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Dollar Thrifty Sc Autorent Srl Otopeni Scams

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Evansville, Indiana
posts: 3
Dollar Thrifty Sc Autorent Srl Otopeni Scams

Our 2011 vacation to Romania turned into our worst nightmare when we made the horrible mistake to rent a car from Dollar Thrifty Sc Autorent Srl Otopeni, Bucharest and fell victims to their business frauds out of which the most notorious is the “rear bumper scratch” scam. For a 12 day car rental that should have cost us 601.20 dollars we paid 1,413.94 dollars. Total fraudulent charges were 812.74 dollars out of which 99.76 dollars for their insurance – which we declined, 28.71 dollars for out of hours rental during their regular business hours, and the huge one – 684.27 dollars – for the “rear bumper scratch”scam.

Our case is not unique. About ten more customers have been defrauded during 2011 by Dollar Thrifty Sc Autorent Srl Otopeni, Bucharest, Romania. The main fraud this car franchise is using to rip off its customers is the "rear bumper scratch" scam. Watch out!

19 replies to this topic
Norco
posts: 1
11. Re: Dollar Thrifty Sc Autorent Srl Otopeni Scams

Hello all,

It has seem that I have also fell victim to this scam. Except mine is front bumper. I am looking at their estimate and it seems to be very manufactured and routine. Is any one willing to share their estimate with me so I can compare. I am sure they will be identical.

In addition to this scam, they are also charging obsece charges on my credit card. So they are also doing money fraud.

Anyone willing to offer any advice?

Chicago, Illinois
posts: 1
12. Re: Dollar Thrifty Sc Autorent Srl Otopeni Scams

I don't know if there are 3000 successful rentals or not, but I do know that my rental was successful and positive, even if it was extremely frustrating and nerve-wracking in parts. I was not charged for any damages, but then again, I did not damage the car. Even though I had not seen these complaints beforehand, I already knew that I would have to take extra care when renting a car in a foreign country. I was also a little bit skeptical since Thrifty's rates were 20-40% cheaper than other agencies. Here is how my experience went, and what I learned:

I've never rented a car in Romania, but of course for most Americans, Eastern Europe is laden with a heavy negative reputation for scams. Having traveled to and rented a car in France, I already knew that the inspection of the car and attention to every little scratch and dent was going to be 10x more meticulous than any agency in the USA. While my credit card would in theory cover damage in the USA and abroad, I suspected that getting them to do it in a foreign country was going to be a colossal nightmare: so I purchased the damage waiver. It was relatively cheap, so why not have the peace of mind?

I arrived at OTP at night, and was groggy from long travel. When I looked to find the Thrifty counter at the airport, it was not to be found. Instead someone came to me asking me if I was the name he was looking for, holding a cellphone with a photo of an on-screen reservation portfolio bearing my name. At the words "come with me..." I wondered what I had done. If this had been my first time to Romania, I would have been freaked out. But the guy explained everything on the way to the elevator: the reason why your rental is much cheaper is because we are not on-site at the airport, but just next door. This was true. It was only a short drive away. But it being nighttime - I became a little disoriented and unsettled by the drive in a stranger's unmarked car.

I think it would be hard for many to not become a little bit concerned: the entire operation suffers from an unusual precariousness for an international airport: the rental office is at the back of a parking lot. The office appointments are spartan, almost suggesting that it is, as an operation, only a few clicks higher than a roadside lemonade stand. So, I started to feel freaked out again.

I calmed down as everything was processed in a normal way, and I stayed calm until it came time to pay. Even though I had opted to pay the daily the loss/damage insurance, the full amount of the associated deductible was preauthorized from my card. The amount was significant: 700 Euros!!! I was in shock and disbelief. In retrospect, I feel silly for not anticipating this possibility since a similar scenario had played out once for me in Mexico. Stupid or not, I was totally unprepared for this and a little afraid: My cards only have finite spending power and $900 is a lot of money (for me). From then on, I was on edge.

I inspected the car carefully with an agent. I could tell from the level of detail of his inspection that EVERY scratch would count. As we inspected the car for damage, he told me all of the ways that I needed to be careful: "The mirror is good. Watch out for cyclists, because they can damage your mirror." The wheel is good. Don't hit the curb because this will scratch the wheel." I became, from this point on, rightfully paranoid. I took pictures of everything that was less than perfect: where the molding did not fit together correctly, where there were scratches on the hubs/hubcaps, etc. I also made sure that these were clearly marked with "x"'s on the pre-rental damage diagram.

However the biggest of my paranoia was about when -- if I managed to return the car unscathed -- the preauthorization would be released. He said "usually 24-48 business hours, but we will do our best to make it as fast as possible." I bit my nails, but in the end, it was true: my funds were released within 24 hours of returning the car. And I was very happy about this. Amen.

So, here are my tips for renters:

* do your homework: study european traffic laws

* read reviews — I should have read more

* arrive at the airport on time, when you say you will be there; provide your flight info in your reservation

* take the damage insurance

* plan for a hold on your credit card for a large deductible amount

* during the inspection of the car, take your own dated photos: wheels, bumpers, tires, mirrors

* be careful with the car, take no unnecessary risks

* when you return the car, again take photos

* don't expect a nonsmoking car; you're in a very smoke-dense country

* don't buy too much gas during your rental, if you can avoid it

* ask questions! be sure you are comfortable with the agreement before handing over ANY credit card.

Here are my recommendations for Thrifty (OTP) to improve:

* make the office more welcoming

* eliminate "after hours" fees for operational hours which seem like normal car rental business hours for most people (e.g. 10pm)

* permit early return of the car with credit for early return (just like a big agency)

* bring printed paperwork to the airport rather than a cellphone photo of a computer screen (it looks less suspicious)

* invest in an airport "shuttle" branded with the Thrifty logo to take people from the airport to the rental lot

* invest in some company apparel: jackets, shirts, badges to be worn prominently at the airport and agency

* reduce the deductible amount - for a fully insured car, deductibles should be as low as 250 or 500 Euros.

* give the car with a full tank of fuel and expect it to be similarly returned with a full tank of fuel; this is a better system than delivering the car empty and asking for it to be returned empty.

In summary, my overall experience was positive. I rented a car for a lot less money than the other agencies. Every step of the process was (for me) honest and carefully explained. The rental did give me stress, but I suspect that I would have had stress renting from any agency in Romania. I hope they will make changes like those suggested above to improve and grow their business and improve customer satifsfaction.

Bucharest, Romania
posts: 3
13. Re: Dollar Thrifty Sc Autorent Srl Otopeni Scams

I noticed with great relief that dollar.com, thrifty.com and all major travel sites don't allow anymore reservations with SC Autorent SRL. I would like to commend Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group for dropping SC Autorent SRL from their network of associates.

New York City, New...
posts: 2
14. Re: Dollar Thrifty Sc Autorent Srl Otopeni Scams

The point of this is when people feel swindled, they have a forum here in which they can share their complaints with others. Romania would have the great reputation that it deserves for being one of Europe's most hospitable countries.with great food and scenery at reasonable prices were it not for scam artists like the guys Otopeni Dollar Thrifty. Don't you realize that satisfied customers also tell their friends of good e/experiences?

Suceava, Romania
posts: 1
15. Re: Dollar Thrifty Sc Autorent Srl Otopeni Scams

They lost the Dollar/Thrifty franchise. Since they managed to register the Thrifty.ro domain name, they are currently operating independently, but under the stolen thrifty brand. I guess this makes Thrifty really mad, since they continue to trash the brand.

And they continue with the old scam. The steps are:

1. Refuse your (Visa, Mastercard) insurance coverage,

2. Force you to sign for their high deductible insurance: "it is company policy, don't worry, our insurance is great";

3. They charge your card for the rental fees plus they preauthorize the full amount of the associated deductible;

4. You return the car, they show you "the rear bumper scratch" that either was there or was made by their agent;

5. They tell you not to worry, it's just a scratch, then ask you to sign the return form with the damage mentioned;

6. They get a repair quote from a 'friendly' repair shop. The price is typically 2-3 times the rate you would get if you were to actually fix your car and includes the complete replacement of the part (bumper, etc);

7. They charge you the full amount for the deductable;

8. They never actually repair the car. They never present you with an actual invoice proving that the car had to and was actually fixed and the firm paid that amount.

Simply put, they lure you with the low prices and get from you ten times the amount of the rental fees in costs that they never have.

I am Romanian and was scammed on my trip home to visit my parents. Being from there I was able to dig a little more into this and I am shocked and sickened by their business practices.

Unfortunately these disreputable companies are not many, but they are working overtime in tarnishing a centuries old reputation of Romanians as friendly and hospitable.

Edited: 10:43 am, September 05, 2013
Westford...
posts: 1
16. Re: Dollar Thrifty Sc Autorent Srl Otopeni Scams

This company is so pathetic. I was charged $330 in damages ( bumper scratch + minuscule chipped windshield) about 1 month later after renting a car for 2 days from AUTORENT SRL. I am disputing the charges with the credit card company, but certainly renting from this company was the wrong thing to do. !!! Live and learn!. AVOID !!!!

Bucharest, Romania
posts: 19
reviews: 4
17. Re: Dollar Thrifty Sc Autorent Srl Otopeni Scams

for 50 euros a day you can rent a car with driver/guide and avoid all that hassle and stress. You get all the info you need and avoid driving in a country which you are not familiar with. Also the driver/guide will advise of all the places to visit and where to dine, shop and chill.

Bucharest, Romania
posts: 3
18. Re: Dollar Thrifty Sc Autorent Srl Otopeni Scams

I have a feeling that these guys from Autorent just managed to morph into a new association with Economy Rent a Car. The fleet is the same and the rental conditions quite similar. If my conjecture is correct, they are now once again posted on the major travel sites.

Bucharest, Romania
posts: 35
19. Re: Dollar Thrifty Sc Autorent Srl Otopeni Scams

Hi, there are a lot of small rent a car companies in Bucharest that have very old cars and staff that is not so much "customer oriented". Last year, when I needed to rent a car, I used Easy Rentals Romania's services www.easy-rentals.ro and Avis' services one time, as well, www.avis.com

Hope this helps and you will find them more helpful than the previous one!

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