Dozens of holidaymakers have accused car rental giant Goldcar of routinely flogging them insurance they didn’t want or need.
Some drivers who already had a policy were told that it was invalid and they would have to buy a new one costing hundreds of pounds.
Others say insurance was never mentioned at the check-in desk and they only discovered they had been charged when they later checked their bank statements.
Dozens of holidaymakers have accused car rental giant Goldcar of routinely flogging them insurance they didn’t want or need
Or they were misled into thinking they were paying a deposit that would be returned when, in fact, the charges were non-refundable.
Travellers also say they couldn’t understand what they were paying for because the fees were listed in Spanish. Others were only handed their policy documents in a sealed envelope after they’d paid.
When hiring a car abroad, it is vital you take out insurance that will pay out in the event of an accident. Most car rentals include a ‘collision damage waiver’ — basic cover that will pay out if the vehicle is damaged in a crash.
But the customer would still have to pay an excess that can run to thousands of pounds, unless they buy extra insurance to meet this. It is usually far cheaper to buy excess cover from a third party in advance, rather than on arrival.
If you do this, the firm should just ask for details of a credit card it can bill after any accident — which you’d later claim back from your insurer. However, at airports across Europe, drivers say they are being told they must buy Goldcar’s cover.
Goldcar was founded by Spanish brothers Juan and Pedro Alcaraz in Alicante in 1985 with four Ford Fiestas and an Escort. It now has 105 offices in 17 countries.
Goldcar was founded by Spanish brothers Juan and Pedro Alcaraz in Alicante in 1985 with four Ford Fiestas and an Escort. It now has 105 offices in 17 countries
The firm has been fined twice in the past two years by the Italian regulator for ‘aggressive’ commercial practices, relating to the way it sells insurance and charges for damage that happened in previous rentals. Its new owner, Europcar, has had to set aside nearly £40 million to compensate UK customers after a Trading Standards repair cost probe.
The UK’s competition watchdog announced in March that it is also investigating hidden car hire fees. This follows an undercover investigation by Money Mail at Spain’s Malaga Airport where we revealed how firms such as Goldcar heap extra charges on to holidaymakers.
Richard Pearson, 48, says he was pushed into paying nearly £200 for unnecessary insurance by the Goldcar desk at Ibiza Airport in August. It was 10pm when he arrived to pick up the car with his sons, Oliver, 12, and Harry, ten, who were exhausted from the flight and ready for bed.
A cutting from Daily Mail, August 1, 2017
He says the woman on the desk told him the £60 Axa policy he had bought in advance was ‘not valid’. He argued, but was told he would be liable for any damages unless agreeing to buy Goldcar’s insurance.
Richard adds: ‘She made me doubt myself and think I’d bought the wrong cover. I was put in a position where I had no choice but to take out the insurance at the desk. It’s mis-selling of the worst kind.’ The massage therapist, of Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, is still fighting to get his money back.
Goldcar insists Richard would have been offered the chance to pay a £972 credit card deposit instead of taking the cover, but he says this was not the case.
Sarah and Richard Hughes, both project managers from Winchester, Hampshire, were charged £248 for cover by Goldcar at Palma airport, Mallorca, in July.
Richard, 45, says that he was rushed through the process by a woman at the desk as Sarah, 44, looked after their twins, Millie and Georgie, aged eight. Richard gave the woman his credit card, thinking it was for a fuel deposit, before she handed him documents in a sealed envelope. Only when they were back home did the pair find they had been charged for cover — despite having their own.
Sarah says: ‘It’s very dishonest. They use smoke and mirrors to cover up the charges.’
Graham Barr, 35, from Edinburgh, says he was charged £128 for insurance by the same Goldcar desk in August. The travel firm senior manager had also bought cover in advance and believed that he was only leaving a deposit.
He was given an electronic screen to sign and only later provided with paperwork in a sealed envelope. And Dominika Bernasiewicz, 54, and Marcin Puciato, 39, were charged £210 for unwanted insurance and other unexplained extras at the Palma Airport desk, also in August. They, too, thought that they were paying a fuel deposit and signed paperwork partly written in Spanish.
Lynne Anderson, 61, a charity worker from Newcastle upon Tyne, and husband Jeremy, 53, were charged £52 for insurance they didn’t need by Goldcar at Girona airport in Spain. And Tracy Davies, 49, from Cardiff, paid £124 for unwanted cover to Goldcar at Barcelona airport.
All say they were led to believe they were paying a deposit.
Many more customers are complaining about Goldcar and its charges online. Rory Boland, Which? travel editor, says: ‘Firms need to be upfront about the real cost instead of offering too-good-to-be-true prices, then clawing back cash via high repair bills or expensive add-ons.’
A Goldcar spokesman says: ‘Goldcar offers a customer care service through which queries are resolved and individual cases are handled.
‘All the customer cases provided are being managed by our customer service department directly with the clients.’