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Old 15.09.2015, 02:36
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Car rental concern

Hi everyone,

I am new here, and really appreciate that such a forum exists.

I was recently in Switzerland and rented a vehicle. I parked near a sprinkler one night and the car was covered in dried water spots the next day. When I returned the car, I was told it was no big deal and they'd wash it, however, upon returning to the the US, I received a bill for CHF 670.5 to clean the spots.

I realize prices can vary from country to country, but for the same issue, in the US, it would cost -at most- $200 USD.

Is 670.5 CHF just how much it costs to do a good exterior cleaning of a car in Zurich? I will be submitting this to my insurance no matter what, but if they decide that it was too much, they won't cover the entire cost, and I am not sure if it's a fair price or not.

Thanks very much for any advice you may have.
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Old 15.09.2015, 08:33
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Re: Car rental concern

If just water spots then a 15 chf car wash should be sufficient.
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Old 15.09.2015, 09:03
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Re: Car rental concern

What was your rental policy excess?

It can be the case (it happened to me, once), that whenever something has to be done or replaced, they charge the full excess, and then you have to claw back the amount not used - which is a real PITA /hassle ..... and should be outlawed.

However the figure you quote, doesn't seem to correspond to a recognisable excess amount - in either currency.

It does depend on which company you rented from, and obviously the wording of the rental agreement.

But CHF670 to clean a car is definitely a pisstake, and they're trying it on, believing that they can get away with it.

Much of Swiss water has a high calcium level and when dried will leave a whitish deposit/residue - but this is easily cleaned and requires no special process or materials ..... I'm assuming that it was just a normal garden sprinkler.
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Old 15.09.2015, 09:18
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Re: Car rental concern

Maybe they charged for a hand wax polish afterwards? Plus maybe the loss of earnings while it was in a garage?

Last edited by Sbrinz; 15.09.2015 at 09:54.
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Old 15.09.2015, 09:24
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Re: Car rental concern

Was it a prestige car hire or something?

I don't think I've ever paid for cleaning and I've returned some real mud spattered boys to most of the mainstream car-hire places..

What would have happened if it rained while you had the car?
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Old 15.09.2015, 10:30
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Re: Car rental concern

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What would have happened if it rained while you had the car?

Rain water doesn't have calcium in it as it is a condensed water vapour (which is a gas).
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Old 15.09.2015, 13:34
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Re: Car rental concern

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Rain water doesn't have calcium in it as it is a condensed water vapour (which is a gas).
It often has dust and sand (depending on high, prevailing winds) particles, which also leave mucky spots when it dries (vaporises back into a gas.)

Clean cars always look dirty after rain.
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Old 15.09.2015, 17:14
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Re: Car rental concern

Thanks all for the responses.

The car was not a prestige vehicle, it was a VW Touran.

The spots were of the "hard water" variety -that is, high mineral content- and they do not come off with a simple car wash -it usually needs a hand wash using a weak acid (such as household vinegar diluted in water). Sometimes, rarely, it needs a professional polish to remove pitting.
I have no reason to believe the rental car company is lying about the hard water spots, but a full polish in the US is usually around $140.
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Old 15.09.2015, 17:26
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Re: Car rental concern

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Thanks all for the responses.

The car was not a prestige vehicle, it was a VW Touran.

The spots were of the "hard water" variety -that is, high mineral content- and they do not come off with a simple car wash -it usually needs a hand wash using a weak acid (such as household vinegar diluted in water). Sometimes, rarely, it needs a professional polish to remove pitting.
I have no reason to believe the rental car company is lying about the hard water spots, but a full polish in the US is usually around $140.

US price x 3 = Swiss price
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Old 15.09.2015, 17:34
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Re: Car rental concern

Example prices:
http://www.carwash.ch/angebot/autopolitur/
http://www.oscarwash.ch/?gclid=CP6Ds...FQXnwgodN2YKcg
http://www.fahrzeugaufbereitung.ch/preisliste.html
Hourly rates are CHF 120 per hour.

plus one extra rental day.
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Old 15.09.2015, 21:41
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Re: Car rental concern

Thank you so much everyone for your feedback and advice. The car detailing pricing links were especially helpful!
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Old 15.09.2015, 22:13
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Re: Car rental concern

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Thank you so much everyone for your feedback and advice. The car detailing pricing links were especially helpful!
Please don't let this go. There is no reason that they should be giving a rental car a full detail and charging you for it.

Phone the rental company and check what they say and then if they are being stubborn then call your credit card company about it.

You're being scammed here IMO
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Old 15.09.2015, 22:31
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Re: Car rental concern

The rental car company is Europcar, and I was told by my Italian father-in-law that they are a very good, reputable business, which is why I went with them this time.

Something I never explained before:
They tried to charge me over double the original cost: 1454.55. Some of the costs included other damage that I am 100% sure was not done by me. When I asked them about that, they promptly removed those costs and said it was a mistake.

The final cost of 670.50 CHF is for only the polish of the whole car.

Europcar did try to charge my credit card right away, however, I had cancelled it due to fraud. Now they have to wait until I confirm my insurance will cover this (or they reduce the charges to something I am accustomed to for a whole car polish, like $100-200).
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Old 15.09.2015, 22:40
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Re: Car rental concern

I posted above (my first reply) that I had been charged a full excess amount (£500 - which they automatically debited from my card on pick-up) for a £15 plastic indicator lens cover ...... and surprise, surprise, it was with Europcar.

I refuse to use them now, and on a recent trip back to UK used Budget (through a third party discounter), who only docked £76 (despite £1000 excess - I had excess protection insurance) from my card on pick-up and this amount was re-credited before I got home.
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Old 15.09.2015, 22:40
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Re: Car rental concern

You can also take the option of writing them a very clear letter stating that when you returned the car, you were told that it would be 'no problem' and that you didn't agree to having the car detailed...and also that you will need paperwork from them proving the expense if they want you to pass the cost on to your insurer... this may pressure them to reduce the cost further...

Europcar may be 'reputable' but reputable doesn't mean 'cheaper'...Switzerland is probably the most expensive place in the world to hire a car...or have problems with a car...
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Old 16.09.2015, 02:15
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Re: Car rental concern

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What was your rental policy excess?

It can be the case (it happened to me, once), that whenever something has to be done or replaced, they charge the full excess, and then you have to claw back the amount not used - which is a real PITA /hassle ..... and should be outlawed.

However the figure you quote, doesn't seem to correspond to a recognisable excess amount - in either currency.

It does depend on which company you rented from, and obviously the wording of the rental agreement.

But CHF670 to clean a car is definitely a pisstake, and they're trying it on, believing that they can get away with it.

Much of Swiss water has a high calcium level and when dried will leave a whitish deposit/residue - but this is easily cleaned and requires no special process or materials ..... I'm assuming that it was just a normal garden sprinkler.
I denied all insurance so that my credit card would cover the rental. So, this wouldn't be an excess amount, it's what they say is the full cost of the exterior polish.

The water spots happened across the border in Italy, actually. The entire car was covered in them, but when I returned the car a couple days later, I was told by the attendant not to worry about the spots, and that I didn't need to go to the Europcar desk to complete my rental -that it was a drop off and walk away company.
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Old 16.09.2015, 08:44
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Re: Car rental concern

You should have been given a handover sheet when dropping off the car noting any damage incurred - if it wasn't noted at handover dispute the charges.

I did this with Avis in Durban - a charge appeared on my credit card from them - went to customer services and they said x, y and z. I said neither x nor y nor z was on the handover sheet (see attachment) refund the money or I will dispute the charge with the credit card company citing it as a fraudulant transaction. The money was returned.
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Old 16.09.2015, 09:13
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Re: Car rental concern

It's a total scam, plain and simple.
You never have to return a hire car clean??

We rented a little car for visiting relatives last year and we went to the desalpe (to see the cows come down from the mountains for those who don't know). The car was covered in mud and cow sh1t on the outside and the inside smelled like a farm despite our best efforts to clean shoes etc. It's all part of the price of the hire.

FFS you don't vacuum a hotel room after using it or clean the windows on train before you get off.
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Old 16.09.2015, 09:19
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Re: Car rental concern

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You should have been given a handover sheet when dropping off the car noting any damage incurred - if it wasn't noted at handover dispute the charges.

I did this with Avis in Durban - a charge appeared on my credit card from them - went to customer services and they said x, y and z. I said neither x nor y nor z was on the handover sheet (see attachment) refund the money or I will dispute the charge with the credit card company citing it as a fraudulant transaction. The money was returned.
Second this, always always get the car checked, signed off and a receipt when returning hire vehicles. If this is done any comeback charges can always be disputed.
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Old 16.09.2015, 10:00
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Re: Car rental concern

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Second this, always always get the car checked, signed off and a receipt when returning hire vehicles. If this is done any comeback charges can always be disputed.
And always always stand in front of any scratch you may have caused
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