I’m heading to London this weekend on business, which puts me in the mood to pick at the scab (so to speak) of my most recent trip to the U.K., last summer. A couple months after getting home, we unexpectedly got a notice from Europcar, our rental car company, politely informing us that our credit card had been charged an additional £107.82 ($165.61) due to our Kia’s having been returned with a flat tire. Er, a “punctured tyre.” This annoyed us because we’d driven the car (or “motored”) all over the west of England for four or five days without having any “tyre” trouble at all. And upon returning the car, neither the attendant nor we had noticed a flat which, you know, you’d think we would have.
Europcar included a repair invoice for the ($165!) “tyre”…which, I couldn’t help noticing, was dated fully ten days after we returned the car. I suppose it’s not impossible that in our last minutes of driving the car, we caused some slow leak that was finally noticed a week or so later. But, of course, that’s not how “tyre” “punctures” (still not tired of these hilarious quotation marks!) usually happen. Seems to me that the phantom “puncture,” if it happened at all, probably happened after the car was checked in without incident, not before.
When I contacted Europcar customer service, they threw up their hands and innocently told me they couldn’t deal with me directly because I’d booked the car using a third-party broker; my contract was with the broker, not them. The broker, of course, told me my beef was with Europcar. Due to some crossed wires with my credit card company, I was unable to get this charge contested in time, so I ended up paying the $165. I was annoyed but assumed this was an innocent screw-up…until I started to find Internet threads like this one, which strongly suggest that Europcar’s business model is double-dipping foreign customers’ credit cards for groundless charges once they’re out of the country and have little or no recourse.
I could spend hours fighting Europcar’s “customer service” people over $165.61, but other customer reports strongly suggest this will be fruitless. I’m just too tyred. But I do have one weapon most Europcar screw-ees don’t: a well-Google-indexed website! It’s possible that the next time someone Googles “does Europcar suck” or “Europcar crooks?” they will find this blog entry! And, even though Europcar cars are temptingly easy to book on-line, and usually at the inexpensive end, they will choose a different agency.
Since this happened in the U.K., I have been inspired by the novels of disgraced British uber-wanker Lord Jeffrey Archer to try to cost Europcar the exact $165.61 they extorted from me. So please drop me a line if you are a potential Europcar customer of generations yet untold that somehow finds this post and is persuaded to book elsewhere. If you could let me know exactly how much money this cost Europcar, that would be very helpful to my accounting.
To paraphrase Dennis Farina in the movie Snatch:
“Anything to declare?”
“Yeah. Don’t go to England and use Europcar.”