Don't get scammed by car rental companies in Albufeira
Read reviews about our experience, both unpleasant and good ones, with car rentals in Albufeira. As well as follow the tips we have now collected to avoid future bad experiences and scams done by these rental companies.
My Experience with “Sixt Rent a Car” in Albufeira
My previous experiences with "Sixt" in other countries had been positive, so I naturally chose them for my car rental in Albufeira, Portugal. Unfortunately, I didn't check what is the feedback about the “Sixt Rent a Car” branch in Albufeira or Portugal as a whole. At the time of writing, Sixt’s Albufeira branch holds an average rating of 3.3 (Google reviews), while its parent company, JAPrac rent-a-car, scores even lower - 1.7. 89% of the people on Trustpilot have left 1-star reviews for Sixt company in Portugal. This oversight was my first mistake in what turned out to be a series of unfortunate events.
Locating the “Sixt Rent a Car” in Albufeira: An Unexpected Challenge
My booking, made through Rentalcars.com, provided an address that turned out to be incorrect, because "Sixt" has changed their location. If you ever choose "Sixt" car rental in Albufeira, ensure you have the right address to avoid unnecessary hassle. I ended up taking an Uber to the wrong place before finding the actual location, which is on the -2 floor of "Albufeira Terrace".
First Rental Car in Albufeira: A Damaged Peugeot 2008
Upon arrival, a polite employee walked me through the standard rental process, including the terms and conditions, and insurance options. I had a choice between the Renault Captur, my initial choice made when I made the reservation, and a Peugeot 2008. Opting for familiarity, I chose the Peugeot 2008, a model I had driven before.Accompanied by another "Sixt" employee, we headed to the car parked in an underground lot. While we were walking to the car, the employee asked - do you have insurance for the car? To which I replied, not from your company, but yes, I have the insurance for this rental car. Because in the underground parking the light is not the best, employee offered to drive the car out for a better visual inspection. Once outside, I photographed the car's wheels, windows, mirrors, and pre-existing damages. The employee casually mentioned that some minor scratches weren't documented due to their size.Shortly after leaving the parking lot, I noticed a strange noise from the front left wheel. Concerned, I immediately returned to Sixt's office for assistance. A different employee joined me to assess the vehicle. Within moments of driving (2 to 3 meters at best), he instructed me to stop and confirmed they would provide a replacement car.It seemed likely the CV axle was damaged, necessitating a repair. Because the employee who gave me this Peugeot had driven the car out of the parking lot himself, it felt strange that he didn't notice the noise and made me a bit worried that the car was handed over in hopes of it being fixed at my expense—a situation I narrowly avoided by returning the vehicle ASAP.
Second Rental Car: only 17 pre-existing damages
Back at the “Sixt Rent a Car” office at Albufeira Terrace, I was provided with the originally booked Renault Captur. After signing the necessary documents, I proceeded with the pre-inspection. It was only later, through the attached documents, that I discovered the car had 17 pre-existing damages. This included dented doors and scratched rims – hardly the quality of a car you would expect when renting a car for your holiday in Albufeira from the “Sixt Rent a Car” company.Unfortunately, my attention to detail waned during the second car’s pre-inspection. I inadvertently missed photographing certain areas of the car, a mistake that would later prove significant. This experience highlights the importance of using a pre-inspection checklist to ensure thorough documentation.Hoping that there would be no engine or wheel damage to this car, I signed the pre-inspection report and left with my new rental car.
Driving the rental car in Algarve, Portugal
Renault Captur is a modest vehicle, it served its purpose of basic transportation. Throughout the 8-day rental, we used it mostly on the weekend, rest of the time it remained mostly parked near our apartment. Not once did we encounter any incidents that could have resulted in damage to the car from our end.
Giving the rental car back: another dent in already dented doors
I decided to return the car in the morning, even when our rental period was valid till lunchtime. I was sure that everything would be fine because as mentioned we didn't have any situations where the car could be damaged even less likely dented. At the same time when I entered the “Sixt Rent a Car” office, another man was arguing with the administrator.The same employee who had given me the faulty Peugeot now conducted the return inspection of my car.The car's return inspection initially went well, until the employee pointed out a dent on the front passenger side door, unmarked in the pre-inspection. I questioned its feasibility, given our careful usage and lack of incidents. Despite my doubts, the employee insisted on its severity and the need for repair. I requested photos of the dent, and he assured me they would automatically be sent to me along with other documents after I signed the report.Although I was certain the dent wasn't our doing, my incomplete pre-inspection photos limited my ability to challenge this claim effectively. At this moment there is no opportunity for me to note my disagreement with this acquisition, nor can I refuse to return the car. Perhaps the only recourse would be to involve the police.
No news for 4 weeks and the signature of an unknown employee
Because I didn't get the images of this dent after I signed the return report, in evening I went back to the “Sixt” office in Albufeira Terrace. Unfortunately, the employee was not there, but other employees said that I have to wait for the technical department to check the car and they will be the ones who will send me the images.Strangely, when reviewing their system images, even they couldn’t find the alleged dent. They estimated a three-day wait for the technical department's response, during which I could contest any claims.During that week I completed a feedback form from “Sixt”, expressing my disappointment and the issues with both vehicles. Subsequently, a rental sales supervisor from the Albufeira office reached out, offering an apology and an upgrade voucher valid for three years when renting a car from “Sixt” in Portugal. Despite this gesture, my interest to use their services again is close to zero.Weeks passed without any further communication from the technical department. Finally, three weeks post-return, “Sixt” (or more precisely: Japrac, Rent A Car - Aluguer de Automóveis Lda) emailed me about an 'anomaly' detected in the Renault Captur. Eager for more details, I responded, asking what anomaly had been detected after 3 weeks had passed since I gave back the car. The only email I got back was an automatic reply.During the 4th week since I gave back the car, I received the promised images of the dent, along with other documentation, including repair cost estimates. However, a glaring discrepancy caught my attention on the return check sheet: the employee's signature did not match the name of the person who had actually assisted me. The inconsistency in documentation raised further concerns about the “Sixt Rent a Car” administrative practices. Can you imagine, that a company employee would sign documents as someone else?
Comments from "Sixt"
After I received this email, I once again wrote an email with additional questions to the "Sixt" Car condition department, but didn't get any reply (except for the automatic one). After a couple of days, I wrote another email, this time also adding Customer service to recipients.The main 3 things I asked were:
* What is their guess, how a dent like this could have appeared without any accident during the rental period
* How they can explain the signature with different employee name
* Can they send me pictures of the repaired doors (since the invoice said: “The final amount includes: Imobilization Period costs, Labour Hours and Materials.”).Finally, I managed to get an answer from the car condition department (I guess, involving customer service helped). As you can imagine, my questions or dispute claims, didn't change the fact that they still charged my bank card. To question how this kind of damage could have appeared, they speculated that the dent might have occurred in a parking lot (check the image, and think yourself if it could be possible) or been an attempt at a break-in during the night.About the signature mismatch, they just attached the image from their internal system, showing a digital form where the correct employee name was displayed. However, they didn't comment on why under the signature of the return check sheet we have a different employee's name.And the best part about the damage - they said that they can't provide me with any images that would prove the car is repaired because, and I quote: “Allow us to clarify that our vehicles are forward to the workshop to repair the existing damages, according to the availability of the existing fleet and booking schedule. This means, the repair can happen after or before the payment by our customers, since our fleet logistically can´t be dependent on this factor”So they charge customers for repairs, that most likely won't be made at all. Otherwise, it is hard to explain how the car could have had 17 pre-existing damages.
If you ask me - Don't rent a car in Portugal from “Sixt” (owned by Japrac, Rent A Car - Aluguer de Automóveis Lda). And I am not alone, 80% of the Trustpilot users who left 1 star reviews, will agree with me. If you still think that this is one in a hundred case and I was just unlucky, do a quick search on Google, typing in your prefered location for “Sixt” rental, and you will see that other people (mostly those who had insurance somewhere else not from “Sixt”) had similar issues with them.
Where should you rent a car in Albufeira?
We spent here two months and of course, “Sixt” was not the only car rental company we used. However, it was the worst one. We also rented a car from “Dollar Car” and “Visacar” in Albufeira, and experience with both of these companies was much better. Of course, after what I experienced with “Sixt” I came prepared with my pre-inspection list and made sure that I took photos of each part of the car. And that is my suggestion to those planning to rent a car, no matter if you rent a car in Albufeira, Lisboa, or even Berlin, be sure to take photos and have insurance, just in case. It may take you longer, but remember - the rental company doesn't matter how the car looks when it is taken by you, but they do care and they will spend a good amount of time to check how it looks when you return it.
How to do proper pre-inspection?
While we are working on providing you a better experience on doing a proper pre-inspection, you can use this list. You should make at least 2-3 photos per car part. You might think it is a lot and just filming a video will be faster, but remember - the rental company won't rush when you will bring the car back, so why would you rush when you are taking a car from them?
In my personal experience, photos work better. Sometimes it is hard to spot a dent or scratch, so you might want to take the same part but from a different angle, so the light would be a bit different.
I hope that this list will be useful the next time you will rent a car!
Exterior of the car
Back of the car
Rear Right Light
Under the bumper
Rear Window/Hatch Glass
Rear Left Light
Fuel Cap Door
Rear Driver Side Door Glass
Rear Driver Side Quarter Glass
Rear Driver Side Door
Rear Driver Side Door Handle
Front Driver Side Door Handle
Front Driver Side Door
Front Driver Side Door Glass
Driver Side Rocker
Driver Side Quarter Panel
Driver side Pillar D
Driver Side Pillar B
Driver Side Pillar C
Driver Side Pillar A
Driver Side Fender
Both Wheels on this side
Rear Passenger Side Door Glass
Rear Passenger Side Quarter Glass
Rear Passenger Side Door
Rear Passenger Side Door Handle
Front Passenger Side Door Handle
Front Passenger Side Door
Front Passenger Side Door Glass
Passenger Side Rocker
Passenger Side Quarter Panel
Passenger side Pillar D
Passenger Side Pillar B
Passenger Side Pillar C
Passenger Side Pillar A
Passenger Side Fender
Both Wheels on this side
Front & Roof
Front Bumper (and under it)
Front Left Light
Front Right Light
Interior of the car
Rear Passenger Side Door Panel
Rear Driver Side Door Panel
Passenger Side 2nd Row Seat
Front Passenger Side Seat
Front Passenger Side Door Panel
Front Driver Side Seat
Front Driver Side Door Panel
Driver Side 2nd Row Seat
Center 2nd Row Seat
Display (while on)