How AVIS tries harder
Greg's experiences in late 2005
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In November 2005 I decided to hire a car to drive from Milano to Firenze. As an AVIS “preferred” customer it wasn't difficult to get a reasonable price (€ 112.82). What happened then is a nightmare: the car was in terrible condition, the return locations (two of them) were closed, and the next thing I heard was that AVIS had deducted the sum of AUD 1,057.49 from my credit card, about € 675. Attempts to get them to refund the money or even explain the charges failed dismally. Here's an extract from my diary entries with some small additions and clarifications.

Wednesday, 30 November 2005

Carnate (Milano)

Spent much of the morning arranging forward travel plans: decided to go to Toscana tomorrow, and spent an inordinate amount of time negotiating broken car rental web sites, finally succeeding with Avis (after trying very hard).

On the way back [from other errands] decided to pick up the car today, saving the trouble of two return train journeys. I didn't want to bring all my baggage on the train, so I would have had to go back to Carnate anyway. It's good to be in control of my own movements. The pickup location, at the Milano Centrale railway station, took forever: it was 40 minutes before I got the car.

Thursday, 1 December 2005

Carnate (Milano) –> Siena –> Agliana

Up early again with the intention of making it to Siena by lunch time. Many things got in the way: first, there had been quite a frost, and of course the car didn't contain an ice scraper (nor a yellow vest for emergencies, which is apparently required by law), and the windscreen washer didn't work.

Dropped George near Firenze Nord and continued to Siena, missing the fast road in the process. I hate bad maps! Couldn't find any information on where the correct road was, so along the SS 222, having lunch in Greve in Chianti.

We weren't given details of how to get to the return location (the main Firenze location), so on the way to Siena, Russell tried calling them. They didn't answer. Called the AVIS main enquiry line, who suggested returning to the airport, which is supposed to be open until 11 pm.

Back to Firenze to drop the car, not without difficulties. To add to its other problems, it's almost impossible to fill the tank of this car. The last 15 litres (of 40) went in at a snail's pace. Also had the devil's own job finding the airport, and when we got there, at a little after 5 pm, there was nobody to accept the car. Not happy.

Friday, 9 December 2005


In the afternoon, checked my credit card statement and discovered that AVIS had deducted the princely sum of AUD 1,057.49 from my credit card, about € 675. The agreed sum was € 112.82, about AUD 177. Called up AVIS and discovered:

I was unhappy with AVIS before this incident; now I am furious. And this is the company that “tries harder”. They'll have to try a whole lot harder than that if they ever expect me to do business with them again.

Thursday, 22 December 2005


AVIS has still not responded to my complaint about the rental at the beginning of the month. In fact, I have not received any communication of any kind from them, neither a receipt for what they have charged me (which should have come automatically), nor a confirmation of my complaint, let alone a resolution (which had been promised me by now). I find it incredible that an international company can be so incompetent.

Contacted them in Sydney to ask for a fax number, and Diane gave me the number 03 9353 9017. I asked her if it was in Melbourne and she said no, in Sydney. I suggested that maybe she meant 02 9353 9017, which she confirmed. This incompetence is unbelievable. She was unable to give me the number for Italy, however, and put me through to a different department, where I spoke to Sarah.

After a long time she came back with the number: 9353 9119. I asked her if that included the Italian area code. No, the number was “here” (in other words, in Sydney; why do people in Sydney give numbers without area codes, as if there were no other phone areas in Australia?). She couldn't explain why the number was different from the one Diane gave me, and she couldn't give me the number in Italy.

I asked to be connected to her supervisor, and was connected to Kelly, who was also unable to give me the number in Italy, and who gave me yet another fax number, 1 800 123 703. She, too, was unable to explain the purposes of the various numbers. Sent a letter to each number, asking for immediate response, which of course was not forthcoming. It looks as if I'm going to have to take legal action.

Friday, 23 December 2005


AVIS is really getting on my nerves. Sent them another strongly worded letter today, and to my surprise got a reply (from Chris Adams, in New Zealand). He told me, in variance from what I had heard before, that it could take up to a month to get resolution, and that I should thus expect a response some time before 9 January. He also hadn't received yesterday's fax (sent to the same fax numbers), so sent it on to him again.

Wednesday, 11 January 2006


AVIS have still not responded to my strongly worded letter, despite a promise to do so by 9 January. I wonder how they can stay in business with such practices.

Thursday, 12 January 2006


AVIS finally replied to my demands—three days over the limit and without answering any of the issues I raised. They still appear to be assuming that I damaged the car—one of the key issues is that I did not, and they haven't provided anything to substantiate their claims. At least they did it without reminder.

Friday, 13 January 2006


More mail from AVIS. They finally included the invoice —issued in the name of AVIS Australia. They admit that they can't justify the sums, but after over a month, their own very generous (to them) limit time, they're not prepared to refund the money. To make things easier, the bloke who was doing the work has gone on holiday for the rest of the month.

Message 1
Message 2
Message 3
Message 4
Message 5

Wednesday, 18 January 2006


AVIS are thoroughly getting on my nerves. Called up today to speak to Denise Fogasavaii. who is supposed to be an the case. She knew nothing about the incident, and claimed not to have received the email message which I copied her on last Friday, and in which I asked for immediate resolution. She was quiet for a while, then claimed to have “Just received mail from our counterparts”. She promised to forward it to me.

In the meantime, called up the bank, who will send me another dispute form, and the Office of Consumer and Business Affairs (phone number (08) 8204 9777), where I was advised to let the bank take its course first. They also seem to be the best people to handle potential issues of fraud on the part of AVIS.

90 minutes later, by which time she was no longer in the office, I received a stupid message from Denise which made it pretty clear that she hadn't read the message I had sent her: they continue to talk about excesses, while I'm asking them to explain what damage they are claiming. What incompetence! Sent her a reply asking her to finally read and reply to my previous message. But how much is that going to help if she doesn't read it in the first place?

I find it baffling that such incompetence can exist in a high-profile, world-renowned company (never mind the slogan “We try harder”, which really seems out of place now). If any reader has a suggestion about how to proceed by civil means, I'd be grateful.

Message 1
Message 2

Tuesday, 25 April 2006


Got a letter from the bank about the fiasco: they had got some feedback (I still have none): allegedly the windscreen was broken. Nobody wants to do a further refund; looks like I'll have to take legal action.

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