As you probably know, I rented a car from Avis Rent-a-Car for my vacation in Kruger National Park in South Africa in May/June this year.
I have rented from Avis before without any problems, but this time was nothing but problems. No one seems to know why I was charged extra and each time I have called customer assistance, I am given a different estimate on when to expect a response from them.
I booked this car months in advance and paid in full the amount owing. This booking was for 30 days plus a couple of hours and unlimited kilometers. Several weeks later, I made a change and added 3 additional days and at the same time reduced the kilometers to 6,400. I expected to have to pay a little more because of the additional days, but my receipt said that nothing was owing. Looking at the receipt, I saw that I had a new rate for rentals that were 31 days or more and combining that with the reduced kilometers, I figured that evened it out – since it indicated that zero was owing. I even thought there was a possibility that I was now owed a refund.
Of course, none of my paperwork indicated the rates for either the first reservation or the amended one – so I have no way of knowing what these rates are.
I was therefore very surprised to be told when I picked up my car, that I still owed over 1,000 Rand and that I only had 3,000 km to use and I would be charged extra for any km over that.
I was somewhat sleep deprived after 2 days of travel, so I did not think to pull out my papers to confirm the kilometers and believed that he was right about that (although wondering why I would have agreed to only 3,000 km for 33 days). I did tell him that there was no money owing according to my paperwork though.
He said he would not charge me now and would get things straightened out before I returned the car. Unknown to me, the charge was put through to my credit card though.
When I had caught up on my sleep, I looked at both my original papers from when I reserved the car and the papers the guy at Avis printed out for me and found that the kilometers was incorrect and I had more than double what he had on the forms and also that he had me returning the car 3 days early. So, I phoned to let him know what I actually had for kilometers and when I was actually returning the car. He said that he knew when I was returning the car, but the papers just printed out that way.
On June 6th another payment was put through in my absence on the date indicated on my form as the return date. Again, I was unaware of this until my return home.
I arrived at the airport early on the day I was returning the car in the hopes that the problems would be sorted. I got a different agent and had to tell him the whole story again when he told me there was money owing. I assumed it was the same money as before, since I was not aware that I had already been charged that (and more) .
He did tell me that the reason the return date on my form said June 6th instead of the 9th was that they could only print out 30 day contracts – so the first guy should have printed out 2 to cover the 33 days. This could also explain the extra charges, since my rate was for more than 31 days, but they can’t give that rate on a 30 day contract.
I explained to him that I did not owe anything and that I had more kilometers than what his paperwork said. I pulled out my papers to show the zero owing and the 6,400 km (since I had gone over 3,000 km). He took a copy of my papers and said he would not put any charges through. I realized once I got home that they had already been put through. There were also 2 small refunds applied to my credit card after that as well.
A few days after returning home, I noticed these charges on my credit card and I phoned Avis customer assistance on June 15th. When I explained the situation, she said she would send this to the South African Avis for a reply. After a week with no reply, I called them back on June 23rd and was told that it takes about 3 weeks for international replies and to just wait. I waited until July 12th before calling them back again, which is 1 day short of 4 weeks from my original call. This time I was told it would take 30 days from my original call. When I mentioned we were pretty much at 30 days now, she said I should be getting an email from them this week.
Unfortunately, there are 3 different currencies involved, but Canadian (CAD) is the only one that is used throughout the entire process.
Aug 21/16 Base rate US $369.00 – total US $433.81 CAD $564.91 pd in full – unlimited mileage – 30 days + 2 hours (rate rules minimum 21 days) – insurance included
amended Jan 19/17 Base rate 5,010.8 Rand 6400 km included, 33 days + 2 hours ( rate rules minimum 31 days – maximum 330 days) – amount owing $0.00 – insurance included
Aug 21 – paid online in full US433.81 CAD$564.91
May 7th – payment charged R1,139.00 CAD $121.52
June 6th – payment charged R 912.86 CAD $ 97.39
June 13th – refund R88.70 CAD $ 9.48 –
June 13th – refund R193.69 CAD $ 20.70 –
total paid in CAD $753.64 for a rental that was supposed to cost $564.91. So $188.73 extra charged without authorization and no explanation as to where these charges came from.
On June 18th I posted on the Avis FaceBook page and had the following conversation on FaceBook:
Mavis Metcalf-I have been waiting for over a month now as to why I was charged extra for a rental that was paid in full months before I picked up the car.
Avis Car Rental Hi Mavis, we’ll be happy to review your charges. Please send us a message with your Rental agreement number for review.
Mavis Metcalf- It is a South African rental – confirmation # 48800107CA6. First call to customer service said it would take a week. 2nd call said 3 weeks, 3rd call said 30 days – all have past.
Avis Car Rental – We apologize for the delay in resolving your case. I do show that our International Team has reached out to South Africa. Once we receive a resolution, we will contact you immediately. ~Jen
Mavis Metcalf- OK – so you are no longer giving estimates and I just get to wait.
Needless to say I am not happy with Avis. I will let you know when/if I get a response or the unauthorized payments refunded.
The cars supplied were both fine – they started me of with a Hyundai, but it needed it’s 30,000 km service, so they replaced it with a Chevrolet Spark.
My first accommodation in Kruger, 2017 at Pretoriuskop, with my little Hyundai on the left. The vacation was amazing – the car rental experience was not.