If you're planning on packing your bags and hitting the road in a rental car this Labour Day long weekend, driving through the ups and downs of car rental contracts can be difficult. BBB serving Mainland BC received 44 complaints about auto-renting and leasing companies over the last 12 months, it pays to slow down and pay heed to a business' policies and procedures before they drive off with your investment.
"Many of the complaints are easily resolved because the company can prove no wrong doing in their terms and conditions. Contracts can be complicated so you really need to go over them thoroughly," says Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC. "Unexpected costs like mileage caps, insurance, and drop-off fees can change the price dramatically, so it's best to research and comparison shop ahead of time. Like anything else, educating yourself is key."
BBB recommends these tips when navigating the roads of car rentals:
- Understand insurance: Check your car insurance policy before you leave home. In some cases, your policy will cover damage to a rental vehicle so you don't have to purchase insurance through the car rental company.
- Know what you're looking for: Determine the size and type of car you will need, such as compact, midsize, luxury, or mini-van as well as the costs of each.
- Ask about special fees: Ask if drop-off charges apply if you return the car to a different location. Keep in mind location rates may vary within the city and at the airport for the same firm, and that daily rates may be higher during certain days of the week. Additional driver fees may apply for extra drivers.
- Look for package deals: Some airlines or other travel companies may offer discounted rates if you purchase more than one service, such as a flight, rental car or hotel stay.
- Weigh the value of add-ons: Renting a GPS device, a child car seat or a roof rack can add to your total bill. Consider using a cell phone GPS or bringing your own car seat.
- Compare gas rates: Some companies offer to sell you a full tank of gas so you don't have to fill up the tank before you return the car. Compare the full-tank charge to the cost of gasoline in the area where you're renting.
- Ask about late or early return fees: Some renters have been surprised at being charged a fee for returning a car early or late. Sometimes, the penalty may be deducted from your deposit. If you're traveling over a holiday or have to return the car outside of regular working hours, ask whether the office will be open or if you need to drop keys in a lock box.
- Use your camera: Take a picture of the car before you leave the rental facility and when you return it. Good pictures can protection you from unfounded charges for vehicle damage.
- Ask for the final price: Make sure the rental agent explains all the charges before you sign the contract and drive off the lot.
- Check a company's record: Check BBB Business Reviews will show whether a company has complaints and how those complaints have been resolved.
Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor
BBB Serving Mainland BC
404-788 Beatty Street
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses and brands they can trust. In 2015, people turned to BBB more than 165 million times for BBB Business Reviews, all available for free at bbb.org. BBB Serving Mainland B.C., founded in 1939 and serving the Lower Mainland, Thompson-Okanagan, Northern, Central and Southern Interior BC, and the Yukon, is one of 111 local, independent BBBs across North America. In 2015, consumers turned to BBB Serving Mainland B.C. more than 2 million times for Business Reviews and processed 7,500 complaints.