At Direct Car Excess, we occasionally hear from previous customers or travel bloggers on their experiences abroad, negotiating the difficulties of hidden costs, extra charges or nasty surprises that come with hiring a car abroad. We heard from Jeremy, a regular business traveler, who agreed to speak with us about the landmines most people will encounter with car hires, how he gets around them, and general advice on self-planned trips.
DCE: Good morning Jeremy! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Jeremy: Well, I’m a coordinator for a charity, and that means I have to travel internationally a lot, mainly in Europe. I’m a big fan of horror movies, I’ve got 2 cats and I’ve been travelling and hiring cars for business for about twelve years.
DCE: Quite experienced then. So to kick things off, from your perspective, what has changed in the way we travel?
Jeremy: I think that with all the changes to the way we travel, people are becoming more and more self-sufficient at holiday planning. Crowdsourced services like AirBnB and the wealth of booking sites and apps have given control to the people, and we’re now more capable than ever to plan an entire trip itinerary without any help
DCE: Do you think there are any downsides to that?
Jeremy: In a way, without the direction of those travel agents, we have become a bit more vulnerable when it comes to cost.
DCE: How so?
Jeremy: Basically, because more people buy their holidays piecemeal, each separate vendor gets an opportunity to get more money out of you.
DCE: Are you referring to extra options to purchase, and ‘upselling’?
Jeremy: Yeah, that's it. It’s like when you book a hotel online and they offer you late check-outs, or a taxi transfer from the airport. They’re not necessarily bad, but sometimes they can be overpriced.
DCE: Can you give an example?
Jeremy: In my experience, rental car companies can sometimes overcharge on some things. They can offer add-ons that may or may not be on the booking website, but they’ll always offer them in-person when you collect your car, which is a bit of a clever sales tactic.
DCE: What makes that a sales tactic?
Jeremy: Well, you’re more likely to say yes to upsells when you’ve just gotten off the plane or ferry. Sometimes, after a day of travelling, stressing about passports, carrying luggage, dealing with check-ins and immigration, the allure of an upsell can be really strong, because you’d rather pay to take that last bit of worry away from your day.
DCE: What sort of things do they try and offer you?
Jeremy: These upsells can be things like pointing out how you’ve got “too much luggage and you need a bigger car”, but sometimes they are genuinely trying to help with their extra options. They might inform you that your car doesn’t have air conditioning and it’s really hot outside, for example.
DCE: Any other examples?
Jeremy: Car hire excess insurance is one of those add-ons that they often overcharge on.
DCE: Could you elaborate on that one?
Jeremy: Basically, if you had an accident and you made a claim, if you had car hire excess insurance, you wouldn’t have to pay your excess, because it’s been insured. In my experience, it's something well worth going for, but unfortunately, rental companies charge it at something like £25 a day.
DCE: Have you ever paid for that particular add-on?
Jeremy: When they first told me about it I did actually pay the £25 per day, but the actuality is that car hire excess insurance can be purchased for a tiny fraction of that, sometimes for as little as £3 a day. Nowadays I buy the excess insurance before I pick up the car, and then I can just sign the paperwork, get the keys, and drive off. Much easier and cheaper, and I don’t have to worry about the excess.
DCE: Any other tips for people who don’t travel as often, and might not be fully aware of things like that?
Jeremy: I think as time goes on we’ll all collectively become more aware and learn how to dodge costly traps like this, but for now, a good rule of thumb is to remember that these employees are salespeople. They’re looking to upsell, upsell, upsell, all of the time. Keep that in the back of your mind, and take time to consider your options.
DCE: Great! Thanks for speaking with us today.
Jeremy: No problem.
We at Direct Care Excess offer car hire excess insurance at a rate far lower than car rental companies, and as made clear by our 5 star Trustpilot rating, we aim to provide people like you with the knowledge and service to ensure your car hire experience is as stress-free as possible.