tl;dr Avis didn’t sign off our car, chipped their own windscreen on transit to another branch, charged us for damages.
update: it appears this link has been removed from google search. Yesterday the search term “Avis chipped windscreen Melbourne” brought back my link in 3rd place. Now it’s absent, even if you include “marksy”
update 2: Google “may” have inadvertently rolled the search result back to a month prior, as it’s back in the search (and ranking high too).
update 3: Avis contacted us last week saying that they’re sorry to hear of our poor service and offered to compensate us 50% of the damage and want the receipt to look into the matter further. That’s a good start, however we don’t feel that we should pay anything since we didn’t do the damage! Also, travelling 22,000km back home – we’ve misplaced the receipt, so don’t really have anything to go on. My advice is, don’t drive with Avis.
My girlfriend and I flew into Sydney for a holiday in late February 2012, to see friends and travel a bit on our way to Melbourne.
We used vroomvroomvroom.com to choose a car rental company, and found Avis to be the cheapest at about $150 for 4 days unlimited kms, no return.
We made our way from our friend’s, Miranda, house to Avis Sydney. The lady was nice, gave us maps to get to Melbourne, suggest some stops on the way. Things were going great. She showed us around the car, very minor scuff marks and then made our way down to Melbourne.
Our first stop was in Bateman’s Bay. My father organised a nice cheap motel for us which was sweet. The next morning we had a long haul of about 6 hours drive, to just outside of Melbourne. In morning we were due to drop the car off, we filled up the tank of gas, I cleaned the windows and made our way into the city drop off point.
We finally found Avis Melbourne, but there wasn’t a clear indication of where to park the car, so I parked in a roadside park, paid a dollar for 15mins or something. Put the ticket up in the dashboard and walked into Avis.
The man at the counter seemed stressed and unfriendly. I told him we had a car to drop off, and he told me to park the car in the parking complex, like I was a complete moron. His tone suggested that it was appropriately signposted.
We drove up the ramp and just inside the darkness was a small sign saying Avis customer parking. Completely invisible from the road, mind.
Upon leaving the car, we did a check around to see if there was any damage or we’d left anything behind. The only issue my girlfriend had was that the car was a bit dirty (inside and out). But I was confident Avis would clean the car themselves.
We went to drop back the keys with the grumpy man at the desk and expected him to sign off the car. Instead he took our rental papers, and printed our receipt. Done, even without a smile.
We went to find our accommodation for the night, put our bags down and were getting ready to go out for dinner. My girlfriends phone rang. It was Avis. I thought to myself, I guess we left something in the car.
I thought wrong.
They were calling to say that they are going to have to replace the windscreen as we had apparently damaged it. What?! But we didn’t notice any damages to the windscreen?! I cleaned the windscreen before dropping off the car, and even put a parking ticket into the windscreen before dropping it off.
We asked to come and see the damage but were told that the car had been moved to another place for cleaning. The woman from Avis said we can come all the way to the other side of town to inspect it.
We got there at about 6pm and spoke with the woman. She was very rude and accusative. She led us down into the basement where they clean the cars, but she couldnt find the car. It turned out, the car had been returned to the original location. We were confused about this whole situation and it seemed a bit dodgy.
We asked why didnt the guy sign off the car in the first place and she said that’s a normal thing. We then asked why did the car get transfered back to the original location when she told us to come all the way over the other side of town. She couldnt answer. We then suggested that the damage could have happened on the way from the original location to the other side of town and she spoke up raising her tone at us saying “take a look around alright?! there’s absolutely no stones around town.. it’s not like there’s trucks racing up and down the streets and stones flicking up”. We laughed at her defensive and irrational answer.
Who the fuck speaks to a customer like that? I was so mad, i left as i felt like swearing at her. My girlfriend and i stopped a moment just outside to let what had happened just sink in.We thought to go back and ask if we can see the car in the original location, because at this stage it was just there words against ours.
The woman was in the back office and said something like, “no, im too busy to talk with you”. Her colleague expressed his understanding and was calm and told us that we could see the car in the original location.
We made our way back again to find the car. On walking down the road, not even 5 minutes away from Avis, was the main road, covered in loose stones. All flicking up when cars drove through. Stupid woman.
We returned to the car to find it, half cleaned and a small stone chip in the lower passenger side of the windscreen. It was about the size of a 20p coin. This was honestly the first time we had seen it. We were both certain that this was made on the journey from the original location to the other side of town.
We called back the woman to say yeah we can see the chip now, but never saw it to begin with. We told her we thought the chip happened on transit, but she then said that it was discovered at the original location. But this is a complete lie. Why would the notice the stone chip, move the car to wash, only wash half of it, then return it to the original location.
My idea is that they picked up the car, moved it to the second location, stone chipped the windscreen on transit, started washing it, notice there was a chip there, returned it to the original location in panic.
Doesnt that sound a bit dodgy?
They said that they were going to charge us $160 regardless, and that if it was repairable it would cost less.
We were pretty pissed at this situation. That we had no say in the matter, and this greedy company was screwing its customers and playing a horrible trick.
We spoke to Avis at the airport about the matter, and they agreed that they should have signed off the car with us to check for damages. She told us to write to customer service as this wasn’t fair practice.
When we arrived in Auckland, again we spoke with Avis there, to get their opinion which also agreed that Avis policy (as most other rental companies do) should sign off a vehicle with the customer.
We got back to London and wrote to customer services. We heard nothing. A week later, we followed up with a confirmation email, to see if they got our email. Nothing. Finally, nearly 8 weeks later we receive this reply from Avis customer services:
Dear Ms Hassanova,
Thank you for your e-mail.
I was sorry to learn about your disappointment concerning the damage charge applied against your account.
I have investigated your query with our Australian insurance department and it has been confirmed that you have been charged for damage to the car, which was not marked on the vehicle condition report as pre-existing. The windscreen was found damaged at the end of your hire.
Any damage caused to the vehicle during the rental period would be considered the renter’s responsibility under the terms of our agreement. According to our records you locally accepted to be financially liable for any damage up to the amount of AUD2650.00 when you signed your rental agreement.
Also under the terms of your Agreement, we can claim the full amount of the excess when we discover that one of our cars is damaged, although the final charges usually reflect the cost of the repair. As per the received documents the final cost of the repair was AUD165.00 therefore you were charged accordingly
In your e-mail you also questioned the inspection of the vehicle. I would like to point out that the rental station does not require to have a joint inspection of the vehicle, however we do advise the customer to check the vehicle to ensure that no damage has been missed and they agree with any damage that is shown on the documentation provided. When a vehicle is returned it may not be checked with the customer, however it will be checked very shortly after being returned and the car parks that the vehicles are parked in are secure and therefore very unlikely that any damage caused would go unnoticed.
However I am extremely sorry that you felt our members of staff did not provide the levels of professionalism and customer care that you would expect when renting from us. I hope that you will accept my most sincere apologies. I have forwarded this matter to the rental station concerned and can assure you that a review will be carried out to ensure that all staff will demonstrate an improved customer focus in the future.
May I ask you to provide me with the return slip you received and signed at the time of check-in so that I can get back to Avis Australia and ask them to investigate this issue further?
I have attached a copy of the received documents for your records. I hope the provided information clarifies the issue.
Thank you for your patience while I have looked into this case.
Senior Customer Service Specialist
Avis Rent a Car Limited
As we wait for a reply and action on this criminal activity, we still hold Avis responsible and know that we will never use them again, nor recommend them to any friends or family, and tell as many people possible about this story to prevent anything like this happening to anyone again.