Two Gudja councillors are demanding the authorities take action against a car rental company which is eating up residents’ parking spaces, instead of paying an airport parking fee like other car hires.
“Car rental companies have parking reserved for them at the airport, and it is unjust and illegal for them to take up public parking spaces so as to increase their profit margins,” PN councillors Mark Anthony Sammut and Stefan Caruana said in a letter to Transport Malta and the Malta Tourism Authority. “To rub salt in the wounds, they are even sending their workers to clean the cars with jerry cans right in front of people’s houses, instead of using a car wash like the other operators.”
Contacted by Lovin Malta, the car hire’s managing director Manuel Camilleri said his company doesn’t make use of the airport’s reserved parking spaces because they have been fully occupied by other car hire companies.
He vehemently denied the councillors’ allegations of abuse, arguing he only brings the cars from his Haz-Zebbug yard to the airport when a tourist has booked them. He noted some of the parked cars flagged by the councillors could belong to his workers or could have been parked there by tourists as they were returning them, and that residents’ parking can be used by the public before 4:30pm.
Moreover, he said two of his cars were recently vindictively vandalised – one of them was scratched all over with a car key and another was crashed into.
Sammut said he has reported the company -SurPrice Car Rentals – to the police and the local warden agency LESA several times, but his complaints have kept falling on deaf ears. This is despite it at times having eaten up as many as 15 residents’ parking spaces in one go.
“This proves enforcement in Malta has become non-existent,” he said. “In the past, we may have had one law for gods and another for animals, but now we just have one law – the law of the jungle.”
He questioned whether the company’s owners enjoy the blessing of Malta’s enforcement agencies or of a specific politician.
“The council has grown tired trying to ensure the law is adhered to and that public order maintained, without cooperation from the enforcement authorities. Now is the time to publicly expose what is going on.”
PN Gudja councillor Mark Anthony Sammut said the ‘law of the jungle’ reigns in Malta
Surprice Car Rentals only has one review from a tourist on its Facebook page, and it’s not exactly a glowing one.
“On arrival at the airport we were left totally in the dark about where to collect our car from. The contract said we should meet their rep outside arrivals but after finding nobody there we called them and were told for the first time we actually needed to go to their small office on the second floor of the airport,” the tourist wrote.”Once we got there the two clearly overworked and fed-up staff were overwhelmed with a queue of customers collecting cars. After waiting for the best part of an hour, the paperwork was finally signed and we then had to head out to the airport’s drop-off zone – not the rentals car park – to collect the vehicle.
A clip of the angry tourist’s review on the car hire’s Facebook page
“Here there was a further wait while the customers ahead of us waited a painfully long time for the one rude rep to take innumerable photos of the condition of each car. In the end it took 90 minutes between arriving at their office and driving off in the car.”
The tourist said that, when he returned the car to the airport’s drop-off zone, a representative from SurPrice tried to charge him for damages in the form of “two almost invisible scuffs on one hubcap”.
“When we refused to pay, he got very angry, threatening my partner verbally and physically and claimed he would prevent us from checking in for our flight home when we asked to speak to his manager.”
He said he reported the company to the police, who he said were unhappy at how they use the airport drop-off zones as their unofficial car park.
At some points in both collection and drop off they were leaving cars on the road with the hazard lights on because there were no spaces left in this drop-off zone,” he said. “This company can only offer cheap prices as they will try their damnedest to rinse you for money for doing minimal or non-existent “damage.”