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EuropCar Emergency Asst Left Me Alone and Stranded

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EuropCar Emergency Asst Left Me Alone and Stranded

I rented a car in March from EuropCar through Auto Europe which was picked up and dropped off in Lisbon airport, Portugal.

On my last full day in Portugal, March 24, I drove to Pena Palace. I was really sick that day, but I had flown all the way to see it (which looking back wasn’t the best idea) and wanted to try.

I drove to the nearest place to park, but it was still quite a long hike uphill through the woods, and there were not many other cars there, but I took it slow and made it to the ticket gate and took a tram up to the palace, to try to conserve energy and had a nice visit.

At the end of the tour, I hiked back down to my car to find that my keys were not in my bag. I hiked back up the trail, checked with palace security, then traced my steps through the palace in hope of finding the lost keys, but to no avail.

I had no cell phone with me, so I had to use the gift shop phone from a begrudging employee, having been told by the palace security guard that he would not help me. I was nervous and scared, as the palace was up in a secluded hillside and security was not going to wait once their office closed at 5pm. It was now about 3pm.

I dialed the EuropCar emergency service number and explained my situation. The man on the phone asked for my license plate number, saying it was on my key fob. I re-explained that my keys were missing. He said he could not look my reservation up any other way. I explained that I was sick and I had already hiked that hill twice. I gave him the date and location of my reservation, but he said all there was to do was to have me hike back down the hill and back up to tell him the number.

I hiked there and back again, and called the number again. A man answered the phone, which I am not sure was the original man or someone else. I told him my name, and without giving me any warning he yelled at me, “I CANNOT HELP YOU!” I was so shocked, I started to cry and asked him if he could transfer me then. He yelled, again, “TO WHO?!” And then he hung up on me!

Now I was really scared. No help from the palace, no phone, single and alone and now very sick from all the hikes. The emergency number was my only lifeline, so I redialed and crying, I said, “Please, I am sick and alone and I need your help.” He asked for my name and I was so afraid when I said it he would hang up on me. But this must have been someone else, because he just asked me for my plate number, which I gave him.

Unfortunately, I read the numbers on the plate wrong and he said that wasn’t a valid number! I started to cry and told him about the multiple hikes and I didn’t know what to do. He told me, “That’s OK, I can look it up another way.” The final agent found my reservation and sent someone to switch out the cars.

When I dropped off the car, having paid extra for full insurance, they informed me that I would have to pay 462 Euro for the incident! They charged me for the emergency help I received, which I believe should have been covered with the extra insurance I bought. They charged me for a replacement key, which I understand.

I believe that I got HORRIBLE emergency service, gouged for the privilege of that horrible experience and I never want to use EuropCar again. I still have nightmares of trying to get home and people refusing to answer phones, so I am writing to everyone I can to try to get some closure.

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1. Re: EuropCar Emergency Asst Left Me Alone and Stranded

Hi Beverly,

Your story sounds like an utter daymare! OMG, what a series of unfortunate events!!!!

I thought the 462 Euros charge was out of line too. You probably can't do anything about that with EuropCar, but if you have energy left you could inquire with your auto insurance or CC to see if they give any emergency coverage as such. It is a painful learning experience. I bet next time you will be traveling with a cellphone. I am glad you found an angel in that last guy on the phone. What would I have done? After so many unsuccessful phone calls to EuropCar, I might have been tempted to abandon car, take train back to town, and let company recover the car later. Ironically, your insurance may have covered for the "lost" car.

About the lack of help from the people you encountered, I can kind of relate to that. Not all Portuguese are like that for sure. I have met some who patiently explained directions to me, and the folks at hotel was wonderful. However, there is a definite difference in the level of involvement in Europeans compared to Americans in general. IMHO, Americans are just (too) ready to help out. I have asked folks at home to let me make a phone call on their cells and have never been refused. Now I am sure that the language barrier is partly responsible for the "refusal to assist" but some of it is definitely due to difference in European attitudes. Sorry you had to go through so many before finding one brave enough and kind enough.

Sure hope you get closure and be able to laugh about this months from now. That's why I am always grateful for a trip traveled safe.

All the best,

SE Portland
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158 posts
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2. Re: EuropCar Emergency Asst Left Me Alone and Stranded


That was awful. Thank you though for taking the time to relive it through the forum. I could absolutely see myself in your position. KEYS.

I have posted a question about cell phones.


Lagos, Portugal
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for Lagos
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3. Re: EuropCar Emergency Asst Left Me Alone and Stranded

I would have thought a call to 112, (They have English speakers) the Portuguese national emergency number would have at least brought a local police officer to the scene who would have been able to help you.

As regards mobile phones, just make sure with your Stateside operator before you leave, that your sim card and mobile phone work in Europe. These day, if one has a quadband phone equipped with a suitable sim card there should be no problem.

I have difficulty understanding the constant problems North Americans seem to have with mobile phones when traveling internationally. I have used my basic Portuguese mobile phone all over Europe, in South Africa, in Hong Kong without any problem. Sounds like US based mobile operators are not nearly as customer friendly as ours over here.

As regards the reaction of the Portuguese shop staff and security, I find this story strange. I am sure if you had said you were not feeling well, they would have called 112 for you. I have known Portugal for 40 years and generally, the Portuguese are very helpful if someone is in need. They may not appear so to one's face but they are.

London, Canada
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4. Re: EuropCar Emergency Asst Left Me Alone and Stranded

On the cell/mobile phone front, the North American suppliers only sell so called 'locked' phones tied into the phone company that provides your service. You have to unlock the phone and go through a fairly tedious process to use them anywhere else in the world. I am always amazed how much further Europe is ahead of NA regarding cheap and easily used technology. My solution was simple, and it is also used by frequent visitors to Europe, especially, since this is the Lisbon forum, by Portuguese Canadians visiting Portugal to see relatives etc and take holidays on a regular basis. they buy a phone in Lisbon, and just make sure that it remains active whether they are here in Canada or there in Portugal.

Costa Adeje, Spain
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5. Re: EuropCar Emergency Asst Left Me Alone and Stranded

Emergencies related to loss of carkeys or filling tank with wrong gas are not covered in hired cars....

However most basic travel insurance covers this items.

When you travel abroad you have to be covered/assured for this sort of situations,so you don´t have to rely in anybody.

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6. Re: EuropCar Emergency Asst Left Me Alone and Stranded

BeverlyHansen - I'm really sorry that you had this terrific experience... If something strange happen to you next time (let's hope not...) i suggest you call 112 (it's the 911 number in EU) so Police can go and assist you. I suggest also you buy in Europe a cheap mobile phone, you can get it in any shop in a shopping center for about 15,00€ and a pre-paid phone card, if the phone doesn't bring one, so you can make the calls all across Europe.Regarding the reaction of the Portuguese shop staff and security, I also find it strange, I cannot put my hands on the fire but if you had said that you're not feeling well, they would have called 112 for you... If they do like you told us, the only thing i can say is not to judge all Portuguese in the same way... We're very helpful to others...

Edited: 18 April 2011, 10:11
7. Re: EuropCar Emergency Asst Left Me Alone and Stranded

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