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charges for exisiting damage, rip off, intimidating tactics, prey on harmless tourists

Booked GreenMotion car hire through Holiday Autos. After a tortuous, and expensive journey on the Hoppa Bus, I made it to the Holiday Inn Heathrow (M4 Jct 4). Shoddy outfit from the outside, but staff were friendly enough. I was put under pressure to buy additional insurance (twice the price of what normal car hire companies would offer) and decided against it as I knew I was hardly going to use the car, and it would be parked on a drive. I have hired cars for over 20 years and never had a scratch. Somewhat, I had a 6th sense something was not right. Damages on the car were checked by the attendant in the dark with the help of a mobile phone light (??!!) - needless to say this made me very nervous, and I made sure I followed the attendant all the way round the car - we recorded 22 minor scratches and dents. I returned the car yesterday (after driving around Heathrow for one hour, as no directions were given to me about access to the car park where the rental office was), they were very quick in picking up that I was very concerned about missing my flight. The person who checked the car went straight to a wheel (??!!) and claimed there was new damage (scratch) on the rim. I told him this was recorded on Friday, and after checking their 'systems' he confirmed this was new and was going to cost me 150GBP. I then realised that the particular scratch had conveniently been missed out on the car condition report form. I had a choice to argue, or miss my flight. I took the latter. I am thoroughly disgusted by the way they used the fact that I was a woman on her own, going back to Germany, worried about missing a flight to charge me for damage that was already there (and that would not even be a discussion for normal car hire companies). Yes they are cheap, but they know how to use vulnerable people and extract as much money out of them as they can. Unfortunately, what they don't know is that we have CCTV evidence that I pointed the damage to the attendant, and that my husband is British and living in the UK, so they will be dealing with him now. They have some interesting times coming up. My advice: stay clear if you can, especially if you are not a UK resident. If you really want to take the risk, take as many photos/videos as you can of the vehicle. They claim they are very thorough with their inspections, and prey on the fact their customers work on trust. Make you are very thorough too. Allow at least 2 hours before your check in time, as location is miles out of Heathrow, and bus connections only every 30 mns.

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Colette Daubian
Munich, Germany