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Beware Sixt car rental

blueparrot

TUG Member
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Jul 17, 2006
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Sixt is one of the largest car rental companies in Europe, and we are currently using them for the first time, and it is the worst car rental experience I have ever had.

At first, it seemed to be going well, with a size upgrade and a car equipped with GPS at no extra cost. Renting from a location in France that was only a few kilometers from the German border for a timeshare week in Germany, I asked if they had a German map since we would mostly be in Germany. All they offered was a regional French map, and apologized that they had run out of the German maps. No big deal. We stopped and bought a German map book.

As the weather forecasts had been predicting, it was snowing in Germany, although the main roads were clear. After turning off onto city streets almost to the timeshare, I noticed problems with traction. At the first small hill, we would not have gotten over except that two German teenagers who came over to help push. I thought that there must be ice under the snow, but kicking it with my feet when I got out at one point, found out it was not. One of the German teenagers remarked ''summer tires''. Soon another, much steeper and longer hill appeared in front of us, which there was no way we had traction to get over. Again some helpful Germans pushed to help get us turned around and pointed to where we could leave the car. Again they remarked ''summer tires''. I looked closely at the tires and noticed a very basic tread pattern that was not close to being all-weather, and I knew why we were not getting traction, while all of the other cars on the street were having no problem getting around.

We had to walk the last kilometer and a half to the timeshare, up hill, in the snow, with our luggage, not a fun experience. The last kilometer was outside of town through the woods with no street lighting, and it was dark. We should have thought about a taxi before the helpful Germans had gone on, and after they left there was no one around and nothing open in that area. Plus, according to our directions, we thought we were only 100 meters away from the timeshare.

On check-in when we told the story to the manager, she said that had happened regularly to Americans, South Africans, and Australians who were given rental cars with improper tires for the season, and that Sixt was one of the worst companies about doing that. She further told us that it was illegal to drive in Germany with snow on the ground unless one had tires rated for snow, and that among other things anyone doing so was automatically responsible for any accident, no matter what other facts existed.

This is now the third full day when we have had no use of the car because there is still snow on the ground. Fortunately, we have gotten a lot of places we wanted to go by train but have to walk 3 or 4 kilometers each way to the train station if the few taxis in town do not happen to be availible.

I contacted Sixt and they were completely unhelpful. They said they would swap it for one with snow tires if we returned it to the rental location (yeah, right!) but then said sorry they did not have one availible. This is one company that is clearly unethical. They knew it was supposed to snow, they knew this car had no tires capable of driving in the snow, and they knew it would be illegal to drive in those circumstances where I was taking it, and yet they still rented us this car. Now they will not do anything about it.

When we get home, I will surely challenge this on my credit card! And I will never rent from them again!
 
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