When a Peugeot becomes a Kia; a story of "hidden charges"
and poor service....
We rented a car off Avis Rentacar for our holiday in Gozo (Malta).
It was booked through Thomas Cook travel agents in Lewes E Sussex
(Avis ref given). They advised us that there were a couple of
charges which they could not itemise that would be payable to
the Avis reps in Malta (drop off and pickup charges, additional
driver charges and additional insurance charges relating to the
fact we're both under 25) but that they "wouldnt amount to
We had ordered a small (class A, equiv to Peugeot 106) car, and
the first thing the rep said when he arrived (12.00 02/08/2001)was
thaat they didnt have the car we had ordered. He then showed us
this clapped out Kia and explained that because it had Air con
(that we found later didnt work), and 5 door, that it was an upgrade
but that they wouldnt charge extra as we hadn't asked for it.
He then proceeded to write down our contract - adding a "Refuelling
charge" of LM9.20 which he stated when questioned would be
all we would need. He said that he'd filled it up so all we'd
have to do is return it empty and we wouldn't be charged.
He also advised us that we would have to take Personal Accident
Insurance (PAI) cover or he couldn't let us have the car. We stated
that we had already obtained much superior cover with Endsleigh
(showing him our certificate) and said we did not require it.
He called his office and spoke to TWO different managers both
of whom said we HAD to have it or they couldnt release the car.
[It says on Avis's own UK website that PAI
is not required.] He said we would have to deal with it
when we returned to the UK.
We had already decided that we only needed the car for 5 days,
not 8 as we had originally booked so we asked for a refund of
the extra 3 days as it says is possible at no charge in the customer
documentation from Avis. He said he couldn't put that on the form
but he'd ensure it went through when he got to the office.
It is now a month later, and not only has
my credit card been billed for the full 8 days rental (when we
took only 5), it has been billed an extra £40 for the PAI
(unnecessary by Avis's own admission), and an extra £20
for a "refuelling charge" which was ALREADY included
in the charges on the rental agreement.
On returning from Malta we attempted to contact Avis's customer
care line several times and after waiting in line for a total
of 2 hours, we were passed around from customer services to the
finance department and back again until they "accidentally"
hung up on us.
We then called Thomas Cook (Lewes) and Ms (named person) advised
us that "Alan" from Avis would be calling us immediately
to sort things out. We have heard nothing. I have sent a letter
to my credit card company asking them to stop payment to Avis
until they've sorted themselves out, and I
am writing a letter to Avis now but I don't expect to hear anything.
I figure an increase in "miscellaneous charges" EQUAL
to the agreed rental fee is astonishing and not only that but
if I'm going to pay such an astronomical amount for renting an
awful car, I expect MUCH better customer
service than what I got from Avis.
The way I see it Avis owes me £107 (£40 for the PAI
that was unnecessarily forced on us, £47 for the 3 extra
days they charged us, and £20 for the duplicate refuelling
charge) not including the charges I ought to make them for the
time and irritation of having to deal with a second-rate company.
Links to other Avis Complaints: Link1
Please Avis tell us this is a mix up and that you do give a better
service. We have sent a Right of Reply letter to the Avis Headquarters
and hope that Avis would give Ms Chester the courtesy of a response.
update 26 September 2001
A promise of action by AVIS?:
"We have received a letter from the MD of Avis UK saying
"we're looking into it" and that we'll receive a further
letter 20 working days from the date of receipt of that letter.
However I found it interesting that while he dated his letter the
11th of september, it was not actually posted until the 19th (postmarked),
so they're being a bit lazy if nothing else!"
update on 15 October 2001
"We received a letter today saying (basically) "we're
very sorry you've not been particularly happy and here's £19
for the duplicate refuelling charge" but funnily enough I dont
see any mention of a refund for the PAI nor is there any mention
of the £47 we're due for the extra 3 days we were charged
for. They then say "we hope this won't put you off using Avis
again" - it's quite simply amazing what companies expect the
customer to just put up with as though they don't have a choice.
Avis will NEVER get any custom from me, my family or anybody I know."