I am moving from Tonbridge to London and need the largest van I can drive on a standard license as I want to get all of my stuff transported in one go. I had 2 questions that I considered to be pretty straightforward and that I would expect a van rental company to be able to answer without any problems. The first was how big the van was and the second was what I could drive on my license, I will explain the process I had to undertake to discover these answers. I initially booked an "Iveco Daily or similar" from the largest van bracket online (there are 2 sizes of Iveco Daily), I found some information on their site which said you needed a category B license to drive this so I thought I was fine. After speaking to friend he suggested that the laws have changed about what you can and can't drive on a standard license so I emailed customer services and they said I needed a C1 license to drive a Ford Luton, which is what he said I had booked, I was confused as I had booked an Iveco Daily so rang Europcar Tonbridge. They said I had booked a Ford Luton, which whilst I understand falls under their 'or similar' bracket, at no point was I notified, the vans are slightly different sizes and require different licenses. However, the lady on the phone said that customer services don't know what they are talking about and that I was fine to drive the Luton, and as it was a bit bigger than the Iveco I stuck with it. Further investigation by myself pointed towards this being false information so I rang back again and spoke to someone else who confirmed I couldn't drive the Luton on my license, so I changed it to what the lady on the phone referred to as an Extra Long Wheel Base, she said it would be a Mercedes Sprinter or similar and was pretty much the same size, but when asked for the exact dimensions couldn't provide me with them. So, I just thought I would look up the dimensions on the Mercedes website. I checked the dimensions of a Merc Sprinter XLWB and found the load length to be 4.7m, which was great because it meant I should comfortably have enough room for my stuff, however this didn't tally with what it said on Europcar's website so I again rang back for confirmation. I was told I had booked an XLWB with a load length of 4.3m, when I explained that this couldn't be the case because the Merc website suggests a load length of 4.3m is a LWB I was hung up on. I rang back and spoke to a guy to explain again and he was very rude and seemed to suggest I would get what I was given, at no point did he try to address the disparity between the information or suggest any concern about it. At one point he was so noticeably agitated that he just suggested I cancel the booking rather than trying to understand the problem. He just wanted me off the phone. A string of further emails to customer services, who again struggled to give me any concrete information about sizes without a lot of persuading, revealed that Europcar have come up with their own sizing categories which don't match the manufacturers. So what they can an XLWB is actually a LWB and what they call a LWB is actually a MWB. This to me is blatant misselling, and particularly devious as there is no information informing the customer of this and an almost impenetrable wall of staff trying to hide this information. During this process I had been reading reviews of other peoples experience with Europcar and without fail they were 1 star reviews across the board, there were many other examples of people not receiving what they had paid for and a fair amount of people turning up on the day to be told they didn't have anything. In addition I had read about many people being charged after they had taken the van back for a multitude of reasons, few of which seemed legitimate. One of these reasons was congestion charges, after reading the reviews I asked Europcar whether my drop off point in London was in the congestion zone and they couldn't tell me, not to mention that congestion charges weren't mentioned at any point during booking, email and phone conversations, of which there were many. The reason I opted for Europcar in the first place was the price, but I have since cancelled and found a man with a van for a little extra and for peace of mind it is most definitely worth it. It's a shame because all of the issues could be fixed with a bit more transparency and better customer service. Europcar seem to operate on the basis that most people won't question what they are given because they don't usually drive vans and don't know what to expect. I understand why this works as there are many such people out there, but for anyone who wants to actually get what they are quoted for or ask any questions I would go elsewhere.
Stuart James - 08/04/2014 | report this review
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