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Europcar at SJO is a huge ripoff, go with Sixt instead

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Europcar at SJO is a huge ripoff, go with Sixt instead

This is really a review more than anything else, but since Tripadvisor apparently doesn't have reviews for rental car locations, I feel like I need to share my story this way.

First off - I know a lot of people yell about travelers not doing their homework when renting in CR. Sometimes that may be true, but most rental car companies also completely fail to adequately disclose what is required by law, what is required by the rental car company, and what is optional, instead they rely on not providing adequate information to then rip you off once you're at the counter. I've rented cars all over the world, and nowhere have I had as much trouble as in CR, despite doing my homework.

We're spending 3 weeks in CR and needed a car for the duration to pick at up the airport - this is obviously expensive, and getting the best deal was really important for us. I spent hours reading horror stories online, avoided 3rd party websites, only used local .cr websites from rental companies to get quotes (which are still horrible at providing the necessary information), and meticulously read the fine print of every quote that seemed like a good deal and that I considered for the final decision.

After all that research I landed on Europcar. Their quoted price was about 25% better than the next closest quote I found. As mentioned, I was meticulous when booking, I had selected the "basic coverage included" option when making the reservation and I had checked the fine print to ensure that all legally required mandatory fees and insurance (liability) were included. Our credit card does cover CDW, even in CR, so I didn't anticipate needed anything else. The quoted rate should be the final price paid.

Alas, when we get to the pickup location, the agent would not rent the car to us at the quoted price. He insisted on adding $700 worth of coverage for a $300 car rental. Despite having documentation from the credit card (our T&C document) that we were covered, despite all the Europcar documents stating very clearly that only liability is absolutely required and included, despite the fact that I was willing to put up with the sky-high hold ($7000) on my credit card, he flat out, and in a very condescending manner, refused to rent the car to us. Every time we countered one of his objections with evidence from the research I had done, he made up some new excuse for why he couldn't rent to us without the $700 coverage, which finally culminated in him asking for us to produce a letter from the credit card company confirming coverage for our specific reservation. I had never had to deal with so much hassle from a rental car location. A this point we walked out.

Luckily, based on my research, I had anticipated such shenanigans, and I had also made a backup reservation at the Sixt. The price for that reservation was $100 more expensive, (which is why it wasn't our first choice) but compared to an extra $700 in extorted coverage it was a steal. We used an Uber to get to Sixt, politely declined their additional coverage based on our credit card protection, accepted the extra $1000 security hold on our card and within 15 minutes we were out the door with our rental car.

TLDR: Even when you do your homework, some rental car companies are better than others, and Europcar at SJO is a huge ripoff. They force you to buy coverage you don't want or need.

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Juan Santamaria Intl Airport
Juan Santamaria Intl...
San Jose, Costa Rica
19 replies to this topic
Umatilla, Florida
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1. Re: Europcar at SJO is a huge ripoff, go with Sixt instead

Are you saying that you expected to rent a car for 3 weeks for $300 dollars? If you had really done your homework and came here before you rented you would have known that the price was far too cheap to be true!

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2. Re: Europcar at SJO is a huge ripoff, go with Sixt instead

Well in that case Europcar should update their rates accordingly instead of trying to rip people off to make up for their artificially low rates. Offering too-good to-be-true deals is not an excuse for fraudulent business practices.

Nowhere
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for Playa Samara
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3. Re: Europcar at SJO is a huge ripoff, go with Sixt instead

Ben - I am a bit confused. When you meticulously did your homework (I assume that, at least in part, you used this forum for that), did you not notice that Europcar is just about NEVER mentioned when people ask for car rental recommendations?

I will say that Europcar does have the right to ask for a specific letter. For a while, that was what most rental companies would do, but I have not really heard of any such silly requests lately. Some wanted a real letter that outlined the renter's name and very specific details about coverage and coverage amounts. Absolutely crazy.

That said, I am not surprised by your report. Europcar does not come up very often on this forum and is certainly not one of the more popular car rental companies. I don't know of anyone - off the top of my head - who would ever recommend them. I know that I wouldn't for one simple reason:

For a while, Europcar was in the habit of posting obviously fake positive reviews on this forum. I called them out on it every single time and one of their shills started to threaten legal action against me (yawn), thereby revealing that their positive reviews were totally fake. That's all I need to know about a company to NEVER recommend them.

Sorry to read of your experience with them - I wish you had noticed the absence of recommendations and just skipped them altogether.

I rent from Sixt in Europe all the time but have heard good things about the SJO location as well

Edited: 12 June 2018, 01:29
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Juan Santamaria Intl Airport
Juan Santamaria Intl...
San Jose, Costa Rica
Slovenia
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for Costa Rica
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4. Re: Europcar at SJO is a huge ripoff, go with Sixt instead

100% agree with you. Doing the homework is not assuring you not to become a target. But as you have proved to us, it does helped you not to become a victim!

Sad truth is that rental car business in Costa Rica is obviously a lucrative, and demand for rental cars is higher then the supply ... thus giving "working space" to such inadequate businesses as Europcar (in your case) and Economy, to mention only these two.

Edited: 12 June 2018, 01:43
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Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Central America
Brooklyn, New York
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for Sarapiqui
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5. Re: Europcar at SJO is a huge ripoff, go with Sixt instead

Thank you for providing this feedback. As important as knowing which companies are the good (even if not perfect!) actors and which ones engage in systematically shady practices.

The CDW letter issue can be a PITA, mainly on the front end because your credit card issuer (the bank) may tell you that VISA/MasterCard is responsible for that coverage, and then VISA/MasterCard may tell you that the issuer is responsible. But, eventually they send you a PDF letter that you should be able to either print or keep on your phone/other mobile device.

Ontario, Canada
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6. Re: Europcar at SJO is a huge ripoff, go with Sixt instead

Just to clarify the numbers in your post: total of $300 : 21 days = US$14.29/ daily rate? This is what you expected? In CR?

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7. Re: Europcar at SJO is a huge ripoff, go with Sixt instead

I had indeed noticed that Europcar did not get a lot of recommendations or mentions, but I was hunting for the best rate (which I've done plenty of times in many countries without similar problems) and felt it was worth a try. Europcar had the cheapest rate, and I figured if I was able to show them their own fine print, as well as the credit card's, I would be able to convince them to honor the booking. I was clearly wrong about that, and I was suspicious enough from the get go to have the backup reservation.

Nevertheless, I did want to report my experience with them, specifically since there seemed to be very few recent posts here mentioning them. And, no matter how "off" my expectations were about what a good rate on a rental car is in CR, the bait and switch that they pulled is at the very least extremely shady, and relies on that fact that most people are forced into eventually saying yes to the ridiculous protection charges. It's bad business, especially since the language on the website and even in the reservation confirmation email is actively making it seem as if everything else is entirely optional.

Insurance is of course extremely important, and I guess if you don't have any coverage and are going to have to buy the rental car company's inflated package anyways, then it doesn't matter. However, I also really don't see being forced into spending hundreds of dollars on something I don't need because they want to offer artificially lower rates as legitimate business practice, and I hope my post can save someone else the trouble.

Slovenia
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for Costa Rica
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8. Re: Europcar at SJO is a huge ripoff, go with Sixt instead

All valid points, Ben. They have baited you, no doubts, and when you came prepared, they tried to avoid their loss (or to minimise it) by asking non-essential paperwork. I have a feeling that even if you would show that paper, they will still decline to rent you a car. Hunting for the best deal sometimes works and sometimes does not work. Being an experienced traveller, and doing your homework, I think you have expected that this time it will not work; the price was just too good to be true.

Again, thanks for letting us know. Myself I have my preferred provider; not the most affordable one but it is WYSIWYP (P = Pay).

Tampa, Florida
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9. Re: Europcar at SJO is a huge ripoff, go with Sixt instead

It's threads like this that scare future travelers away from renting cars. My experience has been that the expense is justified, assuming that your group includes drivers who are not squeamish. Even at ~$600/ week, the cost of our vehicles has been well worth it.

Th expense of local taxis and shuttles adds up quickly. Worse, without your own vehicle, you miss out on all sorts of impromptu local drives and stops along the way. Unless you can afford an on-demand private driver, you miss out on a certain degree of freedom without a rental vehicle.

Those of us who have had good experiences with driving should emphasize that having a car will cost a minimum of (fill in the blank) dollars per week. For even a small SUV, I would say something like $500. When that number is divided by even two travelers, the cost represents a small fraction of the total trip expense.

There should be an immediate red flag if a weekly rental falls under (fill in the blank) dollars. What would that number be, if not $500? $400? Less for a sedan?

Bermuda
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for Bermuda
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10. Re: Europcar at SJO is a huge ripoff, go with Sixt instead

seems as if nothing's changed at europcar. if you type "europcar" in the forum search box, this is the first thread in the list

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g30929…

ec's shenanigans date back to at least 2007! sorry this happened to you and we all appreciate the warning. although i rarely rent in cr nowadays, in the past i've had good transactions with alamo, mapache and what is probably the best in the country, wild rider.

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