Renting a car can be as simple as renting a hotel room or booking a flight ticket, which has probably already tried all of us. All you need to do is to make a few clicks. However, the situation might get complicated if you have to make a decision directly at a car rental branch. The reason is the number of extras or surcharges for various services that you do not always need! You might be still thinking that renting a car at the rental branch cannot be such a big deal. However, car rentals can really deceive you, especially if you are renting a car for the first time and you are not used to their fraudulent practices. One of the most common scams is, for example, imaginary damage to the vehicle, due to which car rental companies refuse to return the deposit to their customers or the aforementioned cross-sell or up-sell of unnecessary services and accessories.
The reason? Car rental companies are fighting against each other in order to get customers. This is reflected in rental prices. Daily rates for car rentals are generally low and rentals need to seek for new options for making money. Instead of finding creative solutions, some of them choose to make money by fraud. Unfortunately, this happens on a daily basis since our legislation does not consider these acts illegal. That's why you need to be careful when renting a car!
We asked Rentalport.com (the largest search and reservation platform for car rental in Slovakia) about the most common frauds the car rentals might try on you!
Pay an appropriate price
Renting a car online is much cheaper than renting it in person at a car rental. There are a number of reasons why it is like that.
Firstly, at the car rental branch, there is always an agent to "help" to choose the right car for you. Since the wages of these agents include a variable part of the salary that depends on the volume of sales, their motivation is clear - to earn as high commission as possible!
In addition, you might often find interesting discounts on car rentals online. And as is the case of booking holidays or airline tickets, if you book a vehicle a few days or weeks in advance, renting will usually cost you less.
However, if you still decide to go for the car rental branch, bear in mind that the car you wish to rent may not be available and the car rental companies also charge a so-called walk-in fee. You should also be aware of the fact that the technical preparation of your car might take some time, as you did not make a reservation in advance the vehicle might need to be washed and cleaned after the previous customer.
The time of the vehicle pick-up/return matters!
Due to compulsory bonuses for employees for night or weekend work, agents at car rental branches are not cheap. In the end, it is the customer who pays for the agent working outside the car rental business hours. If you want to avoid the fee for taking over or returning the vehicle outside the opening hours, check the opening hours of the branch in advance.
Another thing to be aware of is the length of the rental. Note that one day of rental is exactly 24 hours. For example, if you pick up your car at 10:00, make sure that the return time of the car is also 10:00, or sooner. If you return the car later (10:00 +), car rentals will charge you for the whole day of the rental! Also, in order not to pay extra charges, avoid picking up and returning cars too early in the morning or too late in the evening and on weekends.
Unless it is the only option, do not rent a car from the airport car rental
Renting a vehicle from an airport branch will cost you significantly more than renting a vehicle from a regular rental branch. The price increase is due to taxes and various fees. One such fee is the so-called Airport Fee. Every car rental company based at the airport must pay a fee to the airport for renting you a car. Of course, the fees are reflected in the final rental prices.
In some countries, the fees go much further and the customer bears for example a parking fee because the airport car rental´ vehicles have to park at the airport even if they are not in use.
Therefore, if you have the opportunity to use the airport transfer, taxi or UBER, then transport yourself to the nearest car rental branch located out of the airport. You will avoid paying high fees.
Why didn't I get the exact model I booked?
The reason is simple. Because you usually rent a vehicle category instead of a specific model. In this case, customers often do not have sufficient information and blame car rentals for misleading them.
Although Slovak customers are not yet used to it, this model is used quite commonly abroad. A specific car model may not always be available due to logistical or technical reasons, when someone wishes to extend the rental of the vehicle or when customers do not return the vehicles on time. Car rentals have chosen this model in order to be able to react flexibly in such a situation and offer the customer adequate compensation at the same price. Therefore, even if you don't get the car you saw in the picture when making a reservation, don't panic. Most likely, everything is alright and you only get a different brand of vehicle in the same or even higher quality. However, be careful and don't get deceived by offering you a car of lower category. In this case, you have the right to ask for a price reduction. In other words, the price you paid should match the category of vehicle you received. If you insist that you want to rent a specific car model, such as a luxury or sports model that you want to try, be prepared that you may have to pay extra for a specific type of vehicle.
Don't forget to ask about the km limit!
Slovaks often complain about being charged extra for additional km. This can be avoided if you inform yourself well about the km limit on the rented vehicle, as well as the price for the over-limit km. This information should be a part of the rental agreement you sign when you picking up the car. Just in case, we recommend you taking a photo of the speedometer at the beginning and end of the rental so that you have proof of how many kilometres you have driven with the vehicle.
Can the rental price change depend on your age? Yes!
The younger and less experienced the driver, the greater the risk for car rental. Car rentals are aware of this risk and charge the so-called charge for a younger driver. A younger driver is usually a person who has not yet reached the age of 25, but this may not be the rule. The minimum age is determined by the vehicle category. For example, in the case of the mini or economy category, which are generally smaller vehicles, the age limit for drivers is shifted lower, and conversely for luxury or larger commercial vehicles, this limit is shifted higher. Therefore, find out in advance whether this fee applies to you and avoid the car rental getting additional money from you.
The most common scams
Probably the most frequent scams are related to damage to the rented vehicle. These scams can pull from 150 € up to thousands of euros from your pocket. In case of damage, the car rental company does not have to return your deposit for the vehicle, sounds logical, right? However, what if the vehicle was damaged before renting it and the car rental is trying to scam you? First of all, carefully read the rental agreement, check the car, and report any damage and scratches that you find on the vehicle when taking it over. You can also take a picture of it. Remember to check the exterior as well as the interior of the vehicle properly. It is recommended to check it a little more thoroughly, as in most cases it is an exception to the insurance, and damage to the interior of the vehicle will not have to be reimbursed by the insurance company. A thorough inspection will take you a maximum of 5-10 minutes but can save hundreds of euros.
Do I really need all those extras?
The most common up-sells that customers are pushed into are various types of additional insurance. Car rentals often earn more on fuses than on renting a car. The price of additional insurance varies depending on the vehicle category and can climb up to tens of euros per day. Therefore, first, check out the coverage of your regular insurance, or check it over the phone directly at the insurance company. Vehicle liability insurance or credit card insurance often also covers damage to the rented vehicle. Thus, you might not need any additional insurance.
There is no creativity limit
Scammers are really creative when it comes to ways to get money. Trying to make additional money, car rentals leave their sports mode on. If possible, car rentals intentionally set it as the default. For this reason, make sure to ask the agent to set the eco mode, thanks to which you will reduce fuel consumption.
Also, make sure that you return the vehicle with the same amount of fuel with which you took it. For refueling, you do not pay the average price of fuel, which is listed at gas stations, but the price with a surcharge. The car rental company also charges a refueling fee.
The above-mentioned cases are only a few examples of the unfair practices of car rental companies. Slovaks most often complain about the misleading information, charging extra fees, bullying, and mistreatment of customers. On the other hand, car rental culture is still at its beginnings in Slovakia and customers need to be constantly educated. Booking platforms such as
Rentalport.com, play an important role in this process since they make sure they offer just reliable companies. Also, in case of any problems, they can put more pressure on car rentals than individual customers.