Easirent

Lost in Latvia... One Rental Company's Adventure in Tracking Down a Car

Blog post   •   Feb 06, 2017 16:53 GMT

When a customer hired a vehicle from Liverpool-based car hire company, Easirent and drove it all the way home to Latvia - the company had to send a member of staff to retrieve it. Except when he arrived, the Latvian authorities had got to it first. Read part one of his travel adventures below...

Riga

What a lovely city in this small country, with only a population of 2 million - 600,000 of which are based in Riga. There are some very historic buildings and blissfully (because of the small population) there are no high rise buildings. I had dinner in a small friendly restaurant which I'm convinced was someone's front living room, I had a traditional fish soup for starter which did not have the eyes in it but a couple of ingredients I did not recognize and a lovely piece of meat for a main course, (unsure what animal it came from but it was nice regardless).

Thursday morning I was met at Reception by a guy whose name I can not pronounce, never-mind spell so I will call him Bob. He was my life saviour. Without Bob I would still be in Latvia (which might not be a bad thing). Ironically he had spent 6 months in Manchester and was fluent in English. Sadly, I am from Stoke so there was still a few communication issues(!) Bob informed me that the police station we are heading to is on the Bronx side of town, and as we were driving through this side of town I noticed the 5-storey panel-built buildings with iron bars across the windows on the fourth floor to keep the burglars out. It made me wonder were they there in ex-soviet times or just added recently?

So, we arrive at the so-called Police station Justice (pictured above), and there was a police car outside and a sign above the door which said Policija, which seemed close enough to Police for me, however it did not look like any common Police station. Inside had caged doors and long bar running down the wall where you can picture people been handcuffed to. Paint was falling off the walls and there was no one around which gave it an ominous, creepy feeling, the only thing missing was a couple of roaming chickens to rooster the place…

One door was open which led to an office that had the lady who was waiting for us waiting inside, she had the radio playing local music, a bunch of flowers in the corner and pictures on the wall, however, the blinds were shut and the room was shrouded in darkness apart from the table lamp. I felt uncomfortable again here and was just hoping I will be let out! She required all the paperwork from me, which was a lot and all had been translated into Latvian and notorised. She then asked for my proof of identity, passport, and driving license, as one was not enough. Then she took photocopies of everything and asked me to sign and sign and sign again lots of paper work in Latvian, I looked at Bob who just shrugged his shoulders as if to say 'yeah this is normal'.

So, paperwork intact, off we go to the compound where the car has been kept for the last few months. Oh what an experience awaited me…

We find the address is from (as I take it) an old army barracks or some form of security place, high barbed wire walls, security cameras, the works. There was a door that would not open, so we had to go around the side. That’s where we came to a barrier with the sergeant on guard. Name, rank, reason for visit, passport, and driving license, (just one not enough), check all paperwork, photocopy passport and driving license, sign here, sign there, and once more here, OK take this small piece of paper with you with and all your paperwork and go to that office there. Phew! That was difficult to just enter the building. Once inside, ahh, its warm and new, well, under construction as we had to step over plaster boards and tools, and into another office we go, hello, welcome, please sit here, can I have your passport and driving license please, I said, I have just given it outside, Bob said, just do as asked OK, so, I reluctantly gave it up to be photocopied yet again, then I was asked to sign here and here and here again, OK, are we ready now? No sorry, the guy literally picked up all my paper work, put it on the desk next to him and asked us to wait. 10 mins later another person came and introduced themselves and -wait for it, asked for my passport and driving license...... I had gone past caring at this stage so I gave it to them and they copied and I signed, signed and signed again. When finished I said, can we get the car now? No sorry, you have to wait to be escorted to the car, bloody hell.

After a longer wait, a lady of around 65 came to escort us to the car, (no joke), but before we could leave she needed to see………. My passport and driving licence………

OK, So, we get to the car in the compound which really looks like an army barracks with blown up tanks and cars on bricks with no wheels dotted all around and I was pointed in the direction of a heap of snow. Once the snow had been brushed off, the car that had gone missing 3 months ago was finally revealed.

Great I thought, so I cleared the snow off the rest of the car, I`m now very cold, I push the key button to open the door and nothing happens, erm…. so I used the key to manually open the door... WOW. What a smell, someone had clearly been living in this car for a very long time and there was everything from odd socks to rotten hamburgers inside. So I put the key in the ignition and as expected, no life in the battery. My friend Bob walked around the barracks until he found someone with a battery power starter, (obviously this guy does this several times a day and has his battery power starter constantly on charge). All hooked up, wait a few minutes and click, rev rev rev, the engine starts, then stops, lets try again, same thing, it's then when someone said, 'does it have fuel?' Damn there is nothing in the tank, so after lots of searching away, me and Bob go to put some fuel into our 4-liter windscreen wash bottle provided to us from our new friend. Back to the car with the aide of the power starter and 4 liters of fuel, yippee the car started, I thank everyone with a handshake and jump in the car to be stopped by the 65 year old lady…….. "Before you go anywhere, you have to come with me to sign some paperwork". Honestly, I thought I was famous on this day and everyone wanted my autograph ☺. OK, after the lady had taken yet another copy of my passport and my driving license and I signed numerous pieces of paper and we were finally allowed to leave. So, car had been left running all this time, probably down to 3 litres of fuel now, lets get out of here and back to the garage to fill up. We drive around to the barrier where the sergeant was, STOP, you're not allowed out of here until you give me the signed slip I gave you when you entered. Jeez man, that was about 2 hours, 100 sheets of paper, 10 photocopies and 100 signatures ago, where the hell am I supposed to have put that slip……

OK, we are on the road and heading to the garage, about a mile down the road, I pull up at the garage, the car has been running for about 15 mins now, do I dare to turn the engine off, I have to, let me do this, turn it off and straight back on again just to test, OK, ready steady go, off…..click……click….cli…c…. nothing, damn. So into the petrol station I buy a set of jump leads, on a Latvian forecourt in minus degrees open the bonnet, get my mate Bob to swing around with his car, connect the jump leads, wait a minute, click….nothing. Damm, I asked Bob to search on the internet where can we buy a battery, 2 hour tour of car shops looking for a battery for a Ssangsong car, ( a name I have difficulty pronouncing in English never mind Latvian) and success, we find one from a very helpful guy, problem is now, we have no tools to change the battery, so with a smile, we borrow a mechanic and head back to the petrol pump where my car has been sittiing for over 2 hours. My new mechanic friend changed the battery in 5 minutes and the car started first time, I slip him €10 and give Bob a big hug for all his help of the day which by now he was very happy to be seeing the back of me and off down the road I went. England is this direction I'm sure……

Stay tuned for Part Two