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BEWARE - St. Maarten Car Rental with Dollar/Thrifty Car Rental

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First let me say that when planning our trip to St. Maarten, many blogs recommended renting a car from the local companies because ‘when you are renting from the big names, you are renting from independent operators and will get no support from the named company.’ This being our first trip to the Caribbean, I still felt more comfortable booking the car through AAA with a familiar name like Dollar.

When we picked up the car I got a bit of an uneasy feeling from the start because the person who was delivering the car was paying more attention to my reactions during the inspection than he was to the condition of the car. I pointed a few marks and scrapes out to him as he was taking notes.

Our 4 night stay was uneventful as far as the car was concerned. We drove it only a couple of days around the island and never at night. When we dropped off the car, my paperwork was passed to about 3 different employees before ending up in the hands of the guy that did my return inspection. He said ‘Let’s take a walk around the car’. As we completed the first lap he said ‘OK, there’s some damage on the car, I’ll show you but don’t stare…... See that white truck over there? That’s the supervisor. If you stare, he’ll know I found something and I’ll have to report it.’

I replied that he must be mistaken because I had no incidents. He paused and verbally referred to a scratch on the left side of the front bumper that was there when I picked the car up. I informed him of that and also that I had pointed it out to the person that delivered the car. He responded that ‘he didn’t note it’. After a little more back and forth and delays I asked him ‘what he wanted’ and basically he said that ‘I could take care of it with him, or I would have to fill out an accident report’. I told him there was no way I would be giving him cash and then he said ‘OK, let’s go fill out a report’. I said ‘Fine let’s go’. We then went into the office and filled out a brief report on which I stated that ‘all marks on the car were present when I picked it up’. He added a note of ‘damage to the front bumper’.

After arriving home an additional charge of $262 was made to my credit card with no information, details, or invoice substantiating the charge. I intend to dispute that charge.

I really did not know what to expect or if I would incur any additional charges. I thought that the exchange may just be a scare tactic to extort cash. I had made up my mind that I was not going to stay quiet on this. There was an elderly customer on the lot at the same time that was also being given a hard time. The thought of these thugs taking advantage of the elderly sickens me. They should be fired. There are a lot of friendly, honest people on that island that would be grateful to have those jobs. I’m really not sure what is more disturbing to me, the extortion attempt or the fraudulent charge to my credit card.

Of all the cars I have rented in the States, Europe, and Canada, I have never witnessed the business practices that I experienced at the Dollar Rent A Car in St. Maarten.

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