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ROAD RAGE The Car Hire Cons That Are Driving Tourists Mad

Tuesday December 15, 2015

ROAD RAGE The Car Hire Cons That Are Driving Tourists Mad

There are lots of great ways to start your holiday. But standing in a lengthy, slow moving queue at the car hire desks in Arrecife airport before being hit up for hidden charges and costs by a pushy rental provider is obviously not one of them.

It smacks of the old timeshare, touty image that island authorities have worked so hard to transcend. Yet that's the first impression that many visitors to the island are experiencing - thanks to the misleading and cynical business practices employed by certain big name providers. Who are operating with total disregard for customer service in an unregulated market, whilst doing nothing to enhance visitor experience.

The problems tend to start online. The big brand travel and car hire comparison sites work with third party brokers and together they promote bargain rental deals that are littered with more pot holes and pitfalls than a badly surfaced B road. Pop up ads claim that cars are selling out fast for your dates, so adding a totally spurious element of pressure to the sales pitch.

But in reality many of these ‘deals’ are deliberately misleading, giving consumers the impression that they’re buying car rental at a great price with a fully inclusive package that includes all of the usual elements such as insurance and unlimited mileage. And then on arrival they are instead forced to shell out for all sorts of unforeseen extras, turning their bargain into a financial burden.

The Insurance Illusion

Arguably the most cynical of these slick tricks is The Insurance Illusion. Take one tired and vulnerable tourist with an all inclusive online booking. Then aggressively inform them that their insurance is not in fact valid, so setting them up for the kill - which consists of the Hobson’s choice of paying a huge security deposit, typically €900 to €1200 Euros, or an €80 waiver. Defeated and desperate to just get out of there, many just opt for the latter, whilst those who go with the former can find further spurious deductions on their cards, with security deposit refunds also sometimes taking weeks to appear.

The Full Tank Trick

The other arrivals hall favourite is The Full Tank Trick, where your provider demands a payment of €76 for a full tank of petrol. If you’re renting a small or economy car you can fill this yourself at any garage on the island for at least half that price. And of course unless you’re able to free wheel your rental motor back into the airport the car hire provider wins again,

These two cunning stunts alone rapidly add to that original bargain price. And those car hire conjurors have plenty more up their sleeves too, as you’ll soon find out if you ask for any other type of extra.

Traffic Jam

Unsurprisingly, the rental desks of companies that employ this type of business model are often jammed up worse than the M25 at rush hour. Waits of up to two hours are not uncommon, as frazzled tourists argue the toss with staff and try to work out the best course of action. So you are also buying a lengthy wait and appalling customer service as part of the deal - something that is also obviously not flagged up at the time of booking either.  

Local companies tend to steer clear of these practices, instead offering the more familiar all in one price package. But larger brands such as Goldcar – voted the worst car hire provider in Spain by Which! Magazine in 2014 – Budget, Hertz and Avis are all driven by these practices and are more often than not the end providers on the larger travel and car hire comparison sites.

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