Backpackers stranded in Aussie town after $3500 rental van breaks down

The pair spent days in Townsville waiting for a solution from Jucy, who they say are the 'worst' company they have ever dealt with.

Backpackers on an Australian holiday say their dream trip quickly turned into a nightmare after a faulty transmission on their Jucy rental van had them stranded on the first day of hiring the vehicle.

Maria Nielsen and her friend Helena picked up their rental van from Cairns last month and had taken off for what was meant to be a road trip around the east coast of Australia. But just two hours in they discovered their van would jump forward when they put it in reverse, and was not drivable.

Stuck with a broken van in the remote Queensland town of Millaa Millaa, Jucy staff told them to drive three hours south to Townsville the next day to a specific mechanic. Little did the pair know, this was only the beginning of their problems.

Image on left of Maria in the Jucy van crying. Image on right of Maria and Helena standing in front of their Jucy van in Townsville.
Backpackers stranded in Townsville because of a faulty rental van say Jucy is the 'worst' company they've ever dealt with. Source: TikTok

The whole ordeal was "overwhelming", and despite the transmission issues, Maria explained it was the lack of updates and accurate information that made the ordeal so horrible.

"We were certain they had known in advance that the car couldn't reverse," she shared in a teary online TikTok video. "[They're] literally the worst company I have ever dealt with."

Maria told Yahoo News Australia they initially thought they did something wrong, so tried again but to get the car into reverse. And when they tried to call Jucy to report the problem they were continually frustrated.

"Every time we got to talk to someone it was always the 'wrong team', and they had to 'put a message through to the right team' who were then supposed to call us back — but that rarely happened," she told Yahoo.

A long, 'stressful' ordeal

When they got to the Townsville mechanic he said the van needed a whole new transmission, and would take weeks to fix as they needed to order parts. The pair, who were stranded in Townsville over the weekend while waiting on Jucy to find a solution, said they were calling Jucy's customer service "at least 10 times a day" all weekend trying to get an update.

On Monday, October 16, Maria received a call from a towing company saying the van would be picked up the next day. Maria had to be in Airlie Beach by 1pm that day for a three-day boat tour booked six months in advance, so they were unable to wait for the tow truck. They left the van to be collected and caught a bus from Townsville to Airlie Beach.

Online reactions scathing of Jucy

After sharing their experience on TikTok, other travellers immediately started replying with their own Jucy nightmares.

"Our brakes went out, they made us pay for the mechanic and then a few hours later the steering went out and we spun off the road (could have died)," one person replied. "The bottom of our car was tied together with cable ties! They burst and hit our wheel and we went flying. They didn’t care," another commented.

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Company said they did all they could

Jucy has told Yahoo News Australia they apologised to the travellers and have shared how disappointed they are the problem occurred.

They said that after being advised of the transmission issue, they immediately reached out to local mechanics to get it resolved. A local mechanic advised that it "was not possible to drive the vehicle and they would not be able to source parts" for a few weeks.

"We made several attempts to have this vehicle repaired locally, and when we were unable to find someone with appropriate parts available, we organised a tow truck to provide the customer with a new vehicle and to collect the faulty vehicle," Adam Geneave, Chief Customer Officer, said.

Refunded by Jucy but van-less

Although Maria said she had asked their replacement vehicle be sent to Airlie Beach, Jucy told Yahoo "the customer preferred to continue on their holiday, opted to leave their vehicle" and "ceased hire".

They were then refunded $3,458.32 for the original van hire, and an extra $403 to cover the cost of the extra night in a Townsville hotel they had to pay for themselves, and to cover their greyhound bus tickets.

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