We arranged from online suppliers, Cartrawler via Argus care hire, to pick up a rental car at Reus Airport, Spain on September 12, 2015. This turned out to be Goldcar.
Contracte number: 8728887 at 11:29 on September 12 2015.
We waited in a queue for 1.5 hours after landing to get our pre arranged car. The process was very slow. During the course of the wait, three separate people, who had already been given cars, came back to comment on the damage they had found on their vehicle.
We had bought insurance from the website, Cartrawler, to be prepared for driving in Spain. When we reached the desk, we were told this insurance was inadequate and we would have to purchase Goldstar's own insurance. We disputed this, and a man in the adjacent queue spoke to us as he was having the same conversation with his desk clerk. We eventually had to purchase the insurance, as, when driving in a foreign country, you need to know that you are complying with the laws in that country. However, it is a criminal offence in the UK to insure the same vehicle twice, and presumably this holds true in other EU countries. In order to pay for this, we needed to use a payment card which was not the one we booked with. This cost us 44 euro to do, over and above the cost of the insurance. We were unable to cancel the original insurance as we were not in a position to phone or be in email contact - a fact which we are sure Goldcar exploits. This was coercion, as we were made to feel vulnerable at our first point of contact in the country, unable to change course or lose all of the money which had already been paid, as well as being made to feel unsure/ unsafe about the legal requirement of the insurance issue. As we went through the process, we recognised that it was exactly what we had seen happening to the customers who preceded us. The same actions, the same questioning attitude, the same incredulity and finally, the same outcome - using a payment card to give money to Goldcar, which was unexpected outlay. Many of these customers had also come prepared with documentation which we presumed to be insurance.
During this process, the manager who served us was absolutely impassive, running to what was obviously a well rehearsed script. Although she explained the reasons, they made no real sense, but had to be accepted as we had no way of checking. Similarly, as she explained the petrol system, she treated us in a disdainful way as if we were mentally subnormal, taking credit and debit card details which we then felt might be used for spurious charges not really incurred by us. She did not ask for the details of the code which the DVLA said was now required by car rental companies who are renting vehicles to UK licenceholders.
Eventually, we were given the keys to a Ford Fiesta. The car was so badly damaged that we could not even be certain if it was roadworthy. We have video of this if you require to see it. We complained, the manager was supercilious and said she did not know the condition of the car. However, the car was exchanged and the substitute was acceptable.
This whole process took almost 2 hours at the very beginning of our holiday, leaving us to worry about what might happen if we had need to make an insurance claim, if the Goldcar insurance was really adequate, if the vehicle we had rented was really roadworthy, what would happen if we needed to call them for assistance. The whole scenario left us feeling absolutely robbed, in broad daylight, by a company which obviously trains its employees to lie about the legal requirements for driving in order to extract money from the customer, as well as charge extra for using an internationally acceptable payment card.
Leaving aside the insulting way in which we were treated, we are asking for this incident to be investigated, a refund of the insurance to be given to us and a refund of the 44 euro charge for using a separate card to buy the extra insurance. Also, Cartrawler and Argus need to understand how Goldcar is operating (if they don't already know, and it would be impossible for them not to know!) and be persuaded not to trade with them, as it gives a veneer of credibility to Goldcar online.