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Car Rentals in Athens

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Dear traveller, I just wanted to share an experience. If you rent a car in Athens, pick a company with a counter at the airport. You may have to ask specifically if they have one, as you will see in the following text. I think this is an important thing to share, because there is a clear safety issue.
I really had a bad experience with EuropeCar near Athens Airport. It is the first time I write this time of comment, but I believe it is necessary. The issue spoilt a whole day of my vacation, would have cost me a lot of money if I had not taken the full insurance initialy, and caused me anxiety for the four days after the incident ( I was wondering if they would put a big charge on my credit card, without my consent ).

I reserved a car online, many months prior to departure. The site was not saying, or I did not notice, that EuropeCar does not have an office in the airport. When I arrived, I walked the airport up and down, looking for their desk. Could not find it. Went to other companies' desk, was told to wait somewhere ( they indicated where ), that EuropeCar people normaly hand around there with a sign. I did that. Finaly found somebody. Precious time had alreary elapsed, just taking care of that and worrying.

They drive you to their office, located outside the airport's property. There, things went well. They were doing a very energetic job a selling the full insurance ( full waver ), where the customer doesn't pay anything, no matter what dammage happens on the car. I took the full waver. I had reserved a small car, it si true, but I got a very small one ( 1.2 cylinders). I mentioned to the staff that I was going in the mountains of the North, Metsovo etc. He said that was not a problem, because I was alone in the car, and the car is designed to carry many persons. Then I was on my way.

In Metsovo, the streets are medieval, designed for the donkey era, not the automobile era. Spent 3 days there. The car died on me just when I was departing, at the end of that stay. Litteraly died, could not more forwards or backwards. Big luck: this happened in front of a police station, at 11h00 am on a Friday. So, business hours and lots of help by police. They called EuropeCar, so I was treated with credibility ( the police was calling ).

It took negociation to get another car the same day ( I had 4 hours of driving scheduled that day, an hotel booked, would be fully charged if I don't show up, etc). I had to keep moving.

The police helped me make them understand that. We were dealing with Ionnanina office, the closest. About 3 hours after the break down, somebody from the company arrived, drove me to Ionnanina, to be handed another car. While driving, that persone kept saying how much this is the best company, how good the cars are, etc.

I quickly found out that the gaz tank of that other car was almost empty, whereas the one they had just towed had a full tank of gas ( I just filled it). I told them that, they said there was nothing they could do. When I tried to start that car, it was not starting at first try. I had to let go and tried again. I made a puzzled face to the EuropeCar person, and he kept saying this is an excellent car. The following days, it was always the same, took from 2 to 4 attempts at key turning to get the car to start. And the engine was still a 1.2 cylinders. They said it was the only one they had. Air conditioning was barely working, and at the cost of the gas tank emptying wery quickly when I was using air conditioning. I had to set it at "3 out of a max of 4", to get any meaningfull fresh air coming out of the oulets. When I was doing that, I was finding out it was devouring gas way more than when it was off. I resolved to run with windows open, as the locals do.

I was really worried. In Ioannina, they handed me a bill, of about 110 euros, with that second car. I thought I had already paid the rental in full, with full coverage, til the end of my rental. I was not agreeing with another bill. Furthermore, I was paying for two tanks of gas, while using only one, and my whole day was spoilt. Not to mention what would have happend if this had occured on an isolated road, outside business hours. In my case, I was lucky the breakdown happened in front of a police station, on full business hours.

I left Ionnanina with that bill in hand, resolved not to pay it.

But I worried for the following 3 - 4 days, about how it would go once I bring the car back to Athens. Would they insist on charging me?

Are they already putting charges on my credit card? I cancelled my credit card, because of that worry. So, I also am encuring the trouble of getting another credit card, calling the companies that do automatic monthly payments on the original card, etc.

All that spoilt my day. I started 4 hours later, for my destination, than otherwise. It was after dark when I arrived at my planed destination. Because of late hours, they were not checking in people any more, I was reading on my reservation documents ( I was too late ). As well, I could not even find them ( darkness was not helping, and they are notoriously difficult to find, I am finding out in reviews ). I got charged for being a no show, and had to discuss and prove with EuropeCar documents, that I was late for a major reason. At least I could prove it.

Botom line: That very small car was not strong enough for the mountains. The company

should have known about that. Greece is 80 % mountains. Furthermore, clients don't

rent a car to remain in Athens, most of the time, I suppose. We need a car to travel

in the provinces. Cars should be trustworthy, with the engine strong enough to

climb uphill streets that are know to exist in Greece. Metsovo is a touristic place.

As well, the fact that the staff was so enthousiastic, energetic, in selling customers the

" super waver " insurance, keeps ticking in my mind. Were they aware that the car

had a mechanical issue, just waiting to cause a breakdown on a customer?

Then, the super waver passes on the cost to the insurance company.

The problems with that:

1 - the customer lost a day, had stress, other financial consequences

( paying 2 tanks of gas, being charged for no show at next hotel )

and unwanted stress ( would have been much worse it problem had not occured

on business hours in front of police station)

2 - insurance company gets screwed up.

I will never rent with EuropeCar in Greece again.

Josee Michaud, Canada

  • Report Abuse

    It is always a very good idea to read carefully the booking conditions and the website of an online booking system, before making a reservation.

    This is the infor that you get on the EuropCar website when choosing the Athens Airport as a pic up location :

    Meet & Greet rental location : A Europcar staff member will accompany you from the meeting point to the car park. Please note that your arrival or flight information will be requested before confirming your reservation.

    Reading this, makes obvious that someone will meet you at a meeting point.

    You say you booked a small car and were given one with 1200 cc, which is group B and a small car indeed. It should be good enough to carry you to Metsovo and back, especially if you were the only person in that car.

    You can see in your booking confirmation exactly which type of car you had booked initially.

    Since you wrote << I resolved to run with windows open, as the locals do>> , let me add that there is not a single car in Greece without air condition. It is a fact, that when you drive with the ac running, the gas consumption is increasing.

    Of course problems with a rental car can spoil the holidays, but after you returned home, did you contact the customer care of EuropeCar with a detailed complaint about what happened?

    You have visited one the most beautiful regions of Greece, Epirus, it would great to read a trip report from you, and not just a complaint.......

  • Report Abuse

    I can empathize with your experience. We Canadians have an expectation for things to be like they are at home. And Greece certainly isn't home.
    I can certainly understand that you were upset particularly the breakdown of the car. That must have been very disturbing and certainly led to additional upsets with the empty gas tank and the late arrival at your hotel. I believe that your post reflects your angst at what happened. Looking back at our first trip to Greece I understand how things can go wrong.

    We have had a couple of bad experiences renting cars in Greece. Once the air conditioner didn't work. we returned the car at the next town and got an upgrade with a working air conditioner. No problem for that exchange. The second time we had a Suzuki with a bad clutch. We drove back to the rental agency but there were no cars left. The owner gave us her personal car for the day.

    I also note that the rental company drove from another city to deliver you a replacement car. I would consider that to be good service.

    On our first trip to Greece we rented a car from the airport. We fully understood that the car rental agency met us at a specific location in the airport and would take us to the parking lot where we would inspect the car and complete rental paperwork. We also understood that we were paying less because there was no airport taxes not airport overheads. Even with this understanding we misinterpreted the meeting instructions and waited 45 minutes for their rep to show up. Turns out they were exactly where they told us to meet them we just didn't go to the right place. While this was exasperating that we made the mistake we were so happy that their rep waited all that time for us to show up. When we though it through we realized that we were very fortunate to get the car at all.

    One also has to understand that Europe and Greece in particular does things differently from us. I do not recall ever seeing a car with a 1200 cc engine in Canada. After a bit of research I found out that is a 1.2 liter engine. I am pretty sure that a 1.2 liter engine would barley get you up to 70 kilometers and hour in the prairies of Saskatchewan. The key here is I did my research and always rent a 1.8 liter car. They will do mountainous regions.

    I think clauser is correct you have a legitimate complaint about the breakdown and you should report it to Europe car.

    However with some bemusement that after several trips to Greece I realize why experts here say "stuff can happen in Greece" We have to decide if bad stuff happens will we let it wreck our holidays or take it in stride and as part of the experience.

  • Report Abuse

    "We Canadians have an expectation for things to be like they are at home. And Greece certainly isn't home."

    And so do we Americans! Having lived in England for over half my life now, I remember at first comparing everything with the way we did it back home. After a while things began to make sense, and now when I return on visits to the US I find those old ways strange.

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