Get that final invoice when you return your rental car-or else!
I regularly hire from Thrifty and Hertz at Sydney domestic airport. With Hertz, the staff accepting the returned car at the depot driveway possess hand held electronic devices which enable them to issue you with a final invoice on the spot – after they inspect the car for damage, check the mileage and fuel gauge. You can then instantly check this amount against your paperwork from when you made the booking. Any problems you can sort on the spot.
Lately I have been booking with Thrifty as they are offering members of Australian motoring organizations a genuine 15% discount. (NRMA is the Australian franchisee of Thrifty and operates the Sydney Airport depots).
A few months ago I returned a car right on time – 17:00 and asked for a final invoice from the only employee on duty for returns. It was very busy and they were hopelessly understaffed and with a full car park – and Thrifty staff don’t have the hand held device. So I went to the counter and asked for an employee to inspect, close off, and email me an invoice asap. As I walked out the door he seemed to be heading to the car to check.
To my great surprise at 18:22 I received an emailed final invoice where my credit card had been billed with an extra $18.94 for a 1 hour late fee, which included a 1 day Vehicle Recovery Fee of $6.50 and of course 28.5% Airport Location Fee on top! Was I upset? I sure was!! How dare they take liberties like that after I trusted them with my credit card! And I am Blue Chip member.
Next morning I rang Thrifty Customer Service at 0900 and left two messages – no reply by the afternoon, so no “service” there. Late afternoon I had an email from the Operations Manager apologizing and stating “ Upon investigation of this matter it was found that it was merely a typing error on behalf of our staff which resulted in our system billing you for extra charges by mistake.” A typo –highly unlikely. The guy didn’t go to the car as he promised so didn’t close off the rental. So an hour later he just added a one-hour late charge on my credit card.
I finally had the amount credited to my card after various communications with another Operations Manager. She admitted in an email that they really needed the hand held device used by Hertz and were “investigating” the possibility of acquiring them.
I was so upset by the appalling handling of the whole thing that I asked the Operations Manager to have the GM of Thrifty contact me – still waiting!!
Mike’s Tip: Sadly, don’t be too trusting of any car rental company with your credit card. You can’t hire a car without one, but always try to receive a final invoice on your return of the car. If not possible, have the person accepting the car sign your paperwork to say what time it was returned. And check the final invoice as soon as you get it. If there are any irregularities raise merry hell!
Learn more about the whole issue of car rental in my book The Happy Holiday Travel Planner where I devote a whole chapter to car rental and all the finer points that your really do need to know.
PS No further problems with Thrifty Sydney Domestic Airport and the staff now know me really well! I now get an invoice to my mobile phone within just a few minutes of dropping the off car. But I don’t get the free upgrades that I used to get as a Blue Chip customer. I wonder why? That’s life… 🙂
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