ED Magedson – Founder
AVIS Rent A CarAvis House, Park Road, Bracknell, Select State/Province United States of America
I am an AVIS reservation agent who works for the Avis Call Centre based in Barcelona, Spain.
I rented a car from AVIS on June 14th 2009 at 0958h from Oviedo Railway Station in the north of Spain. It was a one way rental to Santiago de Compostela Airport, the return date being the 20th June 2009 1940h. I booked this car at my place of work following the correct procedure in order to get a staff discount, that is to say that my team leader made the reservation for me. The price I was quoted was 154.25EUR and the following inclusions were listed: Unlimited Kilometres, Vehicle Damage and Theft Cover and a one way fee. The payment was to be made on return of the vehicle. The reservation number was 22616868gb1.
When I got to the Avis desk at Oviedo I was told that I would be charged in UKL not EUR. Note the word told as opposed to being offered an option (these days, AVIS policy is that in most European countries you can now choose the currency you wish to be charged in). I asked why, stating that the reservation was booked in EUR and that I wanted to be charged in EUR. The agent told me that it was because of my credit card. Please bear in mind that my credit card is a Spanish card, from ING Direct, that despite being a UK citizen I am resident in Spain for almost 10 years now and that I have booked several cars with both AVIS and other companies in Spain and elsewhere in Europe and have never been charged in UKL when Ive booked in EUR. Its absurd to suggest that it was something to do with my card. I pointed this out to the agent but she insisted and basically just shrugged. She then said I could sort it out at Santiago Airport, where I was due to leave the car. Recognising the futility of arguing any further and needing to press on with our journey I signed the rental agreement document (RA number 867525293) despite my misgivings, in the hope that it would be resolved later.
At Santiago I returned the car, it was checked in, everything was fine, no one said anything about any extra charges for anything whatsoever. The petrol tank was full and there was no damage. I was then asked to sign the document stating that I was happy with the check in. On this document it stated that that I was offered a choice of payment in EUR but chose to be billed in UKL. I told the agent that this was not true and refused to sign it. The agent took the document, ripped it up and threw it in the trash and then told me that they were unable to change the charge to EUR and that she would pass it to billing, who would take care of it.
Checking my credit card statement at the beginning of July, I realised that I had been charged in EUR, but 234.64EUR as opposed to the 154.25EUR quoted at the time of reservation. That's an overcharge of 80.39EUR.
So on the 7th July 2009 I wrote to Avis UK Customer Service to query the additional charge. I received an automated response stating that I would hear back within 15 working days. After 15 days (albeit not working days), not having heard back I called Customer Services to chase up my email. I spoke to an agent called Lyn. Lyn explained to me that emails were dealt with by a "non-voice team", separate from the "voice team". I asked why I had not heard back within the prescribed time frame, and was told that sometimes the Customer Services team were too busy and that backlogs occurred. I asked if she could assist me, at least to confirm that they had received my email, she said yes, and paraphrased it to me. I asked if she could explain the additional charges, she said she was not able to and that if she was to look into it she would have to open a new incident report and then I would be back to square one, having to wait out another 15 working days before hearing back. I then asked her if that would run concurrent with my original incident report or if that would cancel it. Lyn seemed not to understand this question and sadly by this point was clearly becoming flustered and somewhat exasperated by the conversation. I tried to redirect my enquiry and simply get a new timeline on when I should expect to hear back from the original email, at which point I would have been happy for the original incident report opened by my email to run it's course. That question answered I would have been happy to terminate the call. Unfortunately Lynne did not listen to this instead she interrupted me and attempted to close the call. First she again offered to open a new incident report. I replied that I specifically did not want her to do that. At this point Lyn stated that the conversation was not being successful and perhaps I should speak to a supervisor. I said that wasnt necessary and again began to ask about a new timeline. Lyn cut me off again and said she was going to pass me to a supervisor. Please note that I never asked to speak to a supervisor.
Lyn returned to the phone and told me that her supervisor, Ms Sally Hutton would personally take care of my query. Assuming, not unnaturally I feel, that this meant that Sally Hutton would look into my original query and email me with an answer, I said ok, thanked her for her time and the call ended.
Some days later, at work, I was called aside by my new team leader, Charlotte, who told me that she had received a complaint passed to her by the UK channel manager, originating from the Customer Service supervisor Sally Hutton, stating that I had upset one of their agents, namely, Lyn.
Lyn claimed that I had been rude to her on the phone. It was not made clear to me exactly what I was supposed to have said or done. I strongly objected to this, making it very clear that Lyn had misrepresented the call.
So on the 4th August 2009 I wrote a second email to the Customer Serivice department, using the same generic address but putting "Att. Sally Hutton" in the subject field. This email detailed every aspect of my complaint and stated that I wished to express my disappointment and distress at the way that my request for assistance re the matter outlined in my original email was being dealt with, highlighting how Lyn had misrepresented the call and the fact that I had still not received an answer to my original query despite a whole month having passed.
On the same day, the 4th August 2009, leading me to think that the emails "passed in cyberspace" as it were, I received an email from Lyn. The email gives the following as a reason for the charges, quoted by the Avis rental station agent in Oviedo:
"customer lives in UK, so he signed that the charge will be in UKL and the rental agreement shows the exchange rate"
Please note the fact that there is no attempt to acknowledge the fact that I stated quite clearly that I WAS NOT offered a choice of currency for payment. Also, the statement by the agent in Oviedo is simply not true. At the time of rental, in Oviedo, at the rental station desk I stated clearly that I lived in Spain and that I wanted to be charged in EUROS. The Avis rental station agent in Oviedo shrugged her shoulders and told me that the problem was my credit card.
Please also note that even it were true, why should it make such a difference? The exchange rate quoted on the rental agreement document states "Amount Due: 154.25EUR... (139.74UKL at exchange rate 1.10EUR to 1.00UKL". So how does that then become 234.64EUR?
So I replied to Lyn on the 4th August 2009, disputing the charges and making it very clear that I had disputed the currency issue both at the time of pick up and on return and that if this was the reason for the overcharge asking it to be refunded given that I should never have been charged in UKL in the first place.
By the 24th August I had still not received any reply. Thinking the matter over it occurred to me to check with my bank if I had indeed been charged in UKL or in EUR. And lo and behold, I was NEVER charged in UKL at all!! I was charged directly in EUR. So the reason given for the overcharge was a load of rubbish!! So on August 24th 2009 I wrote another email to Lyn summarising my complaint and highlighting the glaring failures and inconsistencies which I have explained above. I also pointed out that Sally Hutton had not had the courtesy to respond to me, despite having been told that she would personally take care of it. I asked for a refund and some compensation. I also offered them the option to send me a free rental voucher to cover the cost of my next, forthcoming reservation, (more or less the same money as the overcharge) instead of incurring additional costs by refunding the money. I also asked for a timeline on when I should expect to hear back.
This time Lyn responded immediately, so quickly in fact that she clearly had not had time to digest my email, something you can clearly see by the ludicrous error she made, (presumably because she was in such a hurry to put me in my place) this time stating that I "agreed to be billed in Euros". What a load of hogwash. Here is what she wrote:
"thank you for your e-mail. Attached is a copy of your signed rental agreement sent from the location stating that you agreed to be billed in Euros. This is the reason you have been charged in Euros and your charges are correct"
So of course, I wrote yet another email, this time stating that she had contradicted herself, and that she was still unable to offer a satisfactory explanation as to the additional charges, and that it was totally unjustifiable to simply keep saying that they were correct without an explanation that makes sense. This time I asked her to pass the complaint onto Sally Hutton, the aforementioned supervisor, as we were clearly not getting anywhere. I also asked her for a timeline as to when I should hear back from Sally.
Lyn responded on 26th August 2009, stating that she had forwarded my email to Sally Hutton. No timeline was offered. That was the last communication.
To finish, I would like to point out that the reason I didn't call more than the one time is the exorbitant cost of doing so. Because my reservation was booked in what is referred to as the "UK Channel" (note the GB in the reservation number) any post rental query has to be dealt with by the UK customer service department, which has a 0844 number, which costs money to call from Spain and then on top of that, waiting times can be in excess of 30 minutes!!!! So I have stuck to email.
What I want at this stage is either:
a) my money back in full, a formal apology and at least one free day rental to compensate me for my time and trouble
b) a satisfactory explanation for the additional charges, a formal apology and at least one free day rental to compensate me for my time and trouble
It's perhaps also worth noting that now that I have filed this report I will do the following:
1. On Monday 21st August I will write directly to Sally Hutton asking for redress, telling her that I have filed this report and offering her, and AVIS, the opportunity to respond publicly.
I appreciate that this is a lengthy text and would like to thank everyone who takes the time and effort to read though it.
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 09/20/2009 02:13 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/AVIS-Rent-A-Car/Bracknell-Select-StateProvince-RG12-2EW/AVIS-Rent-A-Car-Avis-Overcharged-me-by-80-failed-to-give-any-satisfactory-explanation-tr-497614. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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