Friday, March 1, 2013

Open Post: hiring car in London...actually in congestion zone

Dear Mr Keppler,

I thought you might be interested to read why I will never use Europcar again.

Right from the start and upon our arrival at London St Pancras, it was not impressive to discover that signage to the Europcar 'Meet & Greet' location was invisible, nor, once we found ourselves in a multi-storey car park adjacent to the glamorous station potentially fitting your somewhat loose instructions listed on the internet booking form, that there was no-one from Europcar to actually 'Meet & Greet' us.

Neither was it impressive to be told by car-park booth-sitting attendants after our inquiries as to whether they could point us in your direction, that Europcar was nothing to do with them, and that as a matter of fact they only sometimes helped out by sometimes calling you when some of your customers turned up but that in reality there was nothing in it for them - 'just do them a favour sometimes.'

Neither was it impressive when we finally reached the actual Pick-Up spot after we'd been driven from the 'Meet & Greet' one, to discover that our rental allocation was a particularly dirty car - apparently you'd had insurmountable hose problems that day and due to this liquid-malfunction we were issued with an extremely grubby little golf - and neither was it impressive that no-one on the Europcar floor was able to give us any directions whatsoever to assist us getting out of London and/or finding the M3 - nor did they even possess a map they could (a) either give us or (b) show us.

But most unimpressive of all was the fact that at no point in time did your team at Europcar mention anything about the London Congestion Charge nor that St Pancras is pretty much in that Congestion Tax Zone (according to the Congestion Zone map).

That this information was omitted at both the internet booking phase and the Picking-Up phase is completely baffling, and one could be forgiven for thinking it was a trifle misleading and deceptive on your part. I am sure you would agree that to your rental car customers detail on congestion charging and zoning is significant information and certainly ought to have been shared at some point in the rental process.

I felt pretty 'snakey' about the dirty car but after receiving the congestion charge penalty I'm as mad as all hell...and just out interest because I'm beyond 'content', why did the salutation in your letter detailing the congestion charge address me as 'Dear Sirs'. Throughout our entire hiring-of-car negotiations I used my title and name (Mrs Susan Abbott) and at no point did I ever give you the impression that I was multiple men.

But back to the main issue at hand, I am not impressed by (a) the service or (b) the car that you allocated us and neither have I been impressed by the fact that you have automatically billed me £96 for the congestion tax which was basically an inevitable fait accompli given Europcar's St Pancras location. I fervently hope that you will return that amount to my relevant plastic poste haste.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,
Sue Abbott
(former Europcar customer)


  1. Thank you for your donation to our ailing public finances. I'm sure that on your next visit, you'll notice that St Pancras is not in the CC zone, and neither is Euston Road, the ring road you probably first encountered. There's no need to enter the CC zone to get to the M3, and indeed to do so you have to ignore a forest of warning signs.

    1. Thanks, Sven, for all that - what you've written certainly makes sense only we're just not sure where we ended up collecting the car from after the little drive from St Pancras largely made up of left-hand turns - definitely not St Pancras Station anyway - and now you've mentioned it, we cannot recollect CC zone signs at all.

      Personally I think the charge is a brilliant idea and wish that we had it here in Sydney but in the meantime I would like to know the actual physical address of the 'picking-up' car depot because to date I cannot find an address anywhere after numerous internet and document searches - in fact all I can discover is the 'Meet & Greet' one over and over again which as you kindly have pointed out is not in the CC zone.

      I would much rather continue donating to your 'ailing public finances' in the normal way that I do by visiting you every year rather than having to pay this somewhat mean charge which we Antipodeans didn't see coming when we cluelessly hired a Europcar from an undisclosed Europcar destination and then proceeded to lurch from one street to another street in your rather damp congested city, haplessly listening to inexplicable advertisements on the car radio aimed at dissuading Bulgarians from coming to live in Britain (people want to? - who knew?).

      Thanks for the explanation anyway.
      Kind regards,