So, I rented a car from Dan Dooley…

The name should have raised a red flag. Kind of like how AirTran’s name bares a striking resemblance to the public transportation available between Kennedy Airport and Jamaica (Queens, not the one in the Caribbean).

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m spending six days in Ireland right now. The first three were spent in Dublin at the Four Seasons, and for that we didn’t have a car, since we figured it would be easier to just get a cab when necessary. And that all worked out very well.

We didn’t actually finalize the last three days of the trip until last night, since we wanted the flexibility to go where we wanted based on feedback we got from locals.

So late last night I tried to finally book a car. I had researched this weeks ago and read that in Ireland only Dooley’s and Payless will rent cars to those under 25 (even with the hefty underage surcharges). The rest of the agencies won’t rent cars to those under 25 at any cost.

So late last night I went to Dooley’s website to make a booking. It wasn’t cheap at all, about 80 Euros per day including a navigation system and the underage fee. But it’s not like I had a choice, since we needed a car in order to see anything outside of Dublin.

I made the booking, thinking that when I hit “Confirm” the booking would be confirmed. Instead I get a message saying that my request for a car is confirmed, and I’ll be notified by email within 24 hours if they have availability. Hmmm, fine, whatever. I would’ve preferred a bit more disclosure, especially since I had made a non-refundable credit card deposit and the rental was 12 hours after I put the request in, but it wasn’t a big deal.

At around 8AM the request was confirmed, which was fine for a noon pick-up.

We go to the airport to the car rental counter, and this is where the fun begins.

Dooley’s and Payless share a counter at Dublin Airport. The two girls working the desk seemed to be best friends. The one working the Dooley’s side of the desk had the personality of a rock (I’m probably being generous here). Meanwhile, the girl working the Payless side of the desk had on a Catholic schoolgirl Halloween costume, and acted the part too (again, I’m trying to be as politically correct as I can here, and I’m struggling).

I presented my drivers license and a credit card, and she typed away for a few minutes without saying a word. Here’s a video of that:

Or something like that.

After about five minutes she gets on the phone to tell someone at the car center to put a GPS in our car. After hanging up she calls back right away and says “wait, make sure you don’t give them the nice car since they’re under 25.” Gee, thanks for saying that right in front of us.

She then types. And types. And types. For literally 20 minutes without saying a word to us. Then she makes another phone call to verify that our rate was correct, because it “seemed too low” to her. Mind you, we’re paying 80 Euros per day. Seriously?

After standing at the counter for over 30 minutes we finally had the receipt, and were directed to go to the shuttle center to pick up our car. We’re told a Dan Dooley bus should appear within a few minutes.

We stand there and wait. And wait. And wait. Out of boredom after 20 minutes I decided to start snapping a picture of every Dollar/Thrifty shuttle that stopped at the station. Yes, I counted seven, and I only started counting after 20 minutes.

At that point I went back inside to ask my two favorite schoolgirls when I could expect the shuttle to arrive. Unfortunately there was a bit of a queue, as one of the airport workers was trying to hit on them, though eventually they acted surprised and said they’d call, so I went back outside.

After only Lord-kn0ws-how-long, the Dan Dooley bus shows up. We get in the shuttle, which was about ten times older than any of the other shuttles, and sit there and wait. It’s not like they had any other customers, though we sat there as the shuttle bus driver was talking to a friend, where every second word was “f*&k.” Nice.

Then we drive to the lot. The shuttle bus was playing Britney Spears music. “Oops I did it again,” to be exact. The song would’ve been nice enough if it was actually sung by Britney Spears, but instead it was some weird version by a guy that couldn’t sing. Oy. At this point I’m feeling like I’m in the Twilight zone.

Then we get to the lot, only to find the car isn’t ready. After waiting another 15 minutes the car is finally ready. It was apparently being “washed,” which translates to them hosing it down.

Not surprisingly it’s an old, beat up Ford Mondeo. It had 60,000 km on it. For rental cars, miles/km are like dog years, given how carelessly people drive them. I don’t think I’ve ever driven a rental car with 60,000 km on it. Not surprisingly it was in horrible condition too. The stick was stickier than the syrup dispenser at IHOP.

While I have no problem driving stick, driving on the left side of the road can take some getting used to. What took even more getting used to was that the car started vibrating when I went over 80km/h, and also that in order to keep the car straight I had to tilt the steering wheel about ten degrees to the left.

Worst of all is that when we made it to our destination I noticed that the gas tank was only half full, while the papers claimed we left on a full tank of gas. There’s no way we burned that much on a 30 minute drive.

Ireland, you’re a beautiful country, but I doubt I’ll be exploring your hills and valleys again till I’m 25. And Dan Dooley, whoever you are, you suck.

Filed Under: Travel
  1. LOL. That truly sucks. Man I didn’t realize you still are not even 25 – a wee nipper! But a classic Little Britain sketch there, glad you enjoy our zany British humor

  2. 80 Euros a day for a car with the equivalent of 40000 miles… with what sounds like an alignment problem (turning the steering wheel to the left to make the car go straight) and unbalanced tires (car vibrating at 80 kph). It sounds like the car had previously been in a big accident or something- a car with 40 K miles on the clock shouldn’t have that sort of damage…

    I’d say if you can, return it and ask for something else or rent from someone else or get a refund.

  3. I want some pictures of this sweet ride. I bet you’ll have your guard up when you return this beast. Sounds like a company that will try to extract some more Euro from you for ‘damages’.

  4. I rented from Dan Dooley a couple of summers ago. Car was a little older with some more miles on it, but it ran fine, and the service was good at both airports (one-way rental). I’d recommend them to another if asked.

  5. That sounds like the worst car rental experience. EVER. Even compared to the Hertz at LAX. Too bad you didn’t get a shot of the girls šŸ˜‰

    Fortunately the only time I had to rent a car underage was to get from BDL near Hartford to New Haven for an interview. Enterprise seems to have a monopoly on the under-25 market, but at least their service and prices have always been pretty good IMO.

  6. We actually rented from them in Cork last month. Wound up turning our rental in 5 days early and they were great about giving us a fair credit for the return. Maybe courtesy is a West coast Ireland thing.

  7. I rented from them about 10 years ago when I was returning to the ol’ sod for a visit and they were the only ones who would offer an automatic albeit a a huge premium – I had no probs but other than at the pub the Irish concept of ‘service’ often leaves a lot to be desired

  8. This is awesome. You’ll look back one day and laugh (if you aren’t already). After reading so many of your trip reports where you arrange for the Mercedes car transfer etc., it’s refreshing to hear you encounter a real travel experience…in all seriousness, isn’t crazy stuff like this what makes it worthwhile to get up everyday and go to these amazing places? Love it.

  9. I am sorry to hear this. We just rented three cars from Dan Dooley and had no problems with the cars or their service. Of course, we were not under 25. We also did not have to take a shuttle bus, the car was in the parking lot.

    When you return the car, we finally found a gas station located at the exit to the airport. You then have to exit go to the roundabout and take the second exit. If you are going south, make sure that you pay the M50 toll within 24 hours as that can be a pricey ticket.

    Driving on the left was fairly easy to get used to – it was the narrow roads, especially the ones with rock walls on either side that was scary.

  10. Ben:
    Car rental in Dublin has always been a serious menace.
    Rest assured that smooth sailing is the outlier experience, though I admit yours seems a bit extra bad.

    But indifferent (at best) service, crazy charges, phantom damage, etc are all par for the course.

  11. I do hope you forward a link to this writeup to Dan Dooley. I would be good for them to learn the power of bloggers.

  12. Not great really. I ended up in a not-quite-so-bad-but-still-disappointing situation with Dollar/Thrifty in MUC City Center. As an under-25 I was given a Kia Sportage and told it was an upgrade from the BMW 3 series I booked. Sure, it’s bigger but it is a Korean POS. In any case, it appears that even the big chains in Europe are willing to screw over the young crowd.

  13. For once, I am able to say “Glad that was you and not me,” in preference to one of your posts

  14. that sucks – but agree with all the comments here about enjoying being under 25 šŸ™‚

  15. Lucky, sorry about your experience with the rental agency. That’s one thing I was really happy about when I turned 25… no underage charges! Hope you used Amex Plat to rent the car.

  16. BTW, heading to Ireland this weekend myself–going to the west coast. I’ll avoid Dan Dooley like the plague.

  17. Drama, much? You need to step out of the front cabin and four seasons’ a little more often. Why is this a post?

  18. @DD Customer – Nice try, Dan Dooley employee. Perhaps another moniker will be more believable next time.

  19. Don’t even get me started on Dan Dooley. I’m still smarting over last month’s $9/day rental that turned into a $600+ for one week bill. I’m a savvy traveler, I know about the Ireland/Israel/Jamaica insurance fees, manual vs automatic charges, additional driver fees, liability fees, etc. but Dan Dooley went above and beyond with add-on costs. I’ve used Avis in Ireland for the last decade & don’t know why I decided to try Dan Dooley. Lesson learned.

  20. @ Sousha57

    Troll much? You need to step out of the house a little more often. It’s his blog, he can post what he wants.

  21. Was the 80 euros all-in, or before insurance? If all-in, you actually did pretty well. We had a 5 day rental last year that was $120 or so — plus $500 insurance. Fortunately, we knew about it before we went.
    Not sure who we rented from, but I have a vague memory that it was Payless and that we went to the Dooley counter.
    In any event we had none of the problems you had. Our only issues where 1) the cost of insurance (which we knew about) and 2) that our “mid-size” car turned out to be a mid-size riding lawn mower with four doors. The trunk fit one (1) suitcase.
    Of course, when we were way out west on tiny lanes with no visibility I was glad we were in such a small car. But it was a shock — it would have been an economy car here.

  22. Welcome to Europe, as mentioned before, there is no such thing as cheap rentals, great hotel and mileage deals, freebees for siging up for whatever etc etc. In the USA you are spoilt in that area as the market is huge and referring to your rental adventure owning and driving a car is cheap compared to Europe (hence renting a car is similarly expensive). Having said this, it is by no means an excuse for poor customer service nor for below par rental equipment which might jeapordise your safety and that from others on the road (unless they have a tagline which says “rent a bomb”, in which case it was to be expected)

  23. After reading this post I think it actually has as much to say about Thrifty, Dollar, Budget, Hertz, Avis, etc. as it does about Dan Dooley. As pathetic as Dooley is they were one of only two companies that would even talk to Lucky about doing business. Why is that? Isn’t the market supposed to self-correct for oversights like this?

  24. “Dan Dooley, whoever you are, you suck” — CLASSIC!! šŸ™‚ I only wish Dan Dooley were a real person (is he?) and that I could see his face as he read that sentence! hehe

  25. “After hanging up she calls back right away and says ‘wait, make sure you donā€™t give them the nice car since theyā€™re under 25.'”

    Classic. Are these rental companies unclear on the concept that people under 25 eventually become older than 25 — who will remember how they were treated when they have to choose a company to rent from?

  26. Not sure if it applies outside the US, but Hertz has an under-25 program here for no additional charge. Maybe they partner w/ someone across the pond…

  27. “The stick was stickier than the syrup dispenser at IHOP.” Hilarious. Love it šŸ™‚

    That being said, I typically use Bus Eireann in Ireland ( to avoid driving – they serve pretty remote places, and are certainly more cost efficient than renting a car. Something to consider next time.

  28. Sorry to hear about the bad experience. Ive rented from Enterprise and Hertz before in Ireland while being U25. I don’t know if its a new policy or because I have an irish driving license but its never been a problem before. (though I’ve always had to pay the extra charge)

    I hope the rest of the trip works out ok. Its a shame that some experiences taint our country.

  29. i had similar experience with don dooley. i rented a car from6/8/12-6/14/12. when i rented the car, the lady on the counter told me they will hold 80 euro for gas, if gas tank is full when i return, it will be reimbursed. on 13th night i went out fill up the tank at the texaco near primier inn Dublin. when i checked my credit card statement 1 week later, they did not reimbursed me, i called to dan dooley, the lady said “it was only half full so no reimbursement for you”. i told her i had fill up the tank at the texaco and have credit card statement to prove it. lady said she will call me back after research it. she called me back about 5 hours later and said they had to fill 9 liters so i will be charged 15 euros plus 6 euros for sevice charge. i was so mad. i wanted to report to irish travel bureau.

  30. i had similar experience with don dooley. i rented a car from6/8/12-6/14/12. when i rented the car, the lady on the counter told me they will hold 80 euro for gas, if gas tank is full when i return, it will be reimbursed. on 13th night i went out fill up the tank at the texaco near primier inn Dublin( i had 0750 am flight next day)when i checked my credit card statement 1 week later, they did not reimbursed me, i called to dan dooley, the lady said ā€œit was only half full so no reimbursement for youā€. i told her i had fill up the tank at the texaco and have credit card statement to prove it. lady said she will call me back after research it. she called me back about 5 hours later and said they had to fill 9 liters so i will be charged 15 euros plus 6 euros for sevice charge.

  31. You’re lucky all you had was bad customer service. After a three-day rental last month, I’m disputing a fraudulent 1200-euro charge on my credit card left by Dan Dooley Group Claire (sic), which is in addition to the 75 euros they charged me for the car, 85 euros they charged me for the insurance, and 90 euros they charged me for the fuel.

  32. I’ve had a great experience so far. I too want to avoid Dublin’s streets where I’m staying and bring back the car four days early. My car was a fluenza and brand new cost me 240.00 CAD for 2 weeks plus 105.00 euros for gas. Very happy with everything so far. Girl at airport very nice and new shuttle with great friendly driver. So far so good – in two days I’ll find out what happens when I bring it back early šŸ™‚

  33. I rented from Dooley last April 2014 for 7 days. I paid for a full car insurance. We had a car accident the following day to the rental. We couldn’t continue driving because the front right wheel was hit and a little bit bend (that was the only damage in the car, of course having an accident 25 miles per hour). We requested a second car according to the insurance agreement and this is where the fun begins, not only I need to pay a non-optional full insurance for the second car but also a need to put my credit car for a refundable deposit of 2,000 euros in case of a second accident. I refused it. It was much cheaper rent a second car with Enterprise for the following 6 days. Better car and brake pedal working perfectly. Now I am requesting the 75 euros that we were charged upon arrival as refundable tank of fuel. Of course we returned the car with a full tank. Do I recommend Dooley to someone else? NO. Never again.

  34. Also beware if you lock your keys in the car – they hit you with a 150ā‚¬ ‘call out’ to send the AA out. Car too was well knackered.

  35. I have rented from Dan Dooley many many times over many years and have NEVER had a problem with them. They have always gone out of their way to give me good service and on the few occasions that there have been problems they have worked diligently to correct them. I recommend Dan Dooley every chance I get.

  36. I’ve been renting from Dan Dooley for over 20 years now, with nothing but great service and prices comparable to or lower than other companies. I don’t get the author’s reference to the name, but there is (maybe was by now) an actual Dan Dooley. My cousins tell me Mr. Dooley was still going into work daily in his mid-80’s. The company is well respected in Ireland.

    We have always gotten new vehicles and prompt and courteous shuttle and desk service. My first time renting I was involved in an accident the day I arrived. The Dooley staff argued with my credit card company over a $1,500 charge for nearly a year, finally succeeding in getting Visa to fulfill its obligation. This was NOT Dooley’s responsibility, it was rightly ours so we were most grateful to them.

    It would seem at least part of the problem here was the last minute rental. When you book only 12 hours before you need a car you’re taking your chances no matter what company you use.

    I recommend Dan Dooley to anyone, without reservation.

  37. I will never rent from Dan Dooley again. They promise no hidden extra charges in their quote and when you get the car delivered. They hit you up for another 100Euro or put a 1900 Euro hold on your credit card. Why not just put the total cost in the quote, then you could actually live up to your own promise of no hidden charges.

  38. i have used dan dooley in the past and had no problems and always had good cars and good service
    i did have a small dispute over fuel one time with the tank not being full when they delivered it so i asked the hotel manager to witness that it was only three parts full in front of the delivery man . when i returned it three parts full they tried to charge me to fill the tank when i told them the hotel manager was witness to this in front of their delivery man they dropped the charge . when you hire a car always check the fuel gauge before you drive it and always check for existing damage with the the delivery person or company rep .and take photos before you drive it of any existing damage etc and check the tyre tread to see if there is sufficient tread for your journey if you get booked for illegal tyres you will get fined along with the rental company if you think the tyres are not up to the journey then you must not accept the car . that goes for lights and brakes wipers etc being in full working order .remember you will get a fine for driving a faulty car saying to the officer it is a rental car is no excuse

  39. Hi, just a recent feedback on Dooley. We went in Ireland this month and everything was fine with Dooley. No bad surprises on unexpected fees. No wait at the counter (of the airport agency) and the lady was very nice (ok : bad luck because the creditcard did not take the hold for the insurance of 1400 euros but it was our fault so we choose another option taking the insurance at 140 euros for a hold of 250 euros).
    We did not wait either for the bus and pick up the car was very fast. No problem at the end of the trip, very nice and fast also.
    So, it may have change since your trip 2012 ! I recommend Dan Dooley (even for young drivers because it’s the only rental company which rent cars to young drivers : less than 5 years of driving).

  40. I rented from Dan Dooley last year, I also being under 25 did end up paying a large wack for the car as i booked one day in advance (they charged for 2 days for whatever reason)

    That said while it was expensive, when i got there the employee was very helpful and they upgraded me to a much larger/better car FOC.

    I did have to wait about 10 minutes for the shuttle bus but this isn’t especially unusual. I would recommend them to anyone that is under 25 as they are the only ones that would rent to that age group however i wouldnt use them again if i was over 25. Id stick to sixt platinum.

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