CONTROVERSIAL car hire firm Goldcar promised in February its days of ripping off customers were over.
But the message hasn’t filtered down to its staff, according to David Lewis, who was billed £200 for “invented” damage to a rented Fiat 500 in Lanzarote.
Alamy Dodgy car hire firm Goldcar has come under fire again after last year promising to stop ripping-off its customers
He wondered why staff repeatedly refused to check his car when he dropped it off but when a bill arrived — along with a blurry photo to “prove” the ding — it became clear.
Goldcar has become one of the most-used hire companies in Spain and Portugal by enticing tourists with low prices. But it has come under fire for boosting profits with hard sales tactics on extras and spurious bills for damage, much like the one sent to David.
Complaints escalated so much that a new boss was brought in from parent company Europcar two months ago to rescue its reputation.
David, 39, from North London, flew to Lanzarote last month for six days with girlfriend Lucy Cox.
David Lewis was billed £200 for ‘invented’ damage to a Fiat 500 he rented in Lanzarote last month
He said: “Goldcar’s price was immediately eye-catching. Altogether it was £34 — not even £6 per day. We even added insurance from Easycar.”
His problems started when picking the car up from Arrecife airport.
As part of the rental agreement, he had to put £1,100 deposit on his credit card at the airport counter.
He said: “Having queued for 40 minutes, the receptionist would not let me see the contract I was signing, saying it was on her computer and she could not show me the screen.
When the bill arrived it came attached with this blurry photo which was meant to ‘prove’ the ding
“She said I’d have to go to the back of the queue and wait if I wanted to see it.”
The car was in such bad condition when David collected it that he “could’ve been there all day” marking the damaged areas on the form.
When David returned the motor — with a full tank of petrol as agreed — he had made only two short trips.
He was keen to get proof that he had returned the car successfully.
David says the Fiat 500 he hired was already so damaged when he collected it that he ‘could’ve been there all day’ spotting the damaged areas
He said: “I asked the receptionist to check the car and make sure he was happy with the state of it, something I presumed was standard. He point-blank refused.
“He told me all money would be refunded automatically in 24 hours.”
Needing to get his easyJet flight, David, a broadcaster and journalist, had to leave.
That evening, after landing in London, David got an email from Goldcar saying he’d damaged the rear bumper and £172 would be taken from his credit card.
Goldcar’s new boss admitted that some of their employees were taking initiatives that were ‘wrong and unethical’
There were two grainy photos as proof.
He said: “The pictures were ridiculous. One was a blurry photo of the front, the other showed some scratches, apparently of the back bumper. I am not sure it was even of the car I used.”
He complained but heard nothing until The Sun contacted them. They have now refunded the money.
A spokesman said: “We know that, on occasion, some of our past customer service has fallen short of the high-standards we set ourselves . . . and we are determined to fix this.
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“Following an internal review we are actively working to improve.”
New boss Mr Kisfaludi said in February: “Some of our employees were taking initiatives in ways that are wrong and unethical.
“For me, what is not acceptable is to become aggressive with the customer, to refuse to hand over cars.”
Have you been ripped off by a car hire firm? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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