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Car Hire cancelled by Hire company less than 24hrs before rental

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Having aggravation with a second hand car purchase (in another thread). Feeling a bit of financial pressure. Need to get to Stansted Airport so I thought I'd give a One-way for a £1 rental a go. No luck here either it seems.


Booked and paid for a £1 one-way rental from Europcar. Online booking was a bit slow but seemed to go ok. Got a confirmation back and all looked fine. 48hrs before I'm due to pick up I get 2 emails saying don't forget to prepare for your rental and please remember your driving licence etc.


3p.m. today, (19hrs before) scheduled pick-up I get a call from an unknown number to my mobile. It's from the pick-up location for the car and the woman says, 'we don't have a car for you tomorrow, so we're cancelling your booking".


I explain that with less than 24hrs notice I'm not impressed and can she please give me a written explanation as to why this is? She refuses and says, "I've told you twice we don't have a car for you".


So, I call Customer Services which wastes more time. They say 'It's nothing to do with them and you need to speak with "reservations".

Another call and more waste, and yep you guessed it, they say, 'nothing to do with us, you need to speak to the branch.' They do say that the branch should be sorting it out and organising another vehicle, but I'm not sure the call agent has got a full understanding of the problem.


So out of interest, I go back to the online reservation and find that there's a vehicle available under the same scheme, with the same destination drop off, for the same dates, but from another not too distant branch. Call Customer Services - No use at all. Can't do anything about it. Verbal acknowledgement that it's not good Customer Service, but they can't do anything.


So, I book the vehicle from the alternate location via the web site even though it will be more time consuming for me.


Then I go back to the reservation system and there it now shows a vehicle available from the original location for return to Stansted. Just like the one that was cancelled a couple of hours earlier. (I have copied all of this information)


Oh. In case anyone else is trying to use this system. It comes up with a "How can we Help You - Web Chat/we'll phone you back" dialog. - This goes to Barcelona and a very nice call agent who is absolutely no use as they can't do anything with these bookings.


Question then please:


The rental agreement - I believe it's only binding after you have signed at pick-up? , but does a contract exits before this and are they in breach of contract? Certainly their T&C says a whole lot about what the bailee can and can't and how if you don't show for your rental they can charge you £85. Which rather suggests they would like to impose a 'fine' for a customer breaching a contract or have I got that all wrong?


Have help greatly appreciated.

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if the contract is so one sided that they have all of the cards then it isnt an enforceabel contract. That however, doesnt help you get to Stansted


all you can do is to get there by other means and then bill them for the cost less the charge they would have made.


It appears to me as though there isnt a good enough reason for them to cancel without considering what was already agreed even if their terms say they can.

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If yours was a prepaid booking this might be interesting


Now there Terms & Condition are interesting you need to go to this link and Download the Current UK T&Cs:



Now they cancelled your booking with less than 19hrs but interestingly in that PDF T&Cs (go specifically to page 47 of the pdf) look at 'Cancellation Charge' .


Cancellation Charge


This charge will be made if you tell us you wish to cancel your prepaid booking but you give us less than 48 hours notice




I would challenge them on that part of there own T&Cs if your booking was prepaid.

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This was a prepaid booking.

It's probably computer generated, but cheekily they sent me an email to say, thank you for YOUR cancellation...


I think the whole thing is shoddy from start to finish.

It is my belief, but I'm not sure, hence my wanting to check here.

That a contract did exist and was cancelled/terminated/breached by them?



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My main problem is listed here: https://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?488610-Problem-Vehicle-(Brakes-Instrument-etc)-from-Botley-Car-Centre-Ltd-Southampton&p=5135547#post5135547


Because of not having a vehicle and a lot of impending costs. I hoped to take advantage of Europcar's offer. Unfortunately all I got was stress, a waste of my time and a phone bill.


I resorted to a Taxi in the end due to the short notice. So, I want to know if this Internet booking with a confirmation email constitutes a contract and if I can reasonably claim compensation for their incompetence which has caused me consequential loss?


I have also just seen something on the Hampshire trading standards website that says vehicle rental is not a contract that can be cancelled under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. See: https://www.hants.gov.uk/business/tradingstandards/consumeradvice/goodsandservices/distanceordering

(Halfway down under: Contracts you can't cancel.)


So, can anyone inform us if vehicle rental is outside of this legislation (and if so, what is it covered by)?


One might say, but the value of the contract was just £1, however, there is also a point of principle, in that another's incompetence and failure to deliver has resulted in inconvenience and loss. For which I believe a remedy should be available. Or am I completely wrong?


Thanks in advance

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