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This 4WD hire company was ripping off customers

Photo credit Australian 4WD Hire website
Photo credit Australian 4WD Hire website

Have you ever driven a 4WD at night, when touring? Pulling in to camp after dusk? Quick trip a K or two down the track for firewood, or leaving to get an early start perhaps?
How about being caught in the rain. Can you put your trip on hold until the rain clears, by staying in the one camp site indefinitely?
Yeah, thought as much. You’d be liable to lose thousands of dollars from your bond if reports about Australian 4WD Hire are true.

The operator of Australian 4WD Hire, based at Surfer’s Paradise but also advertising in most states and the NT, has been accused of ripping off tourists in an “unscrupulous, unfair, fraudulent” and “well-rehearsed” scam.
Reports from LNP member for Clayfield Tim Nicholls, who brought the matter up in parliament, said the scam involved charging the customer unreasonably high amounts when the vehicles broke down, and threatening with legal action if the customer didn’t pay up.
“[This was] affecting many Australians and foreign tourists as well as damaging Queensland’s and Australia’s reputation as a friendly, safe and honest destination for holidays,” Mr Nicholls said.
He described Australian 4WD Hire as carrying out “a relentless, systemic and well-rehearsed fraud” on 4WD vehicle hirers.

Customer Feedback

A bit of research shows it goes deeper than that. Reports on yelp.com.au and productreview.com.au show customers complaining that the hire company uses GPS data loggers to penalize speeding harsher than the police can even though no fine was given by the police, dictate speed limits lower than Australian road rules (60km/h max on unsealed roads), even use G-Force data as a reason to withhold bond. Want to write a negative review? Expect legal threats. Heck, we expect them for this post.

Hittheroad.rentals report having far more negative feedback about Australian 4WD Hire than any of the 300 other hire operators they list. Due to legal threats all reviewers took down their reviews.
TripAdvisor makes for interesting reading, though there is a large proportion of removed posts too.

Now the reports nearly all say the cars are well maintained and being plain white with a simple graphic on the door is far more tasteful than a Wicked camper, but gets expensive if you aren’t ludicrously careful! Not many rental mobs allow their 4WDs to be taken off-road (albeit within strict limitations) so that’s a tick for them too.

What’s that joke: The only thing faster than a company car is a hire car? It is understandable that a company with a fleet of modern well presented and expensive 4WDs would try and limit the damage caused to their vehicles-the next customer doesn’t want to hire a car that you’ve rally driven to near destruction. Tourists are hardly renowned for careful driving…

Creek crossings are fun and all, but not if it costs you your 4WD Hire bond
Creek crossings are fun and all, but not if it costs you your 4WD Hire bond. Photo from Australian 4WD Hire’s website

Is it a case of ‘read and understand the Terms & Conditions’ or are hire companies too restrictive or greedy?
In the case of Australian 4WD Hire, the T&C form lists “operating the Vehicle in any body of water, including but not limited to creeks, rivers and the ocean” as prohibited operation, yet the briefing form states “Do not submerse in water any Vehicle higher than the lowest point of driver door”, leaving it open to misunderstanding. Check out their customer’s gallery, and we’ve picked a few to share here, of their vehicles obviously in the drink.

Customer photo on Australian 4WD Hire's website shows a Prado on Fraser Island very wet
Customer photo on Australian 4WD Hire’s website shows a Prado on Fraser Island very wet

Apollo is another 4WD Hire company, if you are in the market to hire and have an hour or two to waste, check out this thread!

On the other hand, there’s No Limits 4X4 Hire who actively promote trips over harsh off road terrain! Check out this video on facebook!

I guess we owners of 4X4s take it for granted the freedom available to us, but for many wishing to join in on the adventures if only occasionally it is expensive and fraught with high unexpected costs.

Have you had a good or bad experience with this or another 4WD rental company? Do you think it ridiculous or justified to charge customers for speeding or other misdemeanors? Tell us in the comments below!

14 Comments

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  • What about hiring a 4wd and NOT being alowed to take the Toyota Landcruiser off the bitumen road.
    That is what I call ROUGH.

  • We looked at using Australian 4WD Hire at Christmas time however we were turned off them quickly due to hearing a lot of bad stories. I guess whether the stories are legitimate or not, bad word spreads quicker than good and also if you throw mud longer enough, some will stick so we declined the expensive adventure – or misadventure for that matter.

  • I love the fact that on productreview there are now a bunch of high rating reviews, all of which are from the 28th of June.

  • I called them up about hiring a 4wd for an extended trip in Darwin this year as I didn’t have the time to drive up (in my well equipped landcruiser tourer) from Perth but still wanted a comfortable touring car.
    Found the staff easy to deal with (even the ones that were quiet clearly backpackers) BUT…
    The T&C’s, particularly the GPS tracking gave me second thoughts. (I’m well used to and aware of the data these units provide as we have them equipped to all our work vehicles).
    Glad I followed my gut feelings…..

  • Bloody ridiculous. Un Australian. As for speeding redlight infringements etc, yes the car hire company obviously should pass this on to the hier’er but only after receiving notification from the police. As for the rules & fines for water crossings + beach driving or just general 4×4 ing what a joke. They should get out of the 4×4 hire business & hire Yaras’s. my moto would be, you hire it, you break it, you pay the excess, & associated costs, but go & have fun and use simple logic and respect for the vehicle, simple. There will always be some wankers that drive it like they stole it.

  • I have dealt with Australian 4WD hire a couple times from Surfers Paradise and they were very good. I had a Jeep Wrangler and it was in perfect condition I respected the vehicle and that it was somebody else’s property.I delivered back thoroughly cleaned inside and out as it what they request. I am now in FNQ and travel the tracks regularly in my own 4WD ( company vehicle) and see some hell on wheels bad attitude from hirers that should not be in the vehicles. Good on them for getting tough on the idiots that just trash the environment and their property. I would deal with them again if I was in the market.

  • To fine people as a private company is illegal under the Australian Constitution fullstop. Let alone the governments of the country.

  • Well if you leave a bond arange with your bank first that you will be doing that and if for no real reason they want to keep your bond then they will be in breach of consumer laws and that is fraud so the bank can stop the transaction for you and they carnt fight the banks or lending institutions anyway thats a thought

  • People (the normal punters) think they can do the stuff they see in 4×4 ads on TV, mags, etc of 4x4s screaming through waist deep water or manically thrashing up steep hills on 2wheels & think that is standard practice. The media in general & car companies in particular have a lot to answer for.

  • It’s not only 4×4= we had a hire car provided by our breakdown company. We need to have our rig flat bed returned home for repairs, so was given a Camry to dive home to Victoria.
    We were allowed the time stated by maps and were not allowed to drive at night in the NT or outback SA. Lucky we had nothing to do while still travelling in daylight.
    Had to ring them and point out the ridiculousness of the requirement but had to argue for extra time by threatening to bring it to the media’s attention.
    Don’t take any crap now.

  • Hired a Jeep for a week in Darwin. Didnt do any extreme 4wd driving but found them very easy to deal with and with far less restrictions than other companies.

  • We were subject to being ripped off by this company they threatened us with legal action for minor speeding! We were fined $1500. We were not in a position to risk not paying it as we come to Aus every year. They also did nott return our deposit after saying we had put a dent in the roof which was there when we got it but stupidly didnt take a photo at the time! If anyone would like to read there ridiculous email ill be happy to send this too you. I will be doing some research in light of this article now to see if we have any chance of getting a refund! Not being able to drive at night also is ridiculous! Stay away from them.

  • It does not appear that is what they are doing, reading through people’s complaints, they are being charged for the wear and tear that is caused by driving way too fast for way too long. Having seen the disasters that have happened in the NT from tourists flogging vehicles, I say good on em! Plus, everyone is always complaining about he poor conditioning hire 4×4, it’s because customers drive them into the ground.

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