Friday 28 October 2022

An Upgrade on a car rental is not always a benefit

 Over the years like many people reading this will have been offered an upgrade on a car rental. There are many reasons, loyalty of customers or lack of a suitable vehicle to the vehicle the renter has booked are just a couple of examples.

In February 2022, I booked via an UK car hire broker a small car for a two week visit to Corfu in September and October. The illustration that came back was of a Fiat Panda a small compact 4 door manual drive car. We had one of these via the same brokers in Naxos in 2018. This had proved easy to drive around small towns and mountainous roads with lack of safety barriers. The car hire company way AutoUnion Car Rental. 

Personally with narrow roads and steep terrain in places like Sardinia, Corsica and the Greek Islands you don’t need a large car.

We arrived mid-morning and we had flown out with friends who also use the same broker to hire a Seat via Hertz. They went straight into the booking system at Corfu Airport and we waited a very long time for the AutoUnion Car Rental transport to take us to their depot outside the airport. They are in fact based about a seven minute walk from the terminal building but we did not know they were so close. After a four minute drive we arrived at their premises that did not appear to have many cars, but a lot of customers waiting.

We joined the long  AutoUnion Car Rental queue and soon our friends arrived and said they would head to the supermarket. The car park was all but empty by this stage and we eventually got into the office that only had one person processing the car hire orders. We had been waiting about an hour and a half. One of our friends wanted to be added as the third driver that would have to be paid for and we declined their excess insurance as I had taken out an annual policy from Questor Insurance.

We went outside and there was a two month old Peugeot a very large vehicle. As there were no more cars in the carpark and we had a very long wait I had to take this car. We set off found the supermarket and headed to where we were staying. The other two listed drivers (one who had paid extra thinking it was a small car we were hiring) refused to get anywhere the steering wheel. We were not happy with this large vehicle on very narrow Corfu roads.

I emailed the brokers who came back to me saying they would contact AutoUnion Car Rental. They received a reply saying we could bring it back and I said no way was I going back, have a long delay at their depot and waste half a day and that they could bring a smaller car to us. The problem was sorted with two very helpful ladies from  AutoUnion Car Rental replacing the large Peugeot with a Nissan Micra. This was fortunate as we were on a two stop accommodation location. The second place had an incredibly steep driveway and parking place and there would not have been room for the Seat from Hertz and the Peugeot. 

The UK based car brokers were very helpful and in the end the problem resolved but we were inconvenienced a great deal by this upgrade. 

Monday 28 March 2022

Interesting article in The Guardian Saturday 26 March about Car hire

 Although Covid problems are still with the travelling public as most restrictions have been removed now people are off on their holidays like they were back in 2019 and of course renting cars.

On Saturday 26th March there was an article in The Guardian by the consumer affairs correspondent Miles Brignall - Money hacks  - How to save on car hire - and avoid getting ripped off.

This was almost like reading something from 10 years ago with numerous warnings. Don't book direct First of all he was suggesting not to book directly with a car rental company as you can normally get a better deal by using a well known established broker. It is easy to do going straight to the brand you have used before or a well known name. 

A member of by family did this booking car hire at London Gatwick on a two week visit from France earlier this month. Although she had car hire excess insurance, she was told it was not acceptable to them and she must buy their expensive product for which they earn good commission. The world as we used to know it exposing itself again.

For third part brokers, one of the recommendations by Guardian Money is Zestcarrental 

The article also mentioned that age can make the costs higher. 

It was suggested take an unlimited mileage option - Always collect the car from an airport terminal if possible opposed to an off airport site miles and miles away.

Always opt for full-to-full fuel deal and make sure you get the car filled up again before dropping it off. It can be very expensive to get the car hire company to fill it up for you.

Extra insurance - This is still an area where the car rental companies can make extra money from their commission. You might encounter the franchise for a well known brand like my family member did this month saying they would not accept a policy from XYZ. There are a lot of providers selling daily and annual policies and a selection can be found at the insurance4carrental site  

Check the car at collection and have it checked when you return it: Finally check the car thoroughly when you collect it and have any damage noted and take photos too. On your return make sure you have plenty of time to have it checked over again.

The article can be found here