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Which? reveals common car hire bad practices

Three in four car hire customers have revealed they regularly have concerns over being ripped off when using rental companies, according to new research.

Which? Travel asked readers to showcase their bad experiences and examples of poor practice within the industry, and received more than 300 responses.

More than 40% of responses related to experiences with budget brand Goldcar and their parent firm Europcar, while the survey results highlighted three main areas of concern.

Unauthorised charges

A third of all complaints sent in, detailed questionable charges and often unnecessary costs – from upgrade charges or refuelling to cleaning outlays.

The survey also suggested that half of all customers were only made aware of the charges when looking at their credit card statements or when the bill turns up in the post.

Note that you must be told of any charges before you are charged, and a hire firm has a responsibility to tell you what any costs relate to.

As a customer, you can complain to the car hire firm in the first instance, and then you can escalate your complaint by making a claim against your credit card provider, as long as you paid with a credit card.

It is recommended that you pay in this way when using a car hire firm, as you have protection under the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

Car driving

Over inflated damage costs

Of all the responses from car hire customers, reports of unfair damage charges accounted for another third of problems.

Some customers reported that they were charged for damage they had not caused, or that they were grossly overcharged for very minor repairs.

Taking photos of the hire vehicle when you first get it and when you return it is vital, as this way you’ll have a record with which to challenge unscrupulous claims.

Ensure you have copies of the vehicle check forms too, as these will detail any issues noted with the car and should be signed when the car is returned.

Road through forest in the sun

Pressure selling

Although pressure selling is illegal in the European Union, the evidence supplied to Which? suggested that it is still commonplace.

One in four complaints from customers said they were pressured into buying insurance at the car hire rental desk.

This is despite car hire excess insurance cover being available for considerably less when purchased online via third parties – in many instances, this type of cover can be more comprehensive than that offered by the car hire desks too.

It’s important to do your research before you hire and to compare the types of cover on offer – if you remain unsure, speak to the insurance company to ensure you have the cover you need.

Date Created: 10/12/2019

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