Saturday 23 July 2011

Car hire company in Ireland charges for unwanted excess insurance.

Just picked up today's edition of The Independent newspaper and come across
Paul Gosling's column "Questions Of Cash". I always take a look at this ever since he intervened a few years ago when my son was travelling and had his credit card stolen. He was put to a great deal of expenditure phoning the credit card company from South America and was compensated after Paul Gosling got involved.

This week I see that a subject I am very interested in has been raised again. Car hire companies in Ireland charging excess insurance when it has been declined.

The Reader's Question: My partner and I had to travel to Ireland urgently in April after my partner's 25-year-old nephew died tragically. We booked flights on easyJet and hired a car with Hertz, both via the internet. The cost for the car hire was £150.56, barring any extras. At Belfast International Airport we collected the car. When my partner was asked about extra insurance and another named driver, he declined both, as he always does. He remembers explaining to the Hertz representative why we were in Ireland and that we would only use the car to get to his home town for the funeral. She was very understanding and expressed sympathy. He signed Hertz's copy of the hire ticket and away we went.

But when we returned home and the credit card bill arrived, it contained extra Hertz charges. I then studied the hire ticket and deciphered the abbreviations. There were a lot of figures on it that did not make sense. I found that two of the amounts were for the extra insurance that had been specifically declined. These added £132.54 to the bill, bringing the total to £283.10 for an economy two-door car hired from 25 to 30 April. I contacted Hertz, but it confirmed the charges and refused to make a refund. LS, by email.

Paul Gosling's reply:
A spokeswoman for Hertz apologises for the extra charges, which were included unintentionally. She explains: "Upon checking we have discovered that the charges were made in error and are processing a full refund and writing a letter of apology to the customer. We very much regret that [the reader's partner] was accidentally charged for the extras due to human error, and then not spotting that error when [the reader] first wrote to us.

Upon receipt of her first letter, we went back to the signed paperwork, rather than checking with the location direct, which we should have done. Since her second letter [via Questions of Cash] we have checked with the location and can indeed confirm the completely unintentional error. We deeply regret the stress and upset that this has caused, particularly at such a terribly tragic time for them. By way of apology, we will also issue [the reader's partner] with a gift voucher worth $100 which can be used at any Hertz location."

It is great to see a most satisfactory conclusion.

For many years my wife and I have rented cars in Ireland. Last year my wife hired a car in Dublin on a couple of occasions from the Europcar Ireland franchise Irish Car Rentals. The first time they tried adding on a crossing charge for the M50 toll and it was proved by the toll authorities (eflow) that the vehicle had never crossed the toll on the day in question and the car had never been in the area of the toll during the hire. The Europcar Ireland's representative initial email response was to say she must have used it to get to her destination from Dublin Airport. This would have meant adding around 20kms onto the journey for a 10km trip she had been driving for the last 30 years!

On the second occasion she, as normal declined their excess charge insurance they were trying to make her buy as she told them she had an annual policy from insurance4carhire.com and we discovered on our credit card bill that they had charged €54.48 representing 4 days additional insurance and tax on it.

We went back to them with numerous emails, but they would not give a refund. They said "She had signed for it" even though she told the representative she was declining it. The car was a rather batterred Chevrolet and the radio had been removed.

After that very bad experience, we decided never to use this company ever again and since then have rented via Carrentals.co.uk have been using Hertz. The cars are good, they are parked close to the terminal (not a bus journey away at Santry)and staff very helpful.

I regret now not contacting Paul Gosling at The Independent's Question of Cash about the problem.

If you have had similar problems you reply on this blog.

No car hire shortages in the summer of 2011

The Independent has just been delivered on the 22nd July and Simon Calder's travel page is preparing travelers (who have not gone off on holiday yet) for the last minute panic.

State schools in England broke up yesterday, (late as normal, however no one has missed out this last week with a very wet cold week in mid-July in the south of England)

One of the many subjects he has included in his "A&E for your summer break" is about Car Hire.

"I haven't yet booked a hire car, and a colleague says that there's a shortage of rental vehicles that's pushed up prices. Is he right?

No, not this summer. In 2009, the credit crunch led to a big shortfall, which pushed up prices to three or more times the normal prices. There was also the odd squeeze last year. But when any travel enterprise is seen to be making excessive profits, rivals pile in with loads of capacity hoping to cash in – only to see prices fall. Checking Holiday Autos for prices for the first week in August: an Opel Corsa costs £135 at Alicante airport, which is less than £20 a day. Florida is equally cheap."

In fact Holiday Autos issue a press release in June saying "Car hire prices fall for first time in four years"

"Of the 180 destinations surveyed by, prices fell fastest in Ireland, where prices have dropped 51% to an average £125 for a week’s car rental. There are also bargains to be had in Gibraltar, (where prices fell by 35% to £195) and major Spanish destinations."

The article also covers such topics as passport out of date...what do you do? - Mobile phones - Rynair's luggage rules and travel currency.

The Independent is on sale today, however if you have missed buying a copy, see the aricle Here

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Renting a car in the USA is quite cheap until you get all the add-ons

A friend recently rented a car for six days in the USA and the initial charge of $150 (GBP£90) looked very attractive, however the final bill came out in the region of $590 (£370 approx) which is quite a difference.

On analyzing the car hire company’s bill there a “luxury” item Sat Navigation GPS unit costing around $10 a day . For many drivers this is an essential for finding their way about and owners of Sat Navs, it now makes sense to actually bring your personal unit on holiday, provided it is set up for the country you are visiting.

It is very important to check this first as otherwise you arrive at your holiday or business destination, collect the rental car and next you plug the system in. It might not have a US or German road map programme installed so you then have to try and rent one.

The excess insurance was the expensive part over $250 for 6 days (£155 approx) which is a lot of money. You can buy an annual US and Canada policy for around £110 ($177 approx) or a daily one for under £7 ($11). This will save a great deal of money on the rental, but insurance companies advise you must show the policy documents to the car rental agency people before you sign up their paperwork.

Other ad-ons appear to be local state taxes, sales taxes and excess taxes which mount up on a daily basis. There is nothing you can do to reduce this however if the car hire company levies a refueling charge, bring the car back full.

Check the rental agreement to see if you have “free miles” or just a limited number. If they are not going to be sufficient for your needs, find out what additional costs are likely to be.

Do not bring the car back late as you might incur additional rental charges and most important, when you collect the car do check for any damage. If you find any that has not been noted, find a member of staff and get it signed off. This is sometimes difficult to do if you are in a hurry, it is dark or raining or all three at once!

You will find that your hire car will be an automatic transmission. If you are not used to driving one, never driven one you will soon get used to it, but take it carefully. If you normally live in the UK, Ireland, Malta or Cyprus and drive a manual transmission car you will have to get used to driving an automatic car and one on the right hand side of the road.

The road system in the USA is very good, but long distances can be somewhat boring, so take advantage of a cruise control system if your car has one and take regular stops and enjoy the scenery.

I hope my friend takes out car hire excess insurance in advance of renting a car the next time. There are several companies advertising at http://www.insurance4carrental.com/ who offer excess insurance for Canada and the USA and it is a lot cheaper than buying it from the US car rental company.

Monday 18 July 2011

Car hire excess insurance for Irish residents via insurance4carrental.com

Many of the major providers of car hire excess insurance are based in the UK, however they are able to offer their products to residents of the Irish Republic plus residents of other countries throughout the world subject to their terms and condition - Read on...

Sunday 10 July 2011

Car hire insurance featured on BBC Radio 4 You and Yours

The Friday 9th July 2011 edition of BBC Radio 4 consumer affairs programme "You and Yours" featured Car hire excess insurance.

Following a recent survey by YouGov claiming that a large number of travellers were confused by additional charges on car hire, the programme looked into this issue. According to the programme a lot of travellers are confused by what is covered and not covered in car hire insurance.

We have been informed that the YouGov research was commisioned by iCarhireinsurance. The survey of 1103 British people who have hired a car, revealed that a sixth (15%) of respondents believed they had driven a hire car without fully understanding exactly what insurance they had and what they were covered for, but in reality the number is significantly higher than this.

93% of people did not realise that if their hire car was damaged or stolen in Europe, even if it wasn't their fault, then they would be liable for the first part of a claim i.e., the excess amount of up to £1500. 94% did not check the small print to find out how much they would be charged if their keys were lost or stolen, and 89%did not check it for costs incurred in the event of a short notice cancellation.

John Lewis the Chief Executive of the BVRLA - British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association was interviewed at length and the programme can be heard HERE

The BVRLA have produced an excellent five page guide to Hiring a Car and this can be viewed HERE

Remember if you are hiring a car it is usually much cheaper to buy your excess insurance from an independent insurance company. Icarhireinsurance.com is one of several car hire insurance advertising on the insurance4carrental.com site and you can find out more about their car hire excess insurance and van hire excess insurance Here.

Thursday 7 July 2011

Hidden charges from car hire firms - warning

Following on from the item on this blog yesterday "Car hire companies will have to be more upfront about extra charges" which referred to the article in the Daily Mail this week "Crackdowns over hidden car hire charges will protect travellers on holiday abroad", "ComparecarhireUK's" Travel news has published the following:-

"Car hire firms warned about hidden charges"

Regulations could soon be in place to force car hire firms to be more careful about landing their customers with a variety of hidden costs. The number of complaints from rental firm customers rocketed in the first half of 2011 by 37 per cent, compared to the first half of 2009, according to the UK European Consumer Centre. Complaints ranged from being charged for repairs after an accident which never happened, to finding out unwanted insurance had to be paid for.

The Office of Fair Trading has said that it is concerned about the manner in which excess insurance is sold to customers. The watchdog has produced a report in which it points out that car rental customers arriving at airports are often tired after the journey and not in the best frame of mind to deal with the intricacies of the rental contract.

Regulators could soon come down hard on companies which are not completely transparent with their car hire deals. British Vehicle Rental Association representative, Toby Poston, defended the way in which hire companies sold their excess insurance. He said it was not a hard-sell to remind customers when they collect their vehicles that not taking out insurance could result in a hefty bill if the car is damaged.

He added that the price of buying insurance at a collection point was no more expensive than the cover offered under a normal policy. He went on to say that excess waiver insurance also means peace of mind for the renter.

Source: comparecarhire.co.uk

Wednesday 6 July 2011

Car hire companies will have to be more upfront about extra charges

The Daily Mail has run a story this week "Crackdowns over hidden car hire charges will protect travellers on holiday abroad" - Last week, the European Parliament imposed a ban on travel companies charging excessive credit and debit card charges by 2014, which was upheld by the OFT.

On the 28th June the OFT (Uk's Office of Fair Trading) issued a Press Release "OFT to take action over passenger travel sector payment surcharges"

They said "The OFT considers that surcharging for using a credit or debit card is potentially misleading to consumers when it comes as a surprise - particularly when free payment mechanisms are only available to a small proportion of consumers, making a surcharge effectively compulsory.

To make headline prices truly meaningful and comparable, the OFT is calling for traders to stop charging for paying with any debit card - the online equivalent to cash. Traders should still be able to impose surcharges for other payment mechanisms such as credit cards, which can be more costly to process, provided that they meet the minimum transparency requirements set out by the OFT in today's report."

The OFT report says: ‘Consumers were often tired after flights or in a rush to start holidays so were keen to collect their car and, as a result, were more likely to accept the terms without assessing them fully.’

To read the Daily Mail article in full Click Here

To read the OFT Press Release in full Click Here