Positive Europcar Experience

Having recently travelled to Chile, we hired three vehicles from Europcar. One was on a voucher through Holiday Autos (it was cheaper than hiring direct from Europcar) and the other two were direct with Europcar. We chose Europcar eventhough it was slightly more expensive than the local hire companies, as we could book through the Australian branch and thought at the time, if there was a problem we could deal with Europcar Australia rather than a local hire company half the way around the world who possibly had poor English.

I am always cautious when hiring a vehicle as one doesn’t know the ‘final’ cost of the hire until some time after the car has been returned (allowing the hire company to add any additional costs such as road tolls, fuel where tank not full on return and fines/infringements).

With the voucher, the process was simple. Europcar in Santiago inspected the car on our return, confirmed it was in the same condition and then shortly thereafter, sent a photocopy of our credit card imprint with cancel written clearly on it. The cost of the hire was the value of the voucher.

The other two bookings were not so simple. Europcar when you book direct have a ‘price guarantee’ which means the cost of the hire is no more than quoted on the booking…subject to any additional option taken when collecting the car or for tolls/fines/fuel (like outlined above). All costs such as credit card surcharge, relocation fees, premium collection/drop off fees and the actual car hire are guaranteed.

On the return of the vehicles to Puerto Montt and Calama Airports, the vehicles were full of fuel and confirmed as being in the same condition as on collection. We therefore knew, as we had ensured careful adherence to local road rules, the the cost charged to our credit cards would be the same as the ‘price guarantee’.

On return reconciling our credit cards, we found that we had been overcharged by about AUD30 and AUD80 on the two bookings.

As soon as we noticed the overcharging, we contacted Europcar Australia who the booking was through and advised that we would like a cost breakdown of the rental costs as we believe we had been overcharged. Thinking, and from many complaints one hears in the media about car rental companies, we would be advised that the additional charge was a hidden cost somewhere and that we would not be able to get a refund.

To our pleasant surprise, Europcar Australia indicated that they would be making a decision on behalf of Europcar Chile on the overcharging. We provided them with the necessary documentation (and exchange rates for AUD/USD on the date of payment as the bookings were in USDs) to support our claim and earlier today advised that we would be refunded AUD35 and AUD85 for the two bookings.

Whilst the overcharging was not the result of Europcar Australia and shouldn’t have occurred by Europcar Chile, the resolution process was a very positive experience and they were very professional in their dealings. We are pleased that Europcar Australia took the initiative to resolve the matter without the likely drawn out and protracted contact with their Chilean cousins. We feel heartened by the experience and most likely will use Europcar again when travelling to our next far away place.

Something worth taking from this if one does book a hire car it to keep the:

  • booking confirmation (ask for copy to be emailed if you book via phone)

  • any documentation provided as part of the collection and drop off the vehicle (which has the vehicle condition and estimated charges, hire agreement number etc)

  • obtain confirmation on dropoff that the vehicle is in the same condition as collection and full of fuel

  • review all credit card costs to ensure that the right charge has been made.

If one keeps the above information, it may make any resolutions with a car rental company easier to do.