News Travel

This 4WD hire company IS ripping off customers

A few months ago we reported on a prominent Australian 4WD hire company based in Queensland that was accused of ripping customers off. This company carries a reputation for unfairly withholding bond deposits based upon speeding and driving at night or when raining. The customer was expected to pay for repairs if, through wear and tear, the vehicle mechanically broke down. Legal action immediately followed for values in excess of any perceived damage if the customer didn’t pay up. Of course, the hire company claimed they had done nothing wrong and it was all the customer’s fault.

LNP member for Clayfield, Tim Nicholls, showed concern in Parliament that the company would tarnish Australia and particularly Queensland’s tourist reputation. Mr Nicholls went on to accuse the company of ripping off tourists in an “unscrupulous, unfair, fraudulent” and “well-rehearsed” scam.

According to this ABC report the ACCC has been investigating due to the large volume of complaints fielded against Australian 4WD Hire.

Australian 4WD Hire have as many reasons to not release your bond as the night sky has stars… [Photo: Australian 4WD Hire website]

Councillor’s accusations are well-founded

As the ABC has reported, Australian 4WD Hire has been forced to back down on claims of negligence, speeding, tampering and wrongdoing on behalf of several hirers, each having received astonishing five-figure demands and litigation.

One report is of a couple who became bogged and hiked out to find mobile phone reception and organise help. Overnight high tidal flows damaged the stuck vehicle causing it to be written-off. The couple had purchased insurance against accident damage, however Australian 4WD Hire demanded $54,000 instead of the insurance excess. Against assurances made by Australian 4WD Hire, the Brisbane Magistrate’s Court found the vehicle was only insured for third party property damage.

Australian 4WD Hire advertise travel on remote roads but you’ll pay if wear and tear causes you to break down [Photo: Australian 4WD Hire website]
Readers who have used Australian 4WD Hire and have had their bond withheld, especially relating to speeding offences that you don’t remember making, would be well advised to pursue the matter further.

Australian 4WD Hire claim to have off-road insurance on all vehicles. The court disagrees.
Australian 4WD Hire claim to have off-road insurance on all vehicles. The Brisbane Magistrates Court found otherwise. Potential customers be warned.

21 Comments

Click here to post a comment

  • Good on you for reporting this. Scummy company ripped us off too and threatened legal action if we fought it (speeding through their GPS tracker even though the tracker isn’t made for that and we had no fines). I think they pick an amount from the bond to keep based on your proximity to Brisbane and your ability to fight it. To those seeing this, be factual in your comments and you can ignore any legal threats they send.

  • We hired from this company a couple of years ago – vehicle was checked over when we returned it in Broome- all ok- signed off no damage -noticed credit card charged over $600 a week later – they said the front windscreen had a large crack in it and had to be replaced-we had hand washed that car just before returning it – there was no crack in the windscreen! We were threatened with legal action if we gave a bad review or took it further! Wish now we had taken it further!! Stay away from this company – they are scammers!!

    • Why didn’t you have photos? As I remember, the advice card given to hirers’ by the company contains instructions to photograph the vehicle before taking possession of it, and before returning it. I understood that to be part of the legal requirements and have never questioned it. (I have had to hire vehicles for work when sent to another station or for training exercises, as well as privately, and have always followed that creed.) Never bothered to check again as I just automatically took the photos. In front of the desk person too, I might add.

      • I also always take photos if we drop a vehicle off with no one there to check the vehicle but in this case we didn’t see the need to take photos when dropping the vehicle back because the vehicle was checked over in front of us and signed off as all good – no damage!

  • If you have been scammed by this company there are 2 things you should do. 1. file a complaint with the ACCC and the OFT in Qld. 2 Contact the office of Tim Nicholls MP. He will be able to take your details to add the database of people scammed;

    I have done both these things from being scammed. I am still waiting to hear,from the ACCC or the OFT

  • Think of all the poor buggers who have come to Australia for a holiday of their life and met these scumbags. The courts should subpoena all the records of people who have used this hire company and contact each one for a class action or to seek compensation. Who knows how many good people have gone home with a terrible story about Australia. We should have these scumbags jailed as to me they seem quite comfortable doing what they do, suggesting it’s not their first rodeo??

  • What would you expect from this russian criminal and his plastic barbie doll.He feels he needs to carry a hand gun for his personal protection lets hope he one day blows his crown jewels right off

  • I applaud you for reporting this story. The owners need to be run out of town and prevented permanently from operating in the vehicle hire industry.

  • Similar scam made by a hire car company based out Hendra way a few years ago; wonder if these are the same proprietors because the modus operandi sounds very familiar’ I see to remember in that case several claims were made against hirers for the same damage over a twelve month period.

  • I can’t believe there are companies like these around. Good that they’re being exposed and chased by the authorities. Thugs like these is what gives Australia a bad name with tourist.

  • This mob ripped my good friend and world traveller recently to the tune of more than $5000. They are unscrupulous schysters of the highest order and should be avoided at all costs. A pox on them and their obnoxious owner!

  • I recently hired a Prado in Perth with camping kit. Drove it for 5 weeks up the west coast to Exmouth , took it on sand , put 5000klms on it, then South to Margaret River. Also copped a couple of speeding fines as i found out on the new Perth Freeways there are camera everywhere ! Upon returning the vehicle they took less than 5 minutes and couldn’t have been nicer. Compare to other companies their hire fees were very competitive and the vehicle was new with only 10,000 kms on the clock. Our experience was excellent.

    • Check your credit card next month 🙂 All shifty pricks wait untill after the first 55 days then add new charges when you don’t look or expect them 🙂

  • Glad to hear some action is being taken against these criminals. They caught us out on a trip across the Kimberly. Insisted on a 5k cash bond days before the pickup (wouldn’t take credit card) and then tried to keep half of it for a puncture repair (wasn’t our repair) and a broken clip on the side step that we’d raised with them before leaving the yard when picking up the vehicle.

    When I fought them over it they threatened legal action if I left a negative review anywhere online.

  • Many thanks Mark – a very informative read and is indicative of some of the nastier elements of the industry who should be named, shamed and avoided. Time and time again we are seeing people being taken advantage of and being systematically taken to the cleaners. Think caravans and campers – poor quality, dangerous manufacturing techniques, and warranties unfulfilled. I encourage more articles like this. Well done.

  • We hired from the Cairns base, went to The Tip & back in 20 days with no dramas. The operators there were good people. Vehicle was well maintained & no money was withheld from our bond upon return.
    The 60km limit on corrugated roads was our only complaint – bone rattling! We were made aware of the 3rd party insurance situation on the day of vehicle pick up, which was terrifying, but we weren’t going to miss the trip of a lifetime. Definitely better to take your own car & be your own master if possible.

  • They withheld $200 for a new tyre as i got a puncture on straddie, even though they didnt supply a jack with the vehicle and i had to borrow one from another camp site, im know for a fact a puncture only cost $30 to fix.