Having a rental car to ferry your party or family from one place to the other is convenient and comfortable. Everyone is in a single vehicle and you will be able to access locations that are not serviced by public transportation. Plus, you have space for the luggage and everything that you might need while on holiday, including skis, surfboards, and strollers.
However, some issues with car rentals cannot be avoided. These issues are often treated as necessary evils that one has to live with in exchange of convenience and comfort, but this should not be the case. The Office of Fair Trading says that many vehicle renters are “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.” Aside from being vigilant about the information stated in the fine print of the terms of rental, customers should also be aware of common issues involved with hiring a car for a holiday or a business trip. Here are some common issues, as well as the ways to avoid them.
Vehicle model – There are instances when your preferred vehicle is unavailable, and car hire firms might offer you a “free” upgrade to a bigger car. However, bigger does not always mean better-especially when it comes to fuel. Size is not the only factor to consider. You might also want to check if the car you are renting has an automatic or manual transmission; in some countries, manual transmission is the norm, so make sure to check if you cannot drive a stick shift.
Extras – Budget-conscious travellers tend to be wary of “extras” tacked onto their basic package, but if you need extras such as GPS systems, car seats, or ski racks, make sure to check with the rental company if they offer such amenities. Get the best deals for these extras (be warned: extras can be very expensive) by shopping around before you leave for your destination.
Vehicle damage – Damaging your rental car can be one of the most horrific scenarios you can experience on a holiday. With most car rental firms, customers are liable for the damage of a vehicle during the hire period. However, if the rental company charges you for the damage you do not believe you caused, there is often a chance to dispute the validity of the charges. To avoid being charged for the damage you did not cause, make sure to document the condition of the vehicle before leaving the rental lot. Take pictures or list down everything you observe on the interior and the exterior of the vehicle and have someone from the collection desk sign the paper before driving off.
If, in case, you have caused damage to the car during the rental period, you can also dispute the charges if you feel that it is excessive. Ensuring that the insurance policy you have taken out for the rental car covers often overlooked aspects (such as mirrors, windows, interiors, and underparts of the vehicle) will spare you a good deal of headache in the long run. Websites offers rates inclusive of collision damage waiver, liability insurance, and theft waiver.
Vehicle safety – Safety is the number one priority for a majority of motorists. Make sure that the rental company’s fleet meet international safety standards before hiring any of their vehicles. Reputable car hire firms will maintain their vehicles impeccably to ensure the safety of their customers on the road.
Insurance coverage – Many car renters experience problems when they are unsure of the kind of insurance coverage they have for the rental vehicles. When renting a car, you have to make sure that you have the following:
- Collision Damage Waiver. Also known as theft protection or loss damage waiver, this policy is technically not an insurance policy; rather, a collision damage waiver (or other similar coverage) is an assurance that your liability is limited if the vehicle is damaged or stolen. Some car hire companies offer a “super” collision damage waiver as an option (and can cost a few dollars more than the basic waiver), which could be a cheaper option should something happen to the vehicle during the rental period.
- Personal Accident Insurance. This insurance coverage pays out if you, the customer, is seriously injured or killed during a car accident involving the vehicle you have rented. Some travellers are already covered by a travel insurance policy or through a policy from the credit card you have used to pay for the car hire, but it is still important to check with the rental firm regarding this matter.
Do your own research before collecting the car you have rented. Some car rental companies try to sneak in extra “insurance” charges (often unnecessary) at the collection desk, commonly by appealing to the customers’ anxieties about safety. By being informed about the insurance you will need, you avoid being ripped off at the collection counter.
Hidden costs – Often, the advertised rate is not the final amount that will appear on your bill. There might be extra fees for certain amenities, insurance, surcharges, and insurance. Make sure to look out for concession recovery fees, online transaction charges, customer facility charges, value added taxes, and other such vague terms. Do not be afraid to clarify or dispute any charges that you might find excessive or unnecessary.