‘Mystery’ damage and ‘Laurel and Hardy’ tactics: an insight into car rental market

Tourists, business people and staff working at car rental companies have shared their experiences of the car rental market and are calling for improved regulations and transparency.

Some customers have detailed negative encounters including;

– being charged €700 for pre-existing damage;

– a young mother being forced to pay more than €400 for damage she claims she didn’t cause;

– and US tourists having their dream trips ending as a nightmare after they had to fork out hundreds of euro before boarding their flight home.

A former employee of a  company also shared some of the underhanded tactics used by his colleagues.

He told how holidaymakers would be “left in tears” at the end of their trips after being charged for damage they alleged wasn’t caused by them.

“The tactics were very ‘Laurel and Hardy’ style,” the source said.

“Laurel would check the vehicle, identify a scratch within 20 seconds and then go into the office to get Hardy to come out and assess the ‘damage’. He’d make up a figure there on the spot and then the customer would have to fork out.

“Most people pay as they have flights to catch and have no option.

“There were some customers, they’d had a great holiday but they were in tears then going home after they said they were charged for scratches they didn’t cause.

“It was always just your average holidaymaker who was targeted, very rarely would business people be targeted. It always seemed to be families with kids.”

Some customers who were charged for damage they didn’t cause eventually received refunds after fighting the case.

Rob Dale rented a vehicle from international company Hertz

Hertz, which is rated as one of the best rental companies by consumers, charged Mr Dale €700 for damage to the vehicle and also overcharged him for the rental period as an additional day was added to the bill.

Mr Dale didn’t cause the vehicle damage and contacted Hertz’s corporate department in a bid to get a refund.

After weeks of fighting the case, he eventually got his money back.

“Following a full review of your case respective of the additional day billed at the end of rental, I can confirm that this was an administration error which occurred on our part here at Hertz Ireland,” a spokesperson from the customer services department said in an email.

“Please note, following a conversation with the Head of our Claims Department, it has been confirmed that a refund of €700.00 has been processed on their end to the same Visa card. The damage that was billed was indeed found to be preexisting, hence explaining the efficient decision to refund all corresponding damage charges.”

Mr Dale took pictures of the vehicle before and after the rental in a bid to argue his case should any issues arise after returning the car.

“I think it’s a much bigger problem in this country. The main recommendation I can give to people is take lots of pictures before and after they rent a car. It’s shameful behaviour,” he said.

Cathy McDonnell, a young mother from Dublin, rented a vehicle from Enterprise Rent-A-Car on Pottery Road in Dun Laoghaire in September.

Her own car was undergoing a service and she rented a vehicle so she could bring her kids to school and get from A to B.

She requested a small vehicle but was instead given a Nissan Qashqai.

A staff member then instructed her to inspect the vehicle for scratches and paint damage. After failing to notice any marks, Ms McDonnell signed the rental agreement.

She was then faced with charges of €491.12 for an alleged dent over the rear wheel when she returned the car, which she is adamant she didn’t cause.

Enterprise failed to furnish her with an engineer’s report outlining the damage, despite numerous requests by Ms McDonnell.

More info: https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/mystery-damage-and-laurel-and-hardy-tactics-an-insight-into-irelands-car-rental-market-37431606.html

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