Last week I returned from an almost round the world 19-day trip which included spending two days at the Park Hyatt Mallorca. I rented a car from Sixt Rent a Car at the Mallorca Airport to get to the Park Hyatt Mallorca.
This was my first time renting with Sixt, #sixtexperience. And is one of the worst travel mistakes I’ve made in all my years traveling. Planning a trip to Mallorca and want to rent a car? Read my review: false damage claim and why you should not rent from Sixt Mallorca.
According to This is Money and The Olive Press, Spanish rental car firms commonly scam tourists. So I spent hours researching and reading countless review, after review, of car rental companies in Mallorca.
Although the 2-day car rental cost twice as much: $181 from Sixt vs $93, I couldn’t find any negative reviews on Sixt Mallorca and they are a large, well respected company.
But the lack of negative reviews didn’t mean there weren’t any bad reviews. Just that I hadn’t yet found them. Or they hadn’t been posted before I rented from Sixt Rent a Car Mallorca.
False Damage Claim and Why You Should Not Rent from Sixt Mallorca
Here’s what happened and what you should do when you rent a car in Mallorca.
I rented a car because the plan was to drive around the island. And it was cheaper to drive myself to the Park Hyatt Mallorca than arrange a pickup. But as we all know, sometimes cheaper isn’t always the best plan.
After waiting 20 minutes at the counter in the baggage claim area, I went to the car pickup location because:
- Everyone in front of me in line didn’t have a reservation
- I had a reservation
- I pre-enrolled in Express Sixt (which lets you skip the line and pick up your car)
- Gold Sixt Member (status match, although I should be a Platinum)
Despite the Express Sixt membership, I still had to give my payment information. So I’m not really sure if you benefit from having a Express Sixt membership. If you have any experience with Express Sixt, please let me know in the comments below.
Sent to the Bowels of the Garage
The return desk and car pick up location was on level 5 in the garage across from the airport terminal. After processing my reservation, Ms. Gobel assigned me a car on level 1.
Yep, I was sent to the bowels of the garage to pick up my rental car. Despite rows and rows of available cars on level 5. That should have been my first clue that something was amiss.
Little did I know that this was a set up for a #sixtexperience false damage claim scam from Sixt Rent a Car Mallorca.
Level 1 was dark and poorly lit. And at about 6pm, there were very few people, not a single Sixt employee or any other car rental employee.
3 Rules When Renting a Car
Rule 1 – Inspect the Car
I walked around and inspected the Smart Fortwo. Saw the rear passenger bumper damage that was already noted on the reservation. But there was also damage to the front passenger bumper. And the patch-up job of paint matched the patch-up job to the rear bumper.
Rule 2 – Take Photos of any Damage
I took a photo of the damage with my phone and camera. As you should do when you notice any damage to a rental car before you drive off the lot.
Rule 3 – Report the Damage
I assumed there would be a Sixt employee to report and show the damage to when leaving the parking structure.
Nope, no living soul at all when you exit the parking structure. Plus there wasn’t an easy way to get back into the parking structure. So I planned to tell them when I returned the car.
Driving in Mallorca
I drove straight from Sixt Mallorca to the Park Hyatt Mallorca. Where the valet took my vehicle and I didn’t see the car again until the next day.
The rental car sat in the underground guest parking garage for the entire time I was in Mallorca except for driving to and from the Park Hyatt Mallorca and for about 30 minutes when I drove the car into the next town.
I was going to drive around the island. But shortly after leaving the resort, I got a text from the spa. So I skipped driving around Mallorca to spend a couple hours at the Park Hyatt Mallorca spa. So basically the car was parked for two days.
False Damage Claim by Sixt Mallorca
Upon returning the car, the girl behind the desk told me I could just walk away. She didn’t offer a receipt or check the car out.
But there was no way I was going to just walk away. So I waited for another employee, Stephan to inspect the car.
I told Stephan that the damage to the front bumper was there when I picked it up. He noted it on the return check sheet. So I assumed all was good. Wrong!
Seven days later, I get a bill from Sixt Mallorca claiming I damaged the car. Invoice is 146.27 euros which is almost as much as I paid to rent the car for two days!
Shakedown Attempt by Sixt Mallorca
This is a shakedown attempt by Sixt Mallorca to extort money from tourists with false claims of damage to rental cars.
And I’m not the only person this has happened to, SamKey, Rob S, and djuvan have had a similar experience. I guess with the euro doing poorly, Sixt Mallorca is hurting for money. And is gauging rental car customers.
Sixt customer service in the US won’t help because the rental was in Spain. Sixt Spain insists I caused it, refuses to listen to reason nor see that the photos indicate the damage was pre-existing.
So my credit card company is paying the claim. But it’s a matter of principle. I didn’t cause the damage so I, nor my credit card company, should have to pay for it.
Update: After multiple emails back and forth with photos of the car when I picked it up and posting a tweet on Twitter, Sixt decided not to charge me.
Pro-tip: From Rule 2 above, take photos of your rental car before you leave the lot. Be sure to get pictures of any damaged or questionable areas.
You have to be careful when you rent cars in Spain, particularly in Mallorca. Because it’s common for rental car companies to force tourists to pay for fuel (despite having returned the car with a full tank) and pre-existing damage to rental cars with false claims of new damage.
Renting from a larger, more established car rental company doesn’t protect you from scams. Even companies like Sixt Rent a Car in Mallorca have been known to scam renters with false claims of damage. #sixtexperience
When renting a car, you should inspect rental cars, take photos of any damage, get a receipt when checking out, and pay with a credit card that provides free collision damage benefit for damage or theft like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
So beware renting from Sixt Mallorca. You may get a false damage claim.
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