Be very careful using Car Hire Comparison websites if you are looking to hire a rental car abroad.
Use comparison websites as a starting point by all means, but you must be aware that the headline price is often a total con trick.
You need to be prepared to do a lot more research to see what the real cost is once all the extras have been added on.
Remember car hire companies make Ryanair look like saints when it comes to added extras as they have an array of methods to part customers from their money. At best some of these methods are sharp practise and at worst some car hire firms are committing daylight robbery. See Car Hire Crooks here.
After Sales Service?
It's very important to remember that although the comparison website will take commission from the sale of a rental agreement passed to the hire company via their service they will do nothing to help you if there is a problem with the actual car hire itself.
All they'll do is point you in the direction of the supplier claiming they have "no involvement in the supplying of a vehicle and therefore any complaints would be made to the suppliers directly".
What should you do?
Before booking try and find out exactly what you will need to pay for additional insurances via the local agent and what deposit they will charge if you don’t take it.
Also when it comes to the deposit will they actually charge the amount and refund it later or just reserve the funds on your card. Any company that charges the full amount should be avoided like the plague.
Remember if you don’t take their cover they will charge you for the slightest scratch on the car and probably charge a greatly inflated price to put it right.
Even though they almost certainly won't get the work done as they’ll hope to charge the next unsuspecting customer for the same scratch.
When you think you've found the best priced deal search on the internet for reviews, complaints etc about the company before you actually book.
Here on drive-france.com we used to recommend a couple of Car Hire Companies for people to use but we no longer feel comfortable doing so.
I should say that as far as I know, nobody who booked through the 2 firms used on this website had any problems, but unlike TravelSupermarket I don't feel comfortable taking an introducer commission and then see the person who made the booking encounter problems.
The Car Hire industry is bad enough in the UK, but abroad it is so bad that I do not want to be in anyway responsible for delivering them more “victims”.
Ask how much they charge for a tank of fuel because if the car hire is £30 a week cheaper from company A they may well be charging you £40 extra than company B for the tank of fuel.
Get it Checked and Signed For
When you return the car DO NOT LEAVE until someone has signed the form to say the vehicle has been returned in perfect order and get them to not only sign but print their name.
Absolutely you must insist the car is inspected when you return it don't fall for the old "oh everything is fine don't worry" trick.
They are hoping you will go without getting a signature so they can claim the car was damaged while it was in your care. They generally wait till you are back in the UK to hit you with the news that they are charging you £300+ for scratches on the car. This is a favourite trick of the car hire crooks.
Booking Direct Advantages
We all use price comparison websites these days but be careful. I'd recommend them for research purposes only but if you are ultimately deciding to go with a company that has signed up to the ECRCS scheme (and that's a good tip) then the scheme only works if you book direct.
See details of the ECRCS scheme here.
Car Hire Scam
There are a great many people throughout Europe being ripped off by unscrupulous car hire firms day in day out so please spend time researching heavily prior to making a booking.
Read my horror story here as a cautionary tale.