Hey car rentals, don’t f$%! with me
Because I'll tell the internet that you did.
There’s so much delicious irony in Greenmotion’s tagline:
VEHICLE RENTAL THAT DOES NOT COST THE EARTH
A few hours after I returned a rented car to Greenmotion in Latvia, they emailed to let me know that the vehicle had become subject to a chemical clean because they’d found a little choccy on the driver’s seat. A CHEMICAL CLEAN. That’s like saying you need to shed a layer of skin off your entire body every time you poop.
They told me a normal vacuum simply wasn’t enough to remove the tiny chocolate mess I’d left. They told me they’d already delivered the vehicle to the washing centre. And they told me I should be more careful when eating in the car.
I was to be charged €100 for my crimes. They didn’t even care that it had been Easter that weekend. A bunny had given me that chocolate.
They even told me that if I thought it was so easy to clean the seats, then I should have done it myself. That was in response to this helpful list I provided them with:
We went back and forth like this for an entire day. They incessantly referred to the rental agreement that stated a €100 fee would be incurred if the car required dry cleaning. I just kept on at them about the definition of the word required and pointed them to their dodgy reputation (UPDATE: in 2019 a new Twitter handle was created to rage war against them 🤦🏼♀️) on the internet.
I eventually called my bank and told them wazzup. I assume they responded in my favour because they’re familiar with the innocence of chocolate interactions with upholstery. The bank blocked the car-rental joint from charging my card and I humbly accepted my win by not going back to Greenmotion with:
JUMP FORWARD FIVE MONTHS
And Greenmotion are at it again:
I’m sorry, WHAT? A parking ticket? I most certainly did not get a parking ticket while in possession of your satanic vehicle.
They attached a penalty notice written in 100% Latvian. It was from the police in Jūrmala. Jūrmala is a Latvian resort town just west of the capital, Riga. “It’s known for wooden, art nouveau seaside villas, Soviet-era sanatoriums and long, sandy Jūrmala Beach.” It’s also notorious for stiffing tourists by inconspicuously sign-posting the mandatory €2 entrance fee to the area. It’s a bastard of a tourist trap that whacks unsuspecting victims with €50 penalties.
The fact that Greenmotion tried to disguise the penalty as a “parking ticket” got my back right up. The word “autostāvvieta” (Latvian for parking) wasn’t printed anywhere on the darned penalty notice.
Obviously adamant that this company would never touch a penny of my personal savings again, I scrutinised their cursed contract, and backed myself in saying that failure to pay an entrance fee to a city is not covered by my agreement to take responsibility for road tolls, traffic rules, damage or parking tickets.
I contacted my bank again. This time I had to send them paperwork to back my case, but they received it and agreed with me again. They stopped the payment and hopefully set fire to any binary code between my credit card and Latvia.
Car-hire companies put most of us on edge because we are terrified of being ripped off. In fact, trends suggest that the industry’s reputation is at an all time low. Which is totally weird seeing as though we’ve been wary of them for like, forever.
But what I’d like YOU to take away from my experience is: you have more power than you think. If you believe that you are genuinely being stitched up or taken for a ride (pun absolutely intended) by a car company, tell ya bank. If you can communicate a clear and valid case, you should get your money protected. Let’s face it, your bank loves you and your money far more than it loves them and their wheels.
Greed, in the end, fails even the greedy.
UPDATE: In March 2019 (like a year later), a Customer Services Escalations Manager from Green Motion International contacted me letting me know that the social media team had reported the dissatisfaction I had expressed on Twitter, finishing with:
“I would truly appreciate it if you could take the time to reply to this email explaining how you feel that your rental experience could of [sic] gone better.”
I replied to the email with a recommendation to prioritise more current complaints in real time.