Why reviews matter – don’t trust a brand without them

Goldcar are part of the whole DoYouSpain.com rip off strategy
An Express Queue with Goldcar, where you can expect to wait over two hours and then get royally fleeced

I’m not going to hide the fact that I am involved with Feefo who manage customer reviews. It’s obviously made me more aware of why reviews matter. But when I went overseas a few weeks ago, I broke my own golden rule and made an online purchase from a supplier I had used many times before even though they had no real reviews on their site. So I thought it was worth writing down my experience and learnings from it.

The company is Do You Spain. I must have booked cars through them ten times in the past. This time, on our way to ski with family in Andorra, I was lured by an amazingly low price of €42 for the week for a Ford Focus. Wow. It was with Goldcar as Do You Spain are a broker for lots of different car hire companies.

I read the small print that went with it and found a few little treats. Firstly €62 to take it out of the country and into Andorra. and then a full to empty policy on the fuel. So I figured say 55 litres at €1.40 per litre. By this stage we are up to a figure of €181 with no real chance to burn a whole tank of fuel on a 350km round trip to Soldeu and back. But still cheaper than five of us paying for transfers at €75 per person.

I read on and then found a hidden extra which was an €850 excess, in case I crashed it. Sensibly I thought, I can insure that with http://www.carhireexcess.com/ at £1.99 per day, that has to be £14 well spent.

So when I landed at Barcelona El Prat Airport, and after a staggering two hour wait in the Express queue I was offered the following option. An upgrade to a slightly bigger car. Okay, don’t mind if I do. Fuel at €108, which works out at €1.80 per litre, surely the most expensive fuel in the whole of Europe?

But then the real shocker. Take out our additional insurance to protect the Excess at another €14 per day, or hand over the €850 excess and we will give it back to you if the car is undamaged. Who would trust them not to find some damage after their track record so far. Anyway, the final bill was €258 against the listed price of €42. Not terribly accurate pricing in my opinion. In fact none of the costs related in any way to the quote of €42.

So, on return home, I tried to speak to DoYouSpain and guess what?

Despite many, many positive reviews, they wouldn’t reply to my concerns or answer any of my queries. When I searched around, it appears that lots of people have expressed similar concerns on Money Saving Expert and other forums.

So the simple moral of this story?

Trust brands that display honest and open reviews. Distrust those that don’t. In fact avoid them like the plague. They are hiding reviews for a reason. And sadly, for Spain to recover, it needs to begin to behave itself, treat customers with respect and offer good fair prices we can rely on. Sadly I won’t be using these companies again and when I go back in a few weeks, i’m just paying for the transfer.

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Wireless Electricity – or WiTricity – An old idea made new

One of my team just pointed me towards this as a new TED video and I have to say I was totally enraptured with it. The opportunities for this are absolutely endless. The biggest issue we ever have with any technology is the number of wires that come with it. On our recent holiday to Andorra, half my hand luggage seemed to be full of plugs, wires and different little gadgets.

The technology itself is not that new, just this commercial interpretation of it. It was actually proposed by Nikola Tesla over 100 years ago!

This has the potential to safely end all of this hassle or wired connections and the sooner we see it commercially, the better. ANy brand that can launch the wireless charging phone has to be onto a winner. The wireless TV would be fab (I already have a few wireless radios – but they still need to be plugged in to charge them!), but trying to find wireless surround sound speakers that don’t need constant charging is something I have been looking for, for years.