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'The great car rental rip-off' - more companies exposed

Patrick Christys
May 8, 2019

The clock is ticking for unscrupulous car rental firms - and there are loads of them.

Renting a car is the fastest way to ruin a holiday, raise your blood pressure and alleviate yourself of your hard earned cash all in one go.

There's a sense of futility when it comes to hiring a car - you just know that they're probably going to rip you off.

Even while you're filling in the insurance forms, even while you're taking pictures of the car so you've got a record of all the existing damage, even after you've shaken hands with the happy, smiley car rental just know they're probably going to find a way to sting you.

It's an industry like no other - the customer knows they're probably about to get ripped off, the car rental firm knows that YOU KNOW they're ripping you off, and yet we all carry on regardless.

Why? Because you're on holiday and you need a car. It's your only option if you're travelling around.

And a condition of getting hold of that car is that you have to give them your card details and part with a hefty deposit.

That's fertile ground for a money-grabbing car rental firm. In fact, it's a system so perfect that they might as well have designed it themselves...they have designed it themselves, of course.


Here at A Spokesman Said, we've had enough. And we're fighting for you by highlighting some terrible customer experiences at big car rental firms so you don't take a hefty hit in the wallet. 

We've already stuck it to Goldcar and Europcar, but now it's time to shame the companies who've also come bottom of the list when it comes to customer experience.

Those firms are InterRent and Firefly, according to a new study published by Which?.

It turns out that several people reached out to A Spokesman to say they'd had a terrible experience with those companies.

Regarding InterRent, Kelly came a cropper over the classic 'hidden charges' tactic.

She wrote to us to say: "Hired a car from them last year. Had problems with our booking through another company and ended up spending 2 hours getting it sorted.

"Eventually InterRent sold us a new hire agreement. We stressed the importance of paying the lowest possible price and that we didn’t want any additional extras.

"They told us they’d got us a great partner deal especially for us. We’ve subsequently discovered this ‘partner deal’ was actually an extra optional insurance deal which cost us an extra £70.

"Customer services have refused to refund us as we initialled where we were told we needed to to hire the car. Won’t be using them again."

And Kelly is not alone. Mariusz allegedly got ripped off after he'd hired a car with InterRent online.

He told us: "I paid £107, including insurance. Unfortunately, InterRent has charged me £244.50 for an additional insurance policy I didn't buy.

"At the InterRent desk nobody has offered me any additional policy and I didn’t agree to additional charges.

"When I came back home from holiday I realised that additional £244.50 was debited from my account.

"I have contacted InterRent via phone and email but they said this case is closed for them. When I asked for documentation with a policy number and an insurance provider they weren’t able to provide it to me.

"I think it is not right and against the law. I am dissatisfied with the service InterRent has provided and I know my experience is not an isolated case."

Regarding Firefly, a lot of you wrote in to A Spokesman Said to complain about them as well.

Renata said: "Absolutely awful service. Never seen worse attitude in my life.

"Information, when booking the car was misleading. When booking the car, I was advised that there will be no extra charge, since additional cover was taken, but in the office they charged my credit card £900 deposit!! Staff so rude and mean!!!

"When I asked to explain why I should get additional cover, since I have one already, the response was that they don't know and that the cover is not theirs (how do I suppose to know that???).

"The assistant only suggested that there must be a reason, why the cover from other insurer is so cheap. At the car park, when we came to pick up the car, despite the fact that we came to pick it up an hour later than agreed in the contract, we were told that the car is not ready.

"The lady at the desk was so rude, she did not even apologise. Never seen worse attitude in my life!

"After an additional 40 mins of waiting time, when we tried to complain, the assistant threatened us that if we are not happy, she will tear our contract and we can go to other providers!!!

"Furthermore, she just pretended that she does not speak English and ignored my husband (her English with me was absolutely fine).

"The car arrived 40 mins later, all scratched. Again, my husband made a remark, that not all faults are indicated on the contract. We got the response that it marks the whole part of the vehicle.

"I checked my credit card, apparently I was charged an additional £42.18 for I don't know what (despite the fact all was fine on returning the car)?

"I would never ever recommend this car provider to anyone. I've never come across worse service."

Strong stuff. And Renata is not alone. 

Helen told us: "We took our rental car back after using it for a week in Spain and we were told we would be charged over £500 for hairline scratches that we were not responsible for by a very rude member of their staff.

"The money has now been taken off our credit card. There was no one there to check over the car with us when we picked it up!"

This is the issue - when you return a rental car, the burden of proof is on YOU.

Even if you know that the car was scratched before you drove it, you need to be able to prove it. Always take pictures or video of the car both inside and out.

There needs to be a wholesale change to the car rental industry. There needs to be more regulation.

As it stands it's too easy for firms to take a hefty deposit, take your credit card details, sell you additional insurance that you don't need and, ultimately, take more of your money than they deserve.

If you've had a bad experience at a car rental firm then get in touch at A Spokesman Said and tell us what's happened. We'll fight for you.

A Spokesman said has contacted both InterRent and Firefly and is awaiting reply.

Here at A Spokesman Said we love fighting for your rights and believe passionately in natural justice.

But these battles cost us money. You could help us fund these fights by using our price comparison site, A Spokesman Said for your energy, car insurance and household bills.

We’re just the same as Go Compare or any other price comparison site, so you won’t be losing out in any way - by helping us, you will be helping yourself.

Thank you for your support.

When did you last switch your car insurance provider?

Last year 65% of customers didn't switch their car insurance to try and get a better deal.