Beware these car hire cowboys who send FAKE damage pictures to keep your cash
Thinking of a holiday? Aren't we all? But if you’re booking a break in Europe please, please, please avoid the car hire cowboys who go by the name of Goldcar.
Jenna Ward is one of many who've had a terrible experience after hiring one of their cars.
She had booked a family holiday in Spain and flew with Ryanair – who also arranged a hire car at Valencia Airport.
Let the rest of this be a warning…
Jenna's husband Rob had to sign a diagram of existing damage on their Citroen Picasso – and put a £1419.72 deposit on his credit card – BEFORE even seeing the vehicle.
Alarm bells were already ringing.
When they collected the car there was more damage than mentioned. Wisely, they took their own photographs of it – including a damaged aerial – and reported it back at the Goldcar desk.
No problemo, the staff member told them. She inspected the car with them and explained that marks of 5cm or less – like the ones they had found – were too small to be of concern.
She removed the aerial and went to look for a replacement. As there were none in the office they agreed to leave it missing. Rob signed what he was told was updated checkout paperwork – but received no copy of it.
One prang-free holiday later, the family returned the car – with a full tank of fuel as required – at 5am, leaving the key in a drop-off box and flew home.
You’ve guessed it… days later they discovered their refunded deposit was £373.62 short.
An email arrived, saying: Dear customer, Thank you for trusting Goldcar Rental for your car hire. Attached is a message of interest to you. Kind regards. Goldcar Rental.
Attached were photographs of what Goldcar claimed was fresh damage, including a close-up of shallow scratch to the paintwork near a rear wheel arch.
Another document listed the charges for the scratch and – surprise, surprise – the missing aerial. Oh and a tank of petrol.
The Wards were dumbfounded.
Not even the same car
But closer inspection – and comparison with their own pictures – showed the scratch wasn’t even on their car.
In fact, the shape of the panels shows the car is not the Picasso, which, wisely, they had photographed.
Jenna contacted Goldcar. Or at least she tried to.
“I couldn't access their online complaints system as it required a contract number and client number to login. Our paperwork only had a contract number. The email my husband received was from a no-reply address.”
So Rob emailed the company’s customer feedback address with their own pictures, and asked for a refund of the missing £373.62.
Despite the evidence Goldcar responded weeks later that they were "satisfied that the damage occurred during the rental period."
They would be, wouldn’t they?
Jenna told A Spokesman Said: "It appears Goldcar make a tidy income from additional claims like this. Unbelievably, I was actually relieved when I saw Goldcar was the company that had been booked by Ryanair as we've used them previously with no problems.
"We are 100 per cent certain that the damage pictured on the photo did not occur on the vehicle we hired, and that it was not present when the vehicle was returned to Valencia Airport.
"The damage shown on Goldcar’s photo is not actually of the vehicle we hired, our aerial had already been removed and the fuel tank was full. We should get a full refund."
We agree. So we have contacted Goldcar's CEO Juan Carlos Azcona, asking for an explanation and a refund. He is yet to respond. He is probably busy reading through his huge complaints inbox...
We also contcated Europcar, which bought the Spanish company for around £500million last year. We're waiting for their reply too.
Jenna said: "We’re gutted not only for all of this hassle trying to recover the money, but for the impact on future holidays. I’ll never be able to book through an agent like that again and will have to book direct."
Have you had a nightmare on holiday? Tell us your experience. We’re on your side and we’re here to help.
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