Making sure you don't get ripped off
Here are some tips on what to look out for when booking car hire:
What you need
- Car rental companies are in the business of renting you a car.
- Although they are not in the business of selling insurance or providing a host of additional extras, this is nevertheless where many of them make a considerable profit.
- A secret to doing business with the hire car company, therefore, is to stick to the basic business of car rental – and leave the rest to the appropriate experts and specialist.
- An area in which the rental company may stand to make its biggest profits – and an area in which rip-offs are most likely to occur – is insurance.
- A favourite of these is excess insurance – especially because the amount of excess you need to shoulder may be anything from several hundred to more than a thousand pounds.
- The car rental company may be eager to sell you this excess insurance – it may even resort to hard-sell bullying tactics – but you do not need to buy it from them.
- Typically much cheaper, and generally much wider, cover may be bought before you embark on your holiday, on the internet from the comfort of your own home.
- Specialist insurance providers – like those of us here at Bettersafe– are able to arrange excess car hire insurance for any part of the world in which you intend to be renting a vehicle.
- Also ripe for rip off is the rental company’s effort to sell you all manner of extras and add-ons – these are invariably expensive.
- Satnavs, for example, may have become an indispensable aid to getting around – especially in unfamiliar territory – and your car hire company may be eager to include the device in your rental package.
- The cost is likely to be out of all proportion to the usefulness of the gadget, however, and there is, of course, nothing preventing you from taking along your own satnav to use in the hire car.
- Child seats fall into the same category – namely by being an overpriced essential (if you have children).
- Once again, there is nothing to stop you taking along your own child seats and avoiding further hefty charges.
- Disputes between you and the rental company about any pre-existing damage or the extent of any damage that may have been caused during your period of hire may be interminable – and you are unlikely to be able to continue your journey home unless you stump up the cash demanded.
- It is a good idea, therefore, to make a careful note of the condition of the vehicle when it is first handed over and consider taking photographs or even videos of any damage before accepting it.
- Similarly, take photographs of the car upon its return.
- The European car hire industry might seem like a thoroughly cut-throat business, but if you follow a few common sense precautions, you are more likely to avoid being ripped off.