Tag Archives: Sixt Car Rental

Travelling – Car Hire Advice – Be Prepared to Complain

Black Forest Winter Tyres

“Car hire firms abroad have more catches than a corset” – Martin Lewis, MoneySavingExpert.com

It took only fifty-five minutes to fly the short distance and land at Kahlrsrue-Baden Airpark at nine-thirty in the evening and after quickly clearing immigration and customs we were soon at the Sixt Car Hire desk to pick up our hire car.

There was a pleasant young man on duty called Herr Schmidberger and he examined my hire details and then sighed and furrowed his brow and adopted a concerned demeanour, “You have a booking for a vehicle without the winter tyres” he said, “are you sure you want a car without the winter tyres?”  I had no idea what he was talking about (we don’t have Winter tyres in UK, except for Northern Scotland)  and must have given him my best ever blank expression because with that he rolled his eyes so far back into their sockets that if he had laser vision he would have surely fried his brains.

The winter tyres were an extra €55 and I was beginning to detect a well rehearsed scam so we took a while to consult with each other on the proposal of paying the extra and with a queue starting to form behind us this started to seriously test his patience.

I enquired why I might consider going to the unnecessary additional expense and although this was his opportunity to inform me that since May 2006 German motorists have been required by law to use the most appropriate tyres for the weather conditions and that driving on snow covered roads is permitted only if a car is equipped with winter tyres, he just became even more theatrical and began shouting “Look at the snow, you can see the snow, in just two minutes you can see the snow!”  

Black Forest, Badische Schwarzwaldbahn

Obviously I could see the snow but I still failed to understand why he was so insistent (unless it was a scam and I was becoming more and more sure of that).  He could have told me that in Germany motorists are obliged to make sure they have correct tyres to suit the winter weather conditions and if a vehicle becomes stuck because the tyres are unsuitable drivers are liable to an on the spot police fine, and furthermore if the vehicle causes an obstruction or aggravation to other traffic, the fine may be doubled.

Instead he went into his impression of a man in an electric chair and gave a look that suggested that I was the craziest customer that he had ever dealt with and that driving without winter tyres in snow was madder than wrestling with alligators, swimming in shark infested waters or sky-diving without a parachute.

Triburg Germany Black Forest

I enquired about the weather forecast and whether he thought it might be snowing in the Black Forest (which at over a thousand metres was an absolute certainty and a really dumb question) and then his eyes started to swivel from side to side like the symbols on a gaming machine and he was clearly losing his patience with me now.

He might have explained that winter tyres use a tread rubber compound that is softer and a tread block pattern with more sipes (small slits which are specifically designed to retain flexibility in low temperatures and give good braking and traction performance on snow and ice covered roads) but instead he just keep shrieking “Look at the snow, you can see the snow, in just two minutes you can see the snow!”  

Snow Driving Black Forest Germany

By now I was beginning to understand that he thought snow tyres were a very good idea so finally agreed to the additional charge and he immediately calmed down and set about allocating us an appropriate vehicle for the conditions.

After that he went through the booking and paying procedures, explained where we would find the car in the car park and then clearly lacking any sort of confidence in my snow driving abilities and not expecting to see the car again in one piece bade us farewell with the words “please be sure to drive carefully in the snow, it is very dangerous…”

We quickly found the bright blue Nissan Micra hidden under a blanket of snow, cleaned it down, examined the tyres which, at this time not understanding about the special rubber compound, looked quite normal to me and fairly soon after setting off I was certain we had been scammed.

And we had been of course because at €13.45 a day I calculate that if they are on the car for a third of the year that is an extra €1,600 or €400 a tyre and I could not believe that they can be that much more expensive than a regular tyre.  And of course they are not because I have checked and they can be bought for as little as €40 each.

Black Forest Winter Tyres

Double scammed as it happened because I am certain that we had already been allocated this car anyway – complete with winter tyres.  If I had refused to pay they were hardly likely to jack it up and take them off!

Upon return home I raised the issue of what I considered to be an excessive winter tyre charge in this journal and the reaction has left me speechless with admiration for Sixt Car Hire.

I have experienced the best customer service that I have ever had with a response from Gary Coughlan,  the Customer Services Manager in the United Kingdom who provided me with a clear explanation of the law relating to winter tyres and the company policy in respect to additional charges.  He also promised to raise the matter with the Company’s Commercial Director but I doubt that he ever did.  Gary has a job for life just fobbing off customer complaints!

Two days later I received a refund and a promise that the Board of Sixt would consider the policy at their next scheduled meeting.  I doubt that they ever did of course but I was glad of the refund.

Triberg Germany

Travelling – Car Hire Advice – Insurance and Punctures

Iceland Car Hire Sixt Volcano Damage Insurance

Unfortunately hiring a car on line is as big a financial minefield as booking a low cost flight because there is an inevitable range of confusing add-on charges and exclusions all designed to generate additional revenue.

Sixt in Iceland have come up with a brilliant wheeze.  I thought that I had purchased fully comprehensive insurance but the desk clerk told me that the cars suffered so many stone chips because of the gravel roads in Iceland that this had now been excluded and could be purchased at an additional cost of €9 a day under the description ‘gravel damage’ and just to be safe I agreed to buy it.

This is like excluding burglary from a house insurance policy or heart attacks from medical insurance.  Brilliant business for them.  The customer buys insurance but they exclude the things that you might need to claim for!

Then it became almost surreal when he explained that further cover was available at €10 a day for volcano damage.  Volcano damage – WTF? I wondered if I was on ‘Caught on Camera’ or something!

Iceland Volcano

On enquiry he told me that if a volcano explodes it can generate enough heat to strip the paint off the car and that this was not covered either.  Sixt provide this explanation and justification for this additional level of insurance cover:

“Due to volcanic eruptions in Iceland in recent years there is still a great amount of ash in the highlands that tends to cause damage to vehicles in windy weather.  Any damage caused by volcanic ash is not covered by any insurance or terms and conditions in Iceland.  We do what we can so that our customers can travel our beautiful country without a care and this is why we now offer all customers to purchase sand and ash protection and Gravel protection, specially made to deal with our unique Icelandic conditions.”

Well, I considered this for a moment and came to the conclusion that if I was close enough to an exploding volcano for it to strip the paint off the car then it was almost certain that I was likely to be in a lot of trouble and great personal danger and the last thing that I was going to be worried about as my flesh melted into a puddle of grease and my bones were surely burnt to a blackened cinder was the condition of the paintwork on the hire car (gravel chipped or not) so I declined the offer to purchase the additional cover and quickly paid up just in case he next tried to sell me snow or rain insurance in case the car got wet!

Sixt rent a car logo

Sixt are good at this sort of thing.  Last year in Ireland I returned a car and a member of staff carried out an examination and satisfied himself that there were no bumps or scrapes, no chips in the windscreen and that the tyres weren’t flat and punctured, nothing  that is that he could charge me for, and we turned to walk away but were staggered when he called us back and said that there was some sand in the carpets and that there could be a potential £60 cleaning charge.

“£60” I protested and almost choked and he defended this bit of daylight robbery with an explanation that this sort of sand was especially difficult to deal with.  I covered my nose because I noticed that there was funny smell and I reminded him that I am Sixt Platinum customer and he backed down and said not to worry because  the quantity was on the margins of acceptability and he would not charge us this time.

Just as well because if he had I would have asked for the keys back and taken it to a vacuum machine in the next door garage and sucked it up myself for £2 no matter how difficult it might have been (not).  In case he changed his mind I actually thanked him for not mugging me but quickly returned to the car and wiped the steering wheel with a wet-wipe just in case there was a charge for removing fingerprints!

These thieves will try anything to generate additional revenue.

Iceland Car Hire Volcano Damage Insurance

So, what is the solution?  There is an alternative.  Buy some cheap car hire insurance in the UK and when under pressure at the sales desk think of Captain Kirk and raise a force field around yourself to resist the hard sell.  It usually means leaving a deposit on the credit card to pay for damages but this can then be claimed back from the cheaper insurer.

It works.  This year I went to Ireland and one day had the misfortune to get a puncture.  I was really annoyed about that because I hadn’t bought tyre damage insurance from the car rental company; I always buy tyre damage insurance and I have never had a puncture so I cursed my misfortune on that day.  I needn’t have worried.  When I got home I made a claim on the cheaper ‘buy before you go’ option and they promptly paid up!

The puncture story reminds me of another.  In 1986 I went to Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands and mid-way through the holiday hired a car, a little blue Seat with an open top and on the first day set off into the mountains in the interior.  This turned out to be rather hard work as the road looped in extravagant sweeping motions around deep valleys and gorges and followed a precarious route to the top.

Actually, we didn’t get to the top because after an hour or so we got a puncture and I had to change the wheel at the roadside.  We were high up and close to the edge and part way through the process the car started to slide off the jack and I wondered how I was going to explain to the hire company just how the car had fallen off the road and disappeared into a ravine.

To my eternal shame I didn’t own up to the puncture but just put it in the boot without even pumping it up and left it.  I have always felt guilty about that!

Car Hire Gran Canaria 1986

Travels in Spain – Arrival, Car Hire and Navigation

Cervantes Alcala de Henares

Twelve months earlier we had travelled to the small town of Sigüenza about one hundred kilometres north east of Madrid on the road to Zaragoza and Barcelona and we liked it so much we decided to return for a second visit.

As usual I made preparations well in advance and made a reservation at the same hotel, the Casa Rural Posada los Cuatro Canos, organised overnight accommodation at Luton Airport on account of the early morning flight, booked a car park reservation and made arrangements for a hire car.

I wanted to use the same company as last time, Firefox, because they had been both reasonably priced and efficient but they had no small car availability that matched our travel dates so I looked around elsewhere and came across a cheap site who happily accepted my booking and sent me a confirmation email telling me that my arrangement was with the car rental company Goldstar and I went to bed happy that everything was organised.

In the early hours of the morning I woke in a panic when I suddenly remembered reading a number of poor customer reviews about Goldstar and in the dark silence this weighed upon me like a tonne weight, crushing the satisfaction out of me like a wine press.  So I went downstairs, turned on the computer and did a search.  I was right – there were pages and pages of bad reviews about poor customer service, aggressive insurance selling and then additional charges after returning the car, the full tank of petrol scam and the fact that the rental company is based some distance away from the airport.  All of the advice was not to use them and I cursed myself for not checking this out before making the booking.

I worried about this for the next couple of weeks and kept looking at the review sites to see if I could find something encouraging but there was nothing and so after another couple of unscheduled wake ups during the night I decided to cancel and risk losing the money.

So I did just that.  I followed the cancellation procedure and was promised a refund within seven days and then I booked an alternative with someone I consider more reliable – Sixt.  Sixt are by no means perfect I have to say but I do have a platinum customer card which does have some benefits including a small discount, the promise of a fast track pick up and a possible upgrade and so despite the fact that I had criticised them when I last used them in Iceland I felt a lot more relaxed after that.

Guadalajara Province Map

Guadalajara Province and our planned sightseeing visits.

When we landed at Barajas airport mid-morning there was a blue sky and a very respectable temperature which took us by surprise and required an immediate change of clothes into something more appropriate before we passed through security and into the arrivals hall to find the Sixt office.

Now, you are probably expecting me to tell you about some car hire disaster story and I usually like to start with a tale of things going wrong but I’m afraid that on this occasion I cannot because everything about the experience was perfect, no queue, no insurance sales pitch and no full tank of petrol scam and in just ten minutes I had signed the paperwork and had the keys to a brand new ruby red Citroën C3 and minutes later we were motoring effortlessly on the Autovia del Nordeste.

I was very pleased with my car hire company selection and just to complete the good story I received my Goldstar refund as promised just a few days later.

We didn’t drive very far as our first destination was the city of  Alcalá de Henares because on a previous visit it had rained heavily so we were keen to see the UNESCO World Heritage site in better weather conditions.

Modern day Alcalá de Henares is a busy sprawling industrial suburb of Madrid but at its heart is the world’s first planned university city founded in 1293 by King Sancho IV of Castile.  It was the original model for the Civitas Dei (City of God), the ideal urban community which Spanish missionaries exported to the New World and it also served as a model for universities in Europe and elsewhere. Alcalá de Henares is Oxford and Cambridge, Harvard and Yale but I wouldn’t have guessed this as we drove towards the city centre through grimy streets, clogged with growling traffic and with unattractive high rise apartment blocks and small industrial units lining the road.

Alcalá de Henares is however packed with two thousand years of history.  It was settled by Romans, Moors and the reconquering Christians.  As a former royal residence it is where Columbus met Queen Isabella for the first time.   In 1547, it was the birthplace of Spain’s greatest literary genius, Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote.  It achieved UNESCO world heritage status in 1998 thanks to this venerated university which has produced a steady supply of saints and generations of powerful Catholic bishops.

I was fairly confident that I knew where I was going so to avoid an argument with technology I declined the assistance of the Satnav and headed for the centre.  Something however went seriously wrong.  Normally I am pretty good at avoiding shopping centres but on this occasion I mistakenly followed signs to the commercial centre and ended up in an edge of town shopping mall.  I reversed out quickly and made a mental note to organise a brain scan when I got back home to get my normally reliable inbuilt anti-shops radar tracking system thoroughly checked over for faults.

After I had corrected the mistake and apologised to my female passengers for giving them false hope we found the correct directions and parked the car in an underground car park we made directly for the Centro Historico.

It was almost lunch time now and having missed breakfast judged it about time to eat so we found a place in the sun and asked for a menu.  We were travelling with our friends Sue and Christine who, they won’t mind me telling you this, can be rather fussy eaters so ordering food is always a bit of a challenge but we made our way down the menu and placed our order with the waiter.

When I said it was almost lunch time I meant that it was about eleven-thirty and this proved to be a bit of a problem because most of the things we selected weren’t quite ready so we tried again and most of the things on our second selection attempt weren’t ready either so we settled for a bocadillo and a glass of beer before setting off into the centre of the city for sightseeing.

Alcalá de Henares Madrid Spain

Iceland, More About Car Hire Volcano Insurance

Iceland Car Hire Sixt Volcano Damage Insurance

As we drove along a perfectly maintained asphalt road I congratulated myself on my earlier decision not to fall for the volcano damage insurance trick but very soon after that I was glad of the fact that I had agreed to pay the gravel damage insurance scam.

Eventually we came to a sign that told us that the tarmac road was about to end and we about to join an unpaved road full of lumps and bumps, potholes and significant gravel damage danger so I was glad that we had taken out the additional insurance especially when cars approaching from the other way inevitably sent a shower of stones towards us as though we under machine gun fire aimed at our little vehicle which, quite frankly, was totally unsuitable for this sort of journey which made me think again about car hire companies and their underhand tricks.

Earlier in the year I hired a car in Italy (again from Sixt) and despite signing up for comprehensive insurance I was then told that this didn’t cover the roof, the windscreen, the tyres, the floor or, most bizarrely of all, the clutch.  Comprehensive means comprehensive in my book and not one that is qualified with lots of exclusions and ‘get out’ clauses.

A few years ago I had another unpleasant extra charges experience with Sixt at the car hire desk in Karlsruhe-Baden in Germany.  There was a pleasant young man on duty called Herr Schmidberger and he examined my hire details and then sighed and furrowed his brow and adopted a concerned demeanour, “You have a booking for a vehicle without the winter tyres” he said, “are you sure you want a car without the winter tyres?”  I had no idea what he was talking about and must have given him my best blank expression because with that he rolled his eyes so far back into their sockets that if had laser vision he would have surely fried his brain.

The winter tyres were an extra €55 and I was beginning to detect a well rehearsed scam so we took a while to consult with each other on the proposal of paying the extra and this started to test his patience.

I enquired why I might consider going to the unnecessary additional expense and although this was his opportunity to inform me that since May 2006 German motorists have been required by law to use the most appropriate tyres for the weather conditions and that driving on snow covered roads is permitted only if a car is equipped with winter tyres, but instead he became even more theatrical and said “Look at the snow, you can see the snow, in just two minutes you can see the snow!”  

Sixt Winter Tyres

Obviously I could see the snow but I still failed to understand why he was so insistent (unless it was a scam and I was becoming more and more sure of that).  He could have told me that in Germany motorists are obliged to make sure they have correct tyres to suit the winter weather conditions and if a vehicle becomes stuck because the tyres are unsuitable drivers are liable to an on the spot police fine, and furthermore if the vehicle causes an obstruction or aggravation to other traffic, the fine may be doubled.  Instead he gave a look that suggested that I was the craziest customer that he had ever dealt with and that driving without winter tyres in snow was madder than wrestling with alligators, swimming in shark infested waters or sky-diving without a parachute.

I asked about the weather forecast and whether he thought it might be snowing in the Black Forest (which at over a thousand metres was an absolute certainty and a really dumb question) and then his eyes started to swivel from side to side like the symbols on a fruit machine and he was clearly losing his patience with me now.  He might have explained that winter tyres use a tread rubber compound that is softer and a tread block pattern which are specifically designed to retain flexibility in low temperatures and give good braking and traction performance on snow and ice covered roads but instead he just keep shrieking “Look at the snow, you can see the snow, in just two minutes you can see the snow!”  

By now we were beginning to understand that he thought snow tyres were a very good idea so finally agreed to the additional charge and he immediately calmed down and set about allocating us an appropriate vehicle for the conditions.

We quickly found the bright blue Nissan Micra hidden under a blanket of snow, cleaned it down, examined the tyres which, at this time not understanding about the special rubber compound, looked quite normal to me and fairly soon after setting off I was certain we had been scammed.  And we had been of course because at €13.45 a day I calculate that if they are on the car for a third of the year that is an extra €1,600 or €400 a tyre and I could not believe that they can be that much more expensive than a regular tyre.  And of course they are not because when I got home I checked and they can be bought for as little as €40 each.

Iceland Car Hire Volcano Damage Insurance

But, I digress, so let’s get back to Iceland where Sixt seem to excel themselves at ripping people off and I found this from a victim on Tripadvisor (http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopic-g189964-i4363-k5758239-Sixt_rent_a_car_Keflavik-Keflavik_Southern_Peninsula.html):

 “After a lovely week in May of this year we dropped our hired Chevrolet Spark off at this same office where it was thoroughly checked and deemed to be fine. Two days later we received an email saying that they were sorry but sand damage had been found and they had taken over £2500 from my credit card.”

A representative from Sixt responded with this rather lame excuse:

“I would like to assure all Sixt customers that Sixt Iceland tries to handle all damage cases with great care and do not charge customers for damage lightly. There are times when damage cannot be seen until after cleaning and in such cases we contact the customer to let them know about the damage found. We gather all information we can to prove all damage. By taking photos and with an estimated repair cost from an independent garage we are able to provide the renter with a good proof of damage.”

What is that funny smell?

Interestingly, even if you take out the volcano damage insurance this only limits liability to repair costs exceeding €1,500 and that is a staggeringly large excess liability!  I don’t think I will be hiring a car from Sixt again, especially in Iceland!

Thankfully the gravel road experience didn’t last very long and soon we were back to tarmac for the final ten kilometres or so of the journey towards Þingvellir.

Iceland Volcano

Iceland, Travel Trials and Tribulations

Iceland Landscape 

It was an early morning flight to Iceland so we stayed over the night before at the Ibis hotel in Luton where we spent a very pleasant evening and then got up early to walk to the airport which was just a few minutes away which was a good job on account of the fact that it was raining quite hard.  The day began well enough and I wasn’t to know at this stage as we sat with a cup of tea in the departure lounge that within just a few hours four things were going to really irritate me!

First – airport security.

Stansted Screening

These people are just unbelievable and without a shred of customer service skills between them.  They herd you up like cattle and then belittle you by stripping you down at the scanner and then work at snails pace to clear the lines.  I am fairly certain that every morning they have a meeting and decide on the tactics for the day about really irritating everyone.  Today it was watches and jewellery and bizarre inconsistency about the size of the plastic bag for carrying through liquids.  My bag was stopped and searched for no apparent good reason and the staff dealt with this in a completely charmless and ignorant way.

Second – easyJet

easyJet-check-in

So when we had finished our tea we made our way to the departure gate which turned out to be a breathless concrete stairwell serving two flights with about four hundred people pushing and shoving their way to the desk.  As we approached a member of staff stopped us and informed us that the flight was full, there was insufficient space in the overhead lockers for all the baggage and that ours would have to go in the hold.  How annoying is that?  We take hand luggage so that we can carry everything we need with us and so that we can get though the arrivals hall as quickly as possible.

It is possible that I over reacted a bit here but with good reason because the previous time we flew to Iceland we put our suitcases in the hold of the British Airways plane and Kim’s somehow managed to go to Glasgow, became a lost luggage statistic  and didn’t show up at Kevlavik for four days.  I complained but the young man had been expertly trained not to show any reaction or emotion so we were separated from our luggage and anything that we might need for the three hour flight.  And then the flight was delayed for almost an hour because of all the baggage messing about!

Third – Sixt Car Hire

Iceland Volcano

Unfortunately hiring a car on line is as big a financial minefield as booking a low cost flight with a range of confusing add ons and exclusions all designed to generate additional revenue.  Sixt have come up with a brilliant wheeze.  I thought that I had purchased fully comprehensive insurance but the desk clerk told me that the cars suffered so many stone chips because of the gravel roads in Iceland that this had now been excluded and could be purchased at an additional cost of €9 a day under the description ‘gravel damage’ and just to be safe I agreed to buy it.

Then it became almost surreal when he explained that further cover was available at €10 a day for volcano damage.  Volcano damage – WTF?

Upon enquiry he told me that if a volcano explodes it can generate enough heat to strip the paint off the car and that this was not covered either.  Sixt provide this explanation and justification for this additional level of insurance cover:

“Due to volcanic eruptions in Iceland in recent years there is still a great amount of ash in the highlands that tends to cause damage to vehicles in windy weather.  Any damage caused by volcanic ash is not covered by any insurance or terms and conditions in Iceland.  We do what we can so that our customers can travel our beautiful country without a care and this is why we now offer all customers to purchase Sand and ash protection and Gravel protection, specially made to deal with our unique Icelandic conditions.”

Well, I considered this for a moment and came to the conclusion that if I was close enough to an exploding volcano for it to strip the paint off the car then it was almost certain that I was likely to be in a lot of trouble and great personal danger and the last thing that I was going to be worried about as my flesh melted into a puddle of grease and my bones were surely burnt to a blackened cinder was the condition of the paintwork on the hire car (gravel chipped or not) so I sensibly declined the offer to purchase the additional cover and quickly paid up just in case he next tried to sell me snow or rain insurance in case the car got wet!

As a postscript to this point I would like to point out to Sixt car hire that as we drove around over the next few days I didn’t see a single car stripped down to bare metal so I have come to the inescapable conclusion that volcano damage insurance is a complete con.

Fourth – The Best Western Hotel, Reyjkavik…

We had landed through a thick grey sky heavy with rain and outside the weather was wet and not at all inviting.  It wasn’t heavy rain, just that low cloud and mizzle that is cold, damp and depressing.  Reykjavik was about a fifty-kilometre drive and it was across a barren lunar type landscape with black granite rocks and no vegetation at all except for vibrant green moss that was clinging uninvited to the inhospitable boulders.

I mention this just so you can get an idea of my mood at this precise moment…

After forty minutes or so we arrived in Reykjavik and quickly found the hotel, unloaded the car and presented ourselves at reception.  The young man at the desk looked embarrassed, leaned across the counter, lowered his voice to hushed tones as though bad news is better whispered and said there was a problem, the hotel had overbooked and we were being sent elsewhere.

I was not happy.  I asked him to explain the point of me spending an evening on hotel booking web sites to find the one that I want, to book it based on location, price and facilities only for him to tell me that I couldn’t stay there.  It seemed that a tour company wanted the rooms and they were going to get priority even though I had booked the rooms eight months earlier in February.  I made this point (twice I think, maybe even three times) and he told me that the date of booking was irrelevant.  

There was no negotiating on this point so we reluctantly accepted his invitation of a complimentary drink in the bar later, collected up our bags, reloaded them in the car and made our way to the alternative accommodation.

It had not been a great start – welcome to Iceland.

Post script:

Before hiring a car at Keflavik in Iceland whether with Sixt or any other rental company check out this Tripadvisor page first:

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopic-g189964-i4363-k5758239-Sixt_rent_a_car_Keflavik-Keflavik_Southern_Peninsula.html

Germany, Winter Tyres

Sixt Car Rental Germany

It took only fifty-five minutes to fly the short distance and land at Kahlrsrue-Baden Airpark at nine-thirty in the evening and after quickly clearing immigration and customs we were soon at the Hertz desk to pick up our hire car.

Following our snow experience last year and the protracted and painful debate about winter tyres, this year I had ordered them in advance so without a discussion with the clerk on duty about whether these were really necessary, on this occasion I just paid the exorbitant additional charge of €55 and very quickly we had taken possession of a royal blue Ford Fiesta and the car hire company winter tyres sting was complete.

Read the full story…

Travels in Spain, Monday Morning Rush Hour in Madrid

It was an eleven o’clock flight from Madrid back to London Luton and Ávila is about one hundred kilometres from the city so I calculated that it would take at most two hours and that we should begin our journey at seven o’clock which would give us plenty of time to make the drive, return the car, check in and do a bit of duty free shopping.

Read the full story…

Thumbs Up for Sixt Rent a Car

Black Forest Winter Tyres

Upon return home I raised the issue of what I considered to be an excessive winter tyre charge in this journal and the reaction has left me speechless with admiration for Sixt Car Hire.

I have experienced the best customer service experience that I have ever had with a response from the Customer Services Manager in the United Kingdom who provided me with a clear explanation of the law relating to winter tyres and the company policy in respect to additional charges.  He also promised to raise the matter with the Company’s Commercial Director.

I have to say that although I paid too much for them I was really glad of the winter tyres as I am sure they made driving a much safer experience in quite tricky driving conditions and hopefully the Commercial Director will be as good as the Customer Services Manager and will give full consideration to my comments.

black-forest-winter-tyres

Thumbs down for Ryanair Transaction Charges

Car-hire-in-Andalusia

The Full Tank of Fuel Car Hire Scam

Black Forest, Winter Tyres?

Black Forest Winter Tyres

Two years ago we visited Germany and stayed in the city of Baden-Baden in the north of the Black Forest and enjoyed it so much that we booked to return a year later.  We didn’t make it however because on the day of the flight there was a little bit of snow across the United Kingdom which closed down all of the airports and cancelled all of the flights.   Not to be outdone by inefficient English bad weather emergency response planning however we booked again to visit in January 2009 and this time with mild weather at Stansted the flight got away as planned.

Read the full story…