:45am, long before their office opened, and dropped the keys into their mailbox as I was told.
A few days later came the balance invoice:
- Refund for the fuel: 77 EUR
- Surcharge for delayed return: 54 EUR
I immediately objected to that invoice by e-mail, explaining long and with copies of their own FAQ section about rental times and fuel tariffs, that I had never been informed about the costs they charged at any time and that I would render them invalid, and that I claimed back the surcharge of 54 EUR as well as the difference between the refund of 77 EUR and the 110 EUR I had paid. That was 87 EUR altogether.
Their customer service was the worst experience I had in my life. It took them days to reply. Asking me for information I had long already given, such as my contract number. And even with that information, all I got back from them was a copy of my rental contract. They then said that they do not see any discrepancy with their terms and conditions and that they regard the case as resolved. Without ever responding to my actual claims for the slightest bit.
After that I started researching the web and found dozens, if not hundreds of similar cases, all with the same pattern.
- Scaremongering customers into extra insurance during pickup
- Alternatively trying to charge a deposit from their credit card, but pretending that there was a problem with said credit card
- Thereby selling the extra insurance, which is not refundable as opposed to a deposit
- Charging never before mentioned costs for fuel
- Sending clients invoices for alleged traffic offenses together with a service fee, without proof of said offense
- Sending clients invoices for cleaning/repairs of cars even though the cars were never dirty/damaged
This is no coincidence. This is a systematic, methodical rip-off of customers. And it must be stopped.
What GOLDCAR is betting on is that the cheated customers shy away from the effort of legally claiming back their money, given that it is "only" around 100 EUR or even less, and that they book it off as bad experience. And GOLDCAR is very successful at it.