By John Ensor •
Published: 05 Sep 2023 • 9:01
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.
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 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.
To avoid being unfairly charged, consider the following points.
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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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
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