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Do not use Buchbinder, Budapest

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Haverford...
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Do not use Buchbinder, Budapest

I rented a car for three weeks in Budapest, Hungary in July 2013. While the agent was Car Partner Kft, the actual rent-a-car company was Buchbinder. The Buchbinder franchisee in Budapest is apparently the same as the franchisee in Vienna as all of my customer service conversation was with Vienna.

On July 9, 2013, Car Partner charged my MasterCard $61.51 as a deposit. On July 17, 2013, I picked up the car. The Check-out process was tedious as there were many, many scratches and blemishes on the car. I went around with the agent and we had to decide which scratches and blemishes warranted notation on the checkout form. We did not include blemishes and small scratches. I returned the car as agreed three weeks later and there were no additional scratches on it. Buchbinder completed and signed the check-in sheet indicating no additional damage.

A short time later while waiting for the credit card transaction, Buchbinder told me that there was a new scratch on the car. I went out to look at it, and it was the same scratch that we documented at checkout. The Buchbinder agent called out the mechanic to see it and, speaking Hungarian, he could not agree with her that the scratch was new. The mechanic did not know that my wife understands Hungarian (we were speaking English).

The agent was insistent that this was a new scratch. As my wife told me what the mechanic said, I became concerned that this was part of a scam and that we may be in physical danger. Corruption is widespread in Budapest (http://www.budapesttimes.hu/2013/07/13/stench-of-corruption-just-gets-worse/ ). I then signed their demand and quickly departed. Shortly thereafter I did some research on the web and found on the UK Trip Advisor site that Buchbinder Vienna/Budapest customer after customer reported the same scam.

The fee of my three week rental was € 415.59 ($556.91). The cost they charged me for an alleged one inch preexisting scratch behind the rear wheel is € 430.53 including tax ($576.65), more than the fee for renting the car for three weeks!

Two disputes were filed with my credit card company, regarding this rental. The first dispute was that I was not given credit for the $61.51 deposit. The credit card company removed the charge from my account and it was not disputed by Car Partner/Buchbinder. The second dispute was over the scratch that they allege I did.

Again, Car Partner/Buchbinder’s response to the credit card company was to show the language of the contract that holds me responsible for damage that I do to the car. This was unresponsive to the credit card company's inquiry. I was not disputing that that I would be responsible for damage caused to the car. I was disputing their allegation that I damaged the car.

Car Partner/Buchbinder claims that since I signed the check-in sheet and the credit card slip, that that is an admission that I caused and therefore am responsible for the damage. This is absolutely false. I signed the check-in sheet to stop the clock and to stop further responsibility for the car. The form even says: "If check in is not signed by customer and BUCHBINDER , I will be held liable for all new damages." I signed the credit card slip because I felt in danger in a corrupt country.

I saw that in Car Partner/Buchbinder’s response to my credit card company that they had since altered the Check-in sheet. The English handwriting was not on the form when I signed it as was plainly evident in the Closed Agreement that I submitted to the credit card company. In other words, they tried to add comments to the check-in sheet after the fact in order to try to make their case.

I believe that part of the scam is to rent out cars with dozens of scratches so as to create confusion when the car returns. The Car Partner/Buchbinder agent told me not to worry about the scratch because the credit card insurance would cover it. It is a clever scam.

Buchbinder was paid in full. But I did file a claim with MasterRental. They agreed with my assessment, but Buchbinder would not cooperate with them. It was easier for them just to pay it off. But the insurance did not pay the VAT tax on the damage claim which was $123. The credit card company refused to credit may account. So I told the credit card company that I was canceling their card on which I charge over $30,000 per year. They then decided to credit the $123 to my account. So the experience did not cost me anything except time and frustration, but Buchbinder made $576, more than the cost of renting the car for three weeks. They got away with the scam - AGAIN!

Trip Advisor has several topics on Buchbinder, especially in Austria and Hungary. If you even think about renting a car from Buchbinder, make sure that you read these posts as my story has been told over and over again.

I rented from Buchbinder because they are a concessionaire of the Army/Air Force Exchange System at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. I felt that Buchbinder must have been vetted by AAFES. But when I contacted Buchbinder at Ramstein Air Base, they could care less about my problem. So I particularly caution my fellow service members to stay away from Buchbinder. When I am at Ramstein, I rent from Dietmar Grass, the Hertz concessionaire. He is a very honest person.

Budapest, Hungary
Destination Expert
for Budapest, Hungary
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1. Re: Do not use Buchbinder, Budapest

A web search for Buchbinder would have warned you - there are plenty of posts, not just on TA - about them.

Frankly it is very hard to trust any car hire company - this is the motor trade after all ! - I always advise against using Budget in Hungary. The lesson is to check the exterior of the car VERY carefully before you drive off - and report back to the desk any scratches you find which are not already mentioned on your hire document.

Haverford...
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2. Re: Do not use Buchbinder, Budapest

In this case, the car WAS checked very carefully. The scratch was documented on the check-out sheet. The car company maintained that the scratch was not the same scratch documented on the check-out sheet even though there was only one scratch in that area. This is a scam, pure and simple and they were going to get their $500 no matter what the facts are.

nyc, usa
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for Budapest
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3. Re: Do not use Buchbinder, Budapest

Perhaps the most important thing to take away from roman citizen's observation is that it does not really make sense to open a new thread here when there are ample horror stories already documented (as you note) both in the Hungary forum and elsewhere. Notably:

tripadvisor.com/…51563350

I'm not suggesting that your experience is not useful and instructive, especially the part that amounts to a primer for how to pursue a claim such as this to ultimate success across a range of remedial strategies. Rather that it belongs as an addition to one or more of the existing threads, which come up immediately when one searches for Buchbinder. By this time anyone who reads this forum regularly is not surprised by what you write -- it's in the "Dog Bites Man" headline department. But starting a new thread does not move it any more assertively to the top of the forum than does adding to an old one; and it does not make it come up more prominently in a forum search once the comment starts to age.

What it does do is force those searching at a later dater to shuttle back and forth among multiple threads when all of the information they seek could be in one or two places.

Haverford...
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4. Re: Do not use Buchbinder, Budapest

I am 60 years old. I have just learned how to use a computer. This was my first attempt to use this forum. Frankly, I am surprised that I was able to do it. Thanks for your suggestion for the future.

nyc, usa
Destination Expert
for Budapest
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5. Re: Do not use Buchbinder, Budapest

More power (and posting) to you!

Chicago, Illinois
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6. Re: Do not use Buchbinder, Budapest

Uh- Rah Michael K

Thanks for posting and you have done nothing inappropriate or breached any form of etiquette any member can add to a thread or chose to start their own at any time as they see fit.

I also think it is a good idea to spread word around Ramstein not everyone is as knowledgeable of such scams especially the younger guys who really cant afford to take the hit on their military salaries, especially if the are raising a young family.

Buchbinder will change their attitude as more and more start to rent from off base companies you no that's an affirmative.

Thanks again for sharing your experience

SEBESZ

Haverford...
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7. Re: Do not use Buchbinder, Budapest

Thank you SEBESZ. I reported my experience to AAFES and did not receive a reply. Yes, Buchbinder Budapest is not an AAFES concessionaire, but I really had expected Buchbinder on Ramstein to get involved. I am sure that younger service members would not have had the time, expertise, or know-how that this 24-year veteran has and they would have been out of pocket a large percentage of their pay. That is one reason why I have made this posting. If you are on base, stop in and ask Buchbinder about this. Perhaps I will see their response posted here.

Chicago, Illinois
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8. Re: Do not use Buchbinder, Budapest

Copy That Michael K

It has been a few years since my DD214 so dont get back in house often but as I say am sure your input will be of value to many.

Your a prime example that sometimes its better when the old dogs teach the new dogs old tricks.

Way to stand up and not let anyone treat you like a FNG

Best

SEBESZ

Malaga, Spain
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1 post
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9. Re: Do not use Buchbinder, Budapest

This seems to be Buchbinder company wide scam strategy. It happened to me in Munich. I rented a car from Buchbinder Munich airport.

I had a same experience with a scratch. Even if I did have full coverage insurance, Buchbinder still deducted a whooping 200 Euro from my 300 Euro deposit. I had no time to get back to Munich to find out why they would they charge me.

To me it looks like a very clever, organized crime (but I have no evidence to prove it). What they do is beside that you pay your full rent in advance, they will still take a Deposit (300 Euro). Now, since that money is already approved at your Credit Card company no additional approval is required. Since all of the charges happen after the customer has departed, they are pretty sure not to have issues with it. Finally, I am walking a thin line here, they deduct money for some scrach, that never gets actually fixed, and that is the way they pocket the money.

Dublin, Ireland
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for Austria
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10. Re: Do not use Buchbinder, Budapest

there is a simple answer to this sort of thing. take out the scdw which they offer! ny around 8€ per day. that way you will never have to pay for damage caused, real or implied.