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.