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Is Goldcar Rental The Worst Company In The History Of Car Rental?
Goldcar comes bottom in a recent Which? customer satisfaction survey: full story here
Unfortunately, I was introduced to law-breaking Goldcar because I used Auto-Europe for a trip to Tuscany in September 2014. It's a retail mugging I will never forget and it cast a dark shadow over the entire holiday.
Goldcar Browbeating Check-In
I already had excess insurance from Direct Car Excess so wasn’t expecting to do anything other than pick up a car when I arrived at the Goldcar desk at Pisa airport.
Almost immediately a Goldcar employee - and graduate of the Attila the Hun school of customer service - tried to hard-sell me their Super Relax excess insurance at 16 Euro/day.
I declined, explaining I already had excess cover. But he said this was no good as they didn’t work with third party suppliers. But I still said no.
His attitude then got a lot less cordial as he explained that if I didn’t buy their daylight robbery insurance I’d have to pay a deposit of 1000 Euros which they would keep for 20 working days (effectively one month) after the car was returned, even if it was undamaged.
To ram home the point he underlined both mentions of a 1000 Euros on the Auto-Europe rental voucher and wrote "20" under one of them. He repeated "20 working days" several times to make sure I understood. But still I declined.
(I later read the almost impenetrable small print he gave me and could find no mention of 20 working days, just: "the deposit may be retained for up to 15 days after the vehicle has been returned." So this is a clear case of mis-selling and misrepresentation - lying - by Goldcar Rental staff.)
Even less cordially still, he said if they found so much as a scratch when the car was returned I’d be charged a 250 Euro admin fee. And he made it sound like they’d find a scratch.
Given the state of the Renault Clio they supplied - especially the inside - it would have taken a long time checking to ensure I spotted every mark or scratch. I just hope the large brown stain on the back seat was chocolate and not a protest movement by an unhappy customer.
(A brief dip into the sewer of standard business practice for this firm suggests they can usually 'find' something wrong to bill you for if you - miraculously - somehow manage to resist having their insurance forced on you.)
He also wrote "+ day" on the Auto-Europe voucher. I’m not sure if he was saying this was a per day charge, or in addition to another charge or what exactly. But still I said no.
Then, almost threateningly, he said if I broke down I’d have to pay 250 Euros for a breakdown truck to come out.
I was stunned by this but finally, and reluctantly, agreed because my partner was starting, quite rightly, to get very agitated. It wasn't exactly putting me in a fun holiday mood.
I’ve come across excess insurance before but this was ridiculously expensive - almost as much as the initial car rental - and four times more than anything else I’ve seen. But then I’ve never come across EU law breakers Goldcar before.
Daylight Robbery Fuel Charges
When I came to pay the 160 Euro for their Super Relax insurance the bill was 270.50 Euros. He said the 110.50 Euro difference was for the tank of fuel because I had to pay in advance and bring the car back empty.
I questioned this and he said they’d refund any remaining fuel - but didn't say there’d be an admin charge for doing so.
He didn’t mention the option of bringing back the car full, which is an alternative in their small print. I was staggered to find it only cost 75 Euros for a full tank at a petrol station.
I drove away from Pisa airport feeling I’d been mugged by a particularly well-organized gang of thieves.
Remarkably, I was one of the lucky ones. Unlike many customers, I didn't have to queue for hours to get bullied, mis-sold and lied to.
When we arrived at our hotel, I emailed Auto-Europe with a brief outline of my spirit-breaking drubbing that morning and they suggested I contact their customer services when I got back to the UK. Which I did.
But Auto-Europe decided there was no complaint to answer because I’d signed for the insurance. Brilliant!
Which means that either Auto-Europe didn’t read my complaint or they’re more than happy to have their customers bullied, and lied and mis-sold to by law-breaking Goldcar Rental.
If it’s the latter, it means the important thing for Auto-Europe is that Goldcar got my signature. It doesn’t matter how they got it: they got it.
By the same logic, if someone puts a gun to your head and says sign something, as long as you sign, the gun part is irrelevant.
As it turns out, variations on "we're terribly sorry for any inconvience but you did sign for the insurance" is a common refrain in the tidal wave of 'apologies' that spew out of the Goldcar Complaints Rejection department.
Sadly, I discovered my experience is the norm for Goldcar customers rather than an exception.
I asked Auto-Europe why they dealt with such an obviously disreputable firm. I'm still waiting to hear back from them.
The answer may have something to do with money, which for Auto-Europe and Goldcar, obviously trumps customer satisfaction. I doubt either gets much repeat business.
But don’t take my word for it, or the nightmare stories on this page, the links below show how others have fared with Auto-Europe and EU law breakers Goldcar. These are some of the ones in English.
Shock Horror - Goldcar comes bottom in a recent Which? survey of car hire firms: read the story here.
There's also a brilliant Financial Times article which I can't link to directly but you can read free by typing - FT Goldcar - into Google and clicking the link.
Warning: Goldcar - one of Europe's biggest car hire companies - isn't a member of the European Car Rental Conciliation Service, the body that helps with unresolved complaints about rentals in Europe.
Why is that? Could it be they're not a member because the inevitable flood of adverse judgements would bankrupt them?
Help the Which? campaign to end rip-off hire
car charges. Share your Goldcar experiences here
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