40% report problems with car hire abroad

A survey of Irish holidaymakers has found 40% had a bad experience when they last hired a car while abroad.

The poll of 3,700 people found many had problems with hidden charges, rip-off fuel payment policies and a lack of transparency in the rental contract itself.

Of those who took part in the AA survey, 22% said their most recent experience was negative while a further 18% said they had a “somewhat bad” experience.

Of the top complaints, 22% said they were unhappy with the transparency of the fees charged, 19% felt aggrieved by the company’s fuel payment policy and 17% felt their rental contract was unclear on items such as excesses, restrictions and accident procedures.

Other complaints pertained to the condition of the car hired, the pre and post usage inspection of the vehicle and the addition of charges after the vehicle had been returned.

One in seven drivers polled said they were dissatisfied with the quality of the pre or post usage inspection carried out.

“One respondent who hired a car in the Costa del Sol said he was charged €80 for a full tank of petrol upon collection, double the actual cost of filling the tank locally,” AA said. “Another said he was billed for an entire re-spray of a van having only caused a minor scratch.”

Spain and Italy were the source of the greatest number of complaints.

In Spain, 29% of the respondents complained about the nature of the fuel payment policies in place.

In Italy, the biggest gripes were with fees and charges and the overall transparency of the rental contract.

“Hiring a car abroad is simple enough but you need to look out for hidden charges and make sure that you know what you are paying for,” said AA director of consumer affairs Conor Faughnan. “When returning the car, make sure that you get a receipt from the car hire company and that they have agreed before you leave that there is no damage, fuel charges or other issues.”


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