As seasoned New Yorkers, it is rare when someone, something, or even an international corporation can pull the wool over our eyes to be taken advantage of. Yet sadly, I was totally screwed by a car rental company.

Everyone has heard of car rental companies such as Hertz, Budget, Enterprise, National, Alamo, Thrifty, Dollar and Avis, but few have heard of SIXT. SIXT is the newest in the United States but has been around longer than most of the above. They are a high-end car rental company, usually renting cars like Mercedes, and BMW at prices similar to the other companies… at least they used to be.

About two months ago, the national media spoke about a real shortage of rental cars at airports as the pandemic was winding down and that more people would be renting cars at major airports around the country. Apparently, during the pandemic, the media explained that all car rental companies were selling off major portions of their vehicle fleets, as opposed to letting them sit idle. This made perfect sense to me – so instead of waiting, my knee-jerk reactors kicked in and I went online that evening to secure a car rental.

We have not seen our grandchildren in Florida for about 16 months, so I figured I would splurge by paying about $100 (including all taxes or so I believed) a day for a very nice car. In all transparency, SIXT prices were about 25% higher than the others, but there were never any long lines, and the vehicle was a Mercedes, so I figured “what the heck.”

This amount was without their insurance, which they try very hard to guilt you into paying for. As a former insurance broker, I know my private car insurance company, Allstate, covers virtually everything on any rental car. Their hard-core insurance sales pitch, with virtually every text, drove me crazy, but I did not yield to their tactics.

All communications must be done online, so I booked a car for four days on my cell phone. When I got my confirmation, the bill was for over $600! Looking closer, they were charging me for five days, apparently because my return time on a Tuesday, was an hour later than the pickup time on Friday. I also thought $125 a day was ridiculous.

We went back and forth with texts, as I told them how I wanted to be charged for four days, and I would make my pickup time on Friday the same time as my return time on Tuesday. They said NO! So, I asked SIXT to then give me a five-day car rental, meaning I would pick the car up on Thursday in Florida at 12:30, and I would return it at 12:30 on Tuesday.

They agreed, but in the few hours that passed, they told me that their prices went up, and I would now have to pay an additional $116 for my five-day rental. I had enough, I told them to cancel the entire rental, figuring I would go to another car rental company. They then told me MY CANCELLATION FEE WOULD BE $346!!! I kept the five-day reservation.

On Thursday in Florida, I picked up my car at about 2:00 instead of 12:30. I thought that meant I could bring my car rental back at 2:00 on Tuesday. WRONG. If I brought the car back after 12:30 on Tuesday I would be charged for yet another full day! What a scam.

I brought the car back at 12:29 Tuesday, even though my flight was scheduled to take off at 3:45. For a five-day rental, my cost was $712, about 50% higher than other car rental companies… and that’s without any of their insurance!

In my opinion they totally take advantage of the public. Some would call this price gauging. I believe their tactics and rules are those of predators and do not serve the best interests of the people of the United States.