On the second of November this year, my girlfriend and i travelled to Dusseldorf Germany for four days. Needing to travel to Munich and then to frankfurt, and being on a rather tight budget, we decided to rent a car with the company who offered the best price.
After asking around in the airport for prices, we settled on a car from Europcar given that they offered us the car for the three days that we needed it, for a total price of 208 euros.
We picked the car up without any problems from Dusseldorf airport at five o clock in the evening. They took my credit card details and i signed all neccessary paperwork.
So far so good.
The problem arose when we returned the car. On arrival at Frankfurt Hahn airport on the fifth of november a little after five fifteen in the evening, there were no signs indicating the return depot for their cars. after driving in and out of the airport various times, and trying (unsuccessfully) to contact a representative by phone in order to get directions on the return of the car, we eventually found the lot, hidden away on the narrow little road that leads to the cargo loading bay for trucks that bring merchandise to the airport. there was a tiny kiosk where an attendant usually picks the car up, checks that it is in proper shape signs the paperwork that all is okay. The problem was that there was no-one there. we parked the car and waited, and waited and no-one came. after more than half an hour had passed, we decided to leave the car there and go to the terminal to see if there was anyone in the Europcar rental desk. after a five minute walk, (uphill, in the blowing rain, dragging luggage and freezing our butts off) we reached the terminal. It was now approximately six o clock in the evening. we found the desk where an employee was sitting, apparantly chatting to a friend on the company phone. ( I wouldn't have know what she was talking about on the phone, but my girlfriend who speaks German, confirmed that it was a private call) after about five to ten minutes waiting, the girl asked how she could help us. we explained that we were returning a car and she asked us if it had been inspected by the attendant in the lot. We told her that there was no-one there and she semed quite perplexed that we had left the car without it being examined. She asked us again if we were sure that no-one was there to receive the car to which i asssured her that unless the invisible man was now being employed as a Europcar vehicle return attendant, no, there was no-one there. At this point, i was getting a bit tired of all of this, after driving 1486 kilometers in the three days that we had the car and after the long wait in the lot, the time waiting for her to finish her personal call and the fact that she thought that we were either stupid or blind, or both. Even so, i held my tongue and didn't so much as frown while she studied the paperwork, (as though it was the first time in her life that she had seen a rental contract from her own company). She tore off a copy for herself and told us that everything was fine, (after asking if the car was okay and if we had left the tank full, to which i reassured her on both counts). when we finally left the counter it was roughly six thirty in the evening and we proceeded to get something to eat and sleep for a few hours in the B&B hotel next door.
A few days later, after arriving in Spain once more, i saw that my credit card had been billed for 278.61 euros and not 208 euros as had been initially agreed. My girlfriend rang the company who told us that we had been charged an extra day for bringing the car back late. for bringing the car back at ten past seven on the evening of the fifth to be precise. Imagine my reaction. They have very poor signs leading to the return lot, they have no-one in the lot to receive the car, they have one person on the rental desk to attend rentals and in our case, returns, and they charge me an extra day for my troubles.
I would be interested to hear from anybody who has had similar experiences with Europcar. We have opened a claim with them but i dont think that we will get any satisfaction from them.
My arguments are as follows;
1. On renting the car, we should have been informed that the company has a policy of charging a full 24 hours rental for returning the car more than 59 minutes "late". Whether or not it is through fault on your part or not.
2. There should be more adequete signposting to the return lot.
3. Most important of all, there should have been someone there to check and receive the car, who could have confirmed that the car was in their lot on time.
4. The girl who received the car should have informed us that according to them, the car was late and we would be charged an extra day, that way we could have explained that we had waited for an attendant for over thirty minutes.
5. In any case, we left the car with her at approximately six thirty, give or take five minutes, on the invoice sent to my house a few days later, it was stated as ten past seven. I can only assume, that when the lot attendant eventually did show up, she got him to check the car and only then did she register the arrival of the car to be ten past seven.