For those who have the same warped sense of humour this Letter can also be had in French.
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Thursday, January 19, 2012
Consumer Watch - Not-so-Cheap-&-Very-Nasty car hire
If you want to hire
a car in Johannesburg steer
clear of the one in Republic Road in the suburb of Randburg which has a large billboard
on the roadside advertising cars at R99 per day.
I had a lucky escape at Not-so-Cheap-&-Very-Nasty, real name Cheaper Car
Hire after I
went there because my brother-in-law’s daughter hired a car from there without
That R99 sign is just a
come on because the firm’s documentation that hirers get doesn’t mention it and
has rates starting at R139 day. I would love to hear
from anybody who managed to get one at the lower price.
When I phoned I was told that all the
cars atR99 had been taken by corporateson long terms. Well, as I subsequently found out, no firm in it’s right
mind would hire one of Cheaper’s old bangers.
I was told the best rate was R139 a day for a minimum of five days. That turned
out to be a lie as there was an additionaladmin fee
of R91.20, which they didn’t mention whenI phoned.
So that made this cheap hire R157.24 a
day. Not so cheap after all. There Miss I-don’t-carewas behind a desk and she certainly lived up to her name with very
indifferent service that turned out to be almost as bad as the car I got.
After giving her cash for the rental and my
credit card to cover the R5000 required in case
of an accident she asked me for proof of home addressin the form of a rates
or telephone account for my home in Cape Town 1 500 km away. Who carries this with them when they
travel and what other car hire company asks for this?
I asked Miss I-don’t-careif I could speak to the owner about this as well as her
indifferent service and she replied Idon’t care. According
to her he was conveniently in Australia
and the only name she would give for him was Craig.
She was not allowed to give his surname, she claimed.
Anyway I managed to provide proof for the address
of my daughter’s home in Johannesburg where my wife and I were
staying and went out to inspect the Volkswagen Chico
Golf that I was to drive.
The check list on thePre- rental form had a
cross next to gear lock and the
staff member I was with explained that the U shaped pin that locked the gear
lever had been lost.
So I asked
for a car that had one because I would not have been able to insure my own car
without a gear lock. We looked at half a dozen other cars all of which had no
gear locks so I ended up taking the one I started with.
The bodywork had some dents here and there which
I had expected for a so called cheap car but it was only when I drove away that
I realised how bad the mechanical side was.
I had to push the foot brake to the
floor to get it to come on and even then I had doubts about its efficiency. When
I stopped at the entrance to my daughter’s townhouse complex after going only a
few km I battled to start the car even though the choke had been jammed in the
full on position.
I immediately returned the vehicle and on the way
there I found the hooter didn’t work which was another indication that the
vehicle was not roadworthy.
And, judging by the hire agreement I had to sign,
I was extremely lucky to get my money back. Highlighted in the agreement was a
clause that stated that I had to pay R590 plus Vatif I
I only noticed afterwards that the
check-list showed that there were four different makes of tyre on the vehicle turning
it into a dangerous death trap, a
tyre dealer told me.
As you can see from the insert from the consumer
website Hellopeter somebody else was not so
lucky. He got ripped off for R1 000 for a
four day hire which he described as the worstexperience I have had with a care hire co.
unroadworthy vehicles will soon be off the road. I’ve given Superintendent Wayne Minnaar, the spokesman for the Johannesburg’s Metro Traffic Cops,
details of my experience as well as the one on Hellopeter.
It turns out that the person that Miss I-don’t-carewas making such a mystery of is Craig
Freeman at firstname.lastname@example.org. He answers emails
when they involve a potential booking, but don’t expect an answer when you have
is not so off the map that they can’t get emails, but perhaps not with a telkomsa.net address. Regards,
Jon, the Not-so-Wide-Awake
were offering cars in Johannesburgfrom R139and they guaranteed they would be from leading suppliers
such at Budget,Europcar, Hertzetc.
Buy my book 'Where have all the children gone?' on Amazon com It s a thriller with an underlying love story that defied generations of prejudice.