My Bad Rental Car Luck In The Seychelles

Filed Under: Rental Cars, Travel

There are many areas in life where I feel like I’m really lucky, and end up having fewer problems than others do. Then there are areas where I feel like I consistently have problems when others don’t. Specifically, I’m talking about rental cars and taxis.

That’s one reason I generally avoid car rentals and taxis whenever possible. Uber has its fair share of problems, but the great thing about Uber is that when you have an issue, it’s resolved quickly. Similarly, I don’t want to put all rental car companies in the same boat. For example, I’ve had nothing but good experiences with Silvercar.

We’re in the Seychelles at the moment, and I had made a reservation with Avis for our rental. This was my first time renting from one of the “big guys” in nearly a year (the last time was in the Azores). I simply avoid renting cars whenever possible.

I was convinced this would be a good experience and I’d have no issues. We passed through immigration and the Avis counter was one of the first things I saw. “This is going to be so easy,” I thought to myself. The counter even specifically had an “open” sign. But there was no one there.

So we waited for a good 10 minutes, figuring maybe the person was on a bathroom break. There were several phone numbers posted on a handwritten note hanging from the side of the counter, so we called all of them. Repeatedly. No one picked up.

The guy working for Eden’s Car Rental at the counter over saw us struggling, and said the Avis person wasn’t in today. When he learned we had a reservation, he got on the phone as well to try and reach them, and couldn’t get through.

“We try harder.” Really Avis?

We went over to the Hertz and Thrifty counters, and they didn’t have any cars. So the guy from Eden’s Car Rental who was trying to help us call said he had a car available.

The price was a bit higher than Avis, but at this point I felt like we had no option, so I agreed. He charged my credit card for the three day rental, and then charged the card for a deposit.

He then took us out to the car. Holy cow. Did it just get t-boned on both sides in the parking lot? Ford and I looked at one another, and the guy started filling out that little form with the picture of the car where they mark any damage, so that you agree on the condition in which the car was received. He basically looked like a kid with a coloring book, because he colored in the whole thing.

He then turned on the car and said “the car has no gas, so just go across the street and fill up.” We turned on the engine and sat there for a second, and noticed all the warning lights were on. All of them. “This is how it always is,” he said. I drove the car a few feet, and realized I wasn’t comfortable driving it, as the handling was as bad as everything else.

I’m usually far too passive about this stuff, though I decided I didn’t feel comfortable driving this car. After a minute we headed back to the counter, and explained we wouldn’t be taking the car. He gave us a badly damaged car with no gas and all the warning lights on. He was angry that we were returning it.

He took my credit cards once again, and voided the authorization on the card, though said that he couldn’t refund me, but rather would have to “go to the bank” tomorrow to issue the refund. I’ll be curious to see if that happens…

At that point we just took a taxi to our hotel, as I figured we had annoyed the rental car Gods sufficiently for the day…

What should I have done differently here? Generally I’d hope that the big car rental companies are at lest consistent enough to have their counters open at advertised times, but I guess even that isn’t the case?

  1. You should have obviously rang Avis customer service in your home country and asked them what to do.

  2. Avis has had that slogan “we try harder” for about a thousand years.

    I remember from the 1980s they were so notoriously poor (and also always seemed to pump up the bill at the end of the rental) that we decided the slogan must in fact be short for:
    “Avis: we try it on harder”

    Still, good to see the corporate culture has remained consistent over the intervening decades.

  3. Got to Munich 3 weeks ago and went to pick up my Avis rental, which I had rented back in October with Avios.

    Spent 2 hours at counter and about 30 minutes for 5 straight days on the phone trying to resolve the issue of why did the voucher for my car not show up in the computer which made me ending up having to pay for the 11 day rental.

    Seems that about 3 months ago I inserted my Avis Preferred number into the rental….. which then removes the voucher showing I had paid 99750 Avios for the car already. Supposedly they have had this happen before, and know about the problem, but haven’t don’t anything to remedy the glitch.

    BA Avios dept is now working to reimburse me for the car.

  4. Well, the Seychelles might not be on the African continent, but it’s still Africa, even if it’s more peaceful and safer, and certainly more beautiful.

    You should never have agreed to pay for the car before actually seeing it.

    Traveling in Africa is an adventure, and you cannot be too wary. If someone can trick you, they will. Do you think the Eden guy was sincere when telling you that the Avis guy wasn’t going to be there all day? Maybe he was on a lunch break or similar, and the Eden guy just saw a good opportunity to make a sale?

    I hope you’ll enjoy the Seychelles nevertheless. For transportation, I suggest you take taxis. Always agree on all prices beforehand, and never pay anything before you’re actually at your destination.

  5. I say: Go to google reviews and leave them a review that is similar to the condition of the car..
    I suppose certain things are really out of one’s control, I still have 5 rental cars booked for this year.. FINGERS CROSSED!!

  6. I never rent a car internationally without fully investigating the company online first. Also, I’ve learned you simply cannot trust that because they have a big name like Avis that they are any better than the little guys. Often, companies like Avis just sell their name to these international spots with no regard for brand standards. In your situation, I would have just gone to the hotel and tried to reach Avis later.

  7. That’s strange. I’ve rented from Eden’s before and was given a brand new Audi A4 as a free upgrade, literally only had 2000 km on it. Did you ask to speak to Eden?

  8. First off, my wife and I absolutely loved the Seychelles when we visited in November, so I hope and trust you’ll enjoy your time. Some of the most magnificent beaches we have ever seen, and definitely a unique treat when compared to other island destinations.

    We opted not to rent on Mahe (were pretty much just captive to the Northolme, and THRILLED about it), but used a small, private company on Praslin. They met us at the ferry terminal, delivered a nice, small, clean car, and everything was handled professionally. I couldn’t believe how painless it was, despite the ~$70 price tag for one day. We loved cruising around the island, and felt like we won with our choice of company.

    One more thing… if you spend any time on Praslin, I cannot recommend highly enough that you pay a visit to Les Rochers restaurant for an evening of drinks and then dinner. My wife and I regard that as one of our top ten dining experiences of our lives, and the hospitality, food, and environment were astounding.


  9. LOL, Avis. What a joke. Although I suspect you simply got them at a bad time (e.g., they only have two or three employees, and all of them were out sick).

    Avis really cheesed me off recently when they sent me a bill for cleaning dirty seats. I replied with the photos I took of the stains before driving off the rental lot, and asked them to please cancel my Avis Preferred Plus membership because I would no longer do business with a company that tries to defraud me.

    They rescinded their bill within hours.

  10. I believe I would be on the horn with the “Powers that Be” at Avis and demand they compensate you for the taxi cost you incurred because of their “lack of being open” even though you had a reservation.

  11. Avis is, in my mind, the worst of the majors.

    I rank the majors as follows:
    1-National/Hertz (tie)

    The only reasons to choose any of the others would be price or availability. I stopped renting with Avis when I stopped working for a company that required me to rent from Avis.

  12. Although in this case, the Eden’s guy probably is the Avis guy too and he just tried to scam you.

  13. We did Avis in Seychelles when we were there last October. We also ran into the issue of the rental car guy not being at the airport. The difference was we were dropping it off. This was at the end of our trip since we flew to Praslin the first day. So at this point we had a feeling how things worked (small, island country so everything was slow and sort of made up as you go). We called the guy who dropped the car off at our hotel. He called the guy who was working and was now on his way to the airport. In the end I think another attendant from another company took our keys (which our contact say was okay) because we needed to make our flight. It all worked out. Luckily we got a nice enough car and an automatic. The car we rented in Praslin was a friend’s of the guy who we rented an AirBnB from. After getting it stalled on a hill (I don’t know how to drive stick very well) I backed it into a very deep gutter. Thats because I was about the cliff on the other side.

  14. I do sense through your report that unfortunately you were scamed! They thought two mousey white boys would be an easy victim. Sorry for what happened but it was the right decision to return it. Have you kept it you would be in a far more worst situation.
    No man at the counter and nobody answering any phone calls..suddenly the competing company has a car free which is more of a joke than a proper were definitely scamed!

  15. I rented cars with Avis for work every week for 5 years. If I ever had a problem I called Avis reservations 800 number.

  16. On the other end, I rented a car from Hertz in Germany and Budget in Slovakia without a physical copy of my driving license… go figure…

  17. @Myles in the Seychelles they really do not need to scam tourists… for once, they are pretty well off; and then, they entirely rely on tourism so that would be quite foolish

  18. @Roberto C.

    Hi nice meeting you here! Like reading your own travel reports. Keep the good work!

    Hopefully your right. But don’t you think it is a bit odd what happened at the Avis counter. And the experience with this Eden company? If they really take their tourists seriously they won try that foul rent with Lucky…but for the sake of goodwill I hope it is only a bad coincidence..

  19. Ben I don’t have especially bad luck with hire cars but still hate everything about them and avoid them wherever I can – the reasons are on are already on my list of topics to write about!

  20. ? I would only call this a terrible experience when you will get in trouble with your refund from that company or receive some extra charges. This is why you rent from big companies with which you have a status so you have someone to complain to if needed. Last Fall I spent almost 30 min in VCE airport arguing with Hertz Gold Plus booth to remove fuel surcharges upon rental (they refused initially) and then marking all the damage… I was also advised to keep the car overnight and return car in the morning so it could be inspected properly.
    From the other hand, I also rented a junk car from a booth in a shopping mall in Langawi, Malaysia. That was Malaysia-built proton with bumper falling apart and not working windows. Typically, such cars come without gas. Drove for a day around the island and returned with no problem. It was impossible to do more damage to such a car!

  21. @Mallthus that was my thought too. This situation smells like a scam. The Avis and Eden guys are either the same guy or are working together.

  22. It’s important to remember that multinational companies like Avis operate as independent companies in each country in which they serve. Yes, they’re still owned by Avis in the US, and SHOULD live up to the same standards, but in small remote countries in Africa, you have to expect that won’t be true.

  23. Eden? Never heard of it. Would have been my first red flag.

    Also wish you took a picture of the junker!

  24. Like others, I do everything possible to avoid car rental. In both the US and abroad, I try to rent outside of major airports just to avoid airport rental car taxes. I take an Uber to wherever I’m staying and then rent from the closest car place.

    In your situation, I might have pursued the Avis problem a bit further by phoning any numbers available on the web or reservation. I probably would not have accepted the damaged car from the other company and just taken a taxi to the Hotel and then pursue Avis remedies later on. In a somewhat similar situation in the States I once showed up at Dollar and they had run out of cars with no prospects of one coming in for several hours so they paid for my taxi to the hotel and brought by my car several hours later. I was impressed.

  25. Please ladies and not make it more embarassing to @Lucky! We have a certain picture in our mind how he hovers around in luxury..seeing him in a dump of a what? Lada or Dacha..No thanks! is like some others here flying First class for the first time and look so lost and fragile because of the serenity, abundant space, attentive service…

  26. @ Lucky
    Eventhough I am being cheeky momentarily could you pls. post the next flight installment as earliest as you can. Either AA from GRU – LAX or SEZ to USA..thanks!

  27. Rip off seems to be unrestrained by rental companies outside of the US. Had a 5-day rental at YVR with Hertz recently over the Easter holiday – and God did they pump up the charges! A $51/day car became $385 total charges:

    DAYS/JOUR(S) 5 @ 51.00 255.00
    PVRT 7.50
    GST/TPS 5.00% 17.22

    What’s the $25 CUSTOMER FACILITY CHARGE? the $50.14 CONCESSION PASS THRU FEE? the $5.00 AIR CONDITION RECOVERY FEE? All which were not mentioned when I first booked as the estimate was $329 including taxes and fees. Will dispute the charges with the CC but what else can I do and how much time should I waste on fighting these overcharges? This seems to be worse than the “resort fee” scam in Vegas and elsewhere.

  28. I’m the opposite of many here. If I’m in a country long enough I prefer a car rental as you get to see the small towns where trains don’t stop. The cars have been in good condition and no one has tried to rip me off. I’ve had the chance to scare myself driving on the wrong side of the road in Japan, driving a car in Evora in the historical center wondering if the car is going to fit in between the walls of very narrow streets, and visited beautiful small towns that don’t get many foreigners. I haven’t visited Seychelles yet it’s on my to-do list for 2019.

  29. @ Lucky

    Alright, I do not know where you are right now…between flights up in the air or rolling around comfy beds during transits or rolling over Ford…
    By the way greetings to Ford!..

  30. Lucky grab the number online from Scenic car rental. We used them and they’re great. They’ll bring a car to your hotel. Totally trust them.

  31. I often book with two or even three of the bigger names and then cancel what I don’t need/use. Have Hertz PC and National EE so they generally take good care of me.

  32. Rented from Thrifty back in March from BDL to visit family. I drove maybe 50 miles. Just received notice from Thrifty that I owe $36.00 for using the toll pass in NYC. I returned the car at noon on a Wednesday and one toll charge was for Wednesday at 12:30 pm. I called and they are “looking into” how I could be in NYC after I returned the car.

  33. I rented from Eden and it was fine. Didn’t give me a beater, but rather a decent quality fuchsia ford fiesta. There didn’t appear to be any consistency as to which rental agencies were staffed. I tried to price compare among the ones that were open and they were all roughly the same. Eden ended up charging me as I had agreed to at the counter. I think the gas tank was near empty as well but don’t fully remember. I think the rental guy or I had to take it to the gas station across the street right when I received it.

  34. I rent cars almost every week for work almost every week internationally.

    Trust me when I say that SIXT is by far the best out there. Having haf the pleasure with all of them, it is an easy judgement.
    Compentent employees, highly specd and looked after cars (never older than 25000km). After 50+ rentals with them, I have never waited longer than 10mins to get my keys.

  35. He probably gave you his personal car and then would take the real rental car home with him for a couple days 🙂

  36. Wait..Hold up. I LOVE that you actually sat in the car and started it. I can’t believe you think thats ok. What is it about people these days that think everyone outside the US are mother Teresa’s?

    I hope you get your money back!

  37. Did this really happen? Funny story, so I enjoyed the humor. Certainly sparks comments. Seems too unbelievable…all the warning lights lit up . But like the dark humor

  38. When we arrived in the Seychelles 7 years ago, Hertz didn’t have our reservation since apparently it can take “months” for them to receive reservations internationally. The good thing is we had it printed out and they had a car available – a mid-sized SUV. It had a bunch of issues so we were able to trade down to a smaller car that they had. This turned out to be a lucky thing as you’ve probably noticed the roads are bit narrow there!

    Since then, when traveling to more unique locations, we’ll make reservations at more than one agency so we have options and hope that at least one of them received our reservation through those long tubes of the internet.

    Although it is a tropical island, it still is Africa.

  39. In this day and age, why do they even bother still sketching damage on paper? It causes me undue anxiety. I would have thought photos in and out would be better?

  40. I think either this Eden guy was In on it or Avis in Seychelles is stuffed I also think it’s not Avis fault that it was bad but more that you were in the Seychelles as still technically part of Africa and could potentially be sketchy.Probably not the best place to try rent car after you haven’t done it for a year

  41. @lucky

    Just rented from the same Avis counter back in November. The guy who works there is named Jay. Real friendly dude and if I can read the number correctly from my rental form he can be reached at 2482833447.

    Just a forewarning, but I thought the driving on the island was a little crazy. The roads were very narrow, roundabouts were confusing, and the left side of the road just isn’t for me. Ended up parking my car at the ferry and hitting a different island. Good luck with whatever you decide.

  42. I am an Avis Preferred. In general I like the brand a lot. However, it seems that in some countries, they sell the franchise to local thugs.
    I had some experiences in Thailand with AVIS. What’s going on there has nothing to do at all with AVIS.
    It start with a 30 minute wait until a shuttle turns up. No recognition of AVIS Preferred status at all. You have to check your car and account for every scratch, otherwise you’ll be in trouble upon return.
    It looks very much to me that AVIS doesn’t care about their brand in certain jurisdictions.

  43. As a general comment ,many British people use UK based consolidators to rent cars around the world.
    I use Indigo Car Hire , a popular consolidator.
    They have contracts with large companies like Avis,Budget and Enterprise ,as well as small local companies which they evaluate and check on regularly. I have rented cars through them in UK,Cyprus,Thailand,Belgium,USA and Turkey and never any problems. I always check prices and if they book me with Avis, they are always cheaper than me booking directly with Avis. Indigo get group consolidator discounts and special offers from time to time like free extra driver . Companies like Avis get a lot of business from consolidators ,so I believe they respond to problems quickly . Renting cars outside USA is quite different to inside USA , so be aware if it is your first time.

  44. Around 3 years ago, when I attempted to pick up my car in Mahe (I believe it was Avis) they didn’t have a magnetic card swipe – just the old manual slide type that takes an imprint of your card. The attendant didnt know what to do with my Sapphire card, which , of course, doesnt have raised numbers! I really needed the insurance that comes with that card, so I opted to instead take a taxi to the hotel and nix the car rental. A wise choice as driving can be treacherous there with the narrow roads, hairpin turns, and cliffs with no guardrails!

  45. @Lucky, I was actually in the Seychelles at the same time that you were, and I also made a reservation with Avis. The experience was terrible, as I was traveling with an infant (1-year old) and the “car seat” that they provided was in very poor condition. The tires were bald and the interior was a mess. The fuel gauge was just a hair over half full when I picked it up. I returned the car with the same amount of gas and the guy told me that it had 3/4 tank when I picked it up and tried to charge me for gas.

    Just wanted to know that you aren’t alone with these issues with Avis in Mahe!

  46. We rented a car in Rouen, France from Sixt and they hardly spoke any English. They didn’t have any copies of the rental agreement (how..?) and their copy machine wasn’t working so they pretty much just handed us the keys and we left without any paperwork. Weirdest rental experience ever.

  47. All of the rental agencies in Seychelles are franchise, not corporate owned. I was there earlier this year in a similar situation on a Dollar rental. My flight got in an hour late and the guy had already gone home. Calling various numbers on the signs with the help of the airport information desk did eventually find him and he came back to the airport. The booths are only staffed around major flight arrival and departure times, and with confirmed rentals, so don’t expect to turn up and find something.

    Mahe is a huge island, buses are infrequent outside of morning and afternoon commute times for locals, and taxis are pricey, so a car is the option for people looking to explore widely.

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