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.
Read: Park Hyatt Mallorca Review: How to Get There
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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Tuesday 9th of July 2019
Same thing happen to me in Lisbon. My SIXT rented car had a ton of scrathes and dents and SIXT provided no doc showing where damages where. When expressed concern clerk told me not to worry these dents and scratches are common...I took few pics, but did not get on my knees and take pics under the bumper...when I returned the car, clerk got on his knees in the right front corner of the car and ...FOUND... a 3 cm little dent...almost under the bumper...Now they want to charge me 250 euros on top of the 290 I paid for the renting the car...Very devious company....Although I have credit card coverage, I refuse to pay and will fight it. Searching the web found thousands stories similar to that about SIXT and others...If you do not think to take pics of everything even under the car or the trunk, or the inside... they will find something to charge you...
Tuesday 9th of July 2019
Wow! That's for the tip about taking pictures of the undercarriage.
Andres Pinzon Cuellar
Tuesday 30th of April 2019
I have the SAME case but with Sixt France.. I sincerely DO NOT recommend Sixt in any place.
Tuesday 9th of July 2019
Sorry to hear that. Where in France did this happen?
Sunday 31st of March 2019
We also rented from Sixt last spring in San Sebastian, Spain. Horrible ordeal, took close to 8 months to resolve! Rented for a one night overnite to Rioja area. Felt concerned about the car they gave us, so took about 12 photos before we left the garage. A few days after returning car we received email outlining Extensive damage to car! We submitted photos to show it was pre-existing, but were pursued by Sixt in threatening manner. Ultimately Chase 's insurance company paid out to Sixt, about $600.00. Avoid Sixt!
Sunday 28th of April 2019
Sounds like a horrible experience. Sorry, you had to go through that. Because the insurance companies keep paying out, they'll keep on making false accusations.
Friday 7th of September 2018
I have just had a horrible experience with Sixt and felt compelled to go online and warn others. Alarmingly, it seems there are plenty of others who have had similar experiences - I should have checked them out first before I got stung!
The problem is not simply the initial dispute, it is the remarkable intransigence of the German head office customer service - no single token of goodwill and a blind insistence on claiming as much as they possibly can. Not a long term approach, and I see I am now in a largish community of people who have sworn never to be exposed to these guys again. Do not use Sixt!
Saturday 15th of September 2018
Hi Max Scott,
Hope you can get your horrible experience resolved. Be sure to keep replying that you weren't at fault and include photos for proof. Keep me posted. Thanks.
Wednesday 11th of July 2018
We had the same experience. Although we live in Germany and rented the car from Germany. Upon return everything was ok, no scars, nothing. However, a few days later we received a letter from sixt that there is a scar on the fron hood( which is so unlogical) with some barely seen photos and a requirement to pay over 1000 euro. They set a deadline to transfer the money, but I really want to take them to court for this fraud. Unfortuantely I will most probably lose much more money for lawyers..
Saturday 18th of August 2018
That's horrible, sorry to hear you had such a horrible experience. Thanks for sharing. Hope it works out. Keep me posted.
Monday 16th of July 2018
Sorry to hear that. Hope it all goes well.