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Avoid Tony's Car Hire, Jo'burg

New Mexico
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Avoid Tony's Car Hire, Jo'burg

In June 2014 we decided to rent a car from Tony’s Car Hire in Kempton Park, South Africa, a suburb of Jo'burg. Before arriving in Johannesburg we communicated with this business via e-mail which did not always flow smoothly but we persevered. When we picked up the car the employee with whom we dealt was not able to confirm that our credit card company had approved the necessary payment. As a consequence before we could leave with the car, Tony’s employee insisted that we leave a security deposit of $1000 with them. This was arranged without too much trouble. When we called our credit card company the next day they informed us that they had indeed approved the charge the day before. But that assurance came too late since Tony’s already had our $1000.

Upon returning the car two weeks later we were told that the walk around inspection done by several employees and Tony himself revealed only “normal wear and tear”. The implication was that there would be no additional charges since there was no damage to the vehicle. We were reassured that they would promptly return the $1000 deposit to our bank in the US.

Imagine our unhappy surprise when 7 weeks later, after numerous requests from us, the amount of the deposit that was finally returned to us was only $750. When we asked why all our deposit was not returned we were informed that they had had to repair damage to the car’s left front fender and wheel. We were doubly surprised because this damage was not “discovered” until after we had already relinquished possession of the vehicle to the employees of this business. We will always be left with the suspicion that this damage was caused by those employees after we left the car with them. We have communicated our dismay to Tony but have received no reply nor the remainder of our deposit.

What mistakes did we make? The biggest ones were trusting this business with $1000 of our money. And we should have asked for a document verifying that we had returned the car in good condition before we relinquished possession of it. If we had rented the car with a credit card as a security deposit we then could have used the document verifying the good condition of the returned car to contest any charges made for damage after we left the car with them.

I would caution other travelers not to rent cars from Tony’s Car Hire. Our transactions with this business were the worst experience we have had in 10 weeks of travel in sub-Saharan Africa. And do not rent a car with any security deposit other than your credit card. Under no circumstances let your impatience or trust in your fellow human beings or clouded judgement due to jet lag cause you to leave a deposit in cash. Finally, always get a document that verifies the condition of the vehicle you have returned.

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Kempton Park
Kempton Park
Greater Johannesburg, South Africa
Atlanta
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912 posts
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1. Re: Avoid Tony's Car Hire, Jo'burg

I always take the extra time to get a print out of our "finalized" receipt that shows they have accepted the vehicle back, documented it's "good", undamaged condition, and charged us X amount. This way, if they do try to charge me for damage, I can send a copy of the "release" to the credit card company.

Recently, we returned a car to Avis at JNB. We were departing home to USA and our South African companion, whose cell # was listed on our contract, was staying in Joburg for another day. Apparently, Avis called him the day after drop off and said that there was damage and Avis would have to charge us for it. Our friend said, "Oh, well, when I come to the airport tomorrow to fly out, I'll come by and investigate the damage and settle the bill." Of course, Avis called back 10 minutes later to say they'd made a mistake. Harumph!

If they'd charged us, I would've contacted Amex and disputed the charge with the receipt they gave me. Not sure how it would've gone, but I feel that I would've had a fighting chance.

Queensland...
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2. Re: Avoid Tony's Car Hire, Jo'burg

It's incidents like these that leave a sour taste with the overseas visitor. They arrive full of goodwill, fel good they have done a fair deal with a smaller operator and then it goes wrong. 2nd post relates a bad experience with Avis at JNB airport. It seems malpractice in this industry is growing and i expect it will continue. sigh.

Some suggestions. If hiring from a small operator use cash only. eg. You book car for 7 days at R400/day unlimited milage. Collect and inspect car with owner and sign a condition report. Start the car and with him drive around the block as he shows you what switch is what. Check tank is FULL! Test brakes as well. Get out car and with him inside check indicators, brake lights etc. Then pay him/her full amount and drive away. If carrying lots of cash don't do deals with people in dodgy ares of the city. The business should also have a landline, not just a cell phone.

Return car on due date, show him the fuel gauge and petrol receipt, walk around car together, shake hands and walk away. He may not want to sign a receipt but so what, it's a cash deal.

With a large rental company you'll have to use credit card. Email a list of specific queries to yr preferrred company. Print and keep their replies and show staff member when you collect the car. Do the inspection together and add any missed items by hand and get staff member to initial it. In all yr correspondence use email address of smae staff member to improve accountability factor.

BIG advantage when hiring from a small branch of a large company as i did in Nelspruit, is that there is only one employee. Every email, phone conversation was with same fellow. He was there when i collected the car etc. I did dump car covered in dust 800km away in Durban but no zero probs. Final invoice came through about 48 hrs after handing car back.

Edited: 05 September 2014, 09:18
Queensland...
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3. Re: Avoid Tony's Car Hire, Jo'burg

Biggest concern with hiring car from small operator is determining what insurance cover exists for you, the car and 3rd parties in the event of an accident. Crucial info and get it in writing.

South Africa
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4. Re: Avoid Tony's Car Hire, Jo'burg

Take pictures of the car, so you can prove there was no damage and always keep fhe last petrol slip!

5. Re: Avoid Tony's Car Hire, Jo'burg

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