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Warning about car rental in Alice Springs

Sydney, Australia
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Warning about car rental in Alice Springs

I have recently visited Alice Springs and hired a car from Central Car Hire. I foolishly drove it on a gravel road, which I should have known counted as 'off road'. When I returned the car, the rear guard/bumper/panel was raised at the join, which the car hire people said was due to the vibrations on the gravel road. I apologised and prepared to pay for the damage.

The owners were very aggressive, even though I was being calm and fully ready to make things right. They immediately charged me the full $1200 on my credit card, even though they said it would probably cost $500. In the taxi to the airport, the taxi driver said that this kind of loose panel is caused by a broken clip, which can be repaired for $23, and that the people are dodgy.

I hope no-one else has to go through this hostile experience - My advice is to read the contract carefully, and if the vehicle is damaged, to photograph the damage and take it to get an independent assessment before you return it to the car hire company. I spoke to a mechanic in Alice Springs but he said he didn't want to get on the bad side of these people.

I will be contacting the Department of Fair Trading - but it has made me feel like Alice Springs is not a trustworthy place for tourists.

24 replies to this topic
Adelaide, Australia
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1. Re: Warning about car rental in Alice Springs

If you broke the conditions of your hire agreement you have noone to blame but yourself!

Do you have travel insurance?

Sydney, Australia
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for Sydney, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Business Travel, New South Wales
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2. Re: Warning about car rental in Alice Springs

That's why I always hire a 4WD from Thrifty in NT... your in the outback & most roads are gravel / sand etc...

Sorry to hear about your experience & hopefully your travel insurance will help amend the loss. Thanks for sharing as I'm sure others will benefit from reading about your journey with Central Car Rental.

Calgary, Canada
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3. Re: Warning about car rental in Alice Springs

Breaking the conditions is not an excuse for extortion. That will never cost anywhere near $1200 and you might want to think about disputing that creditc card drive to make them prove how much it actually cost.

Hopefully your insurance covers some of it and thanks for the heads up about Centra Car Rental.

South Pacific
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for Hobart, Tasmania
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4. Re: Warning about car rental in Alice Springs

I rented from Central Car Hire a year ago. They're not "dodgy", IMO. Indeed, I distinctly recall very large, clear warnings on the rental documentation against driving their 2WD vehicles on gravel roads.

The vapid opinions of taxi drivers are not always reliable. I probably wouldn't rely on that when speaking to Fair Trading. They'll probably pay more heed to the written Terms&Conditions of your contract.

Better luck next time. :)

Luigi

Calgary, Canada
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100 posts
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5. Re: Warning about car rental in Alice Springs

Isn't it a little dodgy when they instantly charge you $1200 despite saying the repair would cost $500? I find that a little disconcerting.

Sydney, Australia
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for Sydney, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Airlie Beach, Whitsunday Islands
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6. Re: Warning about car rental in Alice Springs

Standard procedure.

Eg my son had an accident in our car, the excess was $1500 (I suggest 1200 is the hire agreement excess).

The damage to the other persons car was $1200, we got a $300 refund after the account was finalised. They could well have been giving you an idea how much it would cost rather than trying to be dodgy.

As for the taxi driver... car rentals are actually one of his competitors...

Edited: 15 January 2013, 01:33
Sydney
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7. Re: Warning about car rental in Alice Springs

Nothing costs $23 to fix on a motor car.

The car hire company will usually take the entire deductible (excess) if the damage is incurred.

They should refund all but what is their loss, that may include the cost of the repair, the loss for the car being off the road for the repair, and their reasonable administration costs in managing the repair.

If they charge more than this, go to consumer affairs. Retaining money in excess of their reasonable costs incurred is illegal - i.e. they can't keep $1200 just because you went on a gravel road even though it was in breach of their terms and conditions if they incurred no loss. Let us know how you get on.

Woodham
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8. Re: Warning about car rental in Alice Springs

We rented a car from Avis in Alice Springs to travel to Ayers Rock. This is a long journey across remote roads. The warning here is to check the car extra carefully before you leave. A tyre that was worn below the wear indicators exploded! The spare tyre was not inflated either and we were stuck. Fortuneately, we got help from passing truckers but this could easily have been a disaster. Avis have refunded the charegs and the cost of the tyre but failed to offer an unqualified apology. Be warned-check that car particularly carefullt at Alice Springs or, better still, hire a 4 wheel drive.

South Pacific
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for Hobart, Tasmania
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9. Re: Warning about car rental in Alice Springs

Blowouts happen. An uninflated tyre is not good. On balance, it sounds to me like Avis did the right thing in the end.

Edited: 12 June 2013, 09:11
Adelaide, Australia
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10. Re: Warning about car rental in Alice Springs

You don't need a 4x4 to drive AS to Uluru. And anyway how would that help? Tyres can blow out on them too - and it would cost more. And BTW it is NOT a remote road. There is heaps of traffic on it and its a sealed road.

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