Saturday 16 June 2012

10 ways to avoid being ripped off with Car Hire according to The Guardian yesterday

With the summer holiday season in full swing very soon, a seasonal topic for travel writers appeared in yesterday's edition of "The Guardian". A feature "Holiday car hire: 10 ways to avoid being ripped off".

Miles Brignall lists the 10 important issues.

1)  Buy the basic package only - don't buy all those car hire add ons. He suggests using online brokers like Holiday Autos and don't buy their excess insurance. I am in full agreement here, however the one area of insurance I personally buy, is when I make a booking through Holiday Autos is buy their inexpensive cancellation waiver. After having to cancel a couple of booking with Holiday Autos, I find this is very sensible.

2) Bring your own satnav and child car seats - A subject that a lot of the travel writers include. Sat Nav is fairly easy, as these units are small, but a couple of child seats on a budget airline? Apparently this can still work out a lot cheaper than renting from the car hire company, especially if you are hiring a car for a couple of weeks.

 3) Save £100 by buying excess insurance - The car hire excess insurance companies are always reminding us that you can save a lot of money if you buy from an indepenent. I personally buy an annual policy and even if you are going for a week an annual policy can work out a lot better value than even buying low cost daily policies out in the market place. When you go to the car hire collection desk, they will normally try and sell you this and their policies are a lot more expensive than through the independent specialist insurance companies.

Unfortunately the car hire company staff are often under a lot of "Head office" pressure to sell you these and I have even been told (like many others) that the excess insurance that I have won't cover their vehicle and that I MUST buy their one. Don't let them do this. The Guardian aricle mentioned iCarhireinsurance and insurance4carhire. Interesting when I followed the link which looked like an affiliate link to insurance4carhire that the price of the Annual Europe came up at £49, whereas if you went into the insurance4carrental.com advertising site and followed the easy route through to insurance4carhire and click on their link here   you will find you can buy the £49.00 annual product for just £39.20 and the Annual Worldwide that normally costs £65.00 for £52.00 so it is well buying through that discounted route.

4) on the list was  "Ignore the sales patter at the collection desk" - I touched on this subject in 3, above where sales staff try and sell you their insurance. As I have been caught after physically telling them I didn't wanht their product and then being told to sign, "here, there anmd there" etc and finding on my next credit card bill car hire company's insurance, I have started writing on the form "No excess insurance". To date have not tried it on one of those electronic pads that a lot of car hire companies are starting to introduce.

5) Check the fuel policy, the mileage and other extras - Again very important, if they charge an admin charge for refilling, which most do, make sure you fill it up yourself. Also if renting a diesel car make sure you put diesel into the vehicle. It can be costly if you get it wrong. I have heard rumour that one of the car hire excess insurance companies might be introducing this into their cover which would be good. Always retain receipts as the check in people might want to see them. Also in the past some people have tried putting water into the tank instead of fuel. Keep fuel receipts for quite some time after the rental has ended in case you have problems.

According to The Guardian's article " A growing number of firms (for Spanish rentals in particular) now insist on a full-to-empty fuel policy on rentals of more than three or four days. You pay for a full tank of fuel and then bring it back empty, which is fine in theory, but if you aren't using the car much you'll end up paying for three-quarters of a tank of fuel you didn't use.

Renters on the small Spanish islands report it being impossible to use a full tank of fuel. Even the big firms now adopt this policy. The only way round it in Spain for those on a week's holiday is to go for a series of short rentals."

6) Note all damage, and video or photograph the car - Not always so easy on a dark wet night, however do check that the car is full, why is there a dent under the boot area that has not been noted etc. Practically everyone carries a mobile now and the majority can take still and video photos, so if in doubt take pictures. Whenever possible before you go away from the depot get any changes signed for.

Another problem you can get is a smelly car. They normally stink of polish and there is a tendancy to even polish the plastic by the pedals which can make driving a car you don't know harder. Although most car hire companies have no smoking signs in the vehicle, not every smoker takes notice. I personally rented (or attempted to rent one) earlier this year, that as soon as you got in, it stank. So had to go back to check in desk and say we were not having that one!

7) Photo the car on return and keep the paperwork -  Article states normal things a renter should do, including taking photos (good idea if the car is not being checked in) and keep all paperwork for a while later, like I said in section 5 above. Also check that credit card statement. Quite often if you have your own excess insurance your card will be debitted (it helps a car hire operator's cash flow) so you want to make sure the correct amount has been re-credited to your card. You do have to allow for fluctuations in exchange rates, but not if they have added on a refuelling charge or that excess insurance you did not want. 

8) Keep an eye on your credit card statement - I covered this in 7 above looks like this could often happen and this advise is featured at advice on car rental (or van / Motorhome rental on the insurance4carrental site

9) Fight any additional charges - easier said than done with some car companies from personal experience! The Guardian says the credit card company might help, unfortunately could not when I was "ripped off". 

10) So which car hire company do you go with? - The Guardian's advice is shop around - One company they say they don't get many compaints about is Holiday Autos.

So that is the end of The Guardian Aricle - You can read it here

If you are looking for car hire / motorhome hire / van hire, car hire excess insurance / motorhomehire excess insurance / van hire excess insurance / minibus hire excess insurance or travel insurance, take a look at those products being advertised on the insurance4carrental.com site


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