During the last fifteen years I’ve being spending at least one week a year vacationing in France. Love this country for their culture, traditions, gourmet food, great wine, great skiing, and friendly people. Once in a while I rent a car and drive there visiting all these nice little villages and chateaux.
In January, I rented a car for 7 days from Europcar in France. The price was very decent: around 430 Euros for a good midsize car. The rent was prepaid in advance, but at the rental counter I was asked to provide them my credit card for accidentals, besides, I was warned that there will be small additional licensing/ecologic fees. I also asked the Europcar lady if I could purchase a GPS device, and she sold me one explaining that it’ll costs me 10 euro a day, but not more than 30 euros total. We got the small device and our trip exploring Provence begun. I’ve been also warned for additional 39 euros charge for the second driver.
After driving a couple of miles I noticed that our car has an excellent built-in GPS system. The first question was, “Why they sold us a second GPS device”? Three days into our journey we called Europcar asking not to charge us these 30 euros because the car was equipped with the GPS in the first place. They said, “We’ll see what we can do”.
The trip was over, Provence was great as expected, and, in about a month, I got a letter from Europcar stating that they charged my credit car for another 425 euros. The letter conveniently included the breakdown of the charges. I’ll just mention that ecology/licensing contributed only about 10% of that charge. They also charged me 70 euros for using the GPS for 7 days plus other fees.
Quick call to Europcar produced “Sorry, there is nothing we can do about the GPS charges”. Quick call to my credit card here in the US: “No problem, we’re opening the dispute with Eropcar. But first, we’ll refund you full amount.” God bless America! I said, “I’m not planning to dispute all the charges”, but for this particular credit card company was easier to dispute all amount so the vendor can start discussing details.
A week later, I’ve received two more letters from Eropcar notifying me that I made two traffic violations and my card was charged 25 euros for each one. I was never pulled over in France, but hey, there is no such thing as a saint driver. I might have been caught by one of the hidden video cameras while speeding or making an illegal turn. This happened to me in the past in the USA, but I’d always received a letter with camera photos showing my car in the midst of breaking the rules.
Europcar didn’t bother giving me any details other than date and time. The brief explanation reads “Fees following French authorities request for penalty process traffic rules violation. License plate, date, and time”.
I made another call to my credit card company disputing these 50 euros too. Let the conversation with Eropcar begin, and I’ll pay whatever I deserve to pay. But it seems that the dialog ain’t gonna happen. The new letter from Europcar simply states “Your credit house rejects our transaction” and if I’m not going to pay, the case goes to legal department and you’ll be placed “on the watch list which will prevent you from renting a car in all Europcar’s network”.
Oh well, I’ll wait until Europcar decides to talk to me explaining the validity of each and every charge. Meanwhile, I’ve placed them on the list of car rental companies to never rent from. I’m sending the link to this blog right to the service department of Europcar – if they want to talk, my phone number is on the record.