Written on: 19/01/2012 by patrickgee (1 review written)
THEY RENTED ME A STOLEN CAR AT MALAGA AIRPORT ON 19 DECEMBER
My wife and I flew out from Gatwick to Malaga on 19 December and after landing and customs proceeded to the overcrowded “Advantage Rent A Car” cabin within the ground floor parking area of the airport multi-storey car park where three staff were trying to deal with customers and their families within a very confined space. I was surprised that the rental counter was not in the Rental Hall with Avis, National, Atesa, Sixt, Hertz, Europcar etc but I found it eventually. I was allocated a fairly new Blue Ford KA, registration plate 6545 GWD, with a number of dents on the bodywork. I paid a charge of 58.94 Euros for fuel plus tax before we got the keys.
The car worked fine and we drove up to Torremolinos for a few days at the Melia Sol hotel before returning home on 5 January. When we arrived at the hotel we entered the free car park and found an empty parking space near the front such that we could see the car every time we entered or left the hotel. The weather was sunny so we left our Winter coats, a cashmere sweater and our GPS unit in the car. We had no intention of using the car again until we left the hotel for Malaga airport and our 1210 flight back to Gatwick airport on 5 January.
On the next evening, 3 January we went into town for dinner and afterwards we strolled along the busy shopping area before heading down to the ur hotel around 2045.
As we walked along the footpath towards the entrance door to the hotel I glanced across to the location where I had parked the car on the previous day. It was no longer there and we walked into the parking area to check that we were looking at the correct space. The blue Ford Ka was gone and another car was parked in it’s place.
The hotel doorman and a porter were standing talking nearby and I asked them if they knew if the car had been moved and they said that the police had taken it. I rushed into the lobby and told the desk clerk that the car had been taken and he already knew. He said that the police had informed him that the car had been reported stolen in August last year and that was why they had despatched a tow truck to the hotel and taken it to a police station with our clothes and GPS unit in it. I still had the car key and tag in my possession.
I was seriously concerned that my wife or I would not be implicated in any police action regarding the car as we were due to fly back to the UK on Thursday 5 January. The desk clerk kindly telephoned the Advantage Rent A Car office at Malaga airport on my behalf and I spoke to a female operative. She was unable to explain why the police had taken the vehicle as she had no record of it being reported stole in August 2011. I also asked her about our clothes in the car and how we would get to the airport on 5 January if the car was not returned to us. She advised me to contact the breakdown number on the key fob and they would arrange to have a car collect us at the hotel to take us to the airport for our flight home. She said she would contact Hertz in Madrid and somebody would call me. About 30 minutes later a male operative called Louis called me and said that he would urgently investigate the matter and call me back that evening. I never received any call from him and I call this useless customer service. I telephoned the Advantage breakdown number and after explaining our situation the operative confirmed that a car would collect us from the hotel at 1000 on the morning of 5 January to take us and our luggage to Malaga airport.
Not surprisingly neither my wife nor I slept very well and we discussed various scenarios like what would have happened if we had been stopped on a Spanish road or motorway by an armed policeman on a motorbike and not been able to understand a word he spoke. We thanked our lucky stars that the car had been found in a car park and we were not in it at the time. First thing in the morning I spoke to J. J., the extremely helpful desk clerk, about the matter and he agreed to telephone our Embassy for me. I spoke to a lady called Mercedes and she promised to investigate the matter and call me back at the hotel when she had information. She kept her promise and she said that I should visit the police station nearest to our hotel and find out where the car had been taken for temporary storage.
Having taken advice from the hotel staff we headed off to visit the Civil Police station in Calle Skal. We found it and eventually we spoke to a lady who translated for us and were advised that they only dealt with small crime. She advised us that as a vehicle was involved we should walk up to Calle Rafael Quintana to the Ayuntamiento and speak to somebody at the Policia Nacional. We walked off towards this location on a fine sunny morning and we wondered if we would ever get our clothes and GPS unit back. After a few attempts at the front desk we met a plain clothes policeman who spoke English and he understood our predicament. He said that the Ford KA was probably in a locked area near the Ayuntamiento but as we did not own the car we could not take anything from it. He confirmed that only the car owner, Advantage Rent A Car, could retrieve it. He also said that it may take a few days before the hire company took any action.
To speed things up we took a taxi back to our hotel at a cost of 8 Euros and on arrival we telephoned Advantage at Malaga airport to get someone to go to the Policia Nacional as quickly as possible to retrieve the car and our personal items. They said they would do what they could but they were very busy. I explained that we were returning to the UK at 1000 next day. They said they would call me when they could find two staff members to the police station so that one could drive our hire car to the hotel for us to retrieve our goods. A further two calls had to be made from our hotel before we believed that the car would be retrieved that day. Finally, at around 7.30 pm the driver brought the Ford KA back and we got our personal items back and my wife and I were able to relax after our ordeal.
Following the trauma we had experienced over the previous two days we had our breakfast early on 5 January. We had been told on the telephone by the Advantage Rent A Car breakdown operative that a car would collect us at the Melia Costa del Sol hotel at 1000 to take us to the airport. When it had not arrived by 1015 I ordered a taxi through the hotel concierge and it arrived within five minutes. I paid the driver 18 Euros when we arrived at the airport. Do not let Advantage Rent A Car put you at a disadvantage like they did with us.
I am still waiting for a reply to my three e-mails and for compensation for the expenses they cost me.
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