Abzocke with the rented car return

After almost half a year of struggle with a rental car company, we finally got our money back! And since this car rental had tried a similar rip-off in the past with two friends of ours, I have to write a few lines on the subject now. In the future, we will look more closely at the return of the rental car and also take photos. From damage one becomes wise, it is called so beautifully..

Abzocke with the rented car return

What had happened? After our two-week vacation in Spain over Christmas and the New Year, there was an unauthorized charge on our credit card in the amount of 242 euros, supposedly cleaning costs. And that after we were told in Bilbao at the return of the rental car, "the car fits so and is perfectly fine"! But the next day they probably thought of something else. Charged our credit card with an absolutely utopian cleaning fee. From the outside, the car was not only clean, but even in tip-top condition, because it had poured like rain the day before the return. The 242 euros were allegedly only about the foot space! That with us even the professional cleaning of the complete (!) Interior costs not even half and that in Spain the hourly wages are much lower and everything is much cheaper there, makes the whole thing even a bit sharper ..

And what customer takes a picture of the returned rental car when the employee, who has inspected the car from all sides and inside, tells you that "everything is OK"?!? Then to collect it later, when the tourist is already out of the country and can no longer defend himself, is really a "fine trick"!

Abzocke with the rented car return

And I would not like to insinuate the lender now that he had intentionally removed the floor mats, but what does he expect when he has none inside in the footwell?!? Of course there comes with the shoes in the course of two weeks one or the other little stone or grain of sand or whatever purely. That is also the sense of a doormat, that you can shake it out and everything is good again. The footwell looked absolutely normal. And if they hadn't told us that everything was OK, we would have gladly taken the few minutes on the spot to "embellish" it a bit. Apart from the fact that we would probably not even have complained with a not so disproportionate and totally excessive cleaning fee. But so this is just the purest rip-off!

And that wasn't all, the insolence really started then. The invoice that was sent to us by e-mail did not come from Thrifty Bilbao but from Hertz Spain. When I called Bilbao to confront them, they didn't even know about our invoice! I could hardly believe my ears! I would have to contact the parent company Hertz. Of course, he was not reachable by e-mail, but only via a general hotline. Fortunately, Portuguese is my second mother tongue, so I can handle Spanish well and I successfully fought my way through their long menu on the hotline (everything only in Spanish…). But I think that's where most vacationers fail who ever had a complaint. A great selection process, you can not call it otherwise! To my surprise, the lady at the Hertz hotline in Madrid actually spoke English! Also she could not give me any information about the invoice, but at least she had an e-mail address for me, through which in Spain all complaints of Thrifty, Dollar and Hertz are handled. Needless to say, we didn't get anything for weeks except an automatically generated confirmation of receipt..

Only 1.5 months (!) later after further complaints by e-mail there was a first feedback from the company. And that probably only because in the meantime the complaints from all other sides have rolled in. Immediately after the debit we had contacted our bank (credit card) and the portal where we had booked the rental car. Check24 got back to us very quickly, but in the end could not contribute anything useful and blamed everything on the agent AutoEurope. Thrifty had added two photos to their email to prove that we had overly filthy footwells. It concerned two photos so underexposed that one could recognize on them as well as nothing at all! Only one thing was clear, they had a huge color cast, the actually gray seats of the rental car suddenly looked brown colored! One tried us there obviously an absolutely unrealistic floor to present / Unterzujubeln. And the very worst thing was that not even the pattern of the seat covers matched those on the photos Thrifty took before handover…! This was followed by a bitter reply from us and a completely argumentation-free e-mail from Thrifty with the wonderful concluding sentence "we look forward to serving you in the future", which made the barrel overflow even more..

Abzocke with the rented car return

Then silence… The credit card company had set a deadline for the rental company to appeal our complaint. The latter had probably done the same, whereupon he was granted a second deadline, until which he should provide proper arguments. But that is why Thrifty failed in the end. We got the cleaning fee credited again. It was now mid-June and more than 5 months ago that our credit card had been charged without our consent. But we don't want to complain anymore. All's well that ends well!

Abzocke with the rented car return

Nevertheless, it was interesting what the whole thing had brought to light: A few years ago, exactly the same thing had happened to a friend in Italy. Also he got a cleaning fee imposed, although nothing was criticized on site at the return. The credit card company has also regulated with him everything in the sense of the customer. Another friend had a similar experience in San Francisco. However, he was already told when returning the car that it was dirty and that he would be charged 300 USD. But also in this case the ÖAMTC, where he had booked the car, intervened and charged back the money. As you can see, cheekiness fortunately does not always prevail! And it could be a coincidence, but in both cases the landlord was also called
Hertz. And also on the net you can find a lot of complaints about subsequent credit card charges by this company, u.A. Because of a 1-2 mm large stone chip as one under consumer protection.De can read.

We ourselves could not report anything bad about Hertz until the experience in January, on the contrary. Especially in Iceland we could rely on this company, because they had the most expensive rental cars, but the ones with the fewest kilometers on the speedometer and – as we had to find out several times – the best maintained ones. And about the one or other collected lava grains from the Icelandic highlands, no one has ever complained there. After our experiences with Thrifty and those of our friends, we will probably be careful not to book with this group of companies in the future. Beside Hertz also Dollar Rent a Car in the USA belongs to it.

What happened to us in Spain can probably happen in any country and with any other car rental company. Therefore, one should definitely pay attention and twice: first with the Acceptance of the rental car (there were always scratches, dents or even taillights with broken plastic, which were overlooked during the inspection)!) and then with the Return, so that nothing can be pinned on you. The best way to protect yourself against this is to take photos taking proof photos – we have now firmly resolved for the future!

Update February 2021: Who thinks now – like us – that the thing was finished in June 2020, the errs. In mid-January 2021, we suddenly received mail, a miraculous letter from Hertz with a reminder fee and debt collection threat. We could hardly believe our eyes! We have immediately turned to the European Conciliation Board. A month later, the matter was now finally off the table. Hertz Spain acted absolutely incorrectly in this matter, fortunately the conciliation body also saw it that way. And their decision is binding for the car rental companies! After this last action it is called with us now really: Never NEVER Hertz again! And certainly never again Thrifty or Dollar!

Update November 2021: The story, as unbelievable as it may sound, had no end. No idea what went wrong in the bureaucracy at Hertz Spain, but in August 2021, out of the blue, a letter from a German debt collection company was in our mailbox on their behalf. One day before the departure to Iceland I actually had other things to do. Had to waste my time again writing unnecessary e-mails. The first one was sent to the collection agency, saying that Hertz is ignoring the decision of the European Conciliation Board and that their bill is not legal, that we don't owe Hertz any money and that we will definitely not pay anything. The second was addressed to Hertz and the third to the European Conciliation Board to inform them that Hertz thinks it is allowed to disregard the law. Unfortunately, this e-mail contained the debt collection letter as an attachment and promptly ended up in the spam folder, as I learned afterwards. And I noticed this because – and now the whole thing is almost absurd – in October I had to contact the conciliation body again: Hertz had again asked us to pay by e-mail! The Spaniards promptly received an answer from me. This time, the e-mail did not contain very polite expressions… Normally, if you have a request, you have to expect a considerable waiting time… But in this case they immediately contacted one of the senior managers of Hertz Spain and put him in his place. And we now VERY much hope that that's it for good…!
After all these experiences, I can recommend the European Conciliation Board all the more to anyone who has problems with car rental companies in other European countries! See also our longer blog on this topic> Problems with rental cars – European conciliation body ECRCS.

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