Istanbul, Attaturk Airport, November 15, 2015
Turkish Airlines just landed, we passed immigration and customs, picked up our luggages and exited to the arrival terminal. The Istanbul airport is the most chaotic airport I have seen in my 25 years of traveling, filled with rude people, rushing and bumping into you, no lines anywhere, people are already smoking while exiting. The airport lacks signage so you basically just follow the crowd.
Back to the topic: we had a car rental reservation with Fox Rent a Car for an economy size car via Carrentals.com. We found a “wing” packed with car rental offices, travel agencies, money exchange and public transportation but Fox Rent a Car was nowhere to be found.
I asked the information booth but they have never heard of that company. Then I lined up at Avis who directed me to the booth that said “Expedia” on it. I walked over and noticed a lot of company names on their sign: PayLess Car Rental and different tour operators, taxi, etc. It did not seem right, I have never seen a car rental that sells so many things. Anyway, there was no line here so I asked the guy for information. HE SAID FOX RENT A CAR WENT OUT OF BUSINESS AND HE TOOK IT OVER. He asked me if I had paid any money to the rental company, I said no (which luckily was my case) so he asked me to show him my reservation print-out to see what I reserved. I passed my papers and he told me he had my car but on a higher rate, Fox Rent a Car was now under his company so different rules applied. Red flags started to fly left and right….
Luckily the higher rate was only $2 more per day so for the 10 days it was only $20 more. The good news was that he gave me a bigger car for the extra $20 which benefitted us even more since we were 4 adults with fairly big size luggages. I really think he just wanted to make a little money but he kind of favored us.
While driving though Turkey this car rental contract kept bothering me a bit, what if Fox Rent a Car does exist and I just didn’t find them, what if they charged me for not showing up and here I am driving another car, paid the same amount to another company. It bothered me the point that when I returned the car I took 3 panoramic pictures of the airport with the car agencies lined up next to each other to prove there Fox is not there. I still could not find Fox, neither their return lot at the airport so I calmed down again, maybe they did go out business.
What I learned is that the Istanbul airport prohibits placing company signs in parking lots, which is insane because tourists need to find where to return the car and then find the proper lot. Try asking for help, people don’t speak English. We ended up returning the car to the public (paid) garage, which is where the security guard directed us. PayLess told me that we parked at the wrong place and need to pay the parking ticket. I told him that I wasn’t going to agree to the extra $10 cost for parking the rental car and I was going to reverse it with my bank. He calmed me down and told me that he was going cancel the ticket out but he gave me the check-out documents in Turkish so I had no clue what he wrote on it.
When I returned to the USA I decided to send an email to CarRentals.com to tell them my story and protect myself from potential charges using my photographs. I received a reply saying that Fox does exist but it appears that I got “hijacked” by another agency, which they claimed was not the first time. Well, soon the extra $10 charge appeared on my bank statement as well. I thought about disputing it but I let that one go even though that I already knew that was “hijacked” but the $10 charge might have been a legitimate charge from the paid garage, which they don’t control.
TRAVELERS HEADING TO THE ISTANBUL AIRPORT: IF YOU HAVE A CONFIRMATION FOR A CAR RENTAL, PLEASE LOOK FOR YOUR AGENCY, THEY HAVE TO BE THERE SOMEWHERE, IN A DIFFERENT WING PERHAPS. THERE IS ONLY 1 TERMINAL BUT THE AIRPORT IS SUPER PACKED AND CHAOTIC.