During the last few days my good friend has been staying with me here in Oaxaca City, Mexico, all the way from Australia. Of course, I was excited to show her all the cool things around town and I also wanted to take her to Monte Albán, Hierve el Agua and up into the mountain to San Jose Del Pacífico.
We decided to reserve a car rental in Mexico and begin exploring. I had used Silvers Car Rental in Centro Oaxaca before, I had nothing but good experiences with the company.
Everything was going well. The car was brand new, we made it to all the sights over two days, there were smiles all round. Until, we were heading back into the city from the mountains and needed to fill the car up with fuel before returning it.
We pulled into a Oxifuel and filled the tank. We did not know, nor had been told that Oxifuel was any different to normal gasoline. So, we drove off, in peak hour traffic. After about 10 minutes the car lost power, and stalled. Awesome right? We managed to keep getting it started a midst the continuous honking and traffic. We limped into centro, parked the car and headed to the Silvers Car Rental Office to let them know theres some kind of issue going on.
The salesman accompanied us to the car parked down the road. He called a mechanic and we waited for an hour or so. Upon inspection of from the mechanic he asked what fuel station we filled up at. I told him Oxifuel. He explained that the fuel is different to gasoline from Pemex and it was made during the fuel restrictions caused by protests throughout the years so people could still fill their cars up when the gas trucks were being blocked from entering the city.
I asked "Why weren't we told this?" as it seems like a pretty big piece of information that visitors who are rent cars in Mexico, or anyone really, should be warned of. He didn't have an answer and I asked to see our contract again.
Now where on the contract stated that the car could ONLY use fuel from Pemex. But the man insisted that we were at fault and the bill for repairs may be more than $8,000 pesos.
We obviously were a bit pissed at this. We brought insurance, we paid the deposit, why wasn't this covered? My Spanish is not advanced enough to discuss car parts and frustration was getting the better of me.
One of the salesman who were assessing the car gave us a lift back to the office. I asked him about our $6,000 peso deposit and he told me that the card will be refunded the total deposit but we have to pay the repair bill in cash right then and there. Ok? I asked if the repair amount can just come off the deposit, nope, has to be cash. This obviously was a bit dodgy. I wanted to see a repair bill but instead he just called someone and came back with the price of $3,800 pesos. Which to me sounded better than $8,000 pesos but still, we knew we were getting taken for a ride.
After more discussion about the repair price, who was at fault, and what our insurance even covered, we decided to just pay and get the hell out of there. We were tired, frustrated and just couldn't be bothered anymore. Defeated is probably the best word.
So. The lesson I learnt from my Mexico car rental experience was NEVER USE OXIFUEL. Oh, and car insurance for a car rental in Mexico means nothing. Also, ask and then ask again before hiring a car if there are any details you need to know about the fuel, engine, anything because they won't tell you willfully.