Monica Pinna: "Franchises, insurance, added costs. Sometimes, renting a car can become a nightmare. We have gone to Italy, one of the European countries with more complaints, to discover what are the most common problems and how to protect Your rights".
Salvatrice Bufalino: "We rented a car during our vacation in Italy and when we returned it we put the keys in the mailbox of the company, since there was no one. When we returned home, we found ourselves with the unpleasant surprise of seeing that they had charged us 600 euros without any explanation. "
It has been almost a year since Salvatrice, resident in Lyon, went to Catania on vacation with her partner. His is a very common case, his word against that of the car rental company. Your claim will now be examined by an Italian court, which means that you will have to find a lawyer and pay the costs if you want to recover the six hundred euros.
Salvatrice Bufalino: "After I filed my complaint we received these photos. We do not know when they were taken, but if you compare them with my contract, you can see the crosses in the boxes that correspond to each damage. So the car already had those damages when they gave it to us. It's a scam, they haven't even checked. I hope that with the contract you can prove that I don't owe you anything. "
The case of Salvatrice reached the European Centers of the French and Italian Consumer. We went to Rome to get more information. Monica De Gregorio is the expert in car rental claims in the office and explains to us about 80 international cases arrive each year.
Monica De Gregorio, European Consumer Center in Italy: "This is a case that we had closed, since the car rental company gave us a negative answer. They told us that when the clients rented the car, the agency was in charge at those moments of a company that has declared bankruptcy. "
Monica De Gregorio, European Consumer Center Italy: "We cannot impose anything. We can only try to reach solutions in a friendly way."
The simple gesture of returning car keys has been expensive for Salvatrice. When the keys are left in the customer's mailbox, the customer remains responsible for the car until the car rental employee closes the contract.
Salvatrice also complains that he was never informed that another company, Car Net, was behind the company that contacted the car for rent.
"What surprises me is that I signed my contract with Budget. Today they tell me that Car Net has gone bankrupt, but I had never heard of that company. I signed with an international company, which should be a guarantee against this kind of trouble, like bankruptcy. But not really. I feel cheated. "
Avis, who took over Budget last June, said he has no information on the case, despite having been contacted by the European Consumer Center. Its French subsidiary agreed in July to reimburse the client and then let it communicate on the matter.
What can a client then do to avoid being in a similar case? Be careful with the added charges for fuel, if you return the car with a full tank you run the risk of being charged a higher price than a liter of gasoline. Be careful with fines as you will be contacted with an additional charge, as explained by this car rental manager.
Giorgio Salvatori, Auto Europa:
"In our case, the charge is 50 euros. That is, for each fine the customer also has to pay an administration fee of 50 euros."
The basic insurance package does not usually include damage to all parts of the car, such as windows, tires and the cover and in the case of a major accident it is only covered up to a limit, the rest is paid by the customer. The experts consulted recommend contracting independent insurance added. Then read the contract carefully, also the fine print. Rental car insurance policies often hide surprises.
Mónica De Gregorio, European Consumer Center Italy: "In Italy there is a problem linked to regions where the risk of theft is considered high.