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.