Before a recent trip to Málaga, I booked a Hertz hire car for a week through a broker and paid for comprehensive insurance cover. At the airport, the Hertz staff insisted this policy was invalid in Spain, and I needed to pay €197 (£167) for its SuperCover excess-waiver policy, which removes the excess in the event of a claim. I was also told the two baby seats I had booked would cost an extra €168. What started as a £372 car hire ended up costing £711 after VAT. When I complained to head office I was sent a €40 (£33) voucher.
AOT, Brighton, East Sussex
Car rental companies are notorious for luring customers in with budget quotes, then inflating the price with hidden add-ons. Unwanted insurance cover is a favourite extra. You can buy excess-waiver cover, which reduces the insurance excess payable in the event of an accident, for about £2 a day from a third-party broker, while some hire firms charge three-figure sums and claim a rental is not valid without it.
Hertz’s response is bizarre. First it says that all the charges were correct and that you should not, therefore, have been offered the voucher. It then stated that you could keep what it calls “the partial goodwill refund” because it misunderstood your original complaint. It declined to specify what aspect of your perfectly clear grievance it didn’t understand.
When pressed on the unwanted insurance, it insisted it’s optional, but took pains to emphasise the risks of refusing it. “We do not underestimate the coverage of third parties, nor do we say that they are not valid,” it says in conclusion.
Unfortunately, you can’t escalate your complaint to the European Car Rental Conciliation Service, which handles cross-border complaints, because you booked through a broker. You could try a claim via your credit card issuer under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act if you can prove your hand was forced.
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