8 rules to rent a car during your holiday abroad
Every year just after the holiday European Consumer Centre in Warsaw receives complaints related to the car rentals abroad. Most of them concern the unauthorized collection of charges from the credit card for damages, which the consumer has not done. Unfortunately, the problem is sometimes the recklessness or inattention of the consumers.
– Consumers often do not read the contract carefully or sign a document, written in a language which they know little. If, for example, during the tour the puncture happens, they are surprised that they must pay additionally , because the insurance did not cover such damage – shows Piotr Stańczak, Director of the European Consumer Centre Poland.
– Common mistake is the lack of copies of the documents necessary to prove guilt the rental, for example the consumer orders a car over the Internet and forget to keep a copy of the contract or email correspondence with the company. When it appears that the car is different than the requested or the conditions to receive it are different from the import arrangements – it is difficult to prove the damage – adds Małgorzata Furmańska, a lawyer in the European Consumer Centre Poland.
Before you rent
1) The term “super discount” does not necessarily mean an excellent opportunity
The price shown on the website informs only about the basic fee, usually does not include, for example, the cost of insurance. In addition, the consumer pays for:
– Fuel (extra high fee, if we give back a car with an empty tank and while it was rented with a full one)
– Exceeding the mileage limit (if one is specified in the contract)
– Leaving the car in a different place than we rented from (for example, picked up in Madrid, left in Barcelona) or using the rental services outside working hours.
– The right to use the car by a second driver
– Child seat
Note: If the car rental contract is concluded over the Internet we cannot exercise the right to withdraw from the distance contract without incurring costs.
2) Find out what does the insurance cover
Often, the basic (cheapest) version provides a coverage for any costs of a major accident by the insurer, but in case of breakage – for example, costs may be shared in a ratio of 60% – the insurer, 40% – the driver. There are also insurances which cover all parts except tires or windows in the car. So if a puncture happens or thief breaks a glass – a consumer would pay out of his own pocket.
3) Check age limits for drivers
Even if it is possible to obtain a driver’s license at age of 18, car leasing company may stipulate that the renter must be at least 25 years old.
4) Make a “reconnaissance”
The driving may differ in every country, for example, the ‘common custom’ may be driving without lights and turning them on immediately before passing another vehicle or changing lanes freely without any signal of such intention (Egypt). If you do not feel comfortable in such conditions, it is worth considering the purchase of an organized trip.
5) Do not take the car with defective
The car, which we rent, should be fully functional, thoroughly tested before by the employee. If there are scratches or dents, we should receive a confirmation of this condition in writing. Thanks to that we will avoid being accused of making damage.
6) Make sure what kind of gasoline you should use to refuel
By making a mistake with fuel we can get stuck in the middle of the desert with a broken car, and we will pay for its repair.
Giving back the car
7) Fill the tank
If the car was rented with a half tank filled, when giving it back we should also fill it up to the half. Return of the car with an empty tank, when we received it fueled, can cause extra charges for fuel – mostly higher than the prices at the gas station.
8) Do not forget the handover protocol
After checking the vehicle by an employee of the company, be sure to draft and sign a handover protocol by both parties, which is the proof that the car was delivered without any damage (in the condition in which it was rented). A copy of the document should be kept (for example in case of unjustified credit card charges, it can be shown that during our use the car was not damaged).
Where to find help?
The lawyers from the European Consumer Centres provide free legal advice and help in amicable settlement of disputes between the consumers and car leasing companies, registered outside consumers’s country (in European Union countries, Iceland and Norway). List of ECC addresses is available here.