This story ends with a man (either the owner or an employee) shouting across their Vieques Car Rental parking lot that he hoped I died in a car accident, but before that punch line, here's how the story began:
My husband, 6 year old daughter, and I rented a car from Jock Aikman (the new owner of VCR) Tuesday April 5th 2011 and the car literally almost killed my daughter.
We made this reservation back in Feb, so this was not a case of a "last minute - we'll take whatever you have" situation. When we arrived at his "business," it was a tiny metal hut, locked tight. Nobody there despite the fact he knew we were coming as I called when we left the mainland. He or his employee (didn’t catch the name) arrived 25 minutes later and he spent another 15 minutes arguing with somebody on his cellphone before he got around to our paperwork.
Then he showed us the jeep - really old, in bad shape, bald tires, no a/c and it smelled like something had died inside the car (turns out there was a dead rat under the hood). He said this was all he had and we had no other option, so we took it. Ironically, he made us sign an agreement to keep the doors locked and wear seat belts at all times.
I say ironically because the car doors would not lock and the seat belts wouldn't buckle, which is how my daughter very nearly fell out of the back seat when the rear door flew open unexpectedly when we made a turn. I’ll never forget the look of panic in my daughter’s eyes as her new hat flew out the open door while she clutched at the end of a broken seat belt, struggling not to slip out the open door. What a nightmare. And the entire car was just rickety and falling apart. There seemed to be no power steering or shocks; the brakes squealed and the headlights mysteriously turned off as if the wiring was loose (much of it was visibly hanging out under the passenger side dash area).
The engine started smoking about 5 minutes into our drive. When my husband finally figured out how to lift the hood, he found the remains of a smoldering dead rat. That was the last straw.
We called the “agency” immediately upon arriving at our rental home and told the owner/employee we would be returning the jeep ASAP as it was unsafe to drive. He said he had no other vehicles and that he was charging us for a day anyway. When we took it back the next AM he demanded my credit card (he already had it from the authorization anyway) but I refused to give it to him, stating that the car was a death trap and there was no way I was paying a dime to smell a stinking dead rat and almost lose my daughter off a cliff.
Astonishingly, he denied any responsibility for the jeep’s condition, stating repeatedly that "nobody tells me these things" about the extremely dangerous nature of this vehicle, implying that it is our duty as customers to somehow psychically divine the crappy condition of his rentals before we drive them, instead of his responsibility to inspect and maintain his cars. Unbelievable.
He kept demanding my credit card, but I just walked out of the shack to the new vehicle we borrowed from the vacation rental we reserved. As I left the shack that's when he shouted across the lot "I HOPE YOU DIE IN A CAR ACCIDENT!!!"
Wow, way to do business Mr. Aikman. I should have called the police as others have done when his cars almost killed them, too (read all the reviews on the various travel websites - it's terrifying what this man is doing). He did manage to charge my card anyway – without my signature, and of course I am disputing this at the moment with AMEX. Thank goodness I used AMEX, they will prevent further brutalization from this “company.”
I believe it is just a matter of time before somebody really does die. We can only pray they go out of business or this owner/employee gets arrested before somebody loses their life as a result of their careless, negligent, greedy, illegal and grossly irresponsible business practices.Edited: 11 April 2011, 20:27