Car Hire Rip Off

Now that we’ve grown our family to 4, we can no longer fit in our parents car when we go over to Cyprus so this year we hired a car. We booked online with Avis and pre-paid a significant amount as for some reason Cyprus is fairly expensive for car hire.

As I said, we pre-paid which was the cheaper option (because they’ve sat on my euros for the best part of 4 months since I booked). So included in the rental was All Mandatory charges, CDW (Collision Damage Waiver), TP (Theft Protection) and Tax unlimited KM.

So can you imagine my surprise when I come out of the baby change at Larnaca airport to see my husband arguing with the AVIS rep because she wants to charge a whole lot more! I quickly pushed our luggage trolley across to where he was by now getting very irritated by the extra charges.

So what were they?

SCDW - SUPER Collision Damage Waiver (4 euro per day) & EDW - Extra Damage Waiver (5 euros per day extra) that would have added roughly a further 150 euros to the price.


Luckily our credit card protection covers this sort of rubbish so we told her where to go (more politely since I had now taken over the conversation). She wasn’t convinced and smugly sat there saying “well there’s a 1000 euro excess”. I felt like saying “Do I look bothered?” but I resisted, smiled sweetly and talked about the kids seeing their grandparents.

But that wasn’t all, she then explained we needed to return the tank EMPTY, not the usual fill it up on your return or you’ll be charged at extortionate prices (as per the agreement we held in our hands). “No” she said, “It’s Cyprus, we don’t do that, you need to bring it back empty”. So why is this a con? Who is really going to bring a tank back empty? They will gain petrol from you every time.

So have you ever tried to make it back to the airport with an empty tank when you know you MUST get there on time & don’t want to run out of petrol? With 2 kids in the car? No - Well we did just that. My hubby had a bee in his bonnet (he can be the cut off nose to spite face type when he feels he’s being ripped off). So we had 3 bars of fuel when we left Peyia, we had 2 bars by Limmasol, 1 bar 65km from Larnaca Airport.

I hate the petrol game.

He calmly told me it’s ok, when the light comes on you still have 50km…guess what the light came on. So now I could see he was thinking do I chance it, will I get 65 out of 50?

I started looking for petrol stations, after 40km I said “I think we need to put 5 euros in”. We drove past the services as I spoke, so at the next exit we pulled off…no sign of services. 10km later we saw another sign (now dicing on the edge with an almost empty tank, every judder the car made I panicked). We pulled off and followed the signs which took us to a taverna “where’s the beeping petrol station then?” We couldn’t see it & the sign had disappeared (typical Cyprus for you!), “Go towards the village” I said and he humpily did, muttering that if we were going to run out of petrol we would now as we took this detour. Then I saw the little service station with really cute old pumps where the man was waiting to serve us. “5 euros please”.

As he topped us up I watched the locals. An old lady in her pink frilly apron was bossing around a strapping young lad as he filled her twin cab with petrol -now that’s amusing I thought, imagine coming out in your apron…only old people can do that, but she can’t be that old she’s driving a twin cab. That’s Cyprus for you. Sweet!

Anyway with our 5 euro we set off for the airport again, we made it & we were the ones with the smug look as we left the tank with less than a euro of petrol in it. A minor victory which means nothing really but to us it was a challenge. Although I don’t think I want to play the petrol game in Cyprus again - imagaine if the garage had been closed!

Europcar were great, we’ll be using them next time. They upgraded us to a nice new Alpha Guillietta. The staff were very polite & friendly & they didn’t push extra charges on us.
They’ll be even greater if they manage to lose the speeding ticket I think my husband is on his way to receiving after hurtling to Toulouse airport on Sunday with 2 screaming tots in the back and a headache!

we’ve used europcar in toulouse and elswhere in france - couldn’t say a bad word about them - never had a problem. in particular when we tipped up at toulouse airport to return our car and catch our flights last year, oblivious to the volcano madnesss, they told us to keep it, that we would need it - and boy, we did. we managed to get eurostar tickets, drove at break-neck speed to lille and practically abandoned the car at the station. they charged us not a cent - though they did pass on the speeding fine i got - which we thought pretyy fair…

Having tried many others I now only use Auto-Europe, usually they are the cheapest and there have not been any hidden snags so far. A couple of years ago I used Hertz. NEVER AGAIN!!! I picked up the car at Stanstead airport and eparted with, what I thought was all the paperwork, after the rep showed me how everything worked, except he didn’t. I parkd the car outside my sister’s in leafy Barnet and woke to find that it had been broken into.I called Hertz and told them what had happened, no interest, except to say I had to call the police (I’dalready done that). I had to call Autoglass to repair the driver’s window and was idly chatting to the guy doing the repair because I couldn’t understand why the alarm had not gone off. He explained that as it was a Ford Focus you had to press the key fob TWICE or the door was just locked but not alarmed. Nowhere in the paperwork from Hertz did it say that and when I complained they just said ‘We assumed you would know that.’ and absolutely refused any compensation. So they are off my list of Christmas cards.

we learnt that lesson a few years ago where we noticed a dent in the rear of the car, we had already been delayed ages so we didn’t go back as it wasn’t scratched. We ended up paying 100 euro for that dent! We should have gone back, after that I started being very picky & virtually have them circling every alloy, every wing etc. In Cyprus they just wrote on the form ‘car not checked but has some scratches’. A different way of getting your euros in France it’s the scratches/dents in Cyprus the charges. I also forgot there was a government tax of 1.50e per day on top…why don’t they just include everything up front!!!

Tonight we’ll be using Europcar - hoping they are better!

I had a horrible experience with Avis in France that ended up being a huge financial loss and all attempts to register a complaint or to start an investigation went nowhere. NEVER USE AVIS IN FRANCE.