Do you rent cars when you go on holiday or for business?
We’ve done a bit of this in the last 12 months, especially in Europe. We have tried at least 4 different companies and found they all had good and bad sides, which is not a surprise in itself.
I’m not sure about you, but when I start to research booking a car I almost always forget that the price I see on the computer is often not what I will end up needing to fork out at the end of the transaction. There is the deposit that you have refunded once the car has been returned in tip top shape – we often only rent for one day, so it might be £23 for the day here in the UK, but you have to pay another £200 for the deposit… The deposit can then take up to 4 days to be returned to your credit card. As budget travellers who are watching every $ or £ this can be a bit annoying.. On top of that you have the returning to a different depot charge – if we hire a car its because its easy/cheaper to hire a car than to take a train/bus with all of us (its mostly always one way). Beware – not returning the car to the same depot will be another hit in your back pocket. It was actually double the daily booking for us recently, when Tash and I needed to hire a car to meet up with the boys at the other end of England. Instead of £23 for the day it was something like: £23 + £50 = £73 ($156 AUD) for a little mini. When we did the sums it was still (just) cheaper for Tash and I to drive, although once you add fuel it was probably more expensive. However, it was a lot more convenient than 10+ hours of jumping on and off buses and trains to get from one end of the England to the other with our luggage.
Apart from the fact that every single time we hire a car it is more expensive than we first believe it will be, the biggest bug bare I have about car hire is the term – “Or Similar”… Its even become a joke in our family. You see I once spent a lot of time researching the boot size of the car we had decided to rent to make sure it would have enough ‘space’ – I found out it would have just enough space to fit all our luggage in the boot (the next size up car was almost double the price). When we went to pick the car up we were presented with the “Or Similar” car, yes the engine size may have been the same size BUT the boot space certainly was not! After a lot of packing, un packing and shoving, we managed to just close the boot. The kids were surrounded by bits of luggage and none of us accept Simon (the driver) had anywhere to put our feet. Thats how we drove from Toulouse to Paris – very squished!
After that experience we have noticed that not once in the last 4-5 car rental have we been given the car we had booked, we always end up with the “Or Similar”… Is it just us or does everyone have the “or similar” experience? I do remember occasions in Australia when the “or similar” worked in our favour with a car upgrade, but since we’ve been on this latest adventure!
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