finance

Goldcar put me under pressure to get unwanted insurance


I hired a car from Goldcar for a holiday in France. I already had an annual insurance policy to cover the excess due on any claim, so did not need to buy the extra cover that staff at the collection desk at Marseille airport tried to sell me. Instead, I offered my credit card to have the €1,700 deposit ring-fenced. I was told there would be an 8% surcharge to take the deposit, and another 8% to refund it. It was made clear that the keys would not be handed over unless I consented to the €272 fee, or paid a lower sum of €236.95 for Goldcar’s insurance cover. I reluctantly paid the lower amount. I queried this when I got home and Goldcar confirmed that it does not apply a credit card levy, but it has not responded to my complaint within the promised 30 days.
CS, Huddersfield

Goldcar has form when it comes to misselling insurance. In 2019 an undercover investigation by consumer group Which? exposed what it described as “criminal lying and bullying” by Goldcar staff to pressure customers into buying unwanted insurance. Five months earlier, the company had promised to reform after evidence emerged of insurance misselling. Under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (CPRs), it’s a criminal offence to use either misleading or aggressive practices to coerce customers into making purchases.

Goldcar, which was taken over by Europcar in 2017, only addressed your complaint after I got in touch, and it admitted that its service fell short. Its explanation is that human error, not hard selling, was to blame. The assistant, it claims, mistook your credit card for a debit card and was trying to point out that your bank may charge fees for debiting then crediting the deposit. “It is the company’s experience that, in some cases, a customer using a debit card may not have funds to cover the excess deposit,” it says. “In these circumstances, the alternative of taking excess cover is offered.”

Another human error apparently prevented you receiving a response to your complaint. Goldcar claims it did reply, but a member of staff mistyped your email address. You are certain the collection desk knew what kind of card they were dealing with, but you are relieved to have been refunded the cost of the insurance. Goldcar says: “Please rest assured this is not typical of the service we provide, and our customer’s experience will be internally addressed to prevent situations such as this happening again.”

Since car hire companies are notorious for pushing their insurance excess policies, it’s worth knowing that, under EU law, basic insurance is included in the cost of a car rental, so additional cover is not essential. You can, in any case, insure the excess far more cheaply via an online comparison site.

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