Scoop Soapbox (no. 3) – Don’t Make the Same Mistake! Renting a Car in Spain

By Regina Winkle-Bryan

I was in Andalusia in late February at a fabulous Yogatone Yoga Retreat for four sunny days. The experience was epic and I had several of those ‘ah-ha’ moments while doing downward dog and the rest. The only smudge on the Andalusian yoga getaway was the rental company I booked a car with. By the end of my Yogatone Retreat I was too mellow to be pissed about the rental car, I’ve since got all sorts of spam from them telling me to go rent from them again, which I am not going to do.

Pulling out the soapbox…here we go: I booked the rental car through Do You Spain, a company that helps English speakers book their vacations in the south of Spain. They offer car hire deals amongst other services a traveler might need. I was offered a car for four days for close to 20.00 Euros total. You’re thinking, That’s too good to be true, which is what I also thought. But at the same time I wanted a car and figured that if it was really a good deal I could share this info and the Do You Spain website with Spain Scoop readers.

So I booked the car because there was a free cancellation policy. Then I sent an email asking if 20.00 Euros really was the price. No answer. Emailed again. No answer. Called. No answer. Finally, about two days before my trip I called the airport and spoke to someone who got me in touch with the Do You Spain people. They told me I’d be picking up my car from Record Rent a Car and that, yes, the rate really was 20.00 Euros. I laughed. Really? That’s just so cheap! And all was well and I relished in having found an amazing deal. What a travel hacker I am!

Wrong and wrong. I get to Málaga and go to pick up my car. The people in front of me are an older couple and they are yelling at the receptionist in Spanish. “In the end it’s not so cheap, eh!,” one of them yelped. Red flag, I thought. And then it was my turn to freak out. I was told that my car was 20.00 for four days, but that I would have to pay for the gas ahead of time, which was 85.00 Euros. What?! I said I didn’t want to use their gas. They said tough shit. They also said that I would have to contract their insurance, so in the end my total was 120.00 Euros, which is a long way off from 20.00 Euros.

Well, I don’t like being lied to and I really don’t like being nickel-and-dimed. I hate it. Just tell me the price and I will pay it or not. In fact, I avoid all car companies and airlines that use this nickel-and-dime strategy to make a buck. I also avoid restaurants that do the same sneaky thing with bread and olives. That is, they bring you olives and you’re so happy because you’re starving and they’re delicious, and then you get the bill and they’ve charged you 2.00 Euros for olives and 5.00 Euros for bread. Leaves a bad taste in the mouth, ya know? (pun intended)

So, I told them that it was an outrage and that I would be taking my business elsewhere. That elsewhere was two stalls down to a local car rental company which charged me 140.00 Euros for four days. Yes, I paid more. But I am proud and I wanted to make a point. I didn’t want to give my business to Record, even if that meant paying a bit more.

The moral of this story is that Do You Spain seems to be a rip (has anyone else out there had a good experience with them? If so, I am all ears) and that Record Rent a Car should be your last choice for renting a car in Andalusia or anywhere else….that is, unless you like the idea of paying over 80.00 Euros in gas (I didn’t even use a full tank in four days, so how would have that all worked out!?).

Putting away the soapbox now, but if you’ve had a similar experience or have had a GREAT experience with some rental company, we’d like to know about it.

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10 Comments

  1. frequent renter
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    I understand your annoyance but this is completely nomal in car rental. 20€ for a car is as you said “to good to be true” and i would have guessed at that price you would be charged for extras. I have been renting cars frequently for the last 8 years though doyouspain and other agencies and have always faced the same costs. It isnt to do with Record (infact I have found Record to be one of the nicest of the rental car companies) it is to do with the agent not displaying the facts of the extra possible costs when selling you the package.

  2. michael bennett
    Posted April 10, 2012 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    In Bilbao Airport/Hilton Gold Car recentley, we were charged €130 up front for pertrol for a 3 day trip! We were refunded unused amount on our return, but how do they work out how much unused amount is?

    We also had €950 blocked from our credit card in case of insurance claim. This was unblocked on return, but that €950 was unavailable to use during our trip, unsatisfactory if on a tight budget or might not even have €950 balance available on your card which would mean you could not hire car!

  3. admin
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    Yeah, I really don’t like the idea of paying for gas up front. Maybe some people like it because there’s no hassle trying to find a gas station after the trip before returning the car, but mostly I feel like it’s a rip. 950 Euros is ridiculous. Thanks for your tips Michael.

    Regina

  4. admin
    Posted April 11, 2012 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    Thanks Lucia, that’s good to know. I wouldn’t use Do You Spain again, because like I said, I called and asked their rep about hidden fees, etc. I also had a hard time getting ahold of them, which I didn’t like. Perhaps Record is worth another go, not sure. They would not be my first pick because I prefer companies that have you pay for gas after. I’ve been renting cars in Spain for almost 7 years and the best company I’ve found is Sixt, the worst Pepe and now Do You Spain. Thanks for weighing in though, we all have different experiences with this!

    Regina

  5. Judy
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 12:44 am | Permalink

    Last time I rented a car in Tenerife the price was very reasonable. U had to return it with an empty tank, which is quite impossible of course, but taking into acoount that the rent was so cheap , it still was a good deal. It’s like cheap air fare, they always try to make u take extras (f.e. extra insurance that u don’t need). Luckily we didn’t have to pay for the suitcases!

  6. admin
    Posted April 16, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Haha, that’s right, suitcases are free —- for now! Good point about the insurance, and that it is worth calling your credit card company before to find out if they cover rentals…could save you big bucks!

  7. Posted July 16, 2012 at 12:30 am | Permalink

    This is very nice post. I like it. Good work and keep it up.

  8. Posted August 13, 2013 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Sixt. No doubt about that. Love the folks at the Santa Justa location.

    That sucks though…I hate it, and it makes Record look bad when it’s probably Do You Suck who schemes like that. I have a very hard time believing Record doesn’t know what’s going on, though. And pre-paying for gas is bullshit.

  9. admin
    Posted August 16, 2013 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Yes, and Yes. I like Sixt. They are no nonsense.

  10. Petri
    Posted May 22, 2014 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Be warned: Economy Car Rentals and Firlyfly!
    I chose Economy Car Rentals who finds the best car rental company for you. When I received the confirmation it stated that they had chose Firefly (formerly Advantage).
    I paid 28,73 in advance. The remaining 40,80 euro to be paid at the Firefly Desk (full insurance included!).

    At the Firefly desk I encountered the worst renting experience of all times (I have an apartment on the Costa and have been coming here for the past 20 years!). The sales rep informed me that the written confirmation From Economy Car Rentals. Com WAS ALL WRONG and had to be rewritten. Nothing I tried worked, so at 1:15 am what do you do but accept what you’re told. To cut a long story short:the total I ended up paying was 231 euro (when returning the car with full tank, I will get 53 euro back). On top of everything I received a For Fiesta that has 100395 km on the odometer! The car works, but honestly I have never driven a rental that is this old. Instead of getting a decent car, I was given a wreck.
    I emailed both Economy Car Rentals. Com and Firefly requesting for a prompt response, neither has responded. I cancelled my summer reservation made through Economy Car Rental. Com and urged my friends to do the same.

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