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Mark Bower

Mark founded MoneyMaxim in 2008, with the aim of delivering an impartial and independent service. Mark is a regular money saving expert in the press and writes regular news and articles for the MoneyMaxim news pages sharing his views on banking, personal insurance and the utilities (gas, electricity, mobile and home phones, broadband and pay TV) market with customers.

Mark Bower is one of our Team of Experts

So how could Car Hire firms delight their customers?

Car Hire firms often lose customers goodwill by appearing out to confuse or hide the truth - Three things we would change if we ran a car rental firm.

Here at MoneyMaxim we deal with thousands of customers a month looking to use our car hire excess insurance service to protect themselves against the heavy sales patter they frequently encounter at the car rental desk as they arrive at the airport in their holiday destination.

Car Hire

Whether exaggerated claims over the dangers of not taking their own insurance or well hidden extra charges, car rental firms seem determined to make a visit to their desks an event customers dread. So I cover the top three areas raised with us in an attempt to demystify them. And if Car Rental firms addressed them they would go a long way to ensuring occasional customers become repeat buyers who sing their praises rather than damn them online, in letters columns and on review sites.

Making the car hire excess level clear at the time of booking

Whilst some companies are clear as to the excess customers will have to pay if they are involved in an accident or their hire car is stolen many are not. If companies put this information alongside the number of doors or whether the car is automatic or manual it will not only help customers understand whether they feel excess insurance is desirable, but also ensure customers can see the difference between different cars and suppliers.

Displaying their Fuel Policy clearly

Car rental used to be simple – you picked up a car full of fuel, and had to fill it up again before returning it. However some rental companies have decided that they can hide part of their charge in their fuel policy. By adopting a Full to Empty fuel policy they charge you for a tankful of fuel at a price they determine when you collect the car. Reporters have suggested that this can be inflated by up to 20% – indeed Fred Mawer in the Daily Mail was overcharged, on his estimation, a staggering 33% over pump price in Spain. MoneyMaxim are tackling this resort by resort, and where we see the policy adopted seek to advise customers of local policies (try a quote on our car hire comparison service for airports at Malaga, Gibraltar or Pisa as examples). We are growing this service through a combination of internal research and user feedback.

Find details of car hire firms fuel and excess protection policies with MoneyMaxim

Our suggestion would be that fuel policies should be declared, and that if premium pricing is used it should be shown – its just not fair that a car renter goes to the trouble hunting down the best price only to find any benefit destroyed through this hidden extra. Its also not a good way to gain repeat business. I, for instance, avoided GoldCar in Bologna this spring, booking with Thrifty instead, a decision on the undefined fuel price policy alone.

Stop scaring people regarding breakdown cover

We hear a number of stories where customers tell us that they have been told liable for breakdown costs following the mechanical breakdown of the vehicle. Well it's the rental companies job to rent you a vehicle which is able to be used as such for the period you have hired it for – so if it breaks down its the rental firms job to sort it. The hard sales technique come in when they ‘exclude' items from their cover – such as lost keys, wheels, tyres and glass. Then they suggest they cannot help unless you have taken ‘extended breakdown cover'. Dollar in the US for example charge a staggering $5.99 a day to extend breakdown cover for these items – whilst many of the policies sold through our site include both breakdown and lost key cover – as well as recovery following an accident or theft.

The only exception is where it is deemed to have been due to driver negligence – maybe if the car got stuck ‘off road' or if the car is deemed to have been misused. You shouldn't have any issues if you check the car looks and operates as it should when you pick it up and the car rental firm has accepted that the damage is ‘pre existing'.

If you have your own query or question though don't worry – call one of the team here at MoneyMaxim and we will be delighted to help – its very rare we don't have an answer!