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Car del Mar - you may get a bargain, but be careful

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
PROBLEM RESOLVED: see below.

I am putting this topic here, because it will be searchable online.

In October I started planning a ski trip for my daughter's family. She has four children. I have an a apartment in Switzerland. I booked their flights, I booked their ski school, and I booked car hire. I booked a seven seater at GVA via Car del Mar. Car del Mar is a consolidator, based in Germany. They took payment from my visa card for £592. The contract was placed with Budget.

On 17 Feb my daughter and her family arrived at GVA. The Budget desk was closed, and their clients were directed to the Avis desk. Then my son in law, who was the first named driver, found he had lost his wallet which had his driving licence in it.

Avis refused to accept the voucher from Car del Mar. They said they could not honour the contract, even though my daughter was able to produce her licence. Avis made them pay a second time - this time 900 Euro to hire the same car in my daughter's name. They said they would cancel the original contract with Car del Mar, who would refund the first payment.

The next day I telephoned Car del Mar in Germany. A woman called Maria told me it was tough luck. Their T&Cs said that you had to produce a licence at the time of collecting the car. We were in breach, so we had lost our money. I opened a complaint on Car del Mar's website complaints form. Four weeks of correspondence ensued, in which they said they would contact the supplier to "try to get a refund." Today they told me the supplier had failed to respond, and in accordance with their T&Cs I had lost my money: they would not refund it.

I never read the T&Cs. Life is too short. I expect businesses to deal with consumers in a reasonable and honest way, whatever it says in their T&Cs. If they had deducted an administration fee, or a sum to reflect lost profit, I would have accepted it. But as the voucher was not accepted at the desk, it appears to me that Car del Mar never had to pay for the hire. Either that, or the supplier was paid twice. The supplier had no loss, because the same car was hired to my daughter at a better price. Car del Mar have taken advantage of the situation to keep money for which they have not had to provide any goods. I think this is dishonest. I did not sign up to a gambling website, so I did not think I was risking losing all my money for nothing. I also think that a failure to get a response from the supplier is a feeble excuse. Car del Mar have now closed the complaint form, leaving me no means of contacting them.

I have commenced a credit card payment dispute with my bank. But I am not hopeful.

edit: I have withdrawn a comment about CDM being unscrupulous, unhelpful and hard-nosed. They gave that impression at one point.

IN CASE YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A REVIEW OF CDM AND HAVE JUST FOUND THIS FORUM ON GOOGLE, please note this problem HAS BEEN RESOLVED. See my post at 28 March 09:04.


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Wed 29-03-17 10:34; edited 5 times in total
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Is there a car hire ombudsman in Germany. Have you tried a credit card chargeback.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Correction. The company is owned in the USA. Its European operation is managed in Germany.
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http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/how-do-i-use-chargeback
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I'd also take it up with Budget/Avis as it seems wrong that they wouldn't give the car to your daughter in the circumstances,
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Quote:
Is there a car hire ombudsman in Germany.
Or a German version of trading standards?
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It is not easy to identify who to talk to. I think Budget must have taken the money from Car del Mar. Avis probably did not claim a payment from Budget. But Car del Mar say Budget has not replied to them, so they are saying they have to assume Budget has kept the money. A lot of these airport car hire businesses are local franchises. Budget and Avis might even be the same business for all I know. The money will have disappeared between their different accounts.

I am thinking of flying out there for a day to try to sort it out.

I had an experience with another hire business at GVA last year which suggested to me that they may be less than honest. I was charged for damage that I knew I had not caused. When I wrote to the said company's headquarters in Zurich asking them to check the repair history of the car, they refunded the charge. I suspect the local franchisee knew all along that it was old damage.
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I booked a car through Holidayautos a couple of weeks ago. The documentation was very clear that you had to bring a printout of the voucher, a driving licence in the name of the main driver and a credit card with high enough limit to cover the excess. If you arrived without all 3 of these the T&Cs said you might have to pay the local cost. I'd guess they'd then also treat the original booking as a no show, as it wasn't cancelled before the deadline.

What they've done doesn't sound very fair, but is it in line with their T&Cs?
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@sugarmoma666, Yes, I am sure it is within their T&Cs. But the reality is that consumers do not get to choose which Terms they assent to. All businesses apply draconian Terms. As long as they use these to protect themselves from loss or from obvious abuse, that is OK. But where there is no loss to the business, using the T&Cs to make an unwarranted windfall profit is unreasonable, verging on dishonest. It makes an online service resemble a casino.
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Quote:

a driving licence in the name of the main driver



Having once worked at an airport car hire desk, I can attest that is is pretty much mandatory across all hire companies. The only solution would be either to cancel the booking (usually 24 hours before pickup or it becomes a billed no-show) or to alter the booking online.
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@moody_git, Yes. Obviously they could not hire the car to a driver without a licence. But they DID hire it to my daughter, and could have either transferred the original booking into her name (she is MARRIED to her husband after all), or having taken a NEW BOOKING at a HIGHER PRICE, could have refunded the original payment.

Keeping BOTH payments is what I am complaining about.
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I know it must be very frustrating but the drive to the bottom with all pricing leads to companies to stick rigidly to their T & C's. I suspect that if you had booked direct (and paid more) then they may have been more flexible.

It does seem morally dubious on the part of the rental but as morals are subjective, the fall back is the contract and if you sign/click and pay you are agreeing to their T&C's.

Hope it didn't spoil their trip.
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@davidhammy, I don't agree with your premise. You are saying that the public has to accept the T&Cs printed in 40 pages of small print, which invariably benefit the business not the consumer. I am saying that there are principles of fair dealing, and that consumer oriented businesses can be pressured (by publicity amongst other things) to respect them.

We are all humans, even the people who work for car hire companies. Humans make mistakes and lose things. No business model can depend on making extra profit when a customer loses something. All they need to protect is their margin, which could easily be covered by an administration charge. The freedom of contract argument with respect to T&Cs is a fiction. The public have no freedom. It is take it or leave it.

In fact, the agent at the Avis desk (who was deputizing for Budget, as they had gone home) told my son in law that Car del Mar would refund the booking if he took out a new one direct with them in my daughter's name. On that basis I have been trying to get a refund from Car del Mar. If their voucher means anything, it is the instrument by which Budget claims their payment. As Budget did not accept it, Car del Mar would not have had to pay over the hire fee. That means Car del Mar have retained the whole £592 for providing nothing.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
As i understand it the Issue is you have two contracts;
- you have one with Car del mar (which you breached due to lead named driver not turning up with drivers licence)
- and then your daughter has a completely separate one with Budget/Avis.

There is no contract between you and Budget/Avis due to privity of contract.

I'm not convinced that you'll get anywhere by arguing legally but going down the goodwill route may pay dividends (or reduce your losses)

Bon courage.
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Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@planeurge,

I had a similar experience last week but with another company.
I booked online using a comparison site but opted for one of the big names as i always book with them.
Turns out the big name was actually a franchise with completely different T&Cs , so when i turn up they are looking for a £900 deposit!!!
I dont use a credit card and only have an emergency one with £500 on it which they wouldnt accept , yet i always use this one for car hire with no issues , it seems the franchises and brokers want the £900 deposit rather than £300.

Anyways , i tried to use my debit card , no , not allowed so use the wifes credit card , no , not allowed to use that as its not in my name?
I cant amend the booking to add her so im stuck.

So they kindly offer to draw up a new agreement at 3 times the price!!!! and a £450 deposit which means i can use my card.

Now this all seems a bit scammy to me and judging by the standard responses of the counter staff , pretty common!

Fair enough , i didnt read the T&Cs and i got stung for a few hundred euro, wont happen again!!

And what really annoys me is that they have to take the deposit right away , its taken in an instant , yet i left the car back on saturday morning and was told it will be around 5 working days to get it back Smile banks fault apparently.

So im with you , fair play for disputing , doesnt seem a straight game to me when you make a small human error.
I told the desk staff that im stuck , i wasnt aware they were a franchise and my normal £300 deposit wasnt enough , as i didnt have the guts of a grand sloshing around on a card they were free to charge me top price.


@planeurge,
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@marcellus, I also think it is worth my persevering. This for two reasons.

1. On 20 Feb CDM asked for my bank account details for the purpose of making a refund once they had had a response from Budget. So, at that point, they were not ruling out a refund solely on the basis of their T&Cs. But on 17 March they said they could not get a response from Budget, and were at that point invoking their T&Cs about producing the main driver's licence. Seemingly, if they had had confirmation from Budget, they would have set those conditions aside - as I believe would have been fair.

2. The Budget contract was struck in the context of some conversation. My daughter talked about taking the train instead. They advised her not to. The Budget agent then made the representation that if they took out the NEW contract with Budget, the CDM contract would be cancelled and refunded.

I am considering flying out to GVA for the day to find the agent who was involved and ask him why he made that representation, and what he will do about it.

A small irony in this is that CDM make a sales point of taking the stress out of car hire by selling you an insurance to cover vehicle damage. Unfortunately it does not cover misfortunes that occur prior to the car being handed over. Travel insurance also specifically excludes issues in connection with car hire.

As of today this thread is on the second page of a Google search for Car del Mar.


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Sun 19-03-17 19:45; edited 1 time in total
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@hawkwind, Thank you for your support. You highlight another point, which is that even when you think you are dealing with a major international company, you often aren't. Much of the business seems to be franchised.
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@planeurge, yes , a small plaque hidden behind promotional materials revealed that! Up to that point i had no idea i was dealing with a franchise and i think that this is where the problem lies.
A respectable car hire company makes it money from renting cars where the franchise would have to be more aggressive in collecting extra charges.
They stuck rigidly to the T&Cs even though i was able to show them several previous agreements with the company with no excessive deposits , they just could not hire the car without £900 deposit.
Oddly though i could take out a new rental with the exact same franchise for 3 times the price and £450 deposit , that just doesn't make any sense and alludes to underhand behaviour.

anyone answer me why they can instantly take £450 from my card yet not get it back for a week?
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planeurge wrote:
@davidhammy, I don't agree with your premise. You are saying that the public has to accept the T&Cs printed in 40 pages of small print, which invariably benefit the business not the consumer. I am saying that there are principles of fair dealing, and that consumer oriented businesses can be pressured (by publicity amongst other things) to respect them.

We are all humans, even the people who work for car hire companies. Humans make mistakes and lose things. No business model can depend on making extra profit when a customer loses something. All they need to protect is their margin, which could easily be covered by an administration charge. The freedom of contract argument with respect to T&Cs is a fiction. The public have no freedom. It is take it or leave it.

In fact, the agent at the Avis desk (who was deputizing for Budget, as they had gone home) told my son in law that Car del Mar would refund the booking if he took out a new one direct with them in my daughter's name. On that basis I have been trying to get a refund from Car del Mar. If their voucher means anything, it is the instrument by which Budget claims their payment. As Budget did not accept it, Car del Mar would not have had to pay over the hire fee. That means Car del Mar have retained the whole £592 for providing nothing.


I'm not saying you have to accept anything but if you want a car from company A and they say by signing this contract you are agreeing to ALL our T&C's and then you sign then bam, it's a contract. Fail to provide the agreed documentation and it's your problem. That seems harsh but it's the reality and leads to ambiguity like the desk telling you you would get a refund (it's a cliche but as we all know, oral contracts are worth the paper they are printed on).

I feel for your daughter but it's Caveat Emptor but to be clear, do I think you should pursue and appeal to their good nature? Absolutely. I just don't think you may be automatically entitled to a refund.
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This is a penalty and is not reasonable. So all of you saying @read the contract" are missing the point. In U.K. And Europe you're not bound by unfair terms and conditions.

The broker would only be making a margin/finders fee from the actual rental company, so the most they could reasonably charge you is their lost profit.

In the U.K. I'd take them to court for it being an unfair term and a penalty over and above loss of earnings, and be fairly happy to take the risk of losing. Not sure how easy it is to deal with a non U.K. Company. But im happy to deal and accept the risk - maybe not the right answer if you don't know what to do.

Re the credit card, as you used a broker, I suspect that they will say that the debtor/service chain has been broken as you didn't book/pay the rental company directly.

Good luck though.

Ps. Read recently about some Geneva car hire companies cancelling the booking and keeping the money if you turn up late....
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Badbobby wrote:
In the U.K. I'd take them to court for it being an unfair term and a penalty over and above loss of earnings,


and that is exactly where the OP could be unfortunate, all the Agent has to say is "the service provider (AVis/Budget) in GVA has made no refund to us (CDM) because the client (OP) breached the contract by not turning up with the correct proof of drivers licence"
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I wish I had read this Friday, as have just booked a car with Car Del Mar from Lisbon this Summer.
but so long as I rock up with :

1) A valid driving license bearing my name
2) My voucher
3) A credit card which can take a hit of EUR1200
(optional - car hire 4 less or Questor excess insurance )

Then I should be good?

I have plenty of time to cancel and rebook through another company, but is this behaviour standard across the board, and not especially a feature of Car Del Mar ?

I have never tried renting a car without a license or credit card, so have not experienced issues described like this, but I have used some companies where you pay a bit more up front (20%) , but it includes all insurance, and they only take a credit card to cover fuel and fixed penalty offence deposit.
I normally only hire cars 2 times a year, so any advice very welcome ( especially about Lisbon )
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Do they have a Facebook/Twitter page always good to post something on that?
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WindOfChange wrote:
I wish I had read this Friday, as have just booked a car with Car Del Mar from Lisbon this Summer.
but so long as I rock up with :

1) A valid driving license bearing my name
2) My voucher
3) A credit card which can take a hit of EUR1200
(optional - car hire 4 less or Questor excess insurance )

Then I should be good?

I have plenty of time to cancel and rebook through another company, but is this behaviour standard across the board, and not especially a feature of Car Del Mar ?

I have never tried renting a car without a license or credit card, so have not experienced issues described like this, but I have used some companies where you pay a bit more up front (20%) , but it includes all insurance, and they only take a credit card to cover fuel and fixed penalty offence deposit.
I normally only hire cars 2 times a year, so any advice very welcome ( especially about Lisbon )

Looks pretty much exactly the same as HolidayAutos. So long as you have insurance for the excess I can't see an issue with this. Have you read the voucher to check you've not missed anything?
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WindOfChange wrote:
I wish I had read this Friday, as have just booked a car with Car Del Mar from Lisbon this Summer.
but so long as I rock up with :

1) A valid driving license bearing my name
2) My voucher
3) A credit card which can take a hit of EUR1200
(optional - car hire 4 less or Questor excess insurance )

Then I should be good?

I have plenty of time to cancel and rebook through another company, but is this behaviour standard across the board, and not especially a feature of Car Del Mar ?

I have never tried renting a car without a license or credit card, so have not experienced issues described like this, but I have used some companies where you pay a bit more up front (20%) , but it includes all insurance, and they only take a credit card to cover fuel and fixed penalty offence deposit.
I normally only hire cars 2 times a year, so any advice very welcome ( especially about Lisbon )


Looks pretty much was all car hire companies need!

Might eb worth getting one of the new DVLA proof voucher things.
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@marcellus, Thanks for the tip about the DVLA thing.
Do foreign car hire desks actually care about those ? (I have never had to show the green paper bit when hiring abroad)
But any reasonable thing I can do to reduce the risk of being refused at the desk would seem like a good idea.
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WindOfChange wrote:
@marcellus, Thanks for the tip about the DVLA thing.
Do foreign car hire desks actually care about those ? (I have never had to show the green paper bit when hiring abroad)

Not in my experience either but always take a new one with me just in case they do!
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@WindOfChange,

Yeah as long as you have read all the requirements and can provide all that is asked then you will be grand.

My issue and the one with the OP comes from not reading the small print and not having all of the above.

In my case i presumed i was booking directly with a major provider not a broker/franchise so i did not have the £900 deposit and therefore was a sitting duck for being pickpocketed.

Wont happen me again Smile

Edit , never been asked for the DVLA papers but you do need both parts of your license!
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@WindOfChange, I can't say whether this sort of behaviour is standard for them. They started off seeming quite helpful, and I thought they were going to refund me when they asked for my bank details. But then they lost interest and simply quoted the T&Cs at me. At the moment my thread title "Car del Mar - do not use" is on the second page of the Google search. If they have a change of heart I will edit it.

If you check them out on Twitter they get quite a lot of criticism and do not respond. Their rating on Trustpilot is pretty poor.

Would I book with them again, if they do the right thing and chase up my refund? Hmmm...
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@hawkwind, I must be misunderstanding you. My issue does not come from not reading the small print. I think everybody knows you have to turn up with your licence. It is the application of the small print I have an issue with. If you have lost your licence on the day, but can provide another driver with a licence to take the car, should you be penalized to the whole value of the contract?
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hawkwind wrote:
@WindOfChange,



Edit , never been asked for the DVLA papers but you do need both parts of your license!


Er, unless you have cut your licence in half there is only one part now. The paper part, if you still have it, is no use to you, or anybody else really.

From the DVLA website :-

What to do with your paper counterpart
The paper counterpart to a driving licence has had no legal status since 8 June 2015. You should destroy yours if you have one, but keep your photocard driving licence.


I have never been asked for the DVLA code thingy, so that someone else can verify your licence details, either in the UK or europe after probably 10 or 12 separate car hires. Still get one though Toofy Grin Only takes a couple of minutes on the website.
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@hawkwind,

Maybe I owe you an apology, just noticed your Northern Ireland location Embarassed Do you come under the DVLA ? I know some motor related things are different with you.
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I was asked for, and was able to provide, the DVLA code thing at Hertz, Dusseldorf airport. That's the only time in at least 10 recent car rentals across Europe!
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@skitow,
Think its changed now but my current license in this backward country is two parts Smile

edit , just checked and im wrong , we are saying no , still backward.

Changes made to the format of Great Britain driving licences effective from 8 June 2015 have no effect on licences issued by the Driver & Vehicle Agency in NI. Northern Ireland licences continue to be composed of two parts, a plastic photocard and a paper counterpart.

@planeurge,
No i agree , and i have a similar situation.
You understand that you need a license as i understood i needed a deposit.
You had a situation that was out of your control yet could of been easily rectified if common sense had prevailed ( daughter uses her license and in my case my wife uses her credit card)
But it appears they stick rigidly to the small print to monetise the situation in their favour.
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marcellus wrote:
Badbobby wrote:
In the U.K. I'd take them to court for it being an unfair term and a penalty over and above loss of earnings,


and that is exactly where the OP could be unfortunate, all the Agent has to say is "the service provider (AVis/Budget) in GVA has made no refund to us (CDM) because the client (OP) breached the contract by not turning up with the correct proof of drivers licence"


Indeed.

Starting the s75 claim with the credit card provider will hopefully flush that out in that CDM should state whether its sent the money to the hire company. Indeed, I'd be actively trying to find this out anyway.

In which case, the target is therefore also the hire company for double dipping.
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i thought the important thing nowadays was to take with you the DVLA code that shows your penalty points. Anyone tried it or hired successfully without?

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/hiring-a-vehicle
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Badbobby wrote:
This is a penalty and is not reasonable. So all of you saying @read the contract" are missing the point. In U.K. And Europe you're not bound by unfair terms and conditions.

The broker would only be making a margin/finders fee from the actual rental company, so the most they could reasonably charge you is their lost profit.

In the U.K. I'd take them to court for it being an unfair term and a penalty over and above loss of earnings, and be fairly happy to take the risk of losing. Not sure how easy it is to deal with a non U.K. Company. But im happy to deal and accept the risk - maybe not the right answer if you don't know what to do.

Re the credit card, as you used a broker, I suspect that they will say that the debtor/service chain has been broken as you didn't book/pay the rental company directly.

Good luck though.

Ps. Read recently about some Geneva car hire companies cancelling the booking and keeping the money if you turn up late....


I think you are probably wrong in this, based on what has been written.

It appears that CDM have paid the money to Budget, and if they can't get it back, then they are only passing on their costs, which is not a penalty.

If the customer had the contract with Budget, then they would have to show that they couldn't re-hire the car for a similar amount in order to be able to charge the full cost without it being a penalty - but in this case they obviously lost nothing there, as the spouse then hired the same car, at a higher rate.

BUT (and a big but), the consumer has no contract with Budget, that is a B2B contract between CDM and Budget, and unfair terms in consumer contracts legislation doesn't apply there. So it is possible that the contract between CDM and Budget could allow them to keep the money, and in that case the end customer would have no comeback.

Hopefully Budget don't have such a contract with CDM, and then CDM can recover the money (or most of it), and will in turn refund the customer. But if they can't recover the money from Budget, then there is little comeback in court for the customer.
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foxtrotzulu wrote:
i thought the important thing nowadays was to take with you the DVLA code that shows your penalty points. Anyone tried it or hired successfully without?

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/hiring-a-vehicle


Have hired cars abroad several times since that came in, and never been asked for it.
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foxtrotzulu wrote:
i thought the important thing nowadays was to take with you the DVLA code that shows your penalty points. Anyone tried it or hired successfully without?

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/hiring-a-vehicle


Yes not been requested in the half dozen I've hired since it came in but I always have it with me and offer it, they've never looked.
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@alex_heney, thanks for the analysis.

I'll let you know if I ever get to the bottom of this. Looking on the internet there are several similar complaints, along the lines of customers falling foul of various stipulations of the supplier company and being left in the lurch by CDM. If your guess is right that the consumer's rights are being reduced by a B2B contract breaking the chain, then that is a very good reason for avoiding this sort of intermediary business.
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