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.
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.