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Beware of forged car rental services!

The indignities you may have faced while renting cars like rude counter personnel, lengthy waits, rejection despite a reservation in hand, poor upgrade offers etc.  are mild  forms of disciplinary abuse you get at poor car rental services. I call it absolutely kid stuff because there is a lot more you need to be careful about while renting a car. There are a number of ways you could be fooled heavily.

We were given a car with a broken gas gauge at St. Martin, and we had to return with more gas on return because we had no clue how to tally. On the other hand, $800 were kept on hold on credit card as refundable amount that we never got back.”

says Kelly Johns, a frequent user of car rental services.

This is one of the simplest examples of scams happening at poor car rental outlets. Here are a few things to guard against while renting a car at an unknown destination.

  • Very low upfront fares: I may sound odd at recommending to check on cheap fares but that’s how the game begins. When a company charges super low, say around $30 or even lesser per day, get ready to hear a refusal when you show up. You’ll experience an inadvertent upgrade, and there will be nothing you could do. The increase could be three times higher than the actual amount. Travelocity stated, ‘Car rental rates are jacked up with taxes and other assessed fees at around 25% on upgrades”.

    The one-price-on-the-phone ruse works especially well when the customer has no clue where to go, just taken a shuttle van to a remote area and wants to get on the road at all costs.

  • Insurance  add-ons: A lot of car rental companies pressurize customers for buying expensive additional insurance, despite being covered by their existing insurance or credit card coverage. "Selling additional insurance coverage, often unnecessarily duplicating  with their existing coverage, is  the primary way car rental companies increase the cost of the rental." Says,

    These additional policies are often disguised as collision damage waiver; supplemental liability protection; personal accident insurance; or personal effects coverage. And if you agree on any of these, you are more likely to pay $30 extra per day. Some companies hold an amount on your credit card if you refuse their additional insurance or may not rent you at all. So, beware of these forced yet forged policies.

  • Poorly maintained vehicles: Before you sign any contract, make sure you are fully aware of the vehicle you are hiring. Most small car rental companies keep poorly maintained vehicles, and later claim for dents or dings. Proving them wrong is difficult, therefore make sure you accept a fully maintained car. Or, take pictures of all doors and trunk to have an evidence upon return.

  • Inflated toll taxes: Most companies give a toll pass, claiming that your toll taxes are included in the amount they have charged. What happens if you don’t find any toll booth  in  between? Do  they  return?  It’s not  that  they  just  push  you  for  additional insurance, they cover undue toll charges as well. So make sure you know what and how they are charging you.

  • Restricted Mileage: This issue becomes a loud talk upon car return. Most people are not aware of restricted mileage policies sugarcoated in different terms and conditions. Knowing "in-state travel" clause at the beginning could help users define their routes properly but this is one thing that is deliberately kept shady. Yes, that means a hefty charge for violating the company's rules, a nice way to top extra money on customer’s account. Better go for unrestricted mileage contract.

  • Late fees: Different companies have different rules, and that’s where most customers fall into the pit. Some companies charge late fees on late return and refund a small share on returning earlier. Whereas, a lot of companies charge a lot higher on both conditions. Whether, you return early or get a little late on return – they are calculated with time. Let’s say, if your plan stretches out a few more hours, new charges are imposed  as late  fees  that’s higher than per  hour  rental rate, and the  accumulated amount gets double. So the nicest, in fact the safest way to rent a car is to keep a few extra hours to your rental schedule.
To be fair, not all companies scam or deceit but there are a few car rental agencies in the crowd who are responsible for people’s bad experiences. They forge small tricks for extra cuts! However, good companies offer complimentary upgrades if the reserved car is not available. So there are both kinds in the show, all you need is to dig more on terms and conditions while renting from any car rental agency.

Some car rentals argue against prepaid reservations, however they still adheres to it to safeguard their own standing in the market. If a reservation is canceled 24 hours or less within the scheduled pickup time. A small share is deducted and the rest is refunded right away – that’s classy! If you don’t show up completely, the entire amount is gone – that’s absolutely fine, I believe. So if you expect transparency from car rental agencies, try on your part too! When renting cars, you have to not only beware, but also read the fine print.

Safe travels!

7+ Do’s & Don’ts of Car Rental

Shopping for a rental online has never been this easy until the emergence of seamless digital markets and online car rental outlets. Today, car rental agencies offer virtual windows with convenient booking calendars and pricing options, making it just a few clicks away! Customers can virtually stroll and choose the best available option and make bookings without stepping out of the house. Easy access, quick response and seamless money transfer functionalities have helped this industry grow to new heights. 

Digital intervention has resulted into a steep competition, pushed car rental companies to specifically focus on improving their fleet of vehicles, customer services, 24/7 online support and flawless money transferring system to help customers finish the process without any barrier. 

But there are still some do’s and don’ts of car rental. Mind these car rental tips and tricks to avoid getting burned by all the small details.

1- Do try smaller rental companies: A large segment of car rental market is dominated by popular rental companies; however, small independent companies are slowly filling the gap in between. Despite the hegemony that large car rental companies enjoy, there are a lot of viable options for budget conscious travelers or for people who are ready to serve a little more time on digging about the market, rates and trends. The more car rental companies are pouring in, the more competition is getting steeper than ever in pricing and variety. So, if you are looking for a vehicle that suits your need and budget, look out for what small agencies are offering! Although, renting a car from a reputed company may be more convenient, and looks reliable but small or mid-level agencies tend to be more responsive to your needs and budget. New companies innovate more often, not just their fleet but services to retain existing customers and have new clients, so, why not cash the opportunity? Gain more insights by checking multiple car rental sites to have rate comparisons, so that you are able to make informed decisions. 

2- Don’t compromise on the vehicle: Before you pick any vehicle, think about the purpose you are hiring for. If you are renting for a family or any business trip where you are accompanied by your family and colleagues, you may need a large sedan or SUV. Or if you are alone, you can go for the smallest model to save bucks. Discuss your requirement thoroughly without compromising on the vehicle space or effectiveness, there is no way 6 people can fit in a small car or an old model could take you for a mountain ride. Be realistic! Focus, on the active features such as automatic or manual transmission, fuel consumption, tracker, GPS etc. so you are free from accidents or technical failures on the road.

3- Do ask for a driver: If you are new to any destination, its much easier to look around for places with a seasoned driver. It would save you both, time and money. If there are any plans for inter-city traveling, you can share the responsibility while the driver can rest too. At least he would be there for any help. Having a driver is important because, you may not know about specific no-go areas and entering that could cost you must. So if you are in a new country, make sure you have a proper road-map, a first aid kit and a driver to help you look around nicely.  

4- Don’t forget to fix rates: Car hire agencies often look for upscale fixes. So before you book any car online, read all the terms and conditions carefully while making any reservation. Do your homework and compare rates for a variety of vehicles to closely understand market trends. If you are physically trying and testing any car, ask for restrictions and penalty for not showing up on time or the same day. Also, ask about what would happen if you drive more than any fixed number of miles? Don’t skip another important question like, would you pay any less on returning before time? Dig everything especially about the toll taxes, would those be included or excluded from the rent? 

Most rental companies give prices inclusive of all taxes, so be careful or you may end up paying extra. Also ensure if the vehicle you’re hiring is legal and is free from police records. Double check with an authorization hold on your credit card upon your reservation, which allows a company to keep certain amount as security. This doesn’t get processed until you fail to return the car as specified in your contract.

5- Do inspect before signing any car: Online car booking is one of the easiest ways to reserve any vehicle, but it takes away the opportunity from you to check or inspect the vehicle you are signing for. But as soon as the car arrives your doorstep, check it thoroughly. Don’t forget to take fuel or mileage reading. Most car rental companies are reluctant about small things so there is nothing wrong in reminding them about it. However, some may find damages as a profit making opportunities. So before it gets on you, make sure you check it before signing any contract.  This is why it’s important to give the car pre-rental inspection. Mark every scratch, ding or dent in record, no matter how small or insignificant it is so that they may not count all these in your record. Take notes on the rental agreement, pinpoint even the slightest scratch or the best you could do is taking pictures of with your mobile or digital camera to record that you are not responsible for anything that have not committed.

6- Don’t wait for the last minute deals: Generally, it is believed that last minute deals are cheapest and offer more! Last minute deals are often targeted to attract customers who are less interested in a quality drive yet more into saving. However, agencies are smart enough to cover their costs some way or the other. Therefore, if you are traveling to another country, book your car one week prior to your flight or at least before you depart for that country. Never wait for the last minute deals if you are traveling to an unknown destination, where you have no one to receive you. Early booking could save you from ambiguity, mental stress and offer flexibility if required at the eleventh hour. Moreover, you have a wider gallery to select at better rates, whereas discounted deals have restricted list of vehicles to offer. Why drive any lesser?


7- DO arrange a ‘mini’ road safety kit: Accidents are always uncalled. Unexpected events may occur, therefore you should be ready with a mini road safety kit to handle any uncalled emergency. A flash light, extra battery and first aid equipment would be enough for you to handle any uncertainty.  Even though you’re renting a car, emergencies and unexpected events can happen. It’s a good idea to pack a mini-version of your DIY road safety kit and include just-in-case items such as a flashlight, extra batteries, flares, your roadside assistance card and of course, your travel assistance membership card in case you get sick or hurt and need emergency medical assistance when you’re more than 50 miles away from home.

+ Last but not least, it is best to trust word of mouth! Ask for reviews and recommendations from your friends and family. Tried and tested may work for you too!

Safe Travels

Car Hire Isn’t Expensive Anymore!

There is so much fear and dread about car rental industry that most tourists turn their backs to car rentals and prefer using public transportation for commutation. There is no harm in using any of the options as far as the customer is making an informed decision which is only possible if they are aware of the facts related to car rentals. A lot of people think, car rental is an expensive affair; however this is where people can avail real bargains. Consult any reputed agency and see the wonders of alteration. Agents can tweak and fix personalised car hire deals.  So, it’s time to break off myths about car rental and say hello to a new experience!

Long gone are the days when people believed in the commercial starring John McEnroe, a tennis player striding through the array of brand new cars, picking one and driving off.  Picking-any-car-and-driving-off has some substance for business travelers who process through loyalty programs; however the scenario is entirely different for an average traveler. So, why to paint a picture that’s just not going to happen? Or why to show just one side of the coin? Car rental is not a treat for elites only, but anyone who is willing to pay a little extra for commutation can avail car rentals. Nothing comes for free, so why not pay a little more for personalized convenience? Car hire adds the sense of ownership, comfort and flexibility to your tour routes and trips, and most importantly, customers are given full authority to customize their packages according to their needs and budget. 

Rental industry has squeezed in options to fill in the gap where people could rent and avail according to their pockets. But how can a consumer make sure they’re getting the best deal when renting a car? And how can they be safe from some of the pitfalls, indeed horror stories that seem to go hand-in-hand with renting a car? Seek transparency! Ask your provider for the services and deals you can get at best possible rates, double check or ask again. Here are few common pits that are easily preventable! 

STOP! Don’t hire at the airport. When you arrive at the airport, you are not lost, you are just at a different destination so don’t look for quick yet expensive solutions. Renting at the airport could peel out every buck out of your pocket. At airport, demand is usually high and people are often short of options so they pay what is demanded. Renting online directly from the agency or through the hotel you are staying in can help you avail good rates. This will reduce your rental expenditure by 10% to 30%. Take a cab to your hotel, once you freshen up, you can focus on more options. 

Book for longer than you expect needing the car. To lower your base rate, tack on an extra day or at least a few couple of hours even if you plan on returning the car earlier then you have booked for. Systems are automated and for longer hours, they discount the rate especially if you extend your booking to avail Friday and Saturday as well. Some companies offer prorated refund on early return whereas you need to be careful as some companies often charge you extra fee on early return. So seek clarity before signing any contract. 

Avoid additional insurance! It would save you around $20 a day. Until you are carrying items that are expensive and you can’t afford any loss on it or if you are a bad driver, otherwise, cover your car rental insurance through your credit card. Most credit cards cover car rental insurance, so there is no need to add any extra coverage. Frequent travelers believe it’s a redundant expense. A lot of car rental companies offer tempting add-ons over additional insurance but its better you drop the offer!

Check fuel and mileage policy before you drive away! Most car hires are done inclusive of fuel but before you handover your credit card details, make sure you are aware of company’s fuel and mileage policies. Does it restrict mileage in any way? Offering full-to-empty fuel or half tank? Is it inclusive or exclusive of the cost you are paying or not. 

Ask what smack dab the agency is offering. There are a lot of ways you can save and avail rental car convenience on your tours and trips. Once you get clarity, you are free to make informed decisions, often the best decisions!  

Safe Travels!