Don’t fall for this car hire con

A holiday in Spain with her husband and five-month old baby turned into a nightmare for Rachel Lacey when the car hire company failed to honour its car seat guarantee. In her Moneywise TV blog, she shares her experience - and offers a word of warning to others.

Your Comments

I would be interested to know who the supplier of the car was on arrival?

We had a similar type of experience with Dan Dooley Car hire in Dublin just over a year ago.

We collected the hire car, the baby seat was just left on the rear seat. Apparantly it was our responsibility to fix it.

It was seat belt attached but the instructions were unreadable, the staff did not know how to fix it and a mechanic was sent for.
Some three hours later the seat was fixed in position but was loose and still wobbled. It was decidedly unsafe for use on some of the most dangerous roads in Europe.

We managed to acquire an IsoFix seat from a friend and we installed that instead.

The experience spoilt the start of our holoiday as we travelled to our destination in the dark.

Dan Dooleys Car Hire were indifferent over the fixing of the child seat in the car saying it was the renters responsibility and that they did not provide IsoFix child seats - yet Ireland promotes itself as a child family holiday destination.

The rental cars are all less than two years old and come with IsoFix fittings.

On checking, this is standard practice amongst car rental companies in Ireland, they will not invest in IsoFix child seats and provide only the less safe seat belt attached seats.

Penny pinching, indifferent and dangerous. We survived the holiday but have never been back since.

She said it was Atlas car hire

Every time we've hired a car with littlies the hire company point blank refuse to fix the £$%^& thing. They bleat about the insurance company won't allow them.
It's completely stupid, the one person who can definitely be trained and learn how to fix them, ie the hire company employee, is the one who refuses leaving us the customer to struggle and guess, and perhaps do it wrong. Last couple of times we've acted completely dumb and in the end they drive round the corner with us and fix it "unofficially"
I'd really like the hire companies to be forced to fit them. If by some awful chance there was an injury and a medical bill involving a poorly fitted child seat I'd be mighty tempted to blame the insurer who has in practice made certain that the kiddy seat was fitted by an amateur in a hurry.

We booked the car through Atlas Choice - but they were just the middle man with whom we had the contract. The company that actually supplied the car at the airport was Avis.

Rachel Lacey is the group personal finance editor for Moneywise

Although not connected with child seats; we have also had terrible problems with Atlas Choice; to the extent that I would not contemplate using them again, WHATEVER the advertised cost might be. A key factor being that they have no control or interest in the actual charge for fuel used by the actual car hirer.

I can't help feeling I've been scammed by Avis, although my comment is nothing to do with child seats. Basically I returned a car with a small dent in it and have been charged £500 for the repair. Two letters of complaint have not even been acknowledged. My advice to everyone is to take your own car away with you if possible or use public transport. The attitude over car seats is symptomatic of an industry happy to feed off scamming the public and sticking two fingers up to concerns over child safety or anyone expecting half way decent customer service.

Some obvious words , but a must , of advice.Thoroughly check your car before you leave hirer.Take out independent excess policy making sure that underside,glass,tyres etc. are covered Own hire agents/companys policy often dont cover this and hence damage to your underside - which you probably wouldnt even think of checking could land you with a fictitious bill which could be dished out to every hire customer !!!These independent policies can be as low as £25 - a small price for peace of mind.


Let me pose this simple question to you - if Hertz, Avis or Dan Gangooly fit a child seat to your rental car, and you have a crash or something awful and your child, through no fault of their own, is injured. What do you think happens? Oh yea, the company gets sued for millions because it didn't fit the car seat correctly.

Sorry, but car rental customers are just like everyone else - litigious and looking to play the blame game. They must insist on customers fitting their own seats else they'd be sued out of business.

I'm frankly amazed that the so-called experts on this site haven't figured this out yet.

If you damage your car, expect to pay for it. Hire companies should send you invoices with prices on to confirm exactly what work was done. They should also respond to your complaints.

Car hire gets an unfair deal. If I can offer you one piece of advice, from the inside - READ YOUR CONTRACT. Companies will put stuff on it that you've not asked for because they know that even the 'clever' people out there never read what they're signing. Once you've signed it you've legally agreed to it and you won't get refunded. Just look at the figures - it will show the amount that you'll have to pay over and above any prepayment you've made. READ THE CONTRACT, ASK QUESTIONS, MAKE NOTES OF PEOPLE'S NAMES. Simple stuff.

Durr is right, of course there is a reason why they don't want to fix the car seats themselves. I have been working in the car rental niche for years and the things you see would amaze you, people threatening to sue us for almost anything they disliked - but please you have to realize here one thing: the car hire company is renting an object of a tremendous value to you, for a very little percentage of its purchase price, and if god forbid something happens, we have to be ready for all alternatives.

So yes, read the contract, because everything is written there, and of course it your choice whether you sign it or not.

Of course I don't understand companies that try to save money and offer seats that are problematic to fit or even unsafe? That sounds almost unreal. And quite unexpected especially for Western Europe. My company does car rental in Romania and we have never had a problem with baby seats, even though the customers always fix them for themselves. We just always make sure that the car seat is compatible, I think that is the key.

 Con artists will often target students, foreigners and those looking for a room or property in areas where things tend to go fast, such as large cities. They also take advantage of them by telling those who question practices that lead to a con, 'this is the way we do things in Britain or this area.


This is really bad such incidents should not take place , the car rental company should provide safety and also take the responsibilities for it. California motorcycle accident lawyer

A terrible argument.  I guess by that reasoning it'd be fine to supply the car with flat tyres, just in case their staff supplied it with under-inflated tyres?
Car hire companies do not get an unfair deal - they get the reputation they deserve. 
In a recent investigation by a national newspaper into a raft of complaints from readers, it noted that the company in question only rated 1.5 out of 5 on a review site.  But it also noted that this score was 'avarage for the sector'.
That's an awful score and the sector needs to start listening to it's customers who are deeply unhappy with the service they recieve.

Reading all you comments here regarding the car hire makes me think that I should not pursue my planned trip with this car rentals. It is really alarming especially the safety of passengers. I don't know why these companies still operates if their cars are not fitted to be hired. I mean, their cars have safety issues especially to baby seats. Hiring self drive cars in Cebu, Philippines is my best experience. Aside from a cheap price, their cars really are functioning well including all the accessories. You can get your ride comfortably without worrying of your safety.

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Incompetent and unreliable....Atlaschoice New Query Received [#9674521]


I am very upset with Atlas choice as they have completely ignored me for the past months. I booked a car online through them in April 2013 and at the very same minute, I called them to confirm if there were any other charges involved. And yes there were because I had to drop the car off in another location from where I picked it up. Upon hearing this, I immediately requested the cancellation of my booking. I was advice to send an email immediately but to bear in mind that there may be cancellation charges. But since that day till present I haven't received anything from this company. 

I've called several times last year between May and August, and the said that they will refund my money. On the 7th of January 2014, I spoke to an adviser, Murielle, she told me that my case was closed. I asked her how can they closed the case when they haven't refunded the money back? So she had to send a message for the reopening of the case. And since then I haven't heard from them. BUT IF I WAS THE ONE OWING THEM I WOULD HAVE BEING DISTURBED BY DEBT COLLECTORS RESULTING TO A BAD CREDIT RATING.



We need to stop this from happening. A lot of people are going through this same scenario and do nothing about it. So this gives them confident to continue in their treachery ways. This is not fair at all. So if you have experienced the same thing as me with this same company or any other, please contact me so that we can work together to fight for our rights.

I have wasted so much time running after them and they have taken me for granted. I will make sure I set an example with them that they will never forget in this life or the next to come. 


Hope to hear from you soon.


It seems that I'm not the only one who has experienced problems with Atlas and I swar I will never use them.
I am from Cebu Prime Property and was looking for a good and affordable car rental service for my vacation at that time.

Atlaschoice car rental quoted a figure online but took higher amount upfront.
Beware! Such activity is classed as fraud.
I asked them to refund but they said NO and added arrongantly they are not regulated by anyone.

I would steer well clear of this company (Atlas Choice) based on my recent experience. To this date they haven't even responded to my online ticket within their own support system.


I rented a car online through Atlas Choice in September 2014, whom I found on Sky Scanner. The actual rental company was Megadrive  at Budapest International Airport in Hungary. I had no problems with the reservation, initial customer service or the car itself. Everything went fine until the last minute when I dropped off the car. They suddenly found damage under the front bumper that they deemed new even though it was already recorded in their own database as existing damage. However, it was not marked on the check-out report so they could claim it was new.


I talked to the manager and she was relentless. She said that they had to charge the entire deductible (excess) amount because of the damage. This was 1,016 euros! I have been driving for over 40 years without an accident or incident, and I cannot recall anything that would have damaged the car, so obviously I would want to dispute this charge. Even if I'm wrong and the car was damaged without me noticing it (very unlikely), the damage needs to be first assessed for the company to charge anything. One cannot simply charge the maximum deductible for an underbody scratch. Moreover, according to the local representative, the bumper was scratched on one side already and they alleged that i scratched the other side. IF that was the case, I would only be responsible for the difference between the costs of repairing one side vs. the entire bumper, which would be minimal if not zero.


I have checked online complaints against Megadrive and confirmed that mine is not an isolated incident. See for example or 


I complained to the Austrian headquarters of Megadrive, and following one week's worth of email exchange, they agreed to refund the total amount. Their reason stated was that the local employee made a mistake (i.e. marking up the check-out report after the car has been checked out).


I submitted a complaint to Atlas Choice to their online support center but they haven't replied to any of my messages, 8 days and counting. Highly unprofessional to say the least.