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A Handy Guide to Hiring a Car By "UKHandyMan4Hire"

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A Handy Guide to Hiring a Car

Author: Will (UKHandyMan4Hire)

INTRODUCTION

Having read and replied to many posts about car hire on forums in the Costa Blanca, and having read numerous reports about how people have been ripped off by some companies, I decided to write this guide. It is not a complete Wiki on car hire, but it is a guide covering a topic which is not covered elsewhere on this website.

I am happy to receive feedback (this is my first effort so please avoid being too brutal!!).

As a regular user of car hire companies, all over the world, I never believe I have ‘seen it all’ or even ‘know it all’, but I do think I have a wealth of knowledge, and lots of bad experiences, which I have chosen to put into a guide in order to help others. I trust you find the guide useful.

I will also begin by saying that there are lots of good and bad hire companies out there, and this guide is not aimed at being a name and shame opportunity. People will have had good and bad experiences of their own with most of the providers, so I would urge you to check out reviews left on TripAdvisor and other comparison websites, as well as asking for suggestions and guidance on this website.

This guide does not cover legislation and road safety law. I trust that you will familiarise yourself with all the necessary rules of the road for the area you intend to visit.

I am not able to attach documents to the guides section of this website, so if you want to have a free copy as a PDF then please PM me through the chat room and I will attach it in my reply. Alternatively read Jim's guide about how to save a guide as a PDF.

HOW TO CHOOSE A HIRE COMPANY

As mentioned in the introduction, websites such as TripAdvisor and TrustPilot, and local forums for the area you are visiting, will give you some idea about the good, the bad and the downright ugly of the various companies that hire out vehicles. I personally have had good service from the low-cost budget brands as well as the high cost, mainstream brands.

Cheap does not always mean Cheerful, but it also doesn’t have to mean it is a Horror Story!

I once had the pleasure of hiring a vehicle for €0.08 per day and had a wonderful experience. YES, just 8 cents per day! But I did work hard for it!

Consider the location of the hire company

If you are flying into an airport and don’t want the hassle of trekking with your family and belongings, then you need to consider a hire company that is located within the airport grounds, walkable from the terminal at which you arrive. You are, however, likely to pay extra for a hire company located in the airport grounds.

There are other options. Some hire companies operate a pick-up and drop off service. They may pick you up and take you to their off-site location; you collect the car; enjoy your trip; return the car, and they take you back to the airport. Another version of this is when they will drop off and later collect the car from an agreed location, and this could even be the place you are staying. Once again, I suggest using a forum for the area you intend to visit, as there are lots of local people who are willing to give help and advice.

Very often, the perceived option for the cheapest hire is to locate a car hire company who are located away from the main transport links such as airports and train stations. I would suggest you look at the overall cost for this though, as you will incur other costs such as taxi or public transport costs, and you need to factor in your own time also - this comes at a price!

Other terms and conditions to consider

Before making a booking, also consider what size of vehicle you need. Think about the luggage space needed - including that for passengers!

Be realistic about the pick-up and drop-off times; how many miles/kilometres will you be doing; diesel or petrol; and automatic or manual. Who will be driving, more than one driver? All these decisions can impact on the price you will pay.

Mileage

A lot of hire companies offer unlimited mileage, but not all! Do not assume this! Check the T&Cs.

Fuel Agreement

I always recommend that you select/request a contract where you pick up the vehicle with the fuel tank full and you return it with the tank full. This way you know exactly the cost of the fuel you have used.

By returning the vehicle not full (or not at the agreed level) you will be subject to a higher cost per litre for the hire company to refuel it, and generally a service charge on top also.

Insurance

‘General Insurance’ for the vehicle is included in the price of the hire.

What is NOT normally included in the hire cost is Collision Damage Waiver (CDW). CDW insurance is NOT mandatory, but I highly recommended that you have it!

COLLISION DAMAGE WAIVER (CDW )

In simple terms, if the vehicle is returned in a worse condition than it was recorded to be in when collected, then you will be subjected to all sorts of problems when you return the vehicle. Each problem has a cost, and these can add up. CDW insurance covers those costs.

In many cases, the hiring company will try every trick in the book to make you purchase CDW insurance. This is likely to cost you upwards of €100 per week of vehicle hire; often at least double the cost of the vehicle hire itself.

There is an alternative. Take out your own CDW insurance prior to collecting your vehicle.

I can personally recommend www.icarhireinsurance.com which offers annual European CDW insurance for around £40. This is a massive saving compared to purchasing from the hire company, especially if you hire a vehicle multiple times in the year.

When you refuse to purchase the hire company's CDW insurance, either because you have your own CDW insurance, or because you want to roll the dice and gamble on not having a problem, then the hire company will block an amount in the region of €1000 off your credit/debit card. Make sure the card has enough funds to cover this.

If you return the vehicle without any additional damage to those items recorded, then the amount blocked will be released. The timeline for release varies!

If you return the vehicle with additional damage and this is noted by the vehicle handler, then you will be charged an incredible amount for that damage, often extremely excessive, and there is nothing you can do about it at that stage. Depending on those charges and the agreement you signed, you may then receive either a release or a further invoice for repair works.

Basically, get your own CDW insurance; refuse the hire company CDW insurance.

Making it this far; knowing what you want; what you are prepared to accept and consider, then you are ready to make the booking.

WHICH WEBSITE TO USE

At risk of repeating myself, people will have differing views on where to source their car. Lots of the rental companies have their own websites, which are always worth a look. Many of the top-end hire companies will have a customer loyalty programme, so I suggest you use their own website in order to maintain that loyalty.

For readers in Spain, I personally have had great success (and some pain! - explained later) by going through:

www.doyouspain.com

This website acts as an agent and a price comparison site, and I found that they very often have the best prices for my needs. They handle your booking and communication, but not the vehicles. The hire company supplying the vehicle is clearly identified on their website.

If you want to know who I have had good and bad experiences with, then please message me and I will be happy to share. I don’t wish to name and shame in the open and risk this website coming under attack by hire companies.

PROTECT YOURSELF, PAY BY CREDIT CARD

If you are a British citizen and you are paying from a British bank account, then the one thing I strongly recommend is that whoever you choose and whatever website you go through, please pay by Credit Card and NOT by a debit card.

The reason for my statement is that IF things go wrong then, by using a credit card, you acquire the protection provided under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

Apologies, but I am not aware if the same type of consumer credit protection exists for other countries, but it may be worth checking with your bank or citizens advice bureau, as this could assist you if things go wrong.

I will cover how section 75 assisted me later. For further reading on what it is and how it may help, then refer to:

https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/section-75-of-the-consumer-credit-act.

COLLECTING THE VEHICLE

So, there you are, you’ve chosen a company, booked a vehicle, and now it is presented to you for you to enjoy! What next?

First Rules of Hire Club! - 1) Be Patient. 2)Be Thorough. 3) Be Patient. 4) Be Thorough!

Did I just repeat myself? Good! I will say it all again, you need to be patient and thorough when you collect your vehicle.

I always recommend you allow at least one hour from when you are given the keys to when you can reasonably expect to drive away. Very often this is overkill, but if you don’t need an hour then you get the time back, right? If you are presented with a terrible vehicle, you will need the hour! (Did I mention you need to be patient and thorough?!!!)

Whatever you do, DO NOT lose your temper with any person who is representing the vehicle hire company, this will get you nowhere, or maybe even a visit from security or worse the constabulary! It just isn’t worth it. Stay calm on the outside!

Once you have mastered the inner rage, if you are required to that is, you are ready for the next stage, to be thorough!

CHECKING THE VEHICLE

Obviously, you need to make sure the vehicle is in line with the class, type, and description of the vehicle you ordered. Remember that hire companies will often say ‘A vehicle or equivalent’, so don’t be expecting a refund if the 5-door hatch like a Vauxhall Astra turns out to be a Hyundai i30. If they fall in the same class, then you get what you are given.

If at any point in the inspection process the vehicle looks, sounds or feels unsafe or un-roadworthy, then refuse the vehicle. For example, do not accept a vehicle with a tyre that is below the legal tread limit or where the exhaust sounds like it is on its way out… If you accept the vehicle in that state, I can assure you that it will become your problem!

I have been handed vehicles in dimly lit areas or in the middle of the night. It's tough and I have to accept that, do I? NO! Ask for inspection lighting to be provided.

It is highly likely, as you make your way around the vehicle, that you will find damage that the representative tells you doesn't matter because the damage is below a certain size, or that a scratch doesn’t break the paint. Get them to record the item on the handover sheet, or ask them to write the statement down. You need to cover yourself. These small issues that are disregarded at collection regularly become a problem when you hand the vehicle back!

I always take a photo of every item of damage I find. If you use a phone or digital camera, then the image is stamped with the date and time, and it can be used to support any problem you may encounter. I also video the vehicle. This again is for my own protection. I suggest you ensure your camera captures any issues.

NOTE – if a dent or scratch or other issues covers more than one panel, even though it is the same scratch or dent, have them record the issue on BOTH panels!!

It would take a long time to list out all the issues that a hire company will pick you up about. A lot of items are common sense. Check for dents, scratches, missing bits of body work, cracked windows, mirrors or lights… record them all.

Work your way around the car and be methodical. Once you have checked the general bodywork, go back and check the edge of the wing mirrors, which is a common area of damage which is not picked up. Then check the bottom of all the bodywork for scrapes against kerbs and ‘grounding’ damage – not that I am expecting you to get under the car and take a look!

Next look at the wheels and tyres. Even if they are alloys or wheel trims, record damage to them or if the trim is missing etc. Check for tread depth. Remember to check that a spare wheel is provided (or an alternative like the refill spray can). Check the condition of the spare wheel and tyre, and press a thumb into it to ensure it is pressurised. Whilst you are in the boot, check for the presence of a car jack and spanner, a warning triangle and high visibility jacket. In Spain, at least one high visibility jacket must be kept in the car, and the driver and passengers must put these on before getting out of the vehicle in the event of a breakdown outside urban areas.

Inside checks are much easier. Unless there is something very obviously missing or wrong, the hire company usually accepts this as wear & tear.

Next up are functional checks. It is worthwhile to check that all lights and indicators, wipers and screen wash etc, work correctly. Check that all doors open and close with the remote.

Also check the correct operation with a key for those doors which can open with the key.

I know of cases of a hire company where the passenger door lock does not operate with the key, but opens fine with the remote. The firm goes straight to the passenger door, tries it, it fails to operate, and they charge the client for damage!

You should now be nearing the end of your handover inspection. Finally check the mileage and fuel level. If there is any discrepancy to the paperwork you are given, then point it out straight away.

The last piece of advice is to check the paperwork where you have highlighted damage. Check that ALL the points you have raised are actually on the paper. Another known trick of the trade is to not record everything - you ‘trust’ the representative and then you get hit with repair bills for items you actually pointed out!

Only the paper version is the evidence!

Some hire companies give you a paper with ‘known damage’ on and some give you a blank page. In both cases you must record everything you see. Do not expect that, just because some damage is recorded, then it is a catalogue of ALL damage. Similarly, do not think that the car is perfect just because you have a blank page.

Finally, on this point, some firms take your version, transfer it to their own paper, destroy your original version and give you back their copy. If you managed to follow that sleight of hand, you may notice that once again they chose not to record everything. Take a photo of your version before you hand it back!

MAKING A CDW CLAIM

You need to contact the provider with whom you have Collision Damage Waiver insurance. Ask them for a claim form, and very often it can be done either online or a form can be sent to you by email.

Ask the representative what the claims process is and what the timescales are, so you are at least aware of what will now happen.

They will no doubt ask you for copies of:

  • The original booking reference and documentation.
  • A copy of the hire agreement issued when you collected the vehicle.
  • A copy of any other paperwork issued to you by the provider.
  • Photographs detailing the issues being charged.

It is at this point that all the other information you have gathered along the way, including names and dates etc, will become relevant. You cannot over inform!

If you are able to provide all the information requested from you, then it should be a very simple process for the claim, and your payment should be made in line with the policy you purchased. Note – if any excesses are included in your policy then the amount you receive will be the total minus the excess amount(s).

MAKING A SECTION 75 CLAIM

This may vary slightly depending on your bank who issued you with the credit card you made the payment with, but it is simple enough though.

You need to contact the bank who issued you the credit card. When you speak to someone, advise them that you wish to make "A claim under section 75 of the consumer credit act" (web search for Consumer Credit Act 1974 if you need to review it). Even for overseas organisations to whom payment was made, your UK based bank is where you are covered under the act.

Under the terms of the consumer credit act the car hire company should do the following:

  • Provide you with three quotations for the work to be completed.
  • Give you the chance to take the vehicle away and have the opportunity to get a quote or have the damage repaired.
  • Demonstrate that vehicles DO get repaired.

In 99% of all cases the hire company will fail on all three counts so, basically, they are in breach of the CCA1974 and by default your money will be credited back to you, irrespective of any payment made under your CDW insurance.

You will have more forms to fill in, copies of documents to be sent etc, and then wait for the process to follow its course.

My advice is to make the claims in all cases, as you have nothing but a little bit of time to lose, and I have not yet experienced a claim being dismissed.

AND FINALLY...

Share your experience with others, please!

Good or bad, it always helps others when you give fair, reasonable, and constructive feedback. This can be done on forum sites local to where your vehicle hire took place, TripAdvisor and TrustPilot, to name a few.

Sharing the issues you have experienced with other people will allow them to at least check their own vehicle to make sure they don’t fall in to the same trap.

In closing – do not be put off about hiring a vehicle, not all experiences are bad ones. Be thorough and patient and above all, keep notes!

I trust this guide is received in the manner for which it is intended. It is not a comprehensive thesis about all the issues you will discover along your journey; it is a guide and should be read as such.

If you have a contribution you would like me to consider including, for the continuous improvement of the guide, then please let me know.

NOTE BY JIM

To add to what Will has said about selecting the hire company, I'd like to add my experience of when I used to go to Fuerteventura on holiday. I used a meet and greet company who weren't based in the airport. To get to the meeting point I had to walk past the onsite hire company counters, where there were always extensive queues. There was never more than one person in front of me at the meeting point, and I was always driving away from the airport in just a few minutes. If you've seen the queues at hire counters in busy airports, then you'll realise that I saved a lot of time over those who used onsite companies.

 

A Handy Guide to Hiring a Car By "UKHandyMan4Hire"

A Handy Guide to Hiring a Car

Author: Will (UKHandyMan4Hire)

INTRODUCTION

Having read and replied to many posts about car hire on forums in the Costa Blanca, and having read numerous reports about how people have been ripped off by some companies, I decided to write this guide. It is not a complete Wiki on car hire, but it is a guide covering a topic which is not covered elsewhere on this website.

I am happy to receive feedback (this is my first effort so please avoid being too brutal!!).

As a regular user of car hire companies, all over the world, I never believe I have ‘seen it all’ or even ‘know it all’, but I do think I have a wealth of knowledge, and lots of bad experiences, which I have chosen to put into a guide in order to help others. I trust you find the guide useful.

I will also begin by saying that there are lots of good and bad hire companies out there, and this guide is not aimed at being a name and shame opportunity. People will have had good and bad experiences of their own with most of the providers, so I would urge you to check out reviews left on TripAdvisor and other comparison websites, as well as asking for suggestions and guidance on this website.

This guide does not cover legislation and road safety law. I trust that you will familiarise yourself with all the necessary rules of the road for the area you intend to visit.

I am not able to attach documents to the guides section of this website, so if you want to have a free copy as a PDF then please PM me through the chat room and I will attach it in my reply. Alternatively read Jim's guide about how to save a guide as a PDF.

HOW TO CHOOSE A HIRE COMPANY

As mentioned in the introduction, websites such as TripAdvisor and TrustPilot, and local forums for the area you are visiting, will give you some idea about the good, the bad and the downright ugly of the various companies that hire out vehicles. I personally have had good service from the low-cost budget brands as well as the high cost, mainstream brands.

Cheap does not always mean Cheerful, but it also doesn’t have to mean it is a Horror Story!

I once had the pleasure of hiring a vehicle for €0.08 per day and had a wonderful experience. YES, just 8 cents per day! But I did work hard for it!

Consider the location of the hire company

If you are flying into an airport and don’t want the hassle of trekking with your family and belongings, then you need to consider a hire company that is located within the airport grounds, walkable from the terminal at which you arrive. You are, however, likely to pay extra for a hire company located in the airport grounds.

There are other options. Some hire companies operate a pick-up and drop off service. They may pick you up and take you to their off-site location; you collect the car; enjoy your trip; return the car, and they take you back to the airport. Another version of this is when they will drop off and later collect the car from an agreed location, and this could even be the place you are staying. Once again, I suggest using a forum for the area you intend to visit, as there are lots of local people who are willing to give help and advice.

Very often, the perceived option for the cheapest hire is to locate a car hire company who are located away from the main transport links such as airports and train stations. I would suggest you look at the overall cost for this though, as you will incur other costs such as taxi or public transport costs, and you need to factor in your own time also - this comes at a price!

Other terms and conditions to consider

Before making a booking, also consider what size of vehicle you need. Think about the luggage space needed - including that for passengers!

Be realistic about the pick-up and drop-off times; how many miles/kilometres will you be doing; diesel or petrol; and automatic or manual. Who will be driving, more than one driver? All these decisions can impact on the price you will pay.

Mileage

A lot of hire companies offer unlimited mileage, but not all! Do not assume this! Check the T&Cs.

Fuel Agreement

I always recommend that you select/request a contract where you pick up the vehicle with the fuel tank full and you return it with the tank full. This way you know exactly the cost of the fuel you have used.

By returning the vehicle not full (or not at the agreed level) you will be subject to a higher cost per litre for the hire company to refuel it, and generally a service charge on top also.

Insurance

‘General Insurance’ for the vehicle is included in the price of the hire.

What is NOT normally included in the hire cost is Collision Damage Waiver (CDW). CDW insurance is NOT mandatory, but I highly recommended that you have it!

COLLISION DAMAGE WAIVER (CDW )

In simple terms, if the vehicle is returned in a worse condition than it was recorded to be in when collected, then you will be subjected to all sorts of problems when you return the vehicle. Each problem has a cost, and these can add up. CDW insurance covers those costs.

In many cases, the hiring company will try every trick in the book to make you purchase CDW insurance. This is likely to cost you upwards of €100 per week of vehicle hire; often at least double the cost of the vehicle hire itself.

There is an alternative. Take out your own CDW insurance prior to collecting your vehicle.

I can personally recommend www.icarhireinsurance.com which offers annual European CDW insurance for around £40. This is a massive saving compared to purchasing from the hire company, especially if you hire a vehicle multiple times in the year.

When you refuse to purchase the hire company's CDW insurance, either because you have your own CDW insurance, or because you want to roll the dice and gamble on not having a problem, then the hire company will block an amount in the region of €1000 off your credit/debit card. Make sure the card has enough funds to cover this.

If you return the vehicle without any additional damage to those items recorded, then the amount blocked will be released. The timeline for release varies!

If you return the vehicle with additional damage and this is noted by the vehicle handler, then you will be charged an incredible amount for that damage, often extremely excessive, and there is nothing you can do about it at that stage. Depending on those charges and the agreement you signed, you may then receive either a release or a further invoice for repair works.

Basically, get your own CDW insurance; refuse the hire company CDW insurance.

Making it this far; knowing what you want; what you are prepared to accept and consider, then you are ready to make the booking.

WHICH WEBSITE TO USE

At risk of repeating myself, people will have differing views on where to source their car. Lots of the rental companies have their own websites, which are always worth a look. Many of the top-end hire companies will have a customer loyalty programme, so I suggest you use their own website in order to maintain that loyalty.

For readers in Spain, I personally have had great success (and some pain! - explained later) by going through:

www.doyouspain.com

This website acts as an agent and a price comparison site, and I found that they very often have the best prices for my needs. They handle your booking and communication, but not the vehicles. The hire company supplying the vehicle is clearly identified on their website.

If you want to know who I have had good and bad experiences with, then please message me and I will be happy to share. I don’t wish to name and shame in the open and risk this website coming under attack by hire companies.

PROTECT YOURSELF, PAY BY CREDIT CARD

If you are a British citizen and you are paying from a British bank account, then the one thing I strongly recommend is that whoever you choose and whatever website you go through, please pay by Credit Card and NOT by a debit card.

The reason for my statement is that IF things go wrong then, by using a credit card, you acquire the protection provided under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

Apologies, but I am not aware if the same type of consumer credit protection exists for other countries, but it may be worth checking with your bank or citizens advice bureau, as this could assist you if things go wrong.

I will cover how section 75 assisted me later. For further reading on what it is and how it may help, then refer to:

https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/section-75-of-the-consumer-credit-act.

COLLECTING THE VEHICLE

So, there you are, you’ve chosen a company, booked a vehicle, and now it is presented to you for you to enjoy! What next?

First Rules of Hire Club! - 1) Be Patient. 2)Be Thorough. 3) Be Patient. 4) Be Thorough!

Did I just repeat myself? Good! I will say it all again, you need to be patient and thorough when you collect your vehicle.

I always recommend you allow at least one hour from when you are given the keys to when you can reasonably expect to drive away. Very often this is overkill, but if you don’t need an hour then you get the time back, right? If you are presented with a terrible vehicle, you will need the hour! (Did I mention you need to be patient and thorough?!!!)

Whatever you do, DO NOT lose your temper with any person who is representing the vehicle hire company, this will get you nowhere, or maybe even a visit from security or worse the constabulary! It just isn’t worth it. Stay calm on the outside!

Once you have mastered the inner rage, if you are required to that is, you are ready for the next stage, to be thorough!

CHECKING THE VEHICLE

Obviously, you need to make sure the vehicle is in line with the class, type, and description of the vehicle you ordered. Remember that hire companies will often say ‘A vehicle or equivalent’, so don’t be expecting a refund if the 5-door hatch like a Vauxhall Astra turns out to be a Hyundai i30. If they fall in the same class, then you get what you are given.

If at any point in the inspection process the vehicle looks, sounds or feels unsafe or un-roadworthy, then refuse the vehicle. For example, do not accept a vehicle with a tyre that is below the legal tread limit or where the exhaust sounds like it is on its way out… If you accept the vehicle in that state, I can assure you that it will become your problem!

I have been handed vehicles in dimly lit areas or in the middle of the night. It's tough and I have to accept that, do I? NO! Ask for inspection lighting to be provided.

It is highly likely, as you make your way around the vehicle, that you will find damage that the representative tells you doesn't matter because the damage is below a certain size, or that a scratch doesn’t break the paint. Get them to record the item on the handover sheet, or ask them to write the statement down. You need to cover yourself. These small issues that are disregarded at collection regularly become a problem when you hand the vehicle back!

I always take a photo of every item of damage I find. If you use a phone or digital camera, then the image is stamped with the date and time, and it can be used to support any problem you may encounter. I also video the vehicle. This again is for my own protection. I suggest you ensure your camera captures any issues.

NOTE – if a dent or scratch or other issues covers more than one panel, even though it is the same scratch or dent, have them record the issue on BOTH panels!!

It would take a long time to list out all the issues that a hire company will pick you up about. A lot of items are common sense. Check for dents, scratches, missing bits of body work, cracked windows, mirrors or lights… record them all.

Work your way around the car and be methodical. Once you have checked the general bodywork, go back and check the edge of the wing mirrors, which is a common area of damage which is not picked up. Then check the bottom of all the bodywork for scrapes against kerbs and ‘grounding’ damage – not that I am expecting you to get under the car and take a look!

Next look at the wheels and tyres. Even if they are alloys or wheel trims, record damage to them or if the trim is missing etc. Check for tread depth. Remember to check that a spare wheel is provided (or an alternative like the refill spray can). Check the condition of the spare wheel and tyre, and press a thumb into it to ensure it is pressurised. Whilst you are in the boot, check for the presence of a car jack and spanner, a warning triangle and high visibility jacket. In Spain, at least one high visibility jacket must be kept in the car, and the driver and passengers must put these on before getting out of the vehicle in the event of a breakdown outside urban areas.

Inside checks are much easier. Unless there is something very obviously missing or wrong, the hire company usually accepts this as wear & tear.

Next up are functional checks. It is worthwhile to check that all lights and indicators, wipers and screen wash etc, work correctly. Check that all doors open and close with the remote.

Also check the correct operation with a key for those doors which can open with the key.

I know of cases of a hire company where the passenger door lock does not operate with the key, but opens fine with the remote. The firm goes straight to the passenger door, tries it, it fails to operate, and they charge the client for damage!

You should now be nearing the end of your handover inspection. Finally check the mileage and fuel level. If there is any discrepancy to the paperwork you are given, then point it out straight away.

The last piece of advice is to check the paperwork where you have highlighted damage. Check that ALL the points you have raised are actually on the paper. Another known trick of the trade is to not record everything - you ‘trust’ the representative and then you get hit with repair bills for items you actually pointed out!

Only the paper version is the evidence!

Some hire companies give you a paper with ‘known damage’ on and some give you a blank page. In both cases you must record everything you see. Do not expect that, just because some damage is recorded, then it is a catalogue of ALL damage. Similarly, do not think that the car is perfect just because you have a blank page.

Finally, on this point, some firms take your version, transfer it to their own paper, destroy your original version and give you back their copy. If you managed to follow that sleight of hand, you may notice that once again they chose not to record everything. Take a photo of your version before you hand it back!

MAKING A CDW CLAIM

You need to contact the provider with whom you have Collision Damage Waiver insurance. Ask them for a claim form, and very often it can be done either online or a form can be sent to you by email.

Ask the representative what the claims process is and what the timescales are, so you are at least aware of what will now happen.

They will no doubt ask you for copies of:

  • The original booking reference and documentation.
  • A copy of the hire agreement issued when you collected the vehicle.
  • A copy of any other paperwork issued to you by the provider.
  • Photographs detailing the issues being charged.

It is at this point that all the other information you have gathered along the way, including names and dates etc, will become relevant. You cannot over inform!

If you are able to provide all the information requested from you, then it should be a very simple process for the claim, and your payment should be made in line with the policy you purchased. Note – if any excesses are included in your policy then the amount you receive will be the total minus the excess amount(s).

MAKING A SECTION 75 CLAIM

This may vary slightly depending on your bank who issued you with the credit card you made the payment with, but it is simple enough though.

You need to contact the bank who issued you the credit card. When you speak to someone, advise them that you wish to make "A claim under section 75 of the consumer credit act" (web search for Consumer Credit Act 1974 if you need to review it). Even for overseas organisations to whom payment was made, your UK based bank is where you are covered under the act.

Under the terms of the consumer credit act the car hire company should do the following:

  • Provide you with three quotations for the work to be completed.
  • Give you the chance to take the vehicle away and have the opportunity to get a quote or have the damage repaired.
  • Demonstrate that vehicles DO get repaired.

In 99% of all cases the hire company will fail on all three counts so, basically, they are in breach of the CCA1974 and by default your money will be credited back to you, irrespective of any payment made under your CDW insurance.

You will have more forms to fill in, copies of documents to be sent etc, and then wait for the process to follow its course.

My advice is to make the claims in all cases, as you have nothing but a little bit of time to lose, and I have not yet experienced a claim being dismissed.

AND FINALLY...

Share your experience with others, please!

Good or bad, it always helps others when you give fair, reasonable, and constructive feedback. This can be done on forum sites local to where your vehicle hire took place, TripAdvisor and TrustPilot, to name a few.

Sharing the issues you have experienced with other people will allow them to at least check their own vehicle to make sure they don’t fall in to the same trap.

In closing – do not be put off about hiring a vehicle, not all experiences are bad ones. Be thorough and patient and above all, keep notes!

I trust this guide is received in the manner for which it is intended. It is not a comprehensive thesis about all the issues you will discover along your journey; it is a guide and should be read as such.

If you have a contribution you would like me to consider including, for the continuous improvement of the guide, then please let me know.

NOTE BY JIM

To add to what Will has said about selecting the hire company, I'd like to add my experience of when I used to go to Fuerteventura on holiday. I used a meet and greet company who weren't based in the airport. To get to the meeting point I had to walk past the onsite hire company counters, where there were always extensive queues. There was never more than one person in front of me at the meeting point, and I was always driving away from the airport in just a few minutes. If you've seen the queues at hire counters in busy airports, then you'll realise that I saved a lot of time over those who used onsite companies.

 

Disclaimer

While we try to ensure the guides are accurate and up to date, things change and mistakes happen, so please consider this when using the guides.

Jim, the author of the guides, is based on Costa Blanca, and so the articles are biased to that region, although in most cases they are the same or very similar for other areas.

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About Guidebook Spain

Guidebook Spain is the complete guide to living in Spain for the British ex-pat and other foreign nationals.

Painstakingly researched and written by legendary ex-pat Jim Taylor, each article on Guidebook Spain covers vital topics for anyone considering setting up a home in Spain and those who have already made the move.

Jim's takes readily available, often complex, information and breaks it down into easy to read and understand chunks while drawing on his own experience as an ex-pat to add vital "real-world" advice.

Topics Covered Include...

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