Why has this company taken money after we hired cars from them in Portugal?

I've recently returned from Portugal where a colleague of mine booked a car through Argus Car Hire for six of us and one child. He requested a Mercedes-Benz people carrier but on arrival we were told they don't even supply Mercedes vehicles. What we were offered was a larger than average minibus, which was impractical. We managed to get them to allow us two small cars instead. As a result of this we had to leave card details to the sum of 2000 Euros in case of any damage to the cars. My partner’s father had already given his for 1000 Euros and as we were quite categorically told they wouldn't take any funds unless the cars came back damaged I reluctantly gave them my card details.

We returned the cars in perfect condition, but to my amazement, on returning to the UK, I found that they had processed my card details as soon as they had them to the sum of 1000 Euros or £828.86 at an exchange rate of 1.20648. This was done on 29 October and we returned on 5 November. As my partner’s father had made the booking, he phoned them to complain and ask for a full refund of the monies. I still believe that they would have the money now had he not phoned up.

On 13 November, some eight days after the phone call, I received £762.53 back into my account: 985 Euros. The difference here is £66.33 minus £11.61 - 15 Euros - which has left me a loss of £54.72 and equally my partner’s father. I'm wondering where stand and if you can offer any advice as I'd left my details in good faith.

Asked on 12 January 2013 by AH, via email

Answered by Honest John
You'd have to fight it out in a Portuguese Court, as they well know, so you've lost the money. But if my editors publish this it will serve as a warning to avoid this particular rental company.
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