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Wicked Camper: DON'T ever hire from them!!!!!!!!!!

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My girlfriend and I hired a Wicked van from Darwin in March this year. We had nothing but problems, I would advise anyone to steer well clear of this company!

We booked the van through Darwin's tourist office the previous day. They actually recommended Wicked to us.

Our plan was for a one way lease from Darwin to Sydney over four week's.

We arrived to pick our van up on at 10.00am. We went through the necessary paper work before we were shown the van. We left the depot to start our journey.

We didn't get very far before we realised that there had been a misunderstanding at the tourist office and we had booked a vehicle without air-conditioning. Considering the time we were planning to have the van, the distances we would travel and the temperatures we would encounter this would be a big problem.

We returned to the depot and explained the situation. We were prepared to pay the extra for a van with air-conditioning and were shown another vehicle. This would have been simple if it wasn't for the fact that even the mechanic couldn't figure out how to collapse the rear seats to form the bed. The idea of renting a camper-van is that you can sleep in it so obviously this one was useless.

After stating this we were offered a four wheel drive vehicle that was equipped with air-conditioning and appeared to have a suitable sleeping area. We agreed that we would take it and would return in an hour allowing them time to ensure the vehicle was ready.

We returned to collect the new van an hour later (it was now around 1.00pm). We filled in the paper-work and were shown around the van before we left, relived that we were now on our way.

The relief didn't last long! We had driven about 100 meters when there was a loud rubbery noise and a burning smell. I thought to start with that I had a flat tire. We called your help-line and we were told to return to the depot. When we got out of the van we saw the belts off the front of the engine as they fell to the floor underneath the van. This does not exactly install confidence in the reliability of their vehicles.

If it hadn't been for the fact that we were egar to get on the road we would have cancelled our booking and found a another rental company!

A rather embarrassed member of staff then offered us one of their premium campers, it was so late in the day and we had to make up so much time that we accepted it straight away hoping that the previous problems were just bad luck.

A few day's later, on our way south along the Stuart Highway we thought we'd make use of the vehicles sun-roof. It opened electrically as it should, when we came to close it; it stopped short and a warning light appeared next to the switch. It was starting to get dark and the weather forecast was for rain. It was clearly stuck so we improvised, covering it with a plastic bag.

We very soon reached Alice Springs and decided it would be best to pay a visit to your depot to get it fixed. Here we met another Wicked employee: Danny. Danny attempted to fix it but obviously didn't have the tool's or the knowledge to solve the problem. At one stage he even told us that we might have to pay for it to be repaired, this made me quite angry. The problem was a vehicle fault that was certainly not caused by the way we had used it.

It turned out that it was a common fault and that the sun-roof should have been de-activated but hadn't. This again show's a lack of professionalism in this company. Firstly- it hadn't been de-activated when it was claimed it should have been and secondly- if you provide a camper-van for lease surely all of the equipment on the van should be functioning? If there are common faults such as this one maybe they should consider replacing that vehicle with one that is more reliable?
Surely the logical solution for our situation would have been to refer us to an auto-glazing company who would be more qualified to fix the sun-roof? Instead we had to wait for Danny to find something to cover the roof with to keep water out until we reached Sydney. This again took more of our time, we had not intended to spend an extra day in Alice Springs. In the end all Danny did was to tape the edges of the sun-roof and advise us to buy our own tape should it come off. Again this did not exactly fill us with confidence; there has been record levels of heavy rain in Northern Australia this year has there not?

We arrived in Sydney on . The van was due to be returned at 3.00pm, we left Darling Harbour at 1.30pm believing that we had left a very generous length of time to reach the depot within the same city. We had been given a map to find the Sydney depot on George Street, this made it slightly difficult because there appeared to by two George Street's in Sydney. Also the map did not show how to get there from the city centre. We were struggling to find our way, stopping for directions several times. At 2.30pm we called the depot to ask for directions, the lady we spoke to had no idea how to direct us even though we gave her the precise address of where we were and offered no help. We struggled along, asking for directions from several people. It seam's even locals were confused by their map, what chance did we have?

We called again at 3.50pm to explain that we were lost and that we needed directions. We were now outside Apollo camper-vans, we told her this and the only help we were given was "your not far away". She told us quite rudely that she had to leave at 4.00 to collect a child form school (very strange during the Easter holiday) and that there was no one else there who could help us (yet we passed one of their employees in a camper-van just minuets before we eventually found the depot). We were then told that if we arrived after 4.00pm we would have to "leave the key on top of the exhaust pipe". I had absolutely no intention of doing this! As I see it that vehicle is my responsibility until my bond (a substantial amount of money) is returned. What would have happened if the van had been taken, with the key's from an unlocked yard over-night?

Eventually we asked for some help in the Apollo motorhome office, we assumed that being a rental company they would have a better chance of knowing where your depot was. One of their employee's actually volunteered to come with us and show us the way. It goes to show that some company's are willing to be helpful.

We arrived at the Wicked depot at 4.15pm to find, as expected, that no one was there. I would have no complaint about this if it wasn't for the fact we had asked for help and directions and given nothing. Not being to leave the key's in an unsafe place we left the van but took the key's with us.

We returned to the depot (taking up more of our time and unnecessary expense) first thing in the morning to return the key's. We tried to explain to the staff that we were not happy but as always we were presented with blank faces and indifference. We filled in a small review card describing some of the issues we had with the van. We have had no response from that card which mean's I can only presume it has either been discarded or ignored. Either way I find this incredibly rude seeing as we took the time to fill it in.

This was the first time we had ever hired a vehicle, had we been aware of what most company's provided in the way of service we would have steered well clear of Wicked.

The quality of the vehicle we were provided with was exceptionally poor. In their advertisement's it say's "a large comfortable bed"; we are not tall people but our feet over hung the end of the bed, so it is neither large or comfortable. It was dirty when we picked it up and ill equipped for the job. Surely in a camper-van that has cooking equipment should come with a fire extinguisher? We found a dust-pan but no brush, pretty useless, especially as we as the customer are expected to clean the vehicle.

When we first collected the vehicle we were given no advice about where we were and were not supposed to camp. We were not provided with any map's or given any advice about driving on Australia's road's. This is actually quite shocking! We had explained the route we were planning on taking the vehicle which included some very remote areas where mobile phone coverage is minimal. We were not advised about the vast distances between fuel stations or the need to take food and water with us. Luckily we had already received that advice from other party's but their employees were not to know that. It is scary to think that they would allow someone out on the road in some quite hazardous environments without vital safety information.

Every hire company I have used since ensure that there vehicles are professionally valteted between customers. One lady at a camping ground actually said to me that she believed your campers looked unsafe and shouldn't be on the road.

It appears to me that Wicked camper-vans use a fun concept, fluffy hand-cuffs (also not in the van) and interesting paint-work to cover a shoddy, unprofessional service.

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