Beware Goldcar – the hire firm that sells cover customers don't want

Angry customers face ‘hidden’ charges for insurance policies they didn’t ask for

JJ-K from London booked a hire car through the website

“A week was £139.91 and included collision damage waiver, third-party liability and theft protection. However, when I went to collect the car at the airport, the Spanish rental company, Goldcar, told me that this was a ringfenced deposit and that I would have to pay £206 for the hire. The agent gave me an invoice in Spanish. Assuming the total included the deposit, I signed.

“I discovered that the initial £139.91 had not been ringfenced so the total hire charge was £346.32. I called both companies who said that, since I had signed the contract, there was nothing to be done. It turned out that Goldcar had charged me an extra fee for a premium insurance policy, which was not mentioned by the Goldcar agent.”

SM of London has a similar tale. “I am an experienced traveller and have an annual insurance waiver and always refuse ‘supercover’ (or whatever the hire company name their excess).

“The Goldcar agent in Marseille. did not even try to sell me cover as I showed him my annual waiver policy. He said my status as a regular Goldcar hirer meant he did not need a deposit.

“He mentioned the fuel deposit and asked me to sign an electronic pad. When he printed the contract he covered the charges section with a map. He then folded the contract and, just as he passed it to me, thrust a white sheet of paper at me and said I needed to sign.

“I have no idea what the paper actually said. Only later did I discover that €74 had been debited from my account to pay for ‘supercover’ insurance. Goldcar has fobbed me off by saying I got benefit from the ‘supercover’ even though I did not ask for it and they will train their staff better.”

CB of London used Goldcar on a 12-day trip to Italy. “We had paid for a car through Holiday Autos and I took out extra insurance with as a precaution. We were asked to produce the credit card we had used on collection of the car.

“The Goldcar agent never mentioned any extra insurance. However, when we received our credit card statement we found an extra £207.46, including Super Relax Cover.”

RM of Cambridge also found himself paying £60.78 for Super Relax Cover when he hired a Goldcar vehicle in Bologna. “I was told I didn’t have the choice and would have to query it afterwards. I have come to realise that this is a common problem in multiple Goldcar locations.”

Indeed it is. Car hire desks will do their darnedest to flog extra insurance because agents earn a commission.

Goldcar is a notorious offender – so notorious they have been on a PR mission to reassure the public that they are mending their ways. And who are they blaming? Why, customers in their ignorance and the third-party websites through which they book. “Goldcar is aware of the problems,” says a spokesperson. “It is taking measures to educate customers about insurance requirements and the different options. It is also working with intermediaries to improve transparency regarding bookings through their sites.”

Goldcar is hardly telling the full story. These intermediaries may be less than helpful to customers who find themselves paying twice for insurance, but they include in their prices all legally required insurance – collision damage waiver, third party cover and theft protection.

However, Goldcar tells me that it offers the only comprehensive cover on the market, by which it means that its policy covers any excess payable.

Customers who choose not to buy it have to pre-authorise a deposit of at least €950, although it would seem many are not offered this option. And some Goldcar customers report that they are told that unless they buy it, they cannot hire the vehicle.

Again, Goldcar blames third-party websites. It says: “We know it is hard for some intermediaries to control the information displayed as they work with thousands of affiliates, but unfortunately this is their responsibility. We hope this will improve soon.”

Goldcar refuses to refund any of the customers above, stating they all signed the contract agreeing to the extra charges and these were clearly explained. So, the next time you’re at a car hire desk, no matter how late the hour or long the queue, always make sure you understand what you are signing and query any unexpected costs.


Anna Tims

The GuardianTramp

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