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Susan works as editorial assistant and researcher on personal finance stories. She also writes on a number of breaking news stories, as well as offering great money saving tips to shopping-savvy consumers.
As reported today by Dan Hyde for This is Money, the hire firm Goldcar refused to allow hirers to pick up their vehicles unless they paid for additional car hire excess insurance.
After queueing for 75 minutes at the Goldcar pick up desk in Palma De Majorca airport, 85 year old John Renwick was told to either pay an additional £61 for extra insurance or get out of the queue. Although he knew he could have arranged the additional insurance much cheaper from home had he wanted it, Mr Renwick felt forced to pay the extra in order to get hold of the car.
A Goldcar spokesman was reported to say "This should all be explained in the terms and conditions Mr Renwick received from the agency he made the reservation with.”
Checking on the Goldcar website today we found the "Particular Terms and Conditions for Car Rental in Spain” stated:
"The damage insurance (CDW) does not include damage to tyres, wheel rims, hubcaps, interior of the vehicle, wing mirrors, rear view mirror, car glass, locks, undercarriage, clutch, engine, sump, catalytic converter and radiator. Also not included are battery recharge, loss of keys, towtruck, taxi transfer after an accident, deposit for vehicle replacement and compensation for lost rental days while the vehicle is being repaired. It is possible to take out additional insurance to partially or fully cover these exclusions. Please keep in mind that if you do not hire any additional insurance, you must make a deposit of €300 (€600 in case of offices located in the Canary Islands) which will be blocked from your credit card.”
So the worst they should have done was to take authorisation for €300 from Mr Renwick's credit card. This demonstrates that it is worth printing out and taking a copy of the terms and conditions of hire with you on holiday so you can show evidence at the desk. Also if you were in a position to say that you had already purchased additional car hire excess insurance they would have to accept that, though it would be reasonable to expect them to take the deposit from your credit card. Goldcar's CDW insurance in Spain is provided with a zero excess so it's quite likely that customers won't have thought to buy car hire excess insurance separately. As shown above though, it does have a number of exclusions which can be covered.
Having deposits authorised or actually taken from your credit card can be a nuisance. An authorisation for a large excess could leave you close to your credit limit on the card reducing your spending options. If they actually take a deposit, it can cost you more than you expect in transaction fees and poor exchange rates – see our guide to the best cards to use abroad.
Goldcar are one of the car hire companies running the hated Full to Empty fuel policy for hire periods over 3 days, where you pay for a full tank of fuel regardless of the amount you actually use and are not refunded for any unused fuel you leave in the tank.