Economy Rent a Car in Costa Rica -- Scam
Economy rent a car in Costa Rica has a scam wherein you can get a confirmed reservation on their website, but it will not be honored when you get to Costa Rica, where they will require you to pay another $15/day for what they say is liability insurance coverage. They then will tell you that only covers 80% so you will have to pay another $8/ day for another 20% coverage. They will not have the car you reserved and so you will have to pay another $10/day for an "upgrade" which is an older car that has 70,000 kilometers plus on it.
Then, when you return the car and have them write "no damage" on your contract after getting them to inspect it, they will refuse to return the second credit card imprint you gave them, using the lie that they have to keep it in case you got any tickets in Costa Rica because they might be liable as the car owner. [Originally they stated the first imprint was for the car rental and the second imprint was in case of damage to the car, even though they required you to pay $23 or more / day for "100%" coverage.] Then, the same day you leave Costa Rica they will put another charge for $450 on your second imprint and you are left to fight the scam from the US or Canada. Many other customers that I saw on pick up and drop off were complaining of the same Economy Rent a Car scam.
Following is the Complaint I made to American Express whose Credit Card I used:
Please find enclosed documents supporting the case of fraudulent and unauthorized activity at Economy/Costa Rica.
Page 1 & 2: My Jan. 19, 2012 reservation confirmation from Economy. The total amount is $133.38. [ 5 days @ $23.40/day equals $117.00 plus $16.38 Airport fee]. The confirmed vehicle is a Compact 2/4 door. [I ultimately rented the car for only 4 days.]
Page 3: The rental contract: Economy picks up customers at the airport and drives them a number of miles away to their facility. Once there, the fraud begins. Other customers both on the way in and on the way out had the same complaint I did of the bait and switch. But once the customer is there, they are stuck if Economy decides to change the terms of the reservation.
First, Economy employees state We dont have the car you reserved so you will have to pay $10/ day more for another car.
But, the car they gave me had 70,000 kilometers on it and the tires rattled so badly that I had to bring it in the next morning, on 1/23/2012. [Because my overnight flight arrived on 1/22/2012, my rental agreement was for 4 days, starting on the afternoon of 1/22/2012.] Economy would not give me another car, but instead required me to wait about 4 hours, effectively half of the day with travel, while they replaced the 2 rear wheel rims & tires, because of pre-existing damage on the inside (axle side) surface. They also had given me a damaged, flat spare tire and so they extended the wait time to take the tire off that rim also. I inspected the rim damage with the employee because by this time I did not trust Economy at all, and we both noted that the inside rim damage was rusted, corroded and caked with dust which evidenced that it had been long-existing on both rear wheels. Because of the untrustworthy experience, I also had the Economy employee inspect the car upon returning it and he noted in his handwriting on the rental contract, No damage of the time to return the car.
Second, Economy stated that Even though you have your own car insurance and you are using your American Express Card, you have no choice but to buy our insurance also and that will be another $15/day. But that only covers you 80%, so you will have to pay another $8/day for the other 20% -- no choice they state that the government requires it. But, on the website where the reservation is made, additional or alternate insurance is a choice that I could take or leave, and so my reservation was made without it, and I was given essentially a phony lower cost $ amount in my reservation.
Third, they changed the reservation amount of $16.38 for Airport fee to $31.50.
Page 4: As an illustration, if you go to the Economy Rent a Car Costa Rica website, for their most expensive full size 2/4 door car, they quote $24.56 as the Airport fee, but Economy decided simply to put $31.50, rather than my confirmed reservation amount of $16.38, because the customer is simply stuck once they have you miles away from the airport with only your reservation in hand a contract they refuse to honor. Frankly, the other customers and I believe that you can make any reservation you want, but they will only give you what they want, at the price they want. This reservation was made from the US, on a US American Express credit card, and this is not legal.
Page 5: You can see that opposite [insurance] waivers on the Economy print out, is the price USD$ 0, which is what you get when you elect not to take their insurance on their website but when you get there, Economy states you have no choice but to pay another $15/day for 80% coverage, and have to pay another $8/day for the other 20%. That is fraudulent misrepresentation to make a reservation where can reserve at one price and elect on their website not to take this extra insurance, but when you get there you have no choice but to pay more. The confirmed reservation price must stand as binding.
Page 6-10: This is what the Economy Rent a Car Costa Rica reservation website page looks like.
On page 6, you choose the pickup and drop off dates.
On page 7, you pick the type of car you want. I reserved the Compact 2/4 Door manual transmission car which is here offered at $21.34 per day. Rates change slightly from time to time, and on the day of my reservation, the daily rate was $23.40/ day as can be seen on my reservation (page 2), and on the rental contract (page 3, upper right).
On page 8, you can elect to select liability Waiver at an additional USD $15/day, and other insurance at $15/day, and other insurance at $8/day, as well as other options by checking the box. I chose to take none in my reservation (page 1 & 2)
On page 9, you can see the rental car total amount and Waivers USD$ 0.
On page 10, there is a summary of the chosen car, the pickup & drop off times, and the stated rental amount and airport fee, and a combined total.
Pages 6-10 is an illustration of the reservation process on the Economy Rent a Car Costa Rica website. You then receive a Reservation Confirmed email from Economy as I did for my reservation (pages 1&2) which was $133.38 for 5 days rental. Since I rented for 4 days rather than 5 days, my cost should have been 80% of that figure, or $106.70.
Page 11: The actual amount I was charged was $257.18 (page 11), which matches the rental contract amount (page 3), when Economy did not honor the Confirmed Reservation which I made with my American Express Credit Card.
It is detrimental to the American Express image if f Economy can use American Express in this manner to trick Amex customers into making a Confirmed Reservation on the Economy website using American Express, but then once you are a captive audience where Economy has ferried the customer away from the airport, Economy then carries out their fraudulent conduct, starting with we dont have the car you reserved so you have to pay more, and you have no choice but to pay exorbitant amounts for insurance that was simply a choice on Economys website that I elected not to choose.
Page 12: The charge on my American Express card on 1/22/2012 was in the amount of $261.69 which I assume is a slightly different exchange rate on the Costa Rica currency, instead of the $257.18 (page 11).
Page 13: Most alarming is that I have discovered that Economy later put a charge on my American Express card in the amount of $469.64. This was on 1/26/2012, the same day I turned in the car and the same day Economy wrote No damage of the time to return the car on my rental contract. I requested an inspection because I distrusted Economy, and after the inspection and return of the car, Economy verified No damage of the time to return the car.
At that time I requested the return of the second imprint Economy took of my American Express Card on the first day of the rental. At that time Economy said that the first imprint was for the rental contract and the second imprint was in the event that there was any damage to the car which didnt make complete sense since they required payment for 80% and another 20% insurance for 100% coverage.
Since there was no damage, I requested the second imprint of my American Express card be returned. I was told, we need to keep it in case you got any outstanding tickets. Economy claimed that they would be held responsible for unpaid tickets because they were the owners of the car. I suspect this was simply a lie and they now have put through a completely unauthorized charge.
There is no way that I will agree to pay these fraudulent charges, and I am also bringing this to the attention of Costco through whom I have my present American Express card.
Thank you for your assistance in correcting this matter.