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French car hire companies at Geneva Airport vignette scam?

Horley, United...
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French car hire companies at Geneva Airport vignette scam?

Due to enforcement of EU rules it's now difficult to hire a car in Switzerland and drive to France. Last week I therefore hired a car from Avis within the French sector at Geneva Airport, and because I was using the Swiss autoroutes I had to purchase a vignette from the border guards. OK, so one has to follow the rules, but it seems that a car returned with a vignette will have it removed so that the next hirer has to buy another one. Why? A removed vignette is worthless to the company because removal damages it. Is there some sort of payback for the hire companies from the Swiss authorities? If a new vignette is purchased for every hire car for each hire period (say, on average weekly), it's a nice source of income.

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Le Grand Saconnex, Switzerland
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1. Re: French car hire companies at Geneva Airport vignette scam?

I wasn't aware that they remove them but if they do - it's hard to blame them. Imagine everyone complaining that the car they are picking up has no vignette but the one next to it does. "I want to change!" etc. Easier to level the field. There's no kick back. Or at least that's a bizarre conspiracy theory.

Martigny...
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2. Re: French car hire companies at Geneva Airport vignette scam?

Since Switzerland is one of the least corrupt countries in the world and the border guards could not profit from the sale of the vignettes anyway this theory is strange to say the least.

Blame the EU for their silly new customs regulation which makes it impossible for EU nationals to rent a car in Switzerland and drive it into the EU without completing a long customs form and paying customs duty. Until 30 april EU nationals could rent a car in Switzerland - with the vignette free of charge - and drive it anywhere they wanted to. This is not our fault I am afraid... and I think that something should be done to change the new rule.

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Horley, United...
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3. Re: French car hire companies at Geneva Airport vignette scam?

Of course the rule change isn't Switzerland's fault. I wasn't saying that. My gripe is the removal of the vignettes by French (maybe others too) car hire companies which has been going on for a long time. Every time this happens another one has to be purchased - assuming the driver is intending to travel on your autoroutes. Clearly the hire companies can't re-use them. So the only financial gain is for the vendors of the vignettes.

I actually think the vignette system is a good one - specially for Swiss residents. It's much cheaper over a year than the French peage system. A bit of a rip-off for occasional short-term visitors though..

Martigny...
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4. Re: French car hire companies at Geneva Airport vignette scam?

The vignette costs 40frs. Last month I drove from Martigny to Alassio (Italy). The cost of the Italian tolls (not counting the St Bernard tunnel) was around 50frs EACH WAY. I was on the Italian autostrade for no more than 4 hours each way (since the entire trip there took around 5hrs with one stop - so probably less). how can you possibly say that for non Swiss residents our system is a rip off?? If I drive to Calais, in two days I have more than 60frs of French tolls.

It would be nice for short term visitors to my country to have a 10 day vignette like the Austrians do. And when the cost of our vignette rises to 70frs in a year or so that might be introduced. But you should be happy to only have to pay 40frs for as much driving on our autoroutes as you like over a 14 month basis (December one year to end January year after next...)

As for the practice of the French car rental companies of stripping the vignettes from cars at GVA airport -- I think JT14 summed it up correctly. Please re-read his post above!

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Pas-de-Calais, France
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Le Grand Saconnex, Switzerland
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5. Re: French car hire companies at Geneva Airport vignette scam?

Hello

I am flying to Geneva airport in early July. I have car hire booked in the Swiss side but am intending to drive into France for one week. I have contacted Europcar about the new problems of taking a Swiss registered car into France and they have suggested I just continue with the booking as it's not clear what is going to happen.

I booked the car 8 months ago and, to cancel and transfer to the French side of the airport, would more than double the cost of the car hire. Does anyone have any first hand experience of whether this is a major problem for hirers in this situation? Thanks.

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6. Re: French car hire companies at Geneva Airport vignette scam?

I am afraid it IS clear what has happened. On 1 may a new EU regulation came into effect which prohibits EU nationals driving a car registered outside the EU (i.e. Switzerland in this case) in the EU. This is apparently a Customs regulation and import duties are levied on the car. A recent TV broadcast here outlined the problem and gave the example of an EU citizen who took his girl friend's Swiss-registered car into the EU. he was charged 6000frs duty. Here is a link to the broadcast:

rts.ch/emissions/abe/7766641-franchir-la-fro…

So for now most of the car rental companies on the Swiss side of the GVA airport (and apparently in Basel as well) have signs posted on their counters saying that Swiss registered cars cannot be taken into the EU.

So - you are from the UK and therefore domiciled in the EU. rent your car on the French side of the airport to be sure you are OK. No problem bringing it into Switzerland but you will have to buy a vignette to drive on our autoroutes. Probably this will be offset by a slightly cheaper rental cost.

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Le Grand Saconnex, Switzerland
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7. Re: French car hire companies at Geneva Airport vignette scam?

A business colleague yesterday rented a car on the Swiss side of the GVA airport and was given a sheet explaining that the vehicle would be seized if driven into France by an EU resident. As a US citizen this didn't apply to him and he went shopping to Carrefour.

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8. Re: French car hire companies at Geneva Airport vignette scam?

Just about says it all, Catmouse!

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9. Re: French car hire companies at Geneva Airport vignette scam?

Thanks for the advice on here. We fly to Geneva in three weeks and currently have (cancellable) car hire booked on both the Swiss side and the French side. The hire company I am booked with on the Swiss side says that it is working to get the problem sorted out - they are giving out a letter of information to customers but I haven't yet managed to find out what the letter says and whether it asks the hirer to sign a waiver clearing the company of responsibility if the car is driven into France. Please could you post on here if you hear of any change.

Thanks.

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10. Re: French car hire companies at Geneva Airport vignette scam?

And JackNiklaus - love that name! - could you please post if and when you hear further from your car rental company about what they have (or haven't) managed to work out and perhaps copy their letter onto this thread when you get it. It would be SO useful to everyone... Thank you in advance. H.

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