Avoid Rental Car Return Nightmares With These Tips

Avoid Rental Car Pitfalls

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Ever been slapped with unexpected charges after returning a rental car? Here’s how to protect yourself from unwarranted fees.

As the holiday season winds down, many people are returning their rental cars and heading home. According to the National Federation of Rental Vehicles (Feneval), Spain’s vehicle fleet stands at around 650,000, a significant drop from over 800,000 in the pre-pandemic era, according to 20 Minutos.

The Rise Of Phantom Charges

Estel Romero, a lawyer at the Sanahuja Miranda Abogados firm, warns that ‘phantom charges skyrocket in the summer season.’ These are fees levied by rental companies without clear justification, often for repairs that the client didn’t cause. ‘The damages that the rental companies intend to attribute to the client are not the client’s responsibility,’ says Romero.

The Emotional Toll Of Unjust Charges

The shock of finding unexpected charges can be overwhelming. ‘This bad experience translates into an exchange of emails and calls with the aim of asking for explanations and recovering the money,’ Romero explains. Companies must prove a ‘causal link’ to hold the user responsible for any damage, he adds.

How To Safeguard Against Unfair Charges

To avoid being unfairly charged, consider the following points.

  • Read the contract carefully. Look for clauses related to insurance, deposits, and return policies.
  • Inspect the car at pickup. Confirm that the company’s damage sheet is accurate and report any additional issues immediately.
  • Take photos or videos. Document the car’s condition from all angles at both pickup and return.
  • Keep your receipt. Always ask for a complete document that confirms the car has been returned in good condition.

Challenging Excessive Costs

If you’re charged for damage you did cause, but the fee seems high, request the company’s damage matrix. This will show the typical repair costs for various types of damage. Also, review the franchise amount, which is the maximum you could be charged for repairs. Finally, check your insurance coverage to see what it includes.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.