Written on: 12/05/2013 by IrinaAnderson
What happened to service in Europe? We rented a car from AVIS (Sicily) for two days and it was a fight from start till end. Staying in a hotel with an AVIS agreement, I started by asking the reception to arrange for the AVIS representative to come to the hotel, it took three days before the representative came in and only because we changed our schedule according to what suited them.
Arranging the car! I like to pay for services and products in cash while travelling and asked if we could do so for the car rental? We got a flat NO and with no discussion nor request for deposit or the like. I followed their request once more and provided a credit card. They informed me that there will be a "Pre-authorisation" made of 200 EUR on my card, for which I agreed.
What happened next surprised me? He had no payment terminal nor cash register and had to call the office in order to make the transaction. If it was not for my credit card SMS service, I would not have any documentation regarding the transaction itself. The car rental itself cost 75 EUR per day. A bit on the expensive side for a Peugeot 208, but we agreed.
I asked if we could get a GPS Navigator, being ready to pay for it. The representative answered, "no we don't have them and the road system in Sicily is so easy that you don't need it". I then asked for a map to be provided, but he did not have one and asked the reception to print one in black and white from the Internet. I got it, but it showed only the main road arteries and nothing else. By now, we had spent more that an hour and three days on arranging a simple car rental.
We went out to inspect the car: it had several defects, like broken radio antenna and many dents, but the worst is that the car was dirty inside and outside. I was eager to get started, so I decided not to make a big fuzz out of it and off I went. Not at all, happy about the process, but heading onto the roads of Sicily.
We had two great days driving around and discovering wonderful places like Palermo, Catania, Cefalu, Taormina and much more. All good things come to an end and it was time to return the car. The representative had informed us that we could just drop off the key in the reception. However, the representative was by chance (or bad luck) in the reception and I was handed over to him. We speedily inspected the car and I handed of the keys and within a minute I had an SMS saying that they had charged my card. I asked the representative if they had used the Pre-authorisation number? Upon which I got a blank stare in return. Do you understand what I'm asking, I inquired? No, he said. Upon which I understood that he does not know simple credit card procedures and their own internal system. After a bit of investigation I found that they had not used the pre-authorisation and charged my card. Not a big deal, but annoying to be served by an unpleasant and un-professional person.
In Cefalu, we unfortunately got a small parking ticket. I asked if he could please arrange to have it paid. Again the answer was a flat NO. I said that I'm willing to pay for it and the service, upon which I received "We don't do this". By this time my patience had already flown out of the window a long time ago. I took the parking ticket, crumbled it and threw it in the dustbin, asking at the same time, "What will you do now?" I got no answer and left it at that.
It amazes me, that service providers like AVIS organise to their own comfort and to the detriment of the client, that they don't train their people and refuse to provide the most basic of service while charging at a premium. Maybe this is a situation specific to Sicily? I guess not since, I frequently encounter "insufficient" service across Europe.
I hope that customers take the time to follow up on their encounters and hold these bad performers to account. Even if you as a customer pay, just one dollar, you're still a customer entitled to good service.
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