What I hate about car hire!

Before we go any further, for our American friends I’m talking about car rental. I know this needs to be pointed out because my American colleagues always have a lot of fun thinking that a hire car is actually a “higher car”. Sad, but true.

Car hire is one of those things that you have to spend a bit of time working at before you find an acceptable deal and even then you get screwed! Unfortunately, we rent cars quite often simply because it is the easiest, often the only and sometimes the cheapest way to deal with transportation issues once you leave the aircraft. Take a trip to the UK for example, getting the family from Heathrow or Luton up to Nottingham and back again by train with tickets bought at the station is going to cost about 7,000 quid take 4 days and leave us with no way of getting around during our stay. I wish it were different but it isn’t. So it is that in the last year or so we’ve rented cars in Spain, the UK and most recently in Norway and despite all the convenience I’m still left feeling unhappy about it all.

I think one of my biggest problems with it is the costs they add on to what you thought you were going to pay, primarily insurance but I’m also not pleased when I get a completely different car to what was ordered nor when I get a child seat that has not been cleaned since they bought it (i.e. every car seat they have).

Here’s the bill from Norway. This is in NOK so just halve it for PLN.

carhire oslo

As you can see, we started out at a general expectation of paying 1,343 for renting a car but ended up no less than 5 sub-totals later paying nearly double that!!

This insurance is a rip-off. First of all they make the excess levels so high that you’re forced into taking the “extra” insurance rather than gamble a thousand quid that no idiot is going to hit you while parking or whatever. We’ve had situations where a tyre has blown and we had to pay because we didn’t take the optional tyre insurance, another car was hit in a car park while we were not there and that cost us a couple of hundred quid. The golden rule is this – if you pay for full-max insurance, nothing whatsoever will happen, if you don’t, the car will be damaged or stolen. Works every damned time! To make matters worse they split the insurance up into different packages like collision damage, theft, personal accident, third party and so on.  You can see from the bill above that the list of insurances alone has increased the basic hire cost by no less than 67%!!!!!!!!!!!

I’m sorry but it’s your car, I can’t drive it without insurance, you can’t rent it without insurance so stop ripping me off with it, or put the excess charges down so it not such a no-brainer to take the insurance. It’s like the “extended warranty” scams when you buy an appliance – only worse. This insurance cost me over 100 PLN a day, an annual equivalent of 41,062 PLN. I could buy a car for that, let alone insure one!!! I refuse to believe that their insurance cost is anything even close to that amount so they are just using it as a cynical method of screwing more profit out of me and lowering the “headline” rental price. It should be illegal.

Then you get to add all the other nonsense they can dream up, in this case we have airport surcharge, toll system administration, VAt at a whopping 25% and actual toll charges accounting for a further 91% of the basic car cost. End result – what you thought might cost around 800 PLN, ends up costing 1,500.

Okay, I’m exaggerating slightly because I think the price I was shown on the internet as being the final cost including VAT was around 2,400 NOK so we only got ripped up by 1,000 NOK in the end, 42% more than expected.

By the way, the Oslo toll system is fun. They tell you the car has a chip and when you see a toll system you can use the “automatic lane”. You drive around for four days and see no sign of a toll booth anywhere, no automatic lanes, nothing. Then you give the car back and they charge you 140 PLN for tolls and toll admin. Why not charge 1,400, nobody is going to be any the wiser.


9 thoughts on “What I hate about car hire!

  1. My experience entirely. On our last trip to the UK, I returned our hire car to Avis and the nice lady at Luton airport detected a tiny white scratch on the car’s black plastic bumper. “Cost” of “repair” – 257 quid. Collision Damage Waiver insurance shaved one hundred pounds off the total. Had I noticed this scratch before returning the car, I’d have bought a pot of Humbrol Gloss Black enamel and a No.2 paint brush and Avis would have been none the wiser.

    On our penultimate trip to the UK I took the Big Insurance Package, and, as if to prove Scatts wrong, the car was returned with a big dent in the side (Tesco car park – clumsy driver hit and run) and a changed tyre (the flat had a nail through it). Cost of repair: 1,116 quid. Insurance (37 quid extra) covered the lot.

  2. You see, I’d be quite happy to smash the car up if I’d paid for the insurance because at least I’d be getting something for my money! It just doesn’t happen that way for me. ;)

    37 quid sounds like a good deal, was that just for one day or more? Which company do you use in the UK?

  3. I hired a car from Hertz in France with four other students. I was the only one who was over 21 and not American so I ended up in the driver’s seat, having never driven left-hand drive before.

    Reversing out of the weeny car-park across the stream from my flat, I managed to score the car all along the left hand side of the bodywork against the hand rail of the bridge.

    I’m very glad we got out insurance, and for five people it wasn’t too bad (although five in a Peugeot 206 or whatever it was is a bit of a squeeze :))

  4. What really stood out to me was the “Rounding off”, do they substract if it is over .50? Really, that’s just too obvious they might as well add a line “For our drink fund” and add some random cents, is it so hard to charge ###,55 to a credit card?

  5. I enjoyed that one too, Hugo but you have to understand these Norwegians have no compunction about making high and incomprehensible charges for all sorts of things so a little bit of rounding off probably seems very fair to them.

  6. We used to use 1Car1 until they went bust. The last two trips they let us down, and the only people who’d help us out at the airport were Avis (the other hire car stands were unmanned or they’d quote a absurd price). The 37 quid was on top of the standard CDW charge. But it did save us over a grand, so still quids in. Though the prat that dents a vehicle in a supermarket car park and legs it deserves some bad karma.

  7. Car Insurance On Rentals Explained

    When it comes to car insurance, there are a couple of traps you can fall into. The contracts are complicated and extremely difficult to understand, and that’s if you even have the time to read them. The fact is that most people don’t read insurance contracts and there is a significant information shortage when it comes to consumers and the contents of their own insurance contracts.

    One of the problems with this information gap is that it can lead to wasted money. Every time you rent a car you are asked what kind of insurance you would like. The options are generally to take none, which costs nothing, or you could cover liability insurance, which should cost about $10 per day. Then you have a variety of options to cover the rental cat itself, prices for which vary from company to company and state to state. The full coverage option, which includes liability, passengers, and the rental car usually, comes to about $25 to $30 a day. Most people genuinely don’t know what option they should be taking.

    Liability insurance is the only insurance you are required by law to take out. All the others are optional. That’s the first and most important thing to remember when you’re at the rental desk, and the total price for your two-week vacation car is quickly adding up and up. The other thing to know is that in many cases, you will be covered, to some extent by your existing car insurance. You will have to check your insurance policy to make certain, but for the vast majority of drivers, they will have liability insurance by virtue of their own car insurance, and this will carry over to the rental car.

    It is however, unlikely that full or comprehensive coverage will carry over from your own car insurance. This is because comprehensive insurance is calculated based on the value of your car. Insurers don’t want to be in a position where they set your policy based on your say, $15,000 vehicle, and then have to pay out when you crash a $40,000 rental. So your policy will state that only liability insurance is provided when you rent.

    Credit Card Cover

    You may still require no insurance from the rental company however. This is because many credit card companies, including both visa and MasterCard, offer this insurance if you pay for the rental with one of their cards. This is a major benefit of using a credit card and should not be wasted. Again you should check with your credit card provider what they cover, but the bottom line is, if your own insurance covers liability, and your credit card covers the rental car, why pay a couple of hundred dollars for extra insurance when you’re already covered?

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