When I was planning our trip to Gran Canaria, I found that AutoReisen car hire offered the best deal. Their price included a second driver, free cancellation, collision damage waiver with no excess, a fair fuel policy and unlimited mileage.
As I hadn’t used AutoReisen before, I did a bit of research which resulted in positive feedback. I contacted AutoReisen by email a couple of times and received prompt replies, assuring me that “in case of any incident they will take care and most probably send a replacement vehicle”.
Our flight from Edinburgh to Gran Canaria was delayed for two hours by air traffic control problems, so we arrived feeling a bit harassed and keen to get to our hotel in Puerto Rico as quickly as possible. The first issue I had with AutoReisen was on the pick-up of the hire car. When I paid for the car hire, which cost 95.14 Euro, I was asked if I wanted to pay in Euro or UK pounds. I said Euro. I knew at that time that it would be better to pay in Euro, as there are would be no overseas transaction fees on my Halifax Clarity Credit Card. However the customer service agent told me in a dismissive tone that I was better to pay in UK pounds.
Sure enough, I was charged £83.91 by AutoReisen, when 95 Euro was around £80 at the prevailing rate of exchange. So ignoring my request to pay in UK pounds, added almost £4 to price of the hire car.
The next issue was that I’d reserved a ‘Type B’ car, with a CItroen 3 given as an example. We were given a Toyota Yaris, which I thought was a smaller car. By that stage, we really couldn’t be bothered to argue about the size of the car.
We tried to do an inspection of the car in the underground garage but the lights were so dim, it was hard to see anything clearly.
The next morning when we went to the car in daylight, we couldn’t believe the damaged and worn state of the front tyres.
Front tyre of original AutoReisen hire car
We decided that we weren’t prepared to risk driving a car with such worn tyres. We always change the tyres on our own car before they go to anywhere near the worn state of the tyres on that AutoReisen hire car. We decided that we should ask AutoReisen to bring a replacement car with good tyres to our hotel in Puerto Rico.
I phoned the AutoReisen car rental office at Gran Canaria Airport. They told me that they couldn’t deliver a replacement car to Puerto Rico and we’d have to go to the Playa del Ingles office, which was closer to our hotel than the airport, to pick up the replacement car. I requested that the Playa del Ingles office was contacted, so that a car with decent tyres could be waiting for us to pick up.
The Autoreisen car hire office in Playa del Ingles
When we arrived at the AutoReisen office on Playa del Ingles, the customer service agent didn’t appear to know anything about why we were there. Unbelievably we were offered a Citroen C3, the correct class of car, which also had worn front tyres!
Worn front tyre on replacement car offered by AutoReisen
We went straight back into the AutoReisen office to request a car with decent tyres. We were then given another Toyota Yaris, which, as it was a newer car, had tyres which looked like they could grip the road. However, that Toyota Yaris had a bash under the driver’s front door and it was missing the radio aerial.
Bash on second replacement car offered by AutoReisen
With hindsight, it was probably a good thing that AutoReisen didn’t being a replacement car to our accommodation in Puerto Rico, as the chances were that it would’ve had worn tyres too.
Call me cynical, but it seems to me that there isn’t much incentive for car hire firms to change the tyres on their rental cars. Most car rental agreements exclude tyre damage from their ‘no excess’ insurance. Therefore, if your hire car has a flat tyre, you will have to pay for a replacement tyre yourself, or pay to take out additional insurance which covers tyre damage.
I emailed a letter of complaint to AutoReisen. I was annoyed and frustrated that we’d wasted the first morning of our holiday getting a replacement car with decent tyres. I was aghast that AutoReisen were hiring our cars with such damaged and worn tyres and wondered if tyres in this state were legal in Spain.
I’ve copied the reply from AutoReisen below:
“We really apologize for the inconvenience caused. We don’t pretend that you spend the time of your holiday getting a new car with good tyres. We want to offer good service to our clients, because for us, our clients are the most important. Daily we try to improve and your opinion is very important for us.
Mrs. Bryan, we want to apologize again for the inconvenience caused.”
If one of these worn tyres had blown when we were driving our hire car, it could have been a lot worse than a mere ‘inconvenience’.
Another example of hollow words on customer service, not backed up by action. If AutoReisen really want to offer good service to their clients, they must ensure that all their hire cars have good tyres. When there is a problem, AutoReisen should deliver a decent replacement car to your apartment, instead of you having to drive to their office.
My advice would be to avoid AutoReisen. We’ve hired many cars when on holiday over the decades and never had a rental car with tyres in such an awful condition. It wasn’t an isolated incident, as the first replacement car which we were offered also had dodgy tyres.