My family and I were vacationing in Panama City Beach, Florida the week of July 8-13, 2013. On July 11 we decided to rent two scooters from California Cycles. Their location was close to our condo and on the initial impression were reputable. I rented two scooters for my son and his friend to ride and after the standard paperwork, payment, and a $100 deposit for damages discussion was completed, a young man named Brian (turns out that he was the owner's son) completed a very short tutorial on the features and operation of the scooter. The tutorial and "inspection" took about 2 minutes and since there was no obvious existing damage the boys were off for the ride.
I returned later to rent a three wheeled "spider" type of scooter that are very popular there. As I was waiting and deciding what unit to rent an adult lady comes out of the shop ranting about never renting from this company. She said they had kept her deposit for "damages" she did not do. She called their business a scam and stormed off the premises. With that in mind, I proceeded to pay another $100 deposit for "damages" and rented the spider scooter. I made a point of going around it with the owner's son and we both identified existing scratches, "damage" etc. We had paid for overnight rentals on all three of the rentals and proceeded to enjoy them.
We ran the spider scooter out of fuel (they don't have fuel gauges) shortly after we got it because it wasn't full when we left with it, as it was represented to be. We filled it up with fuel and had no further incidents with any of the three rentals. We returned them overnight to their business and I was there before the rental time expired with the keys to all three and prepared to get the deposits back.
The owner's son immediately went to one of the scooters and "found" a scratch on the underside of the plastic cowl in front of the floorboards of the scooter my son rode. It was not the type of thing the casual observer would just walk up and instantly notice. I was suspect at the time because of how fast he went to the exact spot this "damage" was. At the time I could not help but feel like he had found this "damage" before on previous rentals of this scooter and that I was about to get scammed by the home boys on this transaction.
The owner's son took a very casual look a the spider and one of the scooters and judged them to be in good condition and said I would get the deposit on the spider back but that he would have to call the general manager (dad) about the "damage" to the other scooter.
After waiting a half hour or more, "dad" shows up, jumps out of his truck, camera in hand, and after a very brief consultation with the son goes out takes a photo (again I could not help but feel he had seen this "damage" before) of the "damage", and begins to fill out the paperwork for the charges for the "damage. "Dad" did a great job of ignoring me, chain smoking, and generally being indifferent about the "damage" issue, f only concerned only with getting his charges figured.
To this point in the incident he has not so much as said a word to me about anything, that after I spent $300 on scooter rentals from him. Finally he decides to talk to me to inform me I owe him $269 for damages. Simply put he is keeping the initial $100 deposit plus and additional charge of $169 for a total of $269.
Being 600 miles from home and in no position to do much about it since he had followed the local ordinance that required the photo of the damage, and an itemized list of "damages", I decided it was pointless to fight the issue there. It is very hard to beat the "home boys" in their house. It was obvious they were experienced in this scam and knew how to execute it to perfection. After returning home from vacation and checking them out on the web, it appears they do this scam a lot and have a new complaint posted on various websites on a weekly basis and have done so for years!
I will never rent from them again.
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.