WITH the summer holiday season looming large drivers have been given some tips on how to go about renting a car for their vacation.
The advice comes from the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association which oversees the car hire business in the UK.
Gerry Keaney, chief executive of the BVRLA, said: "There are around 15.5 million vehicle rental transactions a year in the UK and as the holiday season approaches we are encouraging consumers to use a BVRLA member if hiring in the UK.
"This provides peace of mind that the rental company they are dealing with adheres to a rigorous Code of Conduct and meets industry standards.
"Customers also get the added reassurance of knowing that they have access to a government-approved Alternative Dispute Resolution service, available free of charge, should they have an issue that does not get resolved by the rental company.
"Those hiring in Europe are advised to use an ECRCS member."
Here are the BVRLA's steps to enjoy a hassle-free car hire experience:
1. Use a BVRLA member If you can see the BVRLA logo when booking a vehicle, it's a sign that you're dealing with a company which adheres to high standards and a professional code of conduct. You can find your nearest BVRLA rental member by using the association's renatl directory.
2. Check before you book Pay close attention to what is and isn't included in the reservation quote, especially when using price comparison websites. Many companies only provide a basic drive-away quote that may not include additional extras, such as child seats, sat-navs, paperwork for taking the vehicle abroad or additional drivers.
3. Tell the rental company how you plan to use the vehicle Make sure that you tell the rental company if you plan to take the vehicle abroad - some companies won't let you take rental vehicles into certain countries. You'll also need to bring additional documentation, such as a VE103 (vehicle on hire document which shows that you are entitled to drive a hire vehicle abroad). certificate and proof that you're insured to drive the vehicle in that country.
4. Read the paperwork before you sign the contract Make sure you read and understand the terms and conditions of your contract with the rental company. You can ask for a copy of the agreement prior to your rental, so that you can read it in your own time.
5. Check if you're covered in the event of an accident It's important to know the difference between the excess waivers offered by rental companies and the policies sold by third-party excess-reimbursement insurers - they're not the same product. Make sure to check if there are any exclusions in your loss or damage waiver, such as roof, windscreen or tyre damage.
6. Be aware of the local road laws and regulations You'll be liable to pay a fine and administrative fee if you're caught committing a road traffic offence or fail to pay a toll charge. It's best to familiarise yourself with the driving regulations of that country before you arrive.
7. Understand the fuelling options you have Your car rental quote will not include the cost of fuel. Most companies will give you the option of buying a tank of fuel from them and returning the car empty or with a fuel tank. Make sure you remember which option you agree to in order not to return the with more or less petrol than required.
8. Arrive prepared Remember to arrive at the rental desk with the correct documentation required by the company, such as the credit card used to make the booking and your driving licence. Ensure you have considered any extras or upgrades you may wish to make and how much you are prepared to pay for them.
9. Check the vehicle over before you drive away Thoroughly inspect the vehicle inside and out before driving away and familiarise yourself with its controls. Note down every chip, dent and scratch and inspect the wheels, windscreen and lights, as these are common damage areas. Make sure that the damage is reported to the rental company and try to take photographs of any damage on the vehicle before leaving the parking lot.
10. Don't drop and dash when returning the vehicle Allow plenty of time to check over the vehicle's condition with a rental agent present when returning the vehicle. If you can't return it during opening hours and sign a condition report, photograph the vehicle to be able to prove the condition you left it in. When you drop the car off in out of office hours, you are liable for any damage that occurs between you returning it and the company inspecting it.
11. Know where to go if you have a complaint In the unlikely event of a dispute, you should put your complaint in writing to the rental company first. If they provide an unsatisfactory response then you can use the BVRLA's conciliation service if you rented a vehicle from a BVRLA member in the UK. If you have a complaint for a rental that took place in Europe, the European Car Rental Conciliation Service may be able to help.