Atlas Choice – Online Car Rental Brokerage Defaults On Bookings
Thousands of consumers may well be holding worthless car hire bookings for the Christmas period after the company they booked through, Atlaschoice, apparently failed to pay firms providing the actual car hire.
Customers of the website have reported being told at car hire desks that their booking would not be honoured unless they paid again – in some cases many hundreds of pounds – because Atlas had not paid the car’s actual provider.
Frustrated customers of the west London car hire booking firm, which acted as the booking agent for all the big car hire brands, have reported the problem on Twitter and other social media in recent days.
Another customer, Chris Clifton-Brown, wrote online: “Booked through them recently and when I turned up to collect my car the hire firm made me aware that Atlaschoice is not paying the actual hire firms. I had to pay the hire firm for the car again even though Atlaschoice have already taken my money.”
The company, which has been in business since 1990, did not return calls or reply to emails. The website was still operating, but not apparently taking new bookings.
Although Atlaschoice is not a household name many customers will have used the booking agent website via the popular TravelSupermarket comparison site – part of the MoneySupermarket group. It also partnered with a number of other big web-based travel businesses.
The Christmas period is traditionally one of the busiest for car hire operators. With many customers may be unable to pay for their car hire for the second time simply because they cannot afford it.
A TravelSupermarket spokeswoman told the Guardian Newspaper that it pulled Atlas choice from its listings three weeks ago. “They missed paying us at the end of November and we couldn’t reach them so took them immediately off our site as a precautionary measure. Until then, there was no sign of financial difficulty and payments were up to date. We’ve called, emailed and sent a letter and continue to try and reach them but have not heard anything.”
She advised anyone with a car hire booking made through Atlaschoice to approach the company supplying the car to establish whether the booking has been paid for and whether or not it would be honoured.
Customers should also contact their bank card provider. Credit users will be protected by section 75 rights that hold the card provider jointly liable provided the booking cost £100 or more. Debit card users may face a tougher battle to get their money back but could be refunded via a chargeback scheme, she said.
Atlas choice failed to respond to the requests for comment. Is there anyway back for them from this?