Reserve your car

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14·JUN·2013

Inside Car Hire - Part 1

A while ago I discovered this thread on TripAdvisor about car hire at Alicante Airport and I thought it might be useful to clarify some points. First of all let me explain, I am a Drivalia customer who helps the company with aspects of their customer communications. It was a case of: I liked the company so much that, since I couldn’t afford to buy it, I offered to do work for them instead. Now as a customer, I probably was (and if the truth be told am still, up to a point) as baffled as perhaps you are by the way the industry works. In a mini-series of blogs, with the help of the Drivalia team, I aim to cover some of the points raised on the TripAdvisor thread. I did think more than twice before writing this piece because I can appreciate how it might be viewed as corny, and a piece of obvious propaganda for Drivalia. However, I know how passionate the whole Drivalia management team is about making the industry far more transparent so I went ahead and asked the questions that certainly I, as a customer, wanted answered and I believe many of you do too. However, if by the time we have finished this series of 3 blogs your questions have not been answered, please post your comments and let’s see what the Drivalia team has to say. So here we go with a question for Martin (Operations Manager): Why do I have to leave a deposit? If you purchase our Premium top-up coverage you don’t, because any risk, initially excluded under the standard vehicle insurance, is covered under this top-up cover. You will only be asked to leave a credit card impression if you do not take our direct top-up cover. The deposit we require is currently 300 Euros. I should also mention that unfortunately, those who have their own insurance which may have been purchased through a broker, an independent insurance company or which is covered by their credit card issuer, must also leave the deposit as Drivalia is not the direct beneficiary of these private policies. For more information on what is and what isn’t included under the standard insurance please see our What’s included. I used to dread collecting my car rental because I knew I would come under varying degrees of pressure to purchase top-up insurance. Isn’t getting your customers to buy insurance just a way to make extra money? No, not at all. Let me put it this way, would you give the keys to your own car to a complete stranger for a few Euro and allow them to drive off without a considerable protection on your investment ? Anyone who hires a car from Drivalia is driving away in a vehicle less than 2 years old and worth thousands of pounds; you will appreciate we need at least some degree of protection on the risks that are not covered by the standard vehicle insurance. We have managed to reduce car hire rates down so drastically that there is no longer margin for assuming costs and expenses that are not included under standard comprehensive insurance. It’s the same with your own private vehicle insurance.
  • If it breaks down or you have an accident, you will not (generally) have a substitute vehicle delivered to your doorstep.
  • If you have a puncture or a burst tyre, this is also not included under a normal insurance policy.
  • Clutch damage, loss or damage to keys, your time dealing with fines etc, none of this would be covered by standard insurance.
From the company’s point of view then to promote top-up insurance makes commercial sense as it minimises any potential risk and at the same time we have also included additional services that would not be possible to include in a discounted rental rate. And yes, of course, the company also makes a small commission. However, it also makes sense from the customer’s point of view because it saves them time and gives them complete peace of mind for a minimum amount of money. If the top-up insurance is declined, because the customer simply wants to assume the risk directly or he/she has purchased insurance elsewhere, responsible companies like Drivalia will not debit your card at this point. We “block” the credit and we will only debit a card if we discover damage, on a returned vehicle, that was not there when the car was collected; or if, during the rental period, something arises that is not covered under standard insurance. I would like to return to insurance next time because I believe that is a big issue but for now, final question, can customer’s leave a deposit using a debit card? I am afraid that ‘no’ is the short answer. Nevertheless we will make some exceptions and allow certain repeat customers to leave the deposit with a debit card. Please note that in this case we do actually charge (debit) the card so therefore there maybe a currency difference when we return the credit days later upon vehicle return (provided of course that the vehicle is not damaged during this period!). Martin’s Tip: If you are in a situation where you are asked by a car rental company to leave a deposit make sure you do the following:
  1. Know exactly what exclusions are applied to the standard vehicle insurance and under what circumstances the company will deduct payment from your card.
  2. Check the rental vehicle thoroughly before departing the pick up location. If you descover any damage that is not included in the insurance cover you have contracted, report it to the rental company and make sure it is written on the contract.
The Drivalia team believes passionately in providing customers with fair and transparent pricing. Please see what’s included in the cost of the car rental fee.