With millions of Britons about to set off on their summer vacation the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) is providing travellers with some advice on how to ensure a smooth car rental experience.
“From the Spanish Costas to the leafy lanes of the Lake District, hire cars will play a vital role in helping people to have an enjoyable holiday this summer,” said Gerry Keaney, Chief Executive of the BVRLA.
“More flexible than public transport and far cheaper than a taxi, car rental will give many millions of tourists the freedom to explore their destination.
“Rental firms try to maintain the highest standards of customer service, but mistakes do get made. At the same time, some consumers do not pay enough attention when booking their vehicle and later complain about what they perceive as extra charges or a lack of adequate insurance cover.”
Here are the BVRLA’s simple steps to enjoy hassle-free car hire.
1. Beware of bogus car rental companies. Consumers have been caught out by bogus car hire companies in recent years, hoodwinked by their offers of very low prices and nationwide availability, even for last minute bookings. Many customers handed over deposits of hundreds of pounds for cars that never materialised.
2. Use a BVRLA member. Seeing our logo on the front desk or website is a sign that you are dealing with a reputable company that has been vetted and operates to a professional code of conduct. You will also be able to use our conciliation service in the event of any dispute. Find a BVRLA member via the ‘member locator’ on our website at: www.carhire.bvrla.co.uk
3. Before you book. Pay close attention to what is and isn’t included in the reservation fee. For example, some rental companies charge extra if you can’t return the vehicle to the same rental branch or are leaving the country.
4. Paperwork. Make sure you read and understand the terms and conditions of your contract with the rental company. Ask for a copy prior to your rental, so that you have plenty of time to read it through.
5. Excess and waivers. Check if there are any exclusions to your loss/damage waiver. For example, in most cases windscreens, tyres, roof damage and undercarriage damage are not covered.
6. Fuel. Your car rental quote will not include fuel. Most companies will give you the option of buying a tank of fuel from them and returning the car empty or returning it with a full tank. Remember what you agreed to, otherwise you could end up gifting the rental company a free tank of fuel or paying an extra charge to have the tank re-filled.
7. Going abroad. Make sure that you tell the rental company if you are planning to take the vehicle abroad and that you familiarise yourself with the driving regulations at your destination. You may also need to take additional documentation, such as a VE103B certificate.
8. At the rental desk. Make sure you turn up with the credit card you used to make your booking and BOTH parts of your driving licence.
9. Collecting the vehicle. Do a thorough inspection, inside and out, walking all the way around the vehicle. Note every single chip, dent and scratch. Pay particular attention to the wheels, windscreen and lights, which are common damage areas. Before you drive the hire vehicle away, familiarise yourself with all of its controls - lights, windscreen wipers etc.
10. The return. Allow plenty of time, particularly at busy rental sites such as airports. Try and return the vehicle during opening hours so that someone can check it over with you. Otherwise you will be liable for any damage that occurs between you returning it and them inspecting it.