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Tourists urged to avoid car hire company over ‘serious issues’

A car hire brand has been ranked last in a customer satisfaction survey because of complaints over extra charges and poor car condition (Alamy/PA)
A car hire brand has been ranked last in a customer satisfaction survey because of complaints over extra charges and poor car condition (Alamy/PA)

Holidaymakers are being urged to avoid a car hire company ranked last in a customer satisfaction survey.

Goldcar, which operates in countries such as Spain, Portugal, France and the US, achieved an overall score of 52% in the annual report by consumer group Which?

It was awarded just two stars out of a possible five for value for money, car description matching reality, record given of damage to car, and customer service.

One fifth (20%) of respondents who used Goldcar said they had issues with the condition of the car, and 23% reported being charged extra either when they picked up or returned the car.

Which? said its previous investigations found cases of the business engaging in “pressure selling tactics” to encourage customers to buy extra insurance at the desk.

The car hire company with the second-lowest overall score was Dollar (56%), followed by Record Go (57%), Budget (61%) and Sixt (64%).

Two brands based on the Canary Islands had the highest scores – AutoReisen (92%) and Cicar (91%) – while the top-ranked broker was Zest Car Rental (90%).

Rory Boland, editor of magazine Which? Travel, said: “Booking car hire should be straightforward, but all too often it feels like the wild west, with travellers lamenting fraught experiences, poor customer service and spurious fees.

“Goldcar in particular is best avoided, with customers repeatedly reporting serious issues from pressure selling to poor customer service.

“To ensure you have the best possible experience this summer, make sure you book with a reputable firm.”

A spokesperson for Goldcar, which is owned by Europcar Mobility Group, said: “Goldcar is of course disappointed about the results of the Which? report.

“The company takes customer care very seriously with a code of ethics for counter sales and a guide of good sales practices, both of which are reviewed annually based on customer feedback.

“We offer very attractive prices, making travel affordable while giving our customers the freedom to choose additional options including premium insurance cover for a seamless process should damage occur during their rental.”

The spokesperson added: “We are committed to investigating any incidents where a customer believes they have received a service that does not match expectations for a low-cost brand and continue to invest in staff training and best practices.”

A spokesperson for trade body the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association said: “Customers can take a number of steps to make their rental experience as positive as possible.

“Booking early secures a good price for the desired vehicle.

“Understanding what is included with the price and the level of risk being taken on is also essential.

“The company is providing access to a high-value vehicle and it is important that drivers understand their responsibilities.

“Only then can they make informed decisions.”

– The research was based on a survey of 2,324 adults, who were either in the Which? Connect panel or members of the public, in February and March.