After years of campaigning, naming and shaming, most rental car suppliers are cleaning up their act. Whilst there are certainly some Spanish car hire scams to aware of, they can usually be avoided by using your common sense and reading the paperwork (or just booking with us as we only work with trusted, reputable firms!)
Here, we’ve put together some of the most common and current Spanish car hire scams so you know what to look out for.
Car Hire Scam 1 – Read the Small Print
Yes I know it’s as horrific as Fifty Shades but all the information you need is in the small print. By signing a contract you’re effectively stating you’ve read the Terms & Conditions and agree with them. It’s very difficult to argue you’ve been scammed when the info was in the T&C’s all along.
Car Hire Scam 2 – Too Good to be True Headline Price
Remember the adage, “If it seems to good to be true, then it probably is.” Next time you’re comparing prices in Spain and see a week’s car hire for £10.00 or a week, stop and think. Do you really think you’re getting a good deal? What do you actually get for your money? The answer usually is not a lot.
We ran the numbers recently on deals such as this. We were able to quote £52 plus £17.50 Top up insurance for a grand total of £69.50 for a week in Alicante. This included a free additional driver, unlimited mileage, a full-full fuel policy and excess reimbursement insurance. All of our competitors’ vehicles came with an excess of between €950 and €1,500. If you wanted to protect yourself and the excess, you had to pay for it. Fuel admin fee? that was €30. You also had to pay for additional drivers, in one case this was an extra €45.50 per week
By the time we’d finished adding up all their additional charges the £10 car hire had turned into £86.39. Another quote rose from £28.26 per week to £122.27!*
Don’t be swayed by a ridiculously cheap price. Make sure you’re not going to be hit with extra fees upon collection or a huge bill if you have an accident.
Solution: Double check exactly what you’re getting for your money and what you actually need.
Car Hire Scam 3 – The Excess
We mentioned this above, but nobody ever pays enough attention to the excess. If you have an accident in a hire car or it’s stolen, you (normally) have to pay an excess. That’s fair enough, it’s the same as if you prang your own car – you pay a small fee and everything is fixed, right?
Well, that’s certainly true in the world of car hire if your idea of a small fee is up to €3,000. You can be certain there will be some people out there who will make sure you pay the full excess. Make sure you check if there’s excess and how much it is.
Car Hire Scam 4 – The Upgrade
You arrive at the rental desk only to be told the category you booked is unavailable. But Señor / Señorita is in luck! You can have a bigger, more luxurious car.
This may be a genuine upgrade, but it may also be a scam. Be aware of the following so you don’t get caught out:
- Are you paying for the upgrade? If you’re not happy to pay it, request that you are provided with the category of vehicle that you booked.
- A tank of fuel cost – If you have booked a car where a fuel admin fee is payable or collect full, return empty, the cost of a tank of fuel and the admin fee will increase the larger the car you hire. (All of our prices include a fair fuel policy).
- The amount of the security deposit will increase for larger vehicles.
If the right sized vehicle is not available and the supplier says you must take a larger car, don’t be afraid to give us a call and we’ll try and resolve this for you.
Solution: Double check the vehicle you’re being given.
Car Hire Scam 5 – Extra Insurance Hard Sell
If a supplier in Spain tells you the car hire insurance policy you bought in the UK is not valid, they are incorrect. It doesn’t matter who you bought it from. It’s illegal to sell insurance that isn’t.
On the other hand, the car rental supplier’s own insurance works slightly differently. Taking this out means that if damage occurs (which is covered by their insurance policy) you will not have to pay them any extra. They may opt to authorise a smaller security deposit or sometimes no deposit at all. The only problem is, this comes at a high cost, sometimes up to €20 per rental day!
The most cost-effective solution is to buy top-up insurance when you book your hire car (at the bargain price of £2.50 per rental day!)
Avoid being pushed into buying something you don’t want/need by:
- Understanding the terms and conditions of the rental that you have paid for.
- Checking the insurances you have bought and know what you are covered for.
- Be prepared for the car rental provider to authorise a security deposit upon collection.
Solution: Don’t ever buy two insurance policies that cover the same/ similar things.
Car Hire Scam 6 – Fuel Policy
Whilst the days of the Full-Empty scam are coming to an end, there are some suppliers who still offer it. More important these days is to check if an admin fee is payable or what the charge will be if you’ve not completely topped the tank up.
Solution: Double check the fuel policy before making your booking. Make sure you abide by the terms. Take a photo of the fuel gauge upon collection and return just in case any issues arise.
Car Hire Scam 7 – The Diesel Surcharge
Most hire cars to fall under the category of unspecified when it comes to fuel. This means, that (unless specifically stated as diesel) you are likely to get either a petrol or diesel. Some suppliers will add on a Diesel surcharge of around €12 for the privilege of driving a car powered by diesel. This scam works because you don’t actually see what’s in the agreement. You sign on a computer screen where you don’t feel comfortable reading the terms and conditions in full before signing. The printed copy is then folded carefully and sealed in an envelope.
Solution: Always read the terms and conditions in full before signing anything, whether on a screen or on paper. Don’t be pushed into signing something until you are ready to do so.
Other Things to Remember
- Always ensure you’re charged in the local currency and NOT Sterling.
- Take your own Sat Nav if you have European maps – you’ll save a fortune.
Getting behind the wheel on an overseas holiday can be exciting, driving abroad is not without its stresses.
New research has revealed what Brits fear the most when taking to the roads in a foreign country, with a lack of familiarity with their surroundings pinned as the largest problem.
A recent survey by online car servicing provider Servicing Stop has identified not knowing the local highway code and getting lost as the two biggest points of concern for motorists driving abroad, with more than 50 percent of the vote from respondents.
Another 17 percent said they most feared to break down in a foreign place, while 14 percent were afraid of falling victim to a carjacking or hit and run incident.
As millions of Brits prepare to embark on a well-earned summer holiday, we’ve put together a few simple tips that will help keep you safe on overseas roads.
Drive the right way
This means that if driving your own car, you’ll need to take extra caution as you’ll be sitting on the opposite side to other road users, making simple tasks like lane changing and negotiating roundabouts just slightly more difficult.
If you’re hiring a car, opting for an automatic transmission over a manual one will make life slightly easier, and give you one less thing to worry about when adapting to a left-hand drive car.
Map out travel plans
While sat-navs are certainly recommended, it’s always a good idea to research your journey on a map before you depart to make yourself familiar with the local road network.
A quick online search of the local motorway laws and etiquette in your holiday destination can also go a long way in making your journey as smooth as possible.
Check out country-specific laws
Certain countries have very specific requirements set out for all drivers.
In France, Italy and Spain, motorists must carry reflective jackets for all passengers, warning triangles, headlamp beam deflectors and display a GB sticker.
France also requires each car contains two NF certified breathalysers, while Spain sets out that drivers that wear glasses must have a spare pair with them at all times.
Expect the unexpected
As is the case in any scenario while abroad, drivers should be conscious of any potential threats from other road users and the public.
Driving styles differ from country to country, so it’s recommended that Brits drive defensively and never assume they know how another motorist is going to react.
Holidaymakers should also exercise vigilance in protecting themselves from violence or potential theft.
Don’t leave valuables in sight, check your vehicle is locked and park in safe, well-lit areas.
Prevent potential carjacking by driving with doors locked, and sticking to main routes in well-populated areas where possible.
Make sure you are covered for breakdowns
Most car insurance companies will offer European breakdown cover as standard, but it’s worth making sure you have protection before you leave for your holiday.
Read the fine print on your policy to ensure you have the best cover possible as certain companies will send someone to fix your car roadside, while others may just offer a towing service.
It is always better to be covered for roadside assistance and repair – no one wants to be left to fend for themselves after their car is towed to the nearest local garage.
Watch out for car hire scams
If you choose to hire a car on holiday, make sure you’ve read all the conditions your rental conditions before you leave the car park.
Make sure you check the car thoroughly for any existing damage and have agreed on an insurance policy to ensure you are covered should you be involved in an accident of any kind.
Use your common sense
Most importantly, just because you are on holiday doesn’t mean your common sense has to take a break too.
Always observe any road signs and speed limits, wear a seat-belt and take regular breaks on long trips.
If you are unaware of speed limits or road rules in certain areas, don’t just copy the locals, they won’t always be in the right!