Many customers, when signing for a car rental, fail to understand fully what they must be conscious of before agreeing to the terms and conditions on the forms. The result is frequently upset or annoyance when rates are higher than expected on returning the vehicle, or in the worst case scenario, unexpected costs.
“Incidents such as this lead to the completely erroneous perception that renting a car is an expensive business,” comments Avis Rent a Car Southern Africa chief executive, Keith Rankin.
“Avis makes a point of stating very clearly exactly what is included in the rental, with no prevarication or recourse to ‘fine print’ to hide additional costs. However, customers must learn to ask key questions about what they are paying for.”
Rankin mentions three main areas where misunderstandings can arise: kilometres travelled, waivers and the one-way fee.
“At Avis we quote for as many inclusions as possible so that customers can make informed decisions,” he continues. “However, if they receive a quote for 100kms and then travel considerable distances in excess, they must realise that this will incur additional costs. Customers should calculate the average number of kilometres they will be travelling to avoid unpleasant surprises on returning the vehicle.”
Assessing potential risk is another area where customers frequently fall short. “If you take a waiver, you are waiving your responsibility in the event of an accident, hijacking or other incident,” Rankin explains. “There are different types of waivers that provide flexibility: the super waiver costs more but reduces the excess you have to pay. The less expensive rate means you take more responsibility.
“It’s important to note that on average, every 18th rental is involved in some kind of accident damage: generally small incidents such as bumper bashings. Customers should appreciate that the risk of some kind of accident are constantly increasing, with aggressive drivers, roads ever more congested and with many drivers who are inadequately trained.”
One-way fees are charged when a customer collects the vehicle from one location and returns it to another. “Generally, these rates apply where long distances are involved but they don’t apply to all locations,” Rankin clarifies. “At Avis, this will be made clear to customers when they make reservations or receive quotes.
“These are relatively simple points to consider,” he concludes, “But understanding what you are signing and paying for, and understanding exactly what is included in the quote can make all the difference between a pleasant and positive rental experience and a bad one.”