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Warning: Rental car scam

Durango, Colorado
Level Contributor
6 posts
29 reviews
Warning: Rental car scam

I rented a car a couple of weeks ago in Penang from a reasonably popular local rental agency (Big Thumb Car Rental). I'd hired from them twice before in 2015. I lived in Asia for years and have extensive driving experience there, and have owned a few cars in Asia myself. I rented the car for a week and spent most of the time about 1 hour inland from Penang out in the kampung, driving mostly between my hotel and a relatives house. Practically no opportunity for damage. When they delivered the car to my hotel we made note of several scratches in various locations. They surprised me by taking several photos around the car themselves...never saw any car rental agency do this before anywhere but thought it not a bad idea. I should mention that upon checkout they took a MYR 500 cash deposit from me. Upon returning the car to the Penang airport they told me there were two new scratches on the right front bumper about 6 inches below an existing large scratch of exactly the same length and parallel orientation. They then produced the photos they took on checkout which did NOT show the two allegedly "new" scratches. I'm absolutely certain I did not cause these new scratches. A lengthy argument ensued. After threatening to call the police and get my highly-placed relatives involved they reluctantly relented after I suggested they might have Photoshopped the two scratches out of the pictures they took. Perhaps I touched on the nature of their scam....Photoshopping damage out of pictures THEY took is very easily done. I got my 500 MYR cash deposit back and caught my flight.

Next time I'll take MY OWN photos.

So much fraud these days concerning minor damage on rental cars. I had a similar experience a few years ago at the Budget rental outlet at Heathrow.

Edited: 3:29 am, February 15, 2016
Level Contributor
112 posts
24 reviews
1. Re: Warning: Rental car scam

my bro is going to penang and plan to rent a car

thnks for sharing .. hope you are fine

Leeds, United...
Level Contributor
273 posts
69 reviews
2. Re: Warning: Rental car scam

Thank you for the warning

Conwy, United...
Destination Expert
for Penang Island, Sarawak, George Town
Level Contributor
5,093 posts
66 reviews
3. Re: Warning: Rental car scam

Useful advice - take your own photos at the same time as the car hire people take theirs.

Durango, Colorado
Level Contributor
6 posts
29 reviews
4. Re: Warning: Rental car scam

Yes, I will from now on. One does try to trust people when they appear to be behaving exceptionally honestly.

3 posts
5. Re: Warning: Rental car scam

Hi Chilihead98,

Sorry for late reply. I am the owner of Big Thumb Rent a Ventures. I just came across your post from one of our customer asking about this warning. It sounds very serious to us. We have been in car rental industry for about 5 years, >3000 customers and receive 300 positive FB and Google + reviews. Customer experience is one of our upmost priority to run our services.

So far we didn’t receive any direct complain about such a case. I have further check with our staff and none of them has such an experience. I am a bit surprise with the “photoshoping” photos action as most of the staff often busy running here and there to drop-off and pick-up our car. Photoshoping skill will be challenging for normal people like us too. It is also not possible for our staff to pocket in them self as they often need to return a signed received to our office.

Honestly, we definitely won’t do that just trying to secure the RM500 deposit as it obviously very stupid action if we are running a long term business.

Can you provide more detail about your name, type of car and the date your rent the car? (You are welcome to send it to info@bigthumbgroup.company). This will help us to investigate further and clear this “Photoshoping Scam”.

Again, we take this case seriously as good customer experience is always our upmost priority. We look forward for your details.

Thank You.

Johor Bahru...
Level Contributor
4 posts
12 reviews
6. Re: Warning: Rental car scam

thanks for reminder.

Brighton, United...
Level Contributor
6 posts
11 reviews
7. Re: Warning: Rental car scam

I have just returned from Penang and had hired a car from the same company Big Thumb (BT) for 10 days. I have hired from BT on three previous occasions and can say that apart from a magnificent service from the first hire, the service have deteriorated down the line.

In this instance, I was offered a vehicle typical of a teenager's first vehicle, a bright red KELISA with black roof livery and gold painted sporty wheel spiked rims with curled up antenna! Im a 57yo professional. What's missing is a pair of fur dice hanging from the rear mirror and the typical His and Her name above the windscreen, oh, don't forget the bunny sticker at the rear end!

It gets worse. Driving from the airport to Batu Ferringhi, I had to navigate quite windy roads where I discovered every time I had to steer left, a loud grinding noise comes from the rear underneath of the car. I immediately pulled over and inspected all around and under the chassis, nothing loose or unusual. I continued with the journey, noise followed, I stopped again, checked again and decided to call Big Thumb who told me the car has just passed its service recently, nothing to worry about. It seems they must think I'm either dreaming of this grinding noise or suffering from hearing jet lag! I insisted it doesn't sound natural, infact worrying but I was advised there is no other vehicles available and as I've signed for this vehicle, it's mine for that duration.

On reaching my destination, a resort complex up a hill, you can imagine the grinding noise attracted much surprised attention each time from passers by as I ascend/descend the hill climb, over any bump, steer any tight corners etc. I ensured my friend who's a local legal advocate to witness this unnatural noise in case BT attempts to claim I caused this damage.

One sunny day, I wanted to use the sun visor, only to discover there were NONE available! Both were missing!

The night before my last day, I filled up the tank to the brim which cost me approximately 55myr. The next day, I drove the car to the airport where I returned the vehicle to BT. I was then told the tank was not full (1 notch below full) and I was told to pay 30myr! I contested as 30myr would have paid for more than half tank wheres there's only a notch from full, but I was told that's the penalty!

I refused to pay and after much deliberation, I was given a 5myr discount! 25myr for perhaps 1/2 litre of petrol when it costs approximately 1.10myr per litre in Malaysia at present.

Being a Penangite myself, now residing in the UK, I return to Penang often. I will certainly now NOT be recommending BT to any of my friends both back in Asian or over here in Europe and I will be using Uber or another car rental company on my next visit.

Again, shame another Malaysian business which started with fantastic service and products, dwells on it's past laurels and now takes it's clientele for granted ...

Destination Expert
for Penang Island
Level Contributor
951 posts
2 reviews
8. Re: Warning: Rental car scam

Just want to correct your slight error. I don't think the petrol price is MYR1.10/liter. Probably MYR 1.90/liter to be accurate.

Nevertheless, for them to charge MYR 30 is crazy. Full tank for kelisa probably will cost your MYR 60 only.

Johor Bahru...
Level Contributor
1,186 posts
61 reviews
9. Re: Warning: Rental car scam

Paying 30 ringgit is the penalty for not returning full tank and it's not supposed to equal the value of remaining petrol to be top-up and usually its higher as the OP had experienced.

I've rented cars overseas and always aware of the ''full to full' fuel policy and the penalty imposed if returning the car not full. The penalty is written in the hire policy/agreement.

10. Re: Warning: Rental car scam

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Removed on: 8:16 am, December 03, 2016