So far, we have had two car rental experiences in Paris that differed greatly! The first experience was extremely frustrating, and the second experience was easy and relaxing. This is the full account of our experience with Europcar. The second experience is here.
We wanted to explore some of the beautiful Loire Valley chateaux so we rented a car for the weekend. We booked a car through autoeurope.com, which gave us a reservation for Europcar at the Montparnasse station. The rental car agencies in the Montparnasse station are tricky to find as they are located deep inside the station on an upper floor. After wandering around the station, we ended up in a parking lot with promising signs but no offices. It took almost 20 minutes of back and forth before we finally got to the right place.
The reservation went pretty smoothly as the lady spoke some English. She gave us a (badly-printed) map of the station and told us where to find the car. It was another trek through bridges and stairways to a parking lot on the other side of the station, and then down to the -4 floor. The car was supposed to be parked in a specific spot, but it wasn’t there. We tried to use the remote key to turn on the car lights and horn so we could locate it, but the car apparently is quite silent and we couldn’t see the lights. Finally another group of people saw the car lights for us and waved us over. This whole process took more than an hour longer than planned.
The rental car itself was ok. It was a Citroen C3 car, kind of dumpy and ugly with hazy white paneling and really unintuitive radio and AC controls. But it worked fine enough for chateaux hunting.
At the end of our weekend, we drive back to Paris rather late, arriving around midnight. The rental office is closed, so we thought that we would park the car and return the keys in the morning (we are lucky that we live nearby…if we had to catch a plane or something, we would have been in trouble). We drove to the garage that we thought we got the car from, but there was no sign for Europcar. There were signs for Avis and Budget, but THERE ARE NO SIGNS FOR EUROPCAR IN THE MONTPARNASSE GARAGE. This was extremely confusing, so we drove around the area for another 30 minutes looking for Europcar signs.
It’s almost 1am, and we are getting desperate, so we drive into that garage anyways, hoping that there would be more signs below. At the -3 level, the road to the -4 level is blocked, and we still have not seen any signs for Europcar. We drive around the -3 level anyways as there were cars coming in behind us. FINALLY, we stumble upon an entrance to the -4 level, and we manage to find the Europcar parking area. To return your car, look for the Avis sign, drive to the -4 floor, and miraculously, you will be in Europcar’s area. There will be no signs to help you.
The next morning, before we go to work, we go to the Europcar office to return the keys. The lady at the desk says, brightly, “oh you could have just dropped it in the keybox!” This is totally the last straw in the experience and we just yelled all of our frustrations at the lady. “You didn’t tell us there was a keybox. We didn’t see any obvious location for a keybox. There are no signs for a keybox. Speaking of signs, there are no signs above the -4 garage level indicating that Europcar exists in that garage. You would think there should be AT LEAST ONE SIGN at the entrance telling people where to return their cars and a sign for the keybox.” There is apparently a keybox you can use to return the keys if you return after the office has closed. No one knows where it is and the rental office won’t tell you about it unless you ask.
The lady managed to weakly smile and said “we aren’t allowed to have a sign…” WHAT THE F@#$ Europcar, how is a car company, renting space from a garage, not allowed to have a sign!? This is a completely failure on Europcar’s side. It didn’t help that the lady then said “if it makes you feel better, I was also confused when I first got here…”. No, that does not make me feel better. That makes me feel like you need to tell your boss that your customers have a legit complaint and they need to address it.
Clearly, Europcar has a signage problem.
The last issue we had with Europcar was the location surcharge. It turns out that when you rent a car from an airport or rail station, it costs an extra 40 euros (which was $59 on my credit card, increasing the total cost by 50%). To be fair, it is written on your rental contract (which I actually read but didn’t notice), but no one will mention it to you when you get the car and it will silently show up on your credit card statement a couple of days later. Do not rent from an airport or rail station.
In sum, do not rent with Europcar if possible.
One more thing, if you need to refill your tank, the only gas station we found was a BP at 47 Boulevard de Vaugirard.
I submitted multiple feedback surveys and complaints to both Auto Europe and Europcar about this experience. Interesting fact, Europcar’s feedback form does not allow these punctuation marks: < > ?? & | ; $ % ’ + \
How do you complain about billing without a dollar sign? How do you write contractions and show possessiveness without the apostrophe?? How do you ask these questions without a freakin’ question mark!?!? Why is the question mark forbidden TWICE??
I then submitted another feedback form telling them that they are paying their web developers too much. I’m in a spiteful mood :)