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“Avis - hell at Rome Airport”

Written on: 06/07/2013 by CornyM (1 review written)

When I booked my flights to Rome with British Airways they offered special deals on car rentals if you booked Avis through them. Breaking the habit of a lifetime, I decided to take up the offer rather than using my Hertz Gold Card. We booked a mid size car for pick up after 12.00 noon at Rome Airport, landed a little after 12.30 and were at the Avis desk before 1.00. Unfortunately so were several dozen others - 62 separate hirers to be precise. We took a ticket from the ticket machine, which gave us a place in the queue. We had ticket 162. They were just handling 99 and 100 and a couple of earlier numbers. Four desks, mayhem, people ariving all the time to join the queue and swelter in the heat. In the end it took just over 3 hours to make our way to the front of the queue where the staff apologised but explained there had been an accident at the entrance to the airport and they had not been able to get the rental vehicles in as they wanted. That was strange as our friends, who had arrived the day before and had also had to wait 3 hours to pick up their car had been told that Avis had overbooked and were trying to handle 500 hire cars a day from a desk with only 4 terminals and staff.

We got to the desk in the end, were given a contract to sign and sent to another desk in the car park to collect the key. Well, you can guess what happened next although to be fair there was no queuing system, just a lot of very angry people and very few cars. 45 minutes later someone came to us with a key to the car designated for us, brand new, white, 9 kilometres on the clock and German number plates, it had been brought in on a low loader minutes before and was covered In grime. However we were too weary and fed up to argue. We took the key, loaded the car and tried to leave. Unfortunately the barrier had given up the ghost, jamming shut. A further 20 minutes passed before we finally escaped. By that point we had decided never to use Avis again, to let BA know what a disaster Avis had been - and not just for us - but otherwise put the whole thing down to experience. We had a lovely week in Tuscany, wonderful people, great culture fab food and wine. Then we came back to Rome airport to hand back our Avis rental car.

I guess I've lead a sheltered life, at least in recent years. I'm lucky, I fly business class, stay in 5 star hotels and use great airlines - and Hertz, not Avis when I want to rent a car. So I was quite unprepared for the exemplary standards of rudeness deployed by Avis staff. My wife and I hadn't time to emerge from the car into the chaos of the car park (a week had brought no improvement to the state of affairs at Avis, Rome airport) before an extremely pushy office ial demanded our contract. No please or thank you. 'Give me your contract!'. 'It's in our case in the boot (trunk)'. 'Get it now'. Actually it got worse and I was pushed to one side as he made a grab for my wife's holiday file in which the car rental contract was kept. I won't bore you with his boorishness but you may assume we were unhappy if scrupulously polite (probably a mistake in the circumstances). As he took the contract he wrote GPS on the contract and said 'where is your GPS'. We said we hadn't had one. He shrugged and thrust the paperwork into my hand and walked off pointing at the office where he told us we had to leave the contract. I asked the woman behind the counter to confirm that writing GPS on the contract meant nothing but she just shrugged and told me they were taking 99 euros to fill the tank even though it was only half empty - another mistake on our part. Apparently I had accepted a clause in my contract which said I could return the car without fuel and would pay 99 euros for the privelege. That wasn't my understanding and I pointed out that filling the car from a quarter full had only cost 50 euros on the road. She wasn't interested.

Beware Avis - I strongly recommend you avoid them like the plague - oh, the guy who was so rude when I handed back the car? He said they were handling 500 cars an hour with 6 people so what did I expect? If I didn't want to wait four hours, I shouldn't hire a car at Rome Airport!

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