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Not so Happy / Kiwi Campers - STEER CLEAR

Brighton
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Not so Happy / Kiwi Campers - STEER CLEAR

Just a quick warning against renting a camper with Happy / Kiwi Campers - we rented a Happy Campervan for a month and were plagued the whole month with inexcusable errors and ineptitude of staff.

The first van we had, had a leaking roof vent, right over our bed - we filled a whole big saucepan from one nights rainfall. We endured the leaking van for 14 nights but not for want of trying to get the 'cowboy company' to do something (sillicon-gelling the roof is not that helpful when the whole vent is completely rotten). Eventually we swapped the van over to the 'upgraded' Kiwi camper and the stupidity and laziness of staff started to rear its ugly head once again; after running out of water in Mt Cook we discovered there was no fresh water hose, a basic and simple check of the vehicle before they let it be picked up by customers would have solved this problem! Anyway one night without water - which sucked, as everyone knows Mt Cook doesn't have any hardware stores to purchase a new hose. Also the weather was so that the pipes had frozen at the Tourist centre - so couldn't even get water there!

Next came the fun with the rusty, leaking gas bottle, which petrol station attendants refused to re-fill due to fear of explosion!

The last blow came when we arranged to drop off the van at the Auckland office; we arranged with Chris to meet him there at 7 in the morning after he said "I am happy to come in early and sort out your refund and drop you off at the airport - the least we can do" and then he doesn't show up. Leaving us wondering what the hell to do!!

All in all - a word of advice if you want an enjoyable holiday and don't want to die through gas fume inhalation - then steer well clear of this cowboy company.

We really don't want to see anyone else go through this rubbish like we had to and are still having too trying to get a refund etc.

Rant over!

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Auckland
Auckland
North Island, New Zealand
Kiwi International Hotel
Kiwi International Hotel
747 Reviews
Auckland Central, New Zealand
Archer Tours
Sightseeing Tours, Day Trips
Carrington Tours
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Greymouth, New...
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1. Re: Not so Happy / Kiwi Campers - STEER CLEAR

Hi,

many thanks for your report.

the advice offered on here is for anyone renting any vehicles is to stick to Reputable companies.

As a hirer, it is easy to seach for the cheapest rate, but cheap rate alone is buyer beware.

this warning can be extended over all types of tourism product. 'Dont buy by price alone'

On TA we are happy to offer our advice, however we do not know every comapany and how they do business, and this type of report helps let others be aware.

Auckland, New...
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2. Re: Not so Happy / Kiwi Campers - STEER CLEAR

Do you mean Happy Campers or Kiwi Campers. Please clarify as there appears to be two different companies.

Have just looked up Happy Campers website. According to them a campervan with an outline of New Zealand on the side is funky. Also their animated female speaks with an Ameican accent. That makes me wary.

Kiwi Campers have a Qualmark acreditaion which should mean that Kiwi is relaiable.

Which company do you mean as you could be doing an injustice to the wrong company.

Cheers.

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New Zealand
New Zealand
South Pacific
Kiwi International Hotel
Kiwi International Hotel
747 Reviews
Auckland Central, New Zealand
Brighton
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3. Re: Not so Happy / Kiwi Campers - STEER CLEAR

Happy Cmapers and Kiwi Campers are run out of the same offices.

We hired a Happy Camper but due to the leaking roof vent were given a Kiwi Camper in replacement.

I'd steer clear of either company regardless of accreditations due to the level of terrible customer service we have experienced dealing with them.

I just don't want to see anyone elses holiday ruined like ours was, it really was such a shame for us.

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Kiwi International Hotel
Kiwi International Hotel
747 Reviews
Auckland Central, New Zealand
Feilding, New...
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4. Re: Not so Happy / Kiwi Campers - STEER CLEAR

Hmmm! A Qualmark accreditation is only as good as the people standing behind it.Perhaps quality control shoppers should be employed to see just how good/bad the day to day service actually is.

On the other hand some customers attitudes (always right , of course) can really ruffle operator's feathers. From reading your report, it sounds as if these companies need better PR training. A checklist must be completed before a campervan is hired out. Despite Qualmark being 'run' by two major N.Z. tourism organisations, how are they able to 'Qualmark' operators personalities?

Wellington, New...
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5. Re: Not so Happy / Kiwi Campers - STEER CLEAR

There a couple of lessons to be learned from this post.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK FIRST is the first message I would provide, There is no such thing as a free lunch and it is especially so in the vehicle rental business.

This forum is littered with anecdotes and advice on the hire of rental cars, vans and motor homes and time after time we see new threads posted where the "INNOCENT" traveller has a problem.

In this instance the OP appears to be a first time motorhome user and camper.

Rule 1: Before you drive your rental vehicle out of the yard at the start of the hire check out the vehicle, check for dings, bumps, bruises, paint scrapes, untoward and obvious rust, the quality of tyres and the spare, wheel change kit.Is the certificate / warrant of fitness current? Are all the facilities in the motorhome working and up to standard?

Rule2: Do you have adequate insurance to cover accidents, sole and multiple, tyre and windscreen damage, hail damage.

Rule 3: Are you getting what you are paying for?

Rule 4: Is the deal you are getting too good to be true? By this I mean travellers come to NZ and spend thousands of dollars and in some cases 10s of thousands of dollars if a family is involved and they try to save 10 or 15 dollars a day on rental hire charges over a 2 - 3 week period and go with third tier rental companies instead of quality , proven first / second tier companies.

Motorhomes are expensive items new and as such are not cheap to hire and there are a few top tier companies who offer near new,lower mileage motorhomes for rent. In general if one uses these companies one can expect a trouble free holiday. The next tier is the second tier companies who in most instances purchase their vehicles off the the big boys. The vehicles will show a bit of wear, may have bumps and bruises but generally will be in good condition and a trouble free holiday can be anticipated. The third tier and / or cowboys in the industry buy their vehicles off the second tier operators who would have held their vehicles for probably a longer period than the 1st tier operators.

These vehicles will be showing their age, may have not been as well maintained as one would have hoped and are only a few dollars cheaper than the more higher quality vehicles.

Is it worth it in the long run after spending thousands of dollars to get to have a substandard holiday by saving $15 a day over a 3 week holiday.

If you want to run the possibility of having problems with the vehicle, maintenenace issues in the middle of nowhere, huge recovery costs and inconvenience then go with the fly by nighters ( and there are plenty of them around with fancy websites) or pay for the quality of vehicle and proven service.

If you choose the former, you take the risk and dont come bellyaching back here because you were ripped off.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS FREE LUNCH

Brighton
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4 posts
6 reviews
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6. Re: Not so Happy / Kiwi Campers - STEER CLEAR

We are not first time camper renters and thus spent a good while researching. We also did not chose the cheapest deal due to these very reasons.

Yours tips are very helpful and of course in a perfect world everything (including a leaking roof vent) would be able to be picked up.

Unfortunately the van appeared to be (after full and thorough inspection) in good and working condition.

Leaks do happen but how the company deal with it is what is in question and unfortunately bad customer skills and halfwits staff aren't quality accredited.

Singapore
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7. Re: Not so Happy / Kiwi Campers - STEER CLEAR

There appear to be lots of companies out there but don't be fooled. Maui is also Britz and Backpacker - all held under the THL banner. Its not advertised but when you try to book you'll see the similarities between websites.

Maui are the most expensive, vehicles usually 2 - 3 years old. Then these are retired and sent to the workshop and a Britz logo is attached. After 6 - 7 years, they move back to the shed and a backpacker logo is put onto the body. they are pretty shabby by this point.

Don't think that you will get what you pay for. I recently used Maui (after a few disappointing trials with other companies) and paid through the nose for what I thought was going to be the best service. it wasn't! and as i followed up the list of complaints: no working TV, no maps, no drop off address, no grill or oven, leaking roof, no working heaters, substandard bedding for winter, badly stained upholstery (if you know what I mean) with a dried white stain akin to the geographical boundaries of the north island, cracked crockery, etc. etc. I was fobbed off with an apology and no hint of compensation!

If you do get a lemon and you complain, you will be sat around for a full day (possibly longer) awaiting a replacement with no compensation for the lost day, so if you can, bite your tongue and don't lose a day and a half (like we did a couple of years ago) and just attempt to enjoy your holiday.

the only camper company we found to be honest and reliable was an independent one in Auckland 4 years ago, sadly they were bought up by the larger competition and both they and their great service have disappeared.

The best advice I can give is, if you are planning a few months over here, buy one outright then sell it before you leave. it will be more reliable and you won't be at the mercy of the large conglomerates who don't feel that they have to abide by any laws of integrity, as you are only a whinging pomme (in their eyes) with no hope of taking further action against them!

Otherwise look around for a small independent company, you will receive a better service and support from them. Avoid the bigger names, they are sharks and tourists are simply seen as easy bait!

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Auckland
Auckland
North Island, New Zealand
Brighton
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8. Re: Not so Happy / Kiwi Campers - STEER CLEAR

Really good advice, I would second buying a campervan and selling it on.

If we ever decide to go back to NZ - we will probably be doing this.

Although saying that we couldn't of had a more different experience in Australia. We booked through travellers autobarn and the van was clean, perfectly working. The only problem we had was the hand pump tap stopped working, due to loss of suction, so we rang up and they said to buy and fit another and they would refund the price on receipt. Which they did upon return to Sydney no problems - easy. The service we experienced through them was really good.

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Sydney
Sydney
New South Wales, Australia
9. Re: Not so Happy / Kiwi Campers - STEER CLEAR

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