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Kathyrecook

Sixt - post rental hidden costs ** Settled **

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My initial impression of Sixt was great but within 1 week of receiving a final invoice for my rental has now been completely ruined. I will never use them again as their post-rental policy seems to just be all about making up profit margins. They advertise apparently cheaper prices to get the business but then claw the money back to be profitable afterwards.

 

1. No one explained about needing to return the vehicle clean - an omission which has now cost me £50+20% VAT. I've been sent emails since telling me they expect all customers to thoroughly check T&Cs before renting a car, so why was it the Return Fuel Fill was clearly explained to me by the woman at the desk, but the cleaning wasn't? I have received no receipts or evidence to justify how a car can cost £50+VAT for cleaning, they have just automatically taken it out of my £150 deposit.

 

2. Vehicle check process for pre-existing damages on car pick-up: I did the vehicle check together with a nice man who handed the car over to me. He was about to say everything was OK when I spotted the scratch in the paintwork down to the metal on the mirror on the driver's side. I was expecting him to do something on his hand-held device, for there to be a proper record taken of this, like with other car rental companies. So I was a bit surprised when instead he hand-wrote on the back of my Driver's Contract piece of paper "Scratch in paintwork on driver's side mirror" on the back of my contract, he signed it, and dated it (20th June 2014) and I also signed this at his request. He then told me when I dropped the car off to leave that same piece of paper on the dashboard of the car with an additional note on it to say "Reminder: this is your note on 20th to say scratch in mirror was pre-existing at time of pick-up" and for me to sign, date this and leave it in the car. His words to me were "This note will mean I will remember this was already done and I won't charge you for the scratch".This did not feel right at the time, but I trusted the nice man so just went along with his instructions. I was the one who spotted this damage at the point of pick-up and exactly followed to the letter all of the instructions provided by their member of staff.

 

3. 1 week later after I'd received a final invoice Head office emailed me a Damage Report claiming I had scratched the car - I hadn't, this had been the fore-mentioned pre-existing damage which was noted at the pick-up. After sending me a series of blunt automated emails, some of which were in very poor English, asking me what photos I'd taken etc - the head office team then bothered to contact the Shepherds Bush shop to check facts and the matter was cleared up. When I was contacted by head office with the Damage Report the head office had not spoken to the local office. The only good thing in all of this was the local shop staff did inform head office about the piece of paper and pre-existing damage, so this matter was cleared up, but could have been initially without having to involve me.

 

4. Only then I received another email saying I'm still going to be charged - an initially unquoted amount - for a full valet of the car - only now drawing my attention to Clause 11.3 of T&Cs (very buried on their website, not explained to me on car pick-up by anyone) to return the car clean "because other people want to use the car after you". Cleaning was never mentioned at pick-up. Returning with a full fuel tank for example was, but nothing about returning it fully cleaned. I've never heard of a car rental company who doesn't clean a car between hires or puts that cost onto the customer or uses this as an excuse to take money out of a deposit. Reminds me of unscrupulous estate agents who keep your deposit for 'cleaning' once you leave a rental property.

 

5. When I asked Head Office how much they were going to charge me for 'cleaning' they couldn't answer, they referred me to the local branch. This morning I woke up to an automated email ("We friendly ask for your understanding that we create the invoice in the language of the rental location" - just an example of poor English in communication) with an invoice for £50+VAT for cleaning which they'll just take out of my £150 deposit. Who pays £50 to clean a car?!

 

6. My total rental in the end was far more expensive than Avis would have been who I have always used before and would never have put me through this nonsense.

 

7. Their processes are flaky - it seems now on purpose so that they can put customers into a vulnerable position after the event where they can charge them - The rental contract which included a list of pre-existing damages was given to me by the lady in the shop. This rental agreement with these pre-existing damages only existed as a piece of paper, I have not received anything electronically. The gentleman who met me and handed the vehicle over to me had something on a hand-held device which also listed these items, so it looked like there was an electronic version of the contract there but nothing given to me. I was told to leave behind the only evidence I had which was the handwritten note.

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Please have a look at the Supply of Goods and Services Act http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1982/29 – in particular section 15 which says that where a price for services has not been agreed then a reasonable price is all that can be charged.

 

If they gave no indication of the price in the contract then you would only be liable to pay reasonable price for cleaning. I agree that £50 +20% VAT seems extremely excessive.

 

I think that it is reasonable for you to want to challenge this even if it meant taking a claim of it. I can imagine that they would back down. I can't imagine that they would want people to know that they have been successfully challenged because I expect that this is a standard revenue stream for them. For instance, even if it has been cleaned – how does one know that they will then say will yes the cleaning is up to our standard.

 

I suggest that you go round to two or three cleaning/valet services and get quotations for a standard cleaning of that make and model car. Make it clear that you simply want to cleaned, you aren't asking for it to be renovated.

 

I would suggest that you take the cheapest of the quotes and use that as the basis for reclaiming your money. Its up to you how much trouble do want to make but it seems to me that the system is so clearly open to abuse that it would be worth deciding to make a point of it.


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Just out of curiosity, Do you smoke? or did anybody smoke in the car whilst on hire? some companies charge extra to 'de-contaminate' or deep clean a car after hire. If so then this might be a reasonable cost.

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Hello it's a reasonable question. No definitely not, no smoking. If people smoke they are knowingly breaking rules because the car clearly had no smoking signs in it so that may be a reasonable cost but definitely not in my case. I have a dog so there was some dog hair, we were on holiday in Somerset and had kids in the car with muddy feet and our feet from walking so there was some dirt brought into the car around the foot-wells - but nothing extraordinary, just the results of regular family car use. I accept the car was not clean when I returned it - I just didn't know it had to be or I'd get charged £50+VAT. Whenever I've rented a car in the past from companies like Avis I've always used it in the same way, always returned it in the same kind of 'used' condition, they always clean the car between rentals and don't pass the cost on to the next customer; there was nothing about this situation that gave me any clue this company's policy was any different. This has all come as a very unpleasant surprise.

 

Just out of curiosity, Do you smoke? or did anybody smoke in the car whilst on hire? some companies charge extra to 'de-contaminate' or deep clean a car after hire. If so then this might be a reasonable cost.

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to be honest if it is just general 'wear and tear' then i agree £50 is high! even if it is 'heavier' use and a deeper clean is required then I agree it should be made clear!

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Same for me. Hired a car from Montpellier railway station - collected out of hours on a Saturday evening and dropped key 15 days later on a Sunday morning - all as agreed. When invoice came through there was 83 Euro plus 20% tax additional cleaning charge. Apparently sand on the carpets after 15 days at the seaside with two children falls out with normal between hire cleaning. Not a cheap hire at 1000 Euro for auto BMW 320 GT, could at least include basic cleaning. Sixt have rebated 50% of the charge (but not 50% of the tax ...) have now passed the dispute to American Express on the basis that I had not consented to the charge. Watch this space.

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After multiple emails, Sixt have now refunded all of the cleaning charge. Persistance appears to be the key.

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I have marked your thread as settled. Well done on getting the refund. There a lot of occasions where it just takes persistence to get justice.

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