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Post-Soviet: Sixt Tallinn Airport car rentals treats westerners as €

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This place relies on its airport location to make an extra euro on western business folks. I rented a Volkswagen for five days in May 2013. When I returned the car, there was a tiny scratch from the plastic wheel of a suitcase just below the trunk, in the center rear of the car. After the Sixt agent brought it to my attention, I simply wiped most of it off with my hands. The remaining mark was less than one centimeter long. However, it was categorized in the paperwork as 2-10 centimeters long. The agent said that I would be charged 277 euros for it! When asked how she came up with that number, she told that her boss had told her on the phone. I asked how her boss know the cost if he hasn’t seen the damage. ‘He just knows’ was the effective answer. No paperwork of any kind. If I was not convinced, the agent said, then I could go and get an estimate from the Volkswagen dealership in Tallinn. I said OK. She and I drove to the dealership where the mechanic said that they might be able to just polish it off for a much lower cost. Sixt went ahead with the original charge anyway. When I asked to see the service order and the invoice to learn exactly what work the dealership had done and how it itemized the cost, it turned out that the car would not be taken to the dealership until September because other people make similar scratches. The Sixt Tallinn boss told me over email that they would rather keep the car in circulation. Therefore, the charge of 277 Euros is simply a high estimate based on a false assessment of the damage. So, every time a customer makes a tiny scratch, they charge the maximum amount possible whereas the repair, once the car actually goes to the shop, will be far cheaper, because conducting multiple repairs at once requires much lower labor costs than doing them all separately. However, the customer is still charged as if an individual repair were completed. This is BAD business ethics. Furthermore, as an experienced traveler in Estonia, I know there is no way that this charge would be leveled against a local, who knows the local prices and would fight it tooth and nail. They rely on western businesspeople giving up and writing off the charge as an inevitable cost of traveling in the former Soviet space. I tried the formal channels of customer service: no service. There are several other options for car rentals in the airport: use those.

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