Our family just spent a week on Aruba and we had a wonderful vacation. We stayed in Cunucu Arubiano, a small bed and breakfast by the Arigok National Park, far from the crowds and big hotels. The quiet air and desolate dirt roads of the countryside contrast very nicely with the usual Caribbean experience. Oh, those poorly lit back roads with no street names, signs and speed limits. Very cool, although for us, tourists, they are navigable only with help of iPhone’s maps/nav. We had to drive everywhere, so choice of a rental company and a car mattered to us. Relying on the opinions posted here and other forums, we reserved a Suzuki Grand Vitara from Royal over the Internet. According to the photo on their website, it was supposed to be a 2-3 year old Suzuki Grand Vitara. Maybe a 4 year old, as this is a discount rental outlet. Upon arrival to the airport, we searched for the company’s representative among men hanging about the area. Our guy was strategically positioned there, right by the bus stop, smartly lacking any identifying sighs, perhaps due to some strict company policy. Once we have managed to meet, he drove us to the office, where he pointed at a decrepit 2-door Suzuki as “our” car. Being nicotine-deprived after the flight, I noted that we reserved a 4-door. That was actually an unverifiable statement on my part, based solely on the photo from the website, which showed a new-ish white 4-door Vitara. Still, with 2 kids and the necessity to install a booster seat, I decided to be difficult. But the Royal guy just would not let me. He took us to a dingy room that passes for Royal’s office and quickly substituted the car. “You are taking that one”, he said, pointing at a Suzuki Grand Vitara XL-7. Wow, a 4-door 7-seater, even bigger than we reserved, and for the same price! What a country, I thought. I was just way too happy to say anything about a heap of filthy booster seats piled in the corner (for no additional fee.) I just picked the least grimy one, and we loaded ourselves and luggage into the easily-won SUV. It was roomy, the XL-7, but once we began driving, I thought that maybe we should have taken the 2-door. Because this one turned out to an 8-year old car, according to a semi-stuck gas pedal, squishy brakes, a broken high-beam light switch, omnipresent shudders and groaning, cathartic crawl and, finally, the car manual. Any rock from the Ayo rock formation is more aerodynamic than that XL-7, trust me. Call me a snob but I don’t “do” 8 year-old rental cars. I wish Royal was straight with customers about their car pool. I flogged the stupid beast for days and did force it to exceed 40 mph on a few memorable occasions, but the price I literally had to pay at the pump… don’t even ask, especially since I don’t “do” florins either. I do know that the XL-7 consumed a third of the tank. Per day. But it died only once, when we were in the hotel, thankfully. I called Royal about that but no one would answer the phone, so I called a number for a tow truck printed on Royal’s receipt. The help came quickly and the battery’ cable was reattached. Two days later we were back to Royal’s office to return the pride of Japan. Except that the office was unattended and shut, with cell phone numbers taped to the glass door. We did reach the Royal guy over the cell phone and followed his instructions how to drop the car off at the airport parking lot. That part was easy. I can only imagine if we instead waited the promised “20 minutes” for someone to come to the office to deal with us and two other families milling at the door. I wonder who is using the XL-7 now, generating revenue for Royal and gas stations… We may come to Aruba again but Royal is too cheap and seedy to deal with ever again.
We had one similar experience with a company called Jansen, which went out of business I believe a few years ago. We had to fill the tires every day because they leaked, and finding air pumps in Aruba is not the easiest thing. We did get a great price for the week...but it was not worth it. We have rented at one of the well known companies ever since then, even if it costs us more. We laugh about it now, but it wasn't funny at the time.
Boca Catalina Beach
Mangel Halto for Snorkeling
Similar experience with Royal
We rented from Royal on our last trip as well. We wound up with a 6 year old Sonata. It had a clouded-over Speedometer, which worked about half the time. Otherwise, the car was fine. It ran well and had great AC.
However, when we brought the car back to the office on our way to the airport, no one was there and there was a note on the door to call a cell number (sound familiar?). We called and waited 25 minutes for someone to open the office and bring us to the airport. Luckily, we left ourselves plenty of time.
Next trip, we'll probably just take taxis. If we do rent a car, we'll probably use an on - airport vendor.
Arashi Beach, Hyatt, Radisson, Shopping, Flea Market, Downtown, Palm Beach, Everything
that's why Hans at Tropic Car is a great bet. His cars are well maintained and kept. they are clean. he's reliable. he's there when he says he will be. i really wouldn't want to rent from someone else. but because he's so in demand, once you book your place, you should immediately contact him.
That's quite an un-anticipated mis-adventure in car rental, and I the way you told it was very, ugh, I hate to say it, but entertaining. You have a great way with words.
We've only rented for a day or two at a time in the past, so have just used the hotel vendor. I think either Hertz or Avis, at least one of the more commonly known big names. We've always gotten a newish and very well maintained car.
I'm sorry you had a bad experience with your rental, but it sounds like you didn't let it dampen your spirits or ruin your vacation. I'd like to hear more about your B&B stay off the beaten path of the island.
written in may 2009 from our march 2009 trip
Well this is my Royal experience:
We decided to switch to Royal from Hertz after they institued their daily airport tax and service also became an issue. First time with Royal, no real problems got an ok car but they were very pleasant and easy to deal with. Picked us up the airport on time. No problem. Second time we dealt with them, car wasn't available that we had ordered so they decided to give us a different car but the back seat was too squishy for our 3 tall sons. We agreed on another car and finally left the lot. Within 5 minutes this car was not performing properly, we called the office...no answer. We called the emergency number....no answer. It was HOURS until we finally got hold of someone. They came by our hotel and traded cars with us the following day.
Despite this, we still rented a car from them this past March but this is where I feel that our relationship may come to an end. We picked up our car and left. Upon arrival to our hotel we noticed that the price on the contract was significantly different from the price quoted via email. The person who did the quote was not available as we called right away. Finally after a few days we connected and were told that it wasn't a problem the original price would be honoured. This was done via email confirmation as well as telephone confirmation. Everything went well until it was time to drop off the car. DH phoned to find out if traveller's cheques would be treated as cash and was told YES. Off he went to drop off car (I was staying in Aruba longer without a car). First, no record of the contract change and the person we needed to confirm was not at work. Then when DH went to pay with Traveller's cheques they said they wouldn't take them. DH was furious as he could have cashed them beforehand but didn't as was told that they would take them as cash. They sorted what to do for the moment and he returned the car with the understanding that the credit card slip would be held and charged the following day when the appropriate person returned and paperwork would be dropped off to me at the hotel. To make a long story short, it took them 2 weeks to bring me the paper work (calling and emailing them every 2nd day to remind them). They finally dropped it off the day before I left. DH asked them to charge us the rate of cash not credit card due to the error of the employee. They agreed to do so but "forgot" to do it in the 2 weeks I was waiting for the paperwork. I have been emailing and trying to sort this one out since my return on March 20th. Numerous emails sent with no response. Finally, at the end of April, I got a response (sort of) as I ended my email stating I am not sure why you are not answering my emails, are you not interested in my continued business? I got a response that my emails were going to spam (after 2 years of doing business with this company and all of a sudden my emails go to spam???). Unfortunately, he didn't answer my enquiries about my refund. I sent another two emails plus send messages through their reservation form online.
You guessed it, no response in weeks!! This has not been resolved to our satisfaction. Although the refund is small it is the principle. I was reluctant to share this story as I had hoped this would have been resolved quickly and I could have continued to deal with them as a customer. However, this has gone on too long and really how can one deal with a business who just ignores the customer once they get your money. This last dealings with Royal has pushed us too far, regretably!
I have also learned to stay away from Royal the hard and expensive way. they have horrible vechicles and I was charged over $800. for damages to a van I returned , which they charged to my credit card after I left Aruba !!! I'm still paying it off!!!