Locauto — damage charges
At the end of Nov this year we hired a 9 seater car from Argus Hire from Milan Malpensa Airport. The car rental company was Locauto. On presenting the hire voucher to Locauto Rent at their desk I was told that the desk had trouble with computers and my credit card was swiped manually on the rental agreement. I was asked if I wanted to take out extra excess cover insurance with Locauto Rent - I declined.
Our party of six was then escorted by a Locauto employee to the garage area to collect the car. The employee appeared to be very rushed and during the car inspection was very poor in recording existing damage to the exterior of the vehicle. Both I and another member of our party pointed out areas of damage that he missed and asked him to note these on the vehicle report. The hand over procedure lasted approx 5 mins. Specifically to note -at no stage did the employee inspect with us the interior of the vehicle except to record the car mileage. It was pointed out we needed to return the vehicle with a full tank of fuel.
No paperwork was presented to me at that point as the employee had no copying facility.
We found a fault with the electronic fuel gauge here by despite ensuring that the tank was full, the gauge did not reset and continued to show approx the tank 3/4 full. On our return to the airport we were met by a different employee from Locauto who started to check the car. It was noticeable that the inspection was far more thorough than the initial pre-hire one. The employee spoke reasonable English so I explained situation with the fuel gauge. I needed to be insistent that the tank was full. He did pass the comment that this did occasionally happen, he would need to disconnect the battery and this would reset the gauge. Despite our obvious concern that we would be charged for fuel none has been made to my account to date.
At this point the employee then opened a rear door and immediately pointed to a burn mark on one of the rear bench seats. Several of our party specifically commented later that the way he identified this damage gave a strong indication that he knew it was there.
I immediately denied that we had caused the damage, none of our party were smokers but my strongest argument was that no inspection of the vehicle interior was taken by the Locauto employee when the vehicle was handed over.
A vigorous argument ensued and I refused to sign any paperwork. I did however comment on a vehicle inspection sheet regarding the fuel and burn mark. Locauto were unable to give a copy of this - however we have photographed it.
Unfortunately I was unable to proceed with the argument as there were no senior Locauto managers available and we needed to transfer to another terminal for our flight back to the UK.
Subsequently we have been invoiced for over Euro 430 for damages to the seat, Locauto have failed to reply to any email or phone message. Argus Hire have refused to resolve the issue despite my persistence that they have a responsibility to me by being the company with whom I made the booking. Any request by Argus Hire to Locauto to contact me has also failed. I have now put the credit card charge into dispute with my bank and await their decision.
I would be interested to hear of any similiar cases with Locauto.
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