Rip-off charges for minor vehicle repairs highlight the importance of getting insurance to protect against sky-high waivers on car rental policies.
- Which? reports car hire repair bill of £1,154 for a small windscreen chip.
- Some customers only discover they’ve been charged from credit card statements.
- Code of conduct says customers should be given opportunity to challenge charges.
Horror stories from the car hire industry often involve customers being billed hundreds or even thousands of pounds for small dents and minor repairs.
Research by Which? last year suggested two-thirds of car hire customers billed for damage were overcharged. In one case, a customer renting a car in France was hit with a £1,154 bill for a small windscreen chip that could have been fixed for as little as £35.
At excessbuddy.com, the biggest repair bill we’ve seen to date is £2,329 for a vehicle repair in Spain. Waivers on car rental policies as high as £2,000 help to inflate the price of car hire repairs, which is why it is essential to have protection through a waiver insurance policy.
Code of conduct
The first that some customers know about these repair charges is when they are back home and they check their credit card statements.
That’s contrary to the industry’s code of conduct, which says customers should be given reasonable opportunity to challenge charges before payment is taken. That means providing supporting evidence and making customers aware of the amount due to be charged.
Which? said last month that one in five car hire customers had been slapped with unexpected charges, including for refuelling, unwanted insurance, additional mileage or late drop-off. Half of these customers had no knowledge of the charge until after they returned from holiday.
Customers should take video footage or photos of the vehicle before and after the car rental in case it’s necessary to challenge unexpected charges. Even better, stay with the car hire agent until they’ve inspected the vehicle
If there are problems at a later date, cases can be escalated to the European Car Rental Conciliation Service or the European Consumer Centres Network. For UK rentals, the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association can help with complaints about its members.
The best protection against these unexpected charges is to have car hire excess insurance, which means customers are no longer exposed to the cost of the collision damage waiver. The price of these policies is significantly cheaper when bought beforehand from third-party providers.