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Car hire abroad - excessive charges
Marmot329
post Wed, 4 Sep 2019 - 16:04
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Good afternoon- looking for some advice or experience from others on this topic. We hired a car in Spain from a company called OK! Rent A Car booked via Expedia.

On arrival the quote for insurance was insane at €240 so we declined it - we have home car insurance which covers us to drive other vehicles abroad. We were told verbally that if we didn’t take the insurance, and damage was caused even of a minimal scale, that the amount we’d be charged was in excess of the insurance charge at minimum. We said we’d be careful as we always are, we’ve rented lots of vehicles abroad and never had a charge made against us.

On collecting the vehicle we were handed a sheet of paper listing the current damages and told to ‘take photos’. No staff accompanied us to inspect the vehicle. We photod all the existing damage on the car that was listed on the document and off we went. We did not meticulously inspect every aspect of the car that was not pre listed and it was not made clear to us that we should have.

On returning the vehicle today, the inspector highlighted two scratches on the two front wheels that were not listed on her damages sheet and a small tear in one of the tyres. Fortunately one of our photos of pre-existing damage shows that scratches were present before on one wheel. However we did not have a photo of the other wheel in totality to prove this was the case for the other. I requested proof of there being no damage before by way of a ‘before’ photo on file, which was refused, we were told the proof was the damages list (which clearly was not comprehensive for the other wheel, as we proved).

They have then proceeded to charge our card €460 for the damages on the other wheel for which we don’t have a photo. To confirm they are claiming for a minute tear in the tyre and a scratch on the alloy. I know that the true cost of this type of repair is half the amount they are saying they will charge.

We’ve reached out to our credit card to dispute the charge, however it’s not appeared as yet so we can’t process the dispute.

Has anyone here experienced similar or have any sound advice on how to battle this ? My argument will hinge on that 1) they cannot provide evidence we caused this damage which we believe is pre existing, as they refuse to provide date stamped before photo and 2) the amount they are charging is not indicative of the damage. I’m going to put together a formal complaint tomorrow - is there anything else that I should include ?

Many thanks
Stephanie
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post Wed, 4 Sep 2019 - 16:04
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ohnoes
post Wed, 4 Sep 2019 - 16:19
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QUOTE
1) they cannot provide evidence we caused this damage which we believe is pre existing, as they refuse to provide date stamped before photo

2) the amount they are charging is not indicative of the damage. I’m going to put together a formal complaint tomorrow


1. It will be in your rental agreement that any pre existing damages were listed on the damage sheet and by accepting the rental you agree with that list. Anything missing would count as 'new' damage unless you can prove otherwise with your photos. I recommend doing a 360 degree video of the car before picking it up, walking around slowly to capture all sides, all tyres, glass, roof, interior etc on video so you can rewind/forward to the relevant part of the car if there are any disagreements.

2. The amount they're charging is what would have been specified as the excess for any new damages found after you return your rental (check your documents). Again, this is always specified in the rental agreement and car hire places are known to have high excesses- you agreed to these conditions by accepting the rental. The insurance they offered you was to reduce or remove that 'high' excess in the event of new damage being found rather than insurance to drive the car, which is always included in the rental price.

What isn't clear to me is what you mean by "home car insurance which covers us to drive other vehicles abroad" - is this a car rental excess insurance policy or a regular car insurance policy under which you drive your car in the UK (that covers you abroad?)

Having a car insurance policy that covers you to drive abroad is not the same as a car rental excess insurance policy.
You can purchase such policies cheaply online, rather than taking the rip off prices from the car rental place: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/ch...e/#needtoknow-5

If you have/had such a policy in place, you'd pay the full excess on the spot and then claim it back from the excess insurer upon your return.

This post has been edited by ohnoes: Wed, 4 Sep 2019 - 16:29


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Redivi
post Wed, 4 Sep 2019 - 17:16
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When you book through Expedia are you told the name of the car hire company ?

Anyone who checks their reviews will find immediately that this scam is standard practice and you shouldn't touch the company

Perhaps a report to Expedia would be in order to warn them that they're referring customers to crooked associates

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stamfordman
post Wed, 4 Sep 2019 - 19:03
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Sadly this seems to be one of several scam companies in Europe - I wouldn't go anywhere near them these days, only the big names. It wasn't always like this - I've hired cheap cars in Spain and Greece in the past where they didn't even bother checking them but they were often battered anyway.

No such problems in the US and Latin America where American consumers seems to be much less open to rip offs - just come back from Costa Rica where the 4x4 we hired was carefully checked before by the agent.

Dare I say that this is the sort of issue that the EU could usefully sort out... and they are looking at it:

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/news/car-re...-2019-mar-25_en

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The Slithy Tove
post Wed, 4 Sep 2019 - 19:05
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Too late now for consumer advice, but
  • If you use companies like HolidayAutos, their quotes tend to include insurance, wherever you are hiring (as it varies so much from country to country).
  • You still need to cover the excess, where the rental companies will fleece you. So take out additional excess insurance with one of the several providers around before you go.
  • As already noted, photograph/video ALL of the car, not just where there is known damage. It can be very tricky to get decent photos of minor scratches you can see by eye - they just don't show up on photos no matter what angle you try to take them from.
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Redivi
post Wed, 4 Sep 2019 - 20:24
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When I hired a car recently, I was a bit concerned that a note wasn't made of some obvious scratches

Before returning the car I polished most of them out and disguised what remained with the appropriately coloured wax
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Marmot329
post Wed, 4 Sep 2019 - 21:00
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QUOTE (stamfordman @ Wed, 4 Sep 2019 - 20:03) *
Sadly this seems to be one of several scam companies in Europe - I wouldn't go anywhere near them these days, only the big names. It wasn't always like this - I've hired cheap cars in Spain and Greece in the past where they didn't even bother checking them but they were often battered anyway.

No such problems in the US and Latin America where American consumers seems to be much less open to rip offs - just come back from Costa Rica where the 4x4 we hired was carefully checked before by the agent.

Dare I say that this is the sort of issue that the EU could usefully sort out... and they are looking at it:

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/news/car-re...-2019-mar-25_en


Agreed - we hired a car in Argentina last year from Hertz and had a puncture from their dodgy roads, fully expected a charge and they were very pleasant about it and didn’t charge a penny. I’ve also hired from cheap car hire companies in Portugal and Italy and had no such problems, always had a clerk check the car with me.

It just makes me so angry these company’s appear to be unregulated. What they were saying on collection was, even if you’re damage is €50 worth we are going to charge you the full excess amount of more than €250 or whatever their insurance price is. I just can’t understand how that can be legal.

Will still try and fight this - I thought it might be like those dodgy car parks that try to ‘invoice’ you £80 or whatever for staying over an hour, but they have to prove costs they’ve actually incurred...

Expedia have been tweeted asking for this company’s removal. A quick search shows 53% satisfaction with this company, the lowest at Malaga airport. Still working out how to add my own review ...
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southpaw82
post Wed, 4 Sep 2019 - 21:11
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QUOTE (Marmot329 @ Wed, 4 Sep 2019 - 22:00) *
I just can’t understand how that can be legal.

Will still try and fight this - I thought it might be like those dodgy car parks that try to ‘invoice’ you £80 or whatever for staying over an hour, but they have to prove costs they’ve actually incurred...

Was the contract governed by Spanish law?


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The Rookie
post Thu, 5 Sep 2019 - 09:12
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QUOTE (Marmot329 @ Wed, 4 Sep 2019 - 22:00) *
I thought it might be like those dodgy car parks that try to ‘invoice’ you £80 or whatever for staying over an hour, but they have to prove costs they’ve actually incurred...

Hopefully your knowledge with respect t hire cars is better than your knowledge with respect to private parking, you are wrong about having to prove costs incurred.


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Charlie1010
post Thu, 5 Sep 2019 - 11:04
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I know it’s after the event and not exactly helpful for your current predicament however I always use local family run hire companies.
Never been ripped off.
In Spain all cars come ‘pre-dented’.
From Malaga for instance I have used Bahiasexi.
And another one I can’t remember and can’t find as email not working.
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BertB
post Thu, 5 Sep 2019 - 16:35
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QUOTE (Charlie1010 @ Thu, 5 Sep 2019 - 12:04) *
I know it’s after the event and not exactly helpful for your current predicament however I always use local family run hire companies.
Never been ripped off.
In Spain all cars come ‘pre-dented’.
From Malaga for instance I have used Bahiasexi.
And another one I can’t remember and can’t find as email not working.


Same here. From Malaga Airport I use Fetajo. Guaranteed models, no fuel charges and CDW on a Galaxy in the summer was EUR12 pd. The Golf just before Christmas was EUR6 pd.

When you read a lot of the horror stories, they seem to be from people that used some sort of agent to book their car through. Going for the cheapest option and then surprised when they get mugged off. Just do a bit of research via tripadvisor and the like.
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Redivi
post Thu, 5 Sep 2019 - 18:15
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Going for the cheapest option and then surprised when they get mugged off. Just do a bit of research via Tripadvisor and the like.

We've seen a lot of threads involving certain insurance companies for the same reason
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whitewing
post Thu, 5 Sep 2019 - 18:41
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QUOTE (Redivi @ Wed, 4 Sep 2019 - 21:24) *
When I hired a car recently, I was a bit concerned that a note wasn't made of some obvious scratches

Before returning the car I polished most of them out and disguised what remained with the appropriately coloured wax


Toothpaste makes a reasonable emergency polish
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Marmot329
post Sat, 7 Sep 2019 - 18:24
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QUOTE (Redivi @ Thu, 5 Sep 2019 - 19:15) *
Going for the cheapest option and then surprised when they get mugged off. Just do a bit of research via Tripadvisor and the like.

We've seen a lot of threads involving certain insurance companies for the same reason


Unfortunately it doesn't just appear to be the cheapest though, the Which report from last year cited Europcar as being guilty of applying unrepresentative damage charges, and other media reports in the last 12 months reference other 'big 5' companies. Interesting that one poll I read did show that Spanish companies in particular were ranked lowest.

Another poster has mentioned the regulators are looking at it (big 5 only - so perhaps that could be why there are less occurrences from them recently), but it only covers half of the issue from what I can see (transparency on additional up front costs) but nothing so far addresses unfair repair charges.

https://ec.europa.eu/unitedkingdom/news/eu-...umers-fairly_en
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Marmot329
post Sat, 7 Sep 2019 - 18:37
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To provide an update - having blown up the photos on computer we may have some evidence that the alloy we have been charged for 'scraping' may have had some existing damage, so we are going to appeal to them for that in the hope this will reduce the charges.

We've contacted our credit card and they've agreed to raise a dispute on that basis.

We have been charged a breakdown as follows, which is in line with the contract we signed unfortunately:

€200 - tyre
€200 - alloy scrape
€60 - admin fee



As others have recommended, next time we will take out damage waiver insurance locally/privately for a few pounds a day as compared to the hundreds of pounds these companies charge.

I think there is also still a case to be made of the fairness of these charges (even though their matrix was in the contract). Googling the tyre make shows £60 for the cost of this tyre. So I will reach out to the European regulator to tell them they need to extend the scope of their standards not only to the big 5 but ALL rental companies, and they need to take a look at damage charges in particular.
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Charlie1010
post Sat, 7 Sep 2019 - 19:45
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Be careful about taking out your own collision damage and other insurance as some companies will charge a hefty deposit for the car.
Local companies have a reputation to maintain not only for tourists but also for locals so tend to offer decently priced insurance and some I have used didn’t charge a deposit when I did take out my own insurance.

I always avoid the big companies anyway.
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Marmot329
post Sat, 7 Sep 2019 - 20:02
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QUOTE (Charlie1010 @ Sat, 7 Sep 2019 - 20:45) *
Be careful about taking out your own collision damage and other insurance as some companies will charge a hefty deposit for the car.
Local companies have a reputation to maintain not only for tourists but also for locals so tend to offer decently priced insurance and some I have used didn’t charge a deposit when I did take out my own insurance.

I always avoid the big companies anyway.


Noted - thanks for the tips smile.gif
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Umkomaas
post Sun, 8 Sep 2019 - 17:29
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While it won't help you with your current dispute, I always carry an annual Excess Insurance policy with 'Direct Car Excess' (underwritten by AIG). Costs £49.99 for 12-months, multi-trip worldwide cover, and by using the MSE promo code as per link below, I get 20% discount - total £39.99. I renew it each year via the MSE promo code, ignoring the invitation to renew (at £49.99) , and never taking out their 'auto-renew' offer. It includes an additional driver and up to a maximum of 62 consecutive days of cover for any single trip.

https://www.direct-carexcess.co.uk/home

https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/ch...hire/#directcar

How good is it? Like all insurances, you never really know until you have to call on it, which I never have, but I do take some comfort that I'm not going to be forced to pay through the nose for insurance on picking up a hire vehicle, nor rolled over by a similar outfit to the one you've had the misfortune to have encountered.

Good luck in trying to get some satisfaction.
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DastardlyDick
post Fri, 27 Sep 2019 - 21:21
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QUOTE (Charlie1010 @ Sat, 7 Sep 2019 - 20:45) *
Be careful about taking out your own collision damage and other insurance as some companies will charge a hefty deposit for the car.


The "problem" with these "stand alone" policies is that the Hire Company cannot claim against them as they are not the Insured - you are - but EU Law states that they have to let you hire the car without their CDW, so they put a 'block' on your Credit Card for the excess, charge you for repairs, then leave you to claim the cash back.
I suppose it depends on what 'value' you put on your time to put in a claim against the luxury of being able to just drop the keys off and let the hire company o the work.
There is one Hire Company, with the initials GM, who have such an appalling reputation for "finding" "new" damage, that even the stand alone companies won't provide cover. Allegedly.

This post has been edited by DastardlyDick: Fri, 27 Sep 2019 - 21:22
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