Sixt in LAX threatens cancellation of prepaid reservation in dead of night

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Jul 29, 2017
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Dear Chris,

Sixt at LAX caused us extreme stress and worry last week at our checkout as the staff at LAX kept trying to cancel my prepaid reservation and leave my children, husband and I car-less in LA for our carefully pre-planned trip.

Alma the agent at Sixt who helped us seemed totally out of her depth and unable to provide good customer service or clear communication. We waited almost two hours before we were able to wrest our reserved car loose from the agency. We were given confused tangles of explanations that the company has an antiquated system that requires a prepaid reservation to be refunded and recharged on a different card. We actually thought the staff was going to refuse us our reservation. We left so disappointed with Sixt that we can't imagine ever using the company again.

We had traveled all day, left the beautiful Mark Hopkins hotel on Nob Hill, crossed the San Francisco Bay by ferry, took the Amtrak Coast Starlight from Oakland to LA Union Station, then a lovely new Flyaway bus to LAX, found the Sixt shuttle, then got to Sixt with a PREPAID reservation, only to wait over 2 hours until almost 1am before a manager came out to help us. We asked to speak with the manager repeatedly and were told 'she is aware of the situation' but wouldn't come out for over an hour. Once she did finally come out, she was able to help untangle the problem. At least she seeened able to communicate clearly and didn't suggest canceling the reservation again.

Alma at Sixt didn't explain -- actually the manager finally explained two hours later-- that unless we used the exact same card the payment had been made on (hard to remember months later) that they would recharge the whole amount all over again. What is the point of prepaying if it causes such trouble? The larger charge was not preauthorized on my business credit card (which has a $500 per charge limit unless preauthorized) so it locked the card and I had to call the next day when people were back at the office to get it reopened and working again.

In the mean time, we stood around Sixt with the Sixt staff telling us they needed to cancel my PREPAID reservation and redo it with the current much higher rates. It was stressful, horrible, and upsetting to say the least. They also claimed they tried to run my husband's corporate card and it was declined, but later his records showed that this had not been done and the card was fine to charge $900 at our hotel, the wonderful Westin Pasadena, when we finally got there that same night. The only thing I could think about this was that they were looking for an excuse to cancel my reservation and get more money.

We offered other payment methods, even offered to pay cash, and my husband actually finally needed to take an Uber to a cash machine in a bad area of LA in the dead of night to move cash to the exact bank account so we could use the exact card to check out. What a strange and horrible night that was. The communication was abysmal, my family didn't get to bed until almost 3am, and it was all because the staff at Sixt LAX were incompetent.

To add further insult to the night, in the middle of our transaction troubles, Alma promised us an upgrade to a convertible VW Beetle, but by the end of our transaction she was so rude and monosyllabic and incommunicative and she just gave us keys to a Yaris. The actual car was fine though the fact that she promised the upgrade and then didn't do it made us unhappy all week. By that time I was so exhausted and upset from the situation that I took the car and left. I certainly didn't want to discuss anything else with Sixt staff. The Yaris was adequate but I had booked with Sixt in the first place because it said I would get a Prius, and later I realized that somewhere in the fine print it said a Yaris was also in that car class.

It took me another hour on the phone the next day with my bank and the staff at my company's business office to get my business account reopened because the Sixt transaction was so sketchy--it turned out that Alma had run the card multiple times, not for the $200 she told us but for $579 each time, which locked the card.

I understand Sixt is a good company in Europe so I have no idea why they were so awful in LA. It's horrible the stand around from 1045pm to 145am while basically being told my money is no good, and the carefully price-compared booking made months before and PREPAID must be canceled. I am still worried because now days after I returned my car the $200 still hasn't been refunded. I hope it is OK. What an awful experience to have on an otherwise almost perfect trip.

We had a great experience in San Francisco, on Amtrak, in LA (highlights included seeing family, the archives and a children's day camp at the Huntington Library, UCLA film archives, Warner Bros Archives at USC, a Dudemel concert at the Hollywood Bowl, dinner at the wonderful El Portal in Pasadena, an AirBnB in Corona Del Mar, the Laguna Arts Festival, a big ferry ride on the San Francisco Bay and a little one across on the Balboa ferry, etc.) but Sixt almost ruined the week. And that was a prepaid reservation I was sure would be a breeze.
 
Feb 9, 2016
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It's not clear if you are seeking any sort of compensation for your situation. If you are seeking some sort of compensation for your ordeal then then use our sixt company contacts to send a concise email explaining the situation and asking for the compensation you desire. Start t th lowest contact (usually customer service) and wait a week. If you do not recieve a reply, or your compensation request is denied, move up to the next contact and repeat the process.

If you are not seeking any compensation and just wanted to get this story onto the internet so that search engines will find it when people are lookig for reviewes on sixt, then you have accomplished this.

IMO what I would want to do is email the executives, explain my nightmare succinctly and urge sixt to make it VERY clear to the person renting that they need to bring the exact credit card to he desk if they want to ensure the rental process is hassle free. I would go back and mock a new prepaid reservation and look to see where the credit card information is displayed, mention this, and then suggest ways that they could improve this notation.

here's contact info. Good luck!

http://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/sixt/
 
Jul 29, 2017
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Thank you for the reply. I am not asking for any compensation, but I might send something to SiXT suggesting how they could better inform both customers and their staff to avoid these issues. I do still wonder why they seemed so eager to cancel my prepaid reservation and refund my money and kept suggesting they would try to rebook me at current prices. It felt so much like a scam at the time; I just didn't believe that they could have such trouble taking a $200 fee from a corporate credit card.

I appreciate your web site and all the advice posted here. I should have read it before I travelled. I realize now that your site advises against prepaying the way I did. It would have saved me lots of time and concern to have read your advice!

I travel every year or so to places I need a car rental and have recently found the rental process to be much worse. I think agents are encouraged to upsell, push insurance in scary ways, and even pull scams. We had an agent at Fox in Las Vegas area last winter threaten not to rent to us unless we bought their insurance, which we still did not because our own insurance covers us, and then he gave us a lot of difficulty. We were visited during there for an ill family member and very upset and distracted and the stress of this treatment made me decide never to use Fox again, but I think all the companies have gotten bad. Reading your site makes it clear that we need to be so careful. I will try to be better informed in the future.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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New York
www.promalvacations.com
Sixt is quickly becoming one of the most complained about car rentals we have here. I used them once myself when the first started selling and I would never use them again. They are cheaper because they don't have offices at the airport and don't have to pay expensive taxes.

Thank you for the warning but as long as consumers can save
$20 on a rental people they will be around.

We have company contacts on top of our pages and I would suggest you re/wrote your letter and shorten it by 2/3 and send the executives a synopsis of what happened to you. They should know about the incompetence at this store.
 
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Jan 11, 2017
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Just one remark:
Please, be aware, that any other car rental company has similar rule (see Avis, Herz ertc. TOS) regarding prepaid reservations: you have to provide the same credit card at the pick up, that you used to make the original reservation. If you are not able, then they cancel the reservation and make a new reservation. Similar way, if you want to change the credit card before pick up, online, again you have to cancel the reservation, and do another one. (I assume to prevent fraud.)
When you make on-line reservation, link to this rule comes up.
(If you show the original credit card, then you can provide another card at pick up, with no cancellation.)
Why they needed a manager to state/explain this rule - I do not know. You should not have wioat two hours for this.
 
Last edited:
R

Realitoes

Guest
It is one of those things that is hidden in the rental terms you agree to when making the reservation. Unfortunately, most people don't read them. They really should make it clear.




 
Last edited by a moderator:

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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Noreen, were you unaware that the same credit card used to prepay the res had to be produced upon pickup? I believe that most rental car companies, and many non-US airlines do this. While rental car companies are going bananas increasing revenue at their customers' expense, this 'original CC" was set up to prevent fraud. Like most of us, I don't prepay my rental cars, so I've never gone in to see how a customer is made aware of this requirement.

If this fact was not disclosed to you clearly, I think you should make a fuss with Sixt, if only to protect other travellers coming behind you. In the middle of the night, with your family .... I can hardly think of a worse scenario. I'm sorry that this happened to you.
 
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Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
Thank you for the reply. I am not asking for any compensation, but I might send something to SiXT suggesting how they could better inform both customers and their staff to avoid these issues. I do still wonder why they seemed so eager to cancel my prepaid reservation and refund my money and kept suggesting they would try to rebook me at current prices. It felt so much like a scam at the time; I just didn't believe that they could have such trouble taking a $200 fee from a corporate credit card.

I appreciate your web site and all the advice posted here. I should have read it before I travelled. I realize now that your site advises against prepaying the way I did. It would have saved me lots of time and concern to have read your advice!

I travel every year or so to places I need a car rental and have recently found the rental process to be much worse. I think agents are encouraged to upsell, push insurance in scary ways, and even pull scams. We had an agent at Fox in Las Vegas area last winter threaten not to rent to us unless we bought their insurance, which we still did not because our own insurance covers us, and then he gave us a lot of difficulty. We were visited during there for an ill family member and very upset and distracted and the stress of this treatment made me decide never to use Fox again, but I think all the companies have gotten bad. Reading your site makes it clear that we need to be so careful. I will try to be better informed in the future.
Don't book the prepaid rate EVER. What if you get sick and have to cancel your trip? You would be out all that money. It is not worth the small savings between prepaid and pay at pick up
 
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jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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As with buying insurance for a flight to cover a $200 change fee ... calculate what that really means to you. Do you fly the same airline 8 times a year? Then an occasional $200 change fee is no big deal.

It's the same concept for a prepaid rental car. If you prepay $850 to save $75, how will you feel when you lose the $850 if you break your leg and can't travel? If you rent 8 cars a year and save $75 on each of them, then losing the $850 won't make you crazy.

Travel decisions need to be made with your eyes wide open. I rent a dozen cars a year but would never prepay one. Not because "I don't believe in it" but because I can get a really good rate through Costco (membership is $110 annually). I can rebook the month or week before and sometimes reduce the rental rate by hundreds of dollars. For two or three years, I bought insurance on all my flights, since it was offered on United's website when I purchased the tix. One day I said "Duh, what are you doing? Spending hundreds of dollars on insurance when I've only cancelled one flight in 6 years?" When you're faced with a decision, figure it out, don't just pick A or B.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
23,405
23,376
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
As with buying insurance for a flight to cover a $200 change fee ... calculate what that really means to you. Do you fly the same airline 8 times a year? Then an occasional $200 change fee is no big deal.

It's the same concept for a prepaid rental car. If you prepay $850 to save $75, how will you feel when you lose the $850 if you break your leg and can't travel? If you rent 8 cars a year and save $75 on each of them, then losing the $850 won't make you crazy.

Travel decisions need to be made with your eyes wide open. I rent a dozen cars a year but would never prepay one. Not because "I don't believe in it" but because I can get a really good rate through Costco (membership is $110 annually). I can rebook the month or week before and sometimes reduce the rental rate by hundreds of dollars. For two or three years, I bought insurance on all my flights, since it was offered on United's website when I purchased the tix. One day I said "Duh, what are you doing? Spending hundreds of dollars on insurance when I've only cancelled one flight in 6 years?" When you're faced with a decision, figure it out, don't just pick A or B.
And if you opt out of insurance and something happens resulting in monetary loss, accept the loss as a result of your decision and don't blame the travel supplier.