It was 2015 and we had just returned from one of our most expensive holidays. A week in the Swiss Alps. Despite it being super expensive we really enjoyed Switzerland.
As per usual we rented a car with Sixt. The staff was lovely and we even got an upgrade for free at arrival. Back then we had never had a bad experience with a car rental company so we were pretty relaxed about the whole experience.
When we returned the car no one cared to check it which we thought was a little odd. It was nothing like our previous experiences. But we were in good spirits and knew the car was as good as new so didn’t care too much about it.
Shortly after our return we received an email from Sixt claiming we damaged the car! They asked for about 740 Eur to be paid within 2 weeks. No details about the damage were given at this point.
Even though we were not covered by the Sixt’s insurance we had a third party insurance we could claim the money back from. But at this point I was not convinced that Sixt was telling the truth and that we had actually damaged the car.
The damage was on the car’s bonnet which is an odd place to damage. Unless we had been in an accident which was not the case. Or someone had intentionally done it while the car was parked, this scenario was possible even though not very likely as Switzerland is a fairly safe and peaceful place.
I asked for pictures. The pictures were taken inside a garage and not where we parked. Immediately I thought they were framing us. On that same email they ask again for payment as it was our responsibility. They were super pushy about the payment.
My next mission was to find pictures from the holiday where we could see the damage. I found one of about half way through our holiday with the damage on the car. Unfortunately this only proved they didn’t do it after we returned the car.
In my head I started playing all possible scenarios of how that could have happened to the car. I started accepting it might actually be our responsibility and that we had to pay for it.
There was one last chance of finding out the truth and that was to find a Snapchat I had done once we collected the car. Now, bloody Snapchat does not save the pictures automatically and I wasn’t sure I had saved it manually.
Luckily I did save it and after going through loads of pictures taken with my phone I found it! In the shot you can only see one side of the bonnet. As soon as I saw I had captured the right side and that the scratch was clearly there before we took the car anywhere I think I jumped of happiness and relief.
At this point it was clear that they were taking advantage of us and were trying to get us to pay for damage that was caused by someone else. When you are not fully covered by the rental company you can easily become a target of this type of scams.
I emailed them the picture and requested an apology. I should have requested compensation but I just wanted it to be over. They did cancel their process after 4 days of my email but barely apologised. I bet they were gutted they didn’t get away with it.
After this saga with Sixt we were set on never using them again but we didn’t stick to it. We actually use Sixt 90% of the time. At least now we know some of their tricks.
Lesson learned: Always take pictures (loads of them) when collecting and when returning the car. If possible get someone from the rental company to inspect the car when you return it .
I have written about this situation in Portuguese, click here if you would like to read it.