Avis is known for their marketing slogan: “We try harder.”
“Really?” says John after calling customer service 5 times on Friday and getting the phone slammed on him 4 out of 5 times.
Avis Rent A Car System, LLC, better known as Avis, is an American car rental company headquartered in Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey, United States. Avis, Budget Rent a Car, and Budget Truck Rental are all units of the Avis Budget Group.
John thinks trying harder may mean trying harder to get rid of clients.
Here is why:
US traveler John (we changed his name) contacted Expedia and made a car reservation for an Avis car rental in Germany.
John picked up his rental car on July 23,2016 at Duesseldorf International Airport to be returned a week later at Cologne Central Train Station.
The total rental amount was 195.40 Euro plus 37.14 Euro in German VAT.
After enjoying a week driving a nice and clean brand new car, John was supposed to return the vehicle at the Cologne Central Train Station on July 31.
From there, he had booked a train to London. Unfortunately, July 31 was the day tens of thousands of Turkish protesters were expected in Cologne to protest for and against the Turkish president. The epicenter was near the Cologne Central Train Station.
John was staying at the Hyatt Regency Hotel across the river in Koeln Deutz and a short walk to the main train station. One needed to walk over a bridge crossing river Rhein, and along the famous Cathedral square.
A day before the scheduled return date on July 30 John walked to the Avis Budget car rental office inside the main Cologne train station to ask if it wouldn’t be better to return the car a day earlier considering possible chaos and violence during the upcoming protest.
The Avis agent agreed and asked John to park the car in the Avis parking lot behind the station and simply drop the key into the night box inside the train station. She said John could pick up the receipt the next day before getting on his train.
John did exactly this. He drove the car to the Avis parking lot around 9 pm on July 30 and parked it in a marked stall showing the Avis sign.
When parking the car, he noticed a number of drunk teenagers with beer bottles walking the parking lot.
Hundreds of police were getting in position in front of the train station, but no security was visible within or close to the parking lot in the back of the building.
A little scared of leaving the car there, John thought it would be a good idea to take pictures of the vehicle and he did. He took 10 photos of the Renault from all sides and inside and out, locked the door, took the papers and keys, and walked into Cologne Central Train Station and to the Avis Budget rental car- office.
The office was closed, so John dropped car papers and keys into the Avis return night box.
The next morning on July 31 at around 11:30 am, John walked from the hotel to the Cologne the train station with his suitcase.
He went into the Avis office and asked if the car was received. The Avis office was very busy, but the agent told John the car was received just fine. When John asked for a final receipt the agent said it would be emailed or mailed to him shortly. John agreed and left to catch his train.
A week later, and back in the U.S. John received his credit card statement and noticed a charge from Avis for about five times the amount he expected for the car rental. John called Barclay Bank and was told the amount was posted and another additional amount was also pending and lowering his available credit on his VISA card
John called Avis and was told he could download the receipt from the Avis website. He did and noticed a large “miscellaneous” charge without any explanation on his rental receipt,
John called the phone number on the Avis rental contract of the Cologne Central Train Station repeatedly, and after going through a maze of recordings and having to hold for 15 minutes, a pleasant recorded voice always came on saying: “We don’t want to inconvenience you, but all agents are still busy. Please leave your name and phone number, and we’ll call you back shortly. Good bye!”
John left his name and direct phone number.
John googled Avis customer service in the United States, and found a customer service phone number. He was able to reach a live agent. The agent was unable to tell him what exactly was charged to John’s card, but said it was for damages to the rental car.
John had to talk to 4 different agents, because everyone eventually cut him off or connected him to a dead number. He initially filed a claim with an agent and when calling back no claim was in the computer. He filed it again first with Mike and later again with Victor.
When John questioned about the legality to have his card charged, he was told to study the terms and condition on the AVIS website.
When John further questioned why he was not informed about the alleged damage and charge, he was told by a supervisor, AVIS and BUDGET would not do this. “We just charge your credit card, and it would be up to you to notice it and call us.”
When John asked to see the policy allowing this, he again was referred to the AVIS website. John went through every page unable to find anything on this subject.
John called Avis back and spoke to an AVIS customer service supervisor by the name of Matthew. John asked to have Matthew point out exactly where he can find the information on the website and wanted to know how exactly he agreed to such a policy.
AVIS rep Matthew said everyone signing a rental contract with Avis or Budget would automatically agree to all terms and conditions, regardless if they were printed on the contract or on the website or elsewhere.
Matthew than disconnected the call without any further explanation.
The next Avis agent said he would file a discovery, request, and it would take up to 30 days to get information on this incident from Germany. Avis refused to give an immediate credit for the overcharge.
In the meantime, John remembered the Collision Damage Waiver Insurance he bought directly from Expedia. The insurance was to cover all claims up to 100% with no deductible.
John called Expedia and was told to call the insurance company directly.
The insurance company is now sending a form in the mail and also said it could take a month or more to investigate. The insurance company requires the original contract and receipt to accept a claim.
John is out $1,500 and had to close his Visa card account to prevent any additional fraud charges by Avis.
Surprisingly on Saturday August 6 an agent from the Cologne rental station called John in the United States and told him the car had a cracked windshield.
John asked to see a photo and the agent promised to call back or email it. This never happened.
The agent also told John AVIS is not responsible for damages done to their cars on their own parking lot. AVIS agents start working at 9 am and once they see the car the customer will be charged for any damage, regardless if it happened at the AVIS parking lot or elsewhere.
On Monday John was able to reach someone at AVIS BUDGET customer service in Germany and talked to an agent speaking broken German.
She now told John AVIS/BUDGET would never mail receipts or contracts. They are only available on the internet. She further explained the car had a scratch (no word about the alleged window damage).
John asked for photos again. The agent said they don’t have photos.
John responded he had 10 photos showing the car was in perfect shape when returned it to their parking lot.
The agent, Ms.Benke put John on hold and when she came back 5 minutes later apologized and without further explaining promised John to refund the damage charge within 5 minutes.
Stay tuned for the rest of the story, but hopefully not.
Avis should really try harder!