Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Caribbean Islands
Reload this Page > BEWARE - St. Maarten Car Rental with Dollar/Thrifty Car Rental
Notices

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

Reply

Feb 17th, 2010, 02:56 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 2
BEWARE - St. Maarten Car Rental with Dollar/Thrifty Car Rental

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.
Allaroundtheworld is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 17th, 2010, 08:15 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 4,006
We've had similar experiences in other places with different car rental companies. We've seen it enough that we now always take the zero deductible coverage with the rental car company. No, it's not right, but it's cheaper than trying to dispute the unscrupulous behavior of these company employees.

One other hint: ALWAYS take photos of the car and damage and email them to yourself and/or the company on the date you pick up the car. Emailing them to yourself documents the date of the photos if your camera does not print it on there. Then, take photos upon the return. My husband has even been able to sometimes get the employee in these photos. They tend to mess with you less when they know you took photos!
Continental_Drifter is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 7th, 2010, 07:19 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 10
The sleight-of-hand and fraud described is one outfit - one person. No brand or location can be predicted to be bad or good - except Mexico which is a den of thieves. Visitor count is off this season (again) so cars are available everywhere - if you smell a rat, split. AVIS and HERTZ tend to pick good players in the Caribbean - the other brands don't give a hoot.
But all the cars get smashed/crunched/dented and abused - start out knowing the car is about to break apart, the spare tire is missing, the A/C doesn't work, fluids are low, and the engine is weak. Get fixed what you can before you drive off - and do the inspection yourself - three times around and inside. This is one subject where being the overbearing ugly American is what is needed to survive. As with most auto matters in life, the industry seems to attract bums. Take control !
wiley1827 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 22nd, 2010, 03:05 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 1
Hi, we just had to deal with Thrifty car rental. We specifically rented from Thrifty because we thought we'd get a reliable and clean car. I should not have taken their rental car at all. Day 1: I went through three cars to finally get a car with a bumper falling off it, two bald front tires, and a brand new tire in the trunk. I had to take the car as there were no others. I called and complained about the car. I rationalized that my expectations were too high so I kept the car. Big mistake. One of the front tires blew out as I was passing Thrifty on my way in to Simpson Bay. I immediately turned around to ask for the tire to be swapped and/or a different car. An employee named David started yelling at us because we didn't have the yellow customer rental copy with us. David didn't want to be bothered with looking up our rental. Next, Jack, the manager, came out and accused me of driving around the island from beach to beach with a flat tire. I was livid. Then, they got all eight of their mechanics to surround us and threaten to beat us if we raised our voice. We were angry because Jack wanted to charge us for the tire and who knows what else. Then, they refused to give us another rental car. I know. You're thinking why would you want another car from them. This happened on a Sunday afternoon about 4:30 and we're traveling with my mother whose legs hurt. The employees charged us for the car rental, even for the days we didn't use it, then REFUSED to write PAID on the receipt. In fact, the last employee, Sunil, walked off. We didn't know we were finished. When we asked Sunil what was going on, he said that's it for now. Meanwhile,someone was yelling 'There's damage. They will be charged more.' That infuriated me. Sunil wouldn't talk to us anymore. His shift was over. He refused to write PAID on the receipt as he smirked. Finally, the manager, Jack, who couldn't handle the situation at all, wrote PAID on the receipt. We'll see what happens with our credit card. I recommend renting from Paradise Car Rental. The beaches are beautiful in St Maarten. Stay away from the locals.
oleole is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 22nd, 2010, 05:14 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 2,698
WOW! We were considering renting a car for the day our cruise ship docks in St. Maarten. Thanks for your story - we will searching for a driver and car to hire for the day instead. Terribly afraid 4 women (one elderly) would look way too much like easy "marks".
aliska is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 23rd, 2010, 07:23 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 433
I live on the island, and I have heard other 'horror stories' about Dollar / Thrifty Car rental, so Allaroundtheworld's is not, apparently, an isolated case.

There are plenty of other choices.
DavidSXM is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 24th, 2010, 12:11 PM
  #7
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 101
Sounds like the rental contracts above didn't include insurance. Would anybody know what a US credit card CDW (collision damage waiver) provision is worth? On a US territory or on another Caribbean island? Not only re what is covered by primary or secondary insurance, but who does the fighting.
tableronde is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 29th, 2010, 11:24 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 1
Well here we go! Before leaving for St. Maarten last week I read many forums and blogs in order to protect us from scams overall. 2nd day in Marigot less than 25 ft and 5 minutes from our rental car the rear drivers side window was shattered and a small beach bag mistakenly left on the back seat was stolen! Not even close to the problem; after getting help from a nice gentleman getting off work (11:30am) we were told to go to the police station as they don't come to you. A report later brought us back to the THRIFTY CAR RENTAL where we were told that the deductible was $850.00! Home now, we received a estimate for $1847.00 ! The car agency added other repairs to this estimate not related to the window! SCAMED AGAIN IN THE CARRIBEAN! By the way, there was another poor guy dealing with the same issue of a broken window BOTH TIMES we were at the THRIFTY car rental. Anyone have any suggestions? They have my Mastercard debit card number from the original rental.
brachguy58 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 1st, 2010, 04:10 PM
  #9
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 1
After almost being a victim to thrifty at SXM, I was happy to find a forum with people who had similar experiences.

This weekend, we rented an economy car from them. It was old and had many dings on it. We went over all of them even pointed out one that they didn't mark on their form. We were blown off and told its noted.

Not taking that as an answer, we took a few pictures of the damage, even had one with the employee standing next to it.

Upon returning the car, they pointed out that scratch, told us it isn't noted and that we have to fill out forms detailing and acknowledging the damage.

They kept telling us don't worry, you won't have to pay if you have a VISA, they'll cover it.

Refusing to let VISA pay for a fraudulent claim, I showed them the pictures of the damage. Even though they had a date stamp, and the employee who wasn't even at work the day we returned the car in the pictures, the manager told us the pictures don't prove a thing and must be faked.

They proceeded to pressure us into signing the forms that we damaged the car for over an hour and telling me I forged the pictures. They even made a show of calling the employee at home who checked us out and they said he said over the phone he remembers us and doesn't remember that scratch and he's sure he noted all the damage, all the while reassuring us if we just sign these forms, our credit card company will cover the damage.

While all this was going on, we heard a similar pitch thrown at a couple returning a car. They gave in as they had a flight to catch. I was willing to miss my flight on principal.

When they finally realized I wasn't going to give in, they changed their minds, decided that I'm an honest person and wouldn't lie to them and tore up the forms.

They were well practiced in this routine and very reassuring that the credit card company would pay all I need to do is sign.

I'd recommend not renting from them, but if you do, to document everything and take lots of pictures.
andrewb92 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 2nd, 2010, 04:30 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 433
The above horror stories are obviously not just 'one offs' perpitrated by a single rogue employee.

It appears that this is a 'ROGUE FRANCHISE' of the Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc., and it needs to be sorted out without delay.

Not only are the employees apparently regularly scamming visitors to this island, but they are also giving the entire car rental industry here a bad name - not to mention the island itself.

My suggestion to each and all of you is to write a letter, providing FULL details of your treatment, and address it as follows :

FOR THE PERSONAL ATTENTION OF :

Scott Anderson,

Senior Executive Vice President,
Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, Inc.,
World H.Q.,
P.O.Box 35250,
Tulsa, OK 74153 -0250.

The above person is responsible for the franchises of the Group, worldwide, and I am sure he would enjoy a trip to our sunny island in order to terminate this franchise forthwith !

You could also copy your letters to the Tourist Bureaux on both sides of this island - their addresses can be found on their respective websites - as visitors arriving at the airport usually rent cars there, whichever side of the island they are staying.

I also suggest that, in your letters, you refer Scott Anderson to the Fodors website, and in particular to this thread on the blog - that way he will realize that the letter he has received from YOU does not refer to one isolated case.

Please post details on this thread, of the responses which I am confident you will receive.
DavidSXM is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 3rd, 2010, 05:02 AM
  #11
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 76
That's geeat advice, i think these incidents should not go without fight. Extortion is the worst feeling, and especially on vacation, no one needs that.
bdshotsauce is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 3rd, 2010, 05:24 PM
  #12
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 433
Thanks bdshotsauce.

I just HOPE that the above people who have taken the time to have their say on this thread, in this forum, TAKE THE TIME TO DO AS I SUGGESTED.

It is one thing to have a perfectly legitimate 'moan' on a forum like this, but it is quite another to ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

Having spent a bit of my time establishing, on their behalf, exactly to WHOM their comments should be addressed, I will be very disapointed if I find that the suggestion made in my earlier post has not been acted upon.
DavidSXM is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 4th, 2010, 06:59 AM
  #13
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 4
Nex time try to rent a car from a French side of the island. French side has a European type of insurance and should cover all this scams.
SkipEU is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 6th, 2010, 06:52 PM
  #14
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 433
Come on you people who have - quite legitimately - been complaining about this rip off outfit, which is obviously a rogue franchise, trading on the name of a (supposedly) well run international car rental operation, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE ABOUT IT ?

Have ANY of you bothered to contact Scott Anderson, as I suggested ?

It would be really nice to know that at least some of you have, and to hear what response you received.
DavidSXM is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 6th, 2010, 09:33 PM
  #15
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 4,006
I really hope that consumers DO contact Thrifty's Franchise division. It's great information that DavidSXM has provided.

It's really incredible that they said that you had created the photos with the employee in them. That's a new one on me!

Now - Just a reminder - take the rental company's insurance coverage when you are in the Caribbean, Central and South America. The $400 extra that you might pay for the week for a zero deductible/CDW is SO worth it. It sure beats an $1800 bill for a window!
Continental_Drifter is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 9th, 2010, 06:13 PM
  #16
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 433
Since it would seem that nobody else has apparently bothered to contact Scott Anderson, this afternoon - as I had nothing else to do, and was feeling public spirited - I did it for you !

His secretary was referred to this thread which, while I was speaking with her, she read, and will acquaint Mr. A. with the details of the problems which you experienced.

Maybe - just maybe - something will now be done about these rip off artists who are getting this island a bad reputation.
DavidSXM is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 13th, 2010, 05:29 PM
  #17
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 1
HI DAVID,
I'M SHOCKED AT YOUR ADVISE/RESPONSE.I USUALLY GO TO ST.MAARTEN THREE TIMES A YEAR FOR THE LAST 5 YEARS AND WE HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED THIS OUTRAGEOUS BEHAVIOR BEFORE.WE RENTED CARS FROM THRIFTY MANY TIMES WITHOUT TAKING THE INSURANCE AND NEVER HAD A PROBLEM BEFORE.THE STAFF IS ALWAYS COURTEOUS AND POLITE.THEY MAKE YOU FELL WELCOMED.
I BELIEVE THAT THE ORIGINAL COMPLAINANT SHOULD HAVE ADDRESSED THIS WHOLE EXTORTION TO THRIFTY'S MANAGEMENT AND I'M SURE THAT THIS PROBLEM WOULD HAVE BEEN AMICABLY RESOLVED.
Bidya_Khan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 13th, 2010, 06:49 PM
  #18
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 433
Hi Bidya_Khan

SINCE WE ARE NOW ALL APPARENTLY USING HIGH CASE, I WILL ALSO DO SO !

YOU HAVE POSSIBLY NOTICED THAT THE PERSON WHO STARTED THIS THREAD IS NOT ALONE IN HAVING HAD A BAD EXPERIENCE WITH THIS COMPANY. I SUGGEST THAT YOU READ THE OTHER COMMENTS. I DO HOWEVER AGREE WITH YOU THAT ALL OF THE PERSONS CONCERNED SHOULD HAVE IMMEDIATELY TAKEN UP THEIR INDIVIDUAL COMPLAINTS REGARDING THEIR TREATMENT WITH HEAD OFFICE.

F.Y.I., MY SON-IN-LAW ALSO HAD PROBLEMS WITH THIS COMPANY LAST YEAR, BUT HE 'HARD NOSED' THE GUY WHO WAS TRYING TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE FACT THAT HE 'THOUGHT' THAT MY SON-IN-LAW WAS IN A RUSH TO CATCH A FLIGHT - WHICH HE WAS NOT, AS I WAS IN MY CAR, WAITING TO TAKE HIM TO LUNCH BEFORE A MID-AFTERNOON FLIGHT - SO HE WAS IN NO MOOD AT ALL TO KEEL OVER. SUFFICE IT TO SAY, THE EMPLOYEE WHO WAS 'TRYING IT ON' BACKED DOWN FAIRLY QUICKLY.

YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCES MAY HAVE BEEN OK, BUT THIS OUTFIT HAS A VERY BAD REPUTATION LOCALLY FOR TRYING THESE TRICKS, AS SOME OF US LIVING HERE HEAR THESE STORIES FROM THIRD PARTIES RE-VISITING THE ISLAND.

IF I WAS NOT PRETTY CONVINCED THAT SOMETHING IS SERIOUSLY WRONG WITH THE WAY THIS FRANCHISE IS BEING OPERATED, I MOST CERTAINLY WOULD NOT HAVE DONE WHAT I DID.

THE REAL PROBLEM - APART FROM THE FACT THAT PEOPLE ARE BEING RIPPED OFF - IS THAT IT GIVES THIS ISLAND A BAD NAME.

FORTUNATELY - AS YOU MAY POSSIBLY BE AWARE - BOTH AVIS AND HERTZ ARE IN A BIDDING WAR TO BUY DOLLAR / THRIFTY (PROVIDED NEITHER FALL FOUL OF THE ANTI-TRUST LAWS) AND PRESUMABLY THEY WILL RESOLVE THE EXISTING PROBLEM IN NO TIME FLAT - ASSUMING THEY ARE MADE AWARE THAT IT EXISTS.
DavidSXM is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 13th, 2010, 06:49 PM
  #19
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 476
I've rented from Thrifty 3 times now....and have never had a problem. Actually today, I got an email from Vic asking how we were and I'm sure he was wondering if we were coming down this February. I personally - would never rent from anyone else. And by the way - I'm a frequent renter with a competitor brand - Enterprise/National/Alamo - yet - I find for leisure travel in SXM - Thrifty has been the best.
BellaClaire is offline  
Reply With Quote
Sep 13th, 2010, 08:38 PM
  #20
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 6
I am very shocked to read this. I've been renting from Dollar/Thrifty for 8 years since I started visiting St. Maarten once a year since 2001 (originally from Thrifty after they merged with Dollar apparently) in St. Maarten since they were at their old location. They have been very friendly and have never scammed me before. I've been visiting St. Maarten for 16 years now, and had some bad experiences with other companies, local and franchise, including Hertz. I've actually met Jag (I believe not Jack) a few times. They have been professional an courteous. I have had some damages that happened (not of my own fault but their are some crazy drivers in St. Maarten) and they charged me, and I never felt overcharged. It always seems fair. Twice they have gone out of their way to help me. Once, I had a flat and busted rim and they sent someone to repair it at 10pm at night. No charge, i just paid for the new tire and rim. The second time, I left my bag with camera and meds in the car after I returned it. It must have been a hustle for them because I only realized I was missing the bag when I went through the security checkpoint. I called them, and they literally had a few people searching for it. They found it, and I had to re-clear security, go downstairs and they returned it to me, with nothing missing.

I do find it strange that the original poster has not replied to his/her own post since starting this thread. I also find it strange the personal vendetta that DavidSXM has going for this company. After visiting St. Maarten for so long, I've come to learn that on this small island locals can tend to get very vicious and jealous of each others success. I almost want to say that this DavidSXM is probably a competing car rental owner, just out to tarnish a competition he is jealous of, or has some other personal woes with the owners of the franchise.
Roger_Whippleport is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:58 PM.