Information on Car Hire UK

October 26, 2008

Hi

Welcome to the new WordPress blog on Car Hire UK. Hopefully it will be useful to you.

We have been operating in the car rental’ industry for about eight years. During that time we have gained a great deal of expertise which am I happy to pass on to you.

There are a large number of car rental companies operating in the UK. Whether you are renting from an airport or from a city location you will be faced with a great number of car rental companies to choose from. The difficulty you face is finding the correct company for your needs. Most people, no matter who they are, are looking for  better value.

Unfortunately cheapest is not always the best value. Many people assume that by selecting the cheapest deal available they will be getting best value.

There are many things to consider when renting a car, which include conditions attached to the rental. There may be cancellation charges and these can be vary. Rental companies will have a damage excess. The cost of this can vary, and causes more confusion than any other aspect of car rental.

Within this blog I intend to give you the benefit of my experience of dealing with car rental using various car rental companies over a period of eight years.

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Which is the best Car Hire Company in the UK?

December 13, 2008

This is a very difficult question. You would have to qualify the question be asking “best for what”?

There are so many different aspects to car hire that you have to consider.

The aspect which most people think of first is the price. Many people assume that best is cheapest. I can assure you that I have collection of horror stories over an eight year period when customers went for the cheapest options and it did not work out for them.

I know a company who offer very competitive prices and will take all the bookings that come their way even though they have no idea whether they have enough cars to cover the bookings.

When it get near the date of the hire and they know that they cannot cover it, they send the customer an email giving a sob story about how the car they were going to get was involved a terrible accident (or something similar) and they will not longer be able to cover their booking.

The customer then has to search about at the last minute trying to find another car hire company and ends up paying over the odds because they are late. The company concerned on the other hand have made sure all their cars are fully booked.

So the moral of the story is to use a reliable company who is not going to charge you more than you should pay.


Taking a hire car to Ireland

December 12, 2008

You can hire a car on mainland UK and take it to Ireland. Alamo and Europcar will allow you to do it. If you are taking the car to Northern Ireland, then there is no charge for doing so. If you are taking the car to the Republic of Ireland they will charge you and additional fee. Last time I check the cost was about GBP 50.00 extra. This covers the cost of getting someone like the AA breakdown service retrieving the car from Ireland in a case where you are not able to drive it back.


Further information on Seat Belts

December 12, 2008

Child seats

Child car seat hire 2004 (From Which? Ltd)

• Problems when hiring in the UK
• Problems when hiring abroad
• What needs to be done…
• …and what is being done

Hopelessly out of date, broken, incorrectly assembled, and not one supplied with adequate instructions – when we hired child seats from 83 car rental companies in the UK, Greece and Spain in 2002, we were confronted with seats which put children’s lives needlessly at risk.

In the UK, we found several seats that would be unlikely to protect a child in a crash, and none of the outlets fitted the seat for us. In Greece and Spain, things were worse still, with some of the seats seriously damaged.

Some companies were happy to fit the seats for us, but several did so in a dangerously hapless fashion.
So far, so bad. We then gave our findings to the trade body representing the British car hire industry – the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) – just in time to contribute evidence to a review of its code of conduct. We suggested that they should introduce car seat hire rules urgently. They suggested that they would rather put out a couple of new leaflets about child seats.

Problems when hiring in the UK

You’ll be lucky to find a hire company in the UK which will supply appropriate car seats. Less than half the outlets we visited were able to provide a child seat at all. Some seemed surprised that we should even ask, and suggested that we should buy a seat to go with our day’s worth of car hire.

Of the outlets that did have seats, only about half correctly matched the type of seat to our child – a 13kg three-year-old – and provided a seat that was in good condition. The rest were faulty or too old, and unlikely to protect a child in a crash.

Out of date

If you can’t find a seat for hire, you’ll have to buy one instead. Otherwise, you could face a straight choice between cancelling your travel plans and breaking the law. However, being forced to buy a seat might be a good thing. New seats have to pass modern safety tests – if they don’t, no one is allowed to sell them. But there’s no such law for hiring car seats, so hire companies can hand over any seat they like.
You’ll be lucky to find a hire company in the UK that supplies appropriate car seats
And they do. One outlet supplied us with a seat that was 12 years old. In safety terms, 12 years is a long time, and the seat predated modern standards by an age. Another provided a ten-year-old seat, and another a six-year-old one.

The oldest was a real museum piece – a seat so old that it predated the introduction of codes which show the date of manufacture. It also lacked vital warnings about how to use the seat in cars with airbags, which are mandatory on new seats. In fairness, we were warned by staff about using the seat facing rearward next to an air bag, and it was the only hire company to do so. However, that does little to compensate for hiring out an ageing and worn seat in the first place.

Assembly and installation
In a 30mph crash, a child can be thrown forward with a force of 30 to 60 times its own body weight. So it’s crucial that seats are assembled and installed correctly. But, as we found, some hire companies don’t seem to take that as seriously as they should.

On one seat, we found that the harness wasn’t fitted properly, and the shoulder straps were loose and not fed through the correct slots. No assembly instructions were supplied with the seat, so even if you suspected something was wrong, it’s difficult to see how anyone could be sure what needed changing.

And, if assembly was bad, fitting was worse. In fact, we didn’t find a single company in the UK which fitted the seat for us. This is an important point because it’s easy to install a seat incorrectly. A seat manufacturer’s survey of people who used their own child seat found that 37 per cent of child car seats were incorrectly fitted or were incompatible with the car. Similar local authority surveys put this figure as high as 50 per cent.
It’s a point that the BVRLA itself recognises – indeed, its advice to members hints that they ‘may find that staff are not sufficiently trained to install the seats’. If we weren’t talking about potential loss of life here, that would be laughable – seats are so difficult to fit that staff need training to fit them, but the same staff are handing over seats to customers, without even bothering to include instructions.

There are plenty of ways in which the installation of a seat can go wrong. But, even if you don’t have instructions to hand, there should be warning labels to prevent staff or customers making any big mistakes – for example, the label which tells you not to fit a seat facing rearward next to an air bag.
Problems when hiring abroad

To see if similar problems existed elsewhere in Europe, we picked two popular holiday locations in Greece and Spain, and set out to hire some cars. Both countries have more road accident fatalities than the UK, and the last thing you want to worry about when you’re in an unfamiliar car, driving on the right-hand side of the road, is the safety of the child seat.

At first, it seemed that the foreign rental companies were more helpful than the UK’s – 67 per cent of companies provided car seats in Greece, and 63 per cent in Spain. And, in stark contrast to the UK, several hire companies fitted the seat for us. The trouble was, the seats provided were in an even more parlous state than those in the UK – and when they were fitted, they were often fitted incorrectly.
Greece

In Greece, only ten of the 16 seats provided matched the age and weight of our child. Of these, three were unacceptably old and unlikely to protect a child in a crash. These old-fashioned designs for seat mounting allowed the seat to move around and the straps wouldn’t adequately restrain a child in a crash. Three hire companies fitted the seat for us, one of them incorrectly. And the one which installed the seat incorrectly made us, posing as naive customers, decide whether or not it was safe.

Spain
In Spain, six of the ten seats installed by the hire companies were fitted so badly that they would put a child in serious danger. And, as in the UK, there were worn labels, which might lead you to install the seat incorrectly. Worse, some seats were broken – they had broken belt clips, which could result in the belt coming loose completely. One seat we were offered also had broken polystyrene padding, which would be uncomfortable, especially for a child tired from a day on the road in hot weather.

Overall, the results in Greece and Spain were even worse than in the UK. We’re doing what we can to change things here, and we’ve passed on our findings to our contacts elsewhere in Europe to help them improve matters there.
What needs to be done…

The primary concern, of both the law and hire companies, should be child safety. Looking at the current setup, it’s difficult to believe that’s the case. So here are our challenges to government and to the car hire industry.
As things stand, hire companies aren’t obliged to provide a car seat, or to fit it if they do. In other words, if their customers have children, companies aren’t obliged to provide a safe vehicle for them. We think everybody should have a right to expect a car seat to be provided with a hire car if they request one.

If a company sells a seat, it must be certified to meet current design standards – and yet companies are allowed to hire out seats that are years behind modern standards. We think there should be an age limit on the seats hired out.

Once hire companies have fleets supplied with modern seats, they need to keep them in decent physical condition – with no illegible labels and no broken parts. The inspections should cover this as well.
We’ve seen that people – hire company staff or the general public – often fit car seats incorrectly. Hire staff need to know how to select and fit the appropriate seat for a particular weight and age of child – if they can’t fit their own seats safely, they shouldn’t expect customers to do any better.

Finally, we want instructions provided with every seat. They’ll help customers secure a child in the seat, and they’re vital if the seat is removed and replaced during the hire period.
…and what is being done

When we finished our research, we discovered that we were just in time to contribute to a review of the BVRLA’s code of conduct, which is supposed to ensure that its members provide a good service. Unfortunately, they were less than keen on our proposals.

The evidence we’ve found proves that there needs to be changes to how the car hire industry works. People need access to child seats and they need a guarantee that those seats are safe to use.

The BVRLA doesn’t agree. It thinks the decision to provide child seats is a ‘commercial’ one, which should be at the ‘discretion of individual hire companies’. But, of course, it isn’t merely a commercial decision – it’s a decision about the fundamental safety of the vehicle they’re hiring out to their customers.
No guarantee of safety

Similarly, the BVRLA is doing little to provide a guarantee to customers that its members’ seats are safe to use. It’s obvious from our research that strict rules and an inspection regime are needed to take dangerous seats out of circulation. But, again, the BVRLA doesn’t agree. It plans to amend two of its leaflets in the light of our research. That’s not good enough – we’re talking about how likely children are to survive car crashes, here, and leafleting seems a wholly inadequate response.

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Child Car Seats June 2003

Improving Standards

Current standards aren’t as strong as they should be, but they’re still a big improvement on a few years ago. If you need to hire a car seat, make sure it meets the current standard (ECE44-03). Our recent investigation (April 2003) found that many car hire companies were renting out-of-date seats. Likewise, if you’re dragging an old car seat down from the attic for a new family member, check it isn’t out of date. If it was made before 1998 and doesn’t have a label saying that it meets ECE44-03, buy a new one. In any event, it might be safest to replace it with one of our new Best Buys seats.

Follow our buying advice, and you should steer clear of the worst seats. However, for the car seat industry itself, there’s still a long way to go. We’re pressing for changes to make the minimum safety standard more demanding. And we’re working together with consumer groups across Europe and car clubs, such as the AA, to guide people towards the safest seats. Over the years, we’ve successfully influenced the development of car safety through a similar approach, with EuroNCAP crash tests. Our aim now is to transform the safety of child car seats in the same way.

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Child Car Seats, HireApril 2003

What Needs to be Done …

The primary concern, of both the law and hire companies, should be child safety. Looking at the current setup, it’s difficult to believe that’s the case. So here are our challenges to government and to the car hire industry.

• As things stand, hire companies aren’t obliged to provide a car seat, or to fit it if they do. In other words, if their customers have children, companies aren’t obliged to provide a safe vehicle for them. We think everybody should have a right to expect a car seat to be provided with a hire car if they request one.

• If a company sells a seat, it must be certified to meet current design standards – and yet companies are allowed to hire out seats that are years behind modern standards. We think there should be an age limit on the seats hired out. It would be simple to implement among BVRLA members – they are already required not to hire out cars which are more than three years old. BVRLA even insists on independent inspections of its fleets to check that they don’t. So how come it’s prepared to let its members hire out 12-year-old seats?

• Once hire companies have fleets supplied with modern seats, they need to keep them in decent physical condition – with no illegible labels and no broken parts. The inspections should cover this as well.
Proper fitting is vital

• We’ve seen that people – hire company staff or the general public – often misfit car seats. The hire companies need to stand up and take some responsibility here. Hire staff need to know how to select and fit the appropriate seat for a particular weight and age of child – if they can’t fit their own seats safely, they shouldn’t expect customers to do any better.

• Finally, we want instructions provided with every seat. They’ll help customers secure a child in the seat, and they’re vital if the seat is removed and replaced during the hire period.


Seat Belts

November 30, 2008

The Department for Transport have just launched the latest THINK! road safety campaign to promote the use of seat belts. Some people may think that this is not the most obvious issue on which to focus a road safety campaign. Admittedly, my natural reaction was to think that most people wear a seat belt anyway but this one simple fact speaks for itself:
In 2007, of the 1,432 car occupants killed, research indicates that some 34 per cent were not wearing a seat belt.
Sometimes it can be easy to dismiss putting on a seat belt if you’re travelling a short distance or travelling at low speeds. But even at low speeds you are putting yourself at serious risk of injury or even death. And wearing a seat belt, where one is fitted, is the law. For more information on the latest THINK! road safety campaign including the facts and information on the law regarding seat belts then please click here.
http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roadsafety/
http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roadsafety/drs/highwaycode
http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roadsafety/speedmanagement/speedlimits
http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roadsafety/child/summaryseatbeltwearingrequir4636


Alamo’s Terms and Conditions

November 22, 2008

United Kingdom January 2009 – National Car Rental / Alamo Rent a Car

Additional driver charge is GBP 6.37 per day + vat per additional driver. There is no maximum charge.
Additional drivers must be over 21. All additional drivers must meet the age and license requirements set out below.

Minimum rental age is 21 years for car groups: MCMN & ECMN, 23 years for car groups: CCMR, CDMR, IDMR, CCAR, IVMR, IWMR & CWMR, and 25 years for car groups: SDMR, SDAR, FCAR, FVAR & FWAR. Please note: The minimum age is 25 years for all cars at the Wigan branch (XWIC01/71).
A young drivers surcharge applies as follows: 21 – 22 years = GBP 14.00 + VAT per day. 23 – 24 years = GBP 9.95 + VAT per day.
There is no upper age limit except Pembroke and Carmarthen and the Isle of Man where the age limit is 75 years. Plymouth, Exeter, Newquay and Taunton, the upper age limit is 70 years.

Vehicle must be returned in the same condition as when rented, normal wear & tear excepted. The customer is responsible for the cost of any new damage found at rental termination up to the amount of their damage excess liability.

Vehicles may be taken abroad but renters will be required to purchase breakdown cover at a cost of GBP 59.99 including VAT (This applies to vehicles going to the Republic of Ireland also). Written permission is required to take any vehicle outside of the UK. This should be obtained from the renting branch at commencement of rental. Countries which you are allowed to travel to are:
All EU countries, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Gibraltar, Andorra, and San Marino.
Cars may not be driven into any outside those listed above.

Drivers must have held a full national licence for at least 1 year. Visitors to the UK – All visitors to the UK must present a full valid license. Licences issued overseas must be clearly identifiable as a driving licence, otherwise an International Driving Licence will be required. A Passport must also be produced if not a UK resident.
UK residents who hold the new photo card licence must also present the paper counterpart at the start of the rental. Endorsements are only shown on the paper counterpart so customers MUST produce both documents. Holders of the old style Uk paper licence must also provide an additional form of photographic ID in the form of a Full Valid Passport, Armed Forces ID Card or a Police Warrant Card, no other form of idenification will be accepted. UK residents that hold a non-EU licence may drive in the UK for up to 12 months from the time you become resident. After 12 months your overseas licence will be deemed illegal in the UK and it must be exchanged for the UK equivalent. UK residents that hold a non-UK EU licence, your License is valid until the age of 70 or for 3 years after becoming a UK resident – whichever is longest. A renter holding a non-UK licence must produce a full valid passport at time of rental. Holders of any licence that does not show the current address must also produce proof of current address in the form of a Current Credit Finance Agreement, Current Utilities Bill, or Current Bank Statement.

Domestic Retail One way rentals made in the U.K. are allowable. All consumer one way rental reservations for both Alamo and National will carry a one-way charge, which will be dependant on the distance travelled. One- ways between Mainland U.K. and Northern Ireland are not permitted. One-ways are not permitted between the Mainland U.K. and the Republic of Ireland. One-ways between the Northern Ireland locations are free of charge. One-way rentals are permitted from any Northern Ireland location to the following locations in the Republic of Ireland:- to Dublin = £100.00 + VAT. To: Cork, Knock and Shannon = £300.00 + VAT.
International one-ways are NOT permitted

All Out of Hours reservations are on request and only available at In-terminal airport locations at a charge of GBP 30.00 plus VAT. There is no Out of Hours service available at downtown locations, who will only accept bookings for during office working hours. Out of hour returns are allowed at some locations (please refer to the additional information in the locations section of Visionnet). Where a vehicle is returned outside office hours, the branch should confirm at pick-up the procedure for returning the vehicle out of hours and the location of the key return box. All customers must be advised that they remain liable for vehicle damage until the vehicle is checked in on the next working day. Please note that when returning out of hours at Marble Arch additional charges may apply (see location information for details).

National Charge cards, all major Credit cards and debit cards (including Maestro) and Cash payments permitted on all car groups, except executive cars (FXAR & SSAR). Cash is not accepted at the following locations: Norwich Airport, Humberside Airport, Doncaster Robin Hood Airport, Durham Tees Valley Airport & London City Airport. All locations (excluding Norwich Airport, Humberside Airport, Doncaster Robin Hood Airport, Durham Tees Valley Airport & London City Airport) within normal working hours will accept cash deposits providing the customer is a walk in. Travellers Cheques are acceptable in £ sterling only. Customers will be charged for loss of vehicle keys @ £85.00.
PLEASE NOTE: Renters will be asked for the following deposits: 1) The estimated cost of the rental 2) The fuel deposit £70.00 3) The DLW/TLW deductible/excess – £550.00 or £1000 if DLW/TLW are declined. Cash renters resident in the U.K. will be subject to a credit check by Equifax, and must provide either a NEW style driving licence complete with counterpart or an OLD style licence plus a full valid Passport. Non-UK resident Inbound renters paying by cash will need to produce their passport, dated return flight ticket and full driving licence that meets the criteria set out in the Licence requirements section. Cash renters cannot expect to receive a refund of their deposits in cash. The refund will probably take the form of a Sterling cheque which will posted to their home address.

All vehicles are supplied with a full tank of fuel and it is the customer’s responsibility to return the vehicle full or pay for any missing fuel at the end of rental. On rentals of 3 days or longer we recommend that you add the cost of a full tank of fuel to our rental charges at time of pick up. This method eliminates the need for you to refuel the tank prior to returning. The fuel amount charged at time of rental will be based on a market competitive price and the car model rented. We are unable to issue a refund for unused fuel. A fuel deposit will not be required for rentals of 3 days or longer. For rentals of 1 to 2 days a fuel purchase option is available. Ask for further details when picking up your vehicle.

In case of breakdown or accidents, emergency telephone numbers can be found on the vehicle tax disc and key fob. Cover is provided through either the AA or RAC, dependent on the vehicle manufacturer. Customers should call the emergency number shown on their vehicle. Coverage is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

GPS units are available at a cost of £8.50 + VAT per day for 1 – 6 days and £4.25 + VAT per day for 7+ days. A £150.00 deposit is required. GPS is available from all locations.
Child/Infant seats (suitable for ages 9 months to 4 years old) are available for a charge of £5.95 plus VAT per day, with a maximum charge of £41.64 plus VAT per rental. The child seat is the Britax Freeway child seat, it is forward facing and approved to British Standards. A security deposit of £50.00 is required for each seat, which will be refunded to the renter upon return of the child- check-in. Child seats are on request only and availability cannot be guaranteed. Customers will be required to fit the child seat themselves.
Booster cushions are also available on request upon arrival for £2.12 plus VAT per day, with a maximum charge of £14.83 plus VAT per rental. Booster cushions cannot be pre-booked.
This country does not provide reflective jackets and is not required by law to do so.


Avis says discarding car hire is a false economy

November 13, 2008

Fleets don’t need to discard car rental to reduce their cost base in a recession, instead they need to use it in a more considered fashion, says Avis Rent a Car. The car rental company’s new Sales Director, Anthony Ainsworth, has come up with some sound advice for businesses on how to utilise car rental to reduce costs and keep drivers safe and mobile.

Ainsworth, who has brought with him 20 years of experience in the leisure and consumer industries, is currently assisting fleet customers in adopting a more structured corporate rental policy which takes into account the current rising vehicle management costs.

Flexibility
Avis provides pool cars for a number of its corporate customers. This effectively means a company has a vehicle on site constantly and users can car share, with this option Avis can deliver a 25-30% cost saving to a business.

“There are a lot of businesses requiring one day rentals, this is not cost effective for them and unappealing to the rental industry due to the downtime on vehicles and handling costs. In the past we have introduced a pool car option to a client instead, bringing down overall costs to that business,” says Ainsworth.

“Flexibility is key and Avis is helping fleets view things differently. Using rental in a more considered fashion will save costs without compromising employee safety or comfort.”

In addition, a bespoke and structured corporate rental policy ensures drivers rent cars that are suitable for their individual journeys and reduces cost into the bargain. Avis is also able to identify rentals with extremely low mileage, and would recommend an alternative form of transport, for example train or taxi as these could prove to be more cost effective.

Flexibility is particularly paramount for those businesses with new employees who are on probation for three months, or who have a relatively high turnover of staff. In the probation period, rental can avoid the costly early termination charges associated with ending a contract hire agreement if an employee doesn’t work out.

Education
Congestion charging, parking and speeding fines and refuelling can also cause car rental companies headaches and add to fleet rental costs, as Avis has to pass administration costs onto its clients.

Damage charging is also another key problem area, with around 4% of cars returned with some form of damage, at an average cost of around £350. Avis is working hard with customers to educate their drivers as to the importance of looking after their rental vehicle, just as they would their own car.

All these issues can be proactively managed by Avis with its customers and changing driver behaviour is key to keeping these costs down. Drivers have to be more accountable for their rental vehicles.

It is also worth reminding drivers that a rental period is 24 hours. It may well be more cost effective if time is managed correctly, for example finishing a rental at 1700hrs rather than 0800hrs the following day. Out of office hours deliveries can also mean additional costs. Avis works with customers to amend rental bookings to provide a convenient service while making sure timings are really necessary and thus, bringing down costs.

Bespoke insurance
Insurance is also an area where drivers can be guilty of spending more money than they have to. Companies could save up to £70 per week per driver just by ensuring insurance levels are preset. Avis’ bespoke and tailor-made corporate packages mean the choice of insurance is already made for the driver and the company can rest assured they are correctly insured without increasing rental costs.

In fact, by operating its unique customer reporting suite, bespoke to each client, Avis is able to offer businesses a controlled international agreement that consolidates total rental spend worldwide.

“The Avis corporate team are experts in offering bespoke packages to all our clients however big or small and we pride ourselves on the advice and expertise we can offer,” concludes Ainsworth.

“The rental industry provides a very attractive proposition at this time and I would urge fleet managers to think outside the box about their requirements. It may well be that budget restrictions put limits on fleet resources – this is an area in which car rental can make real financial sense.”

Source:Easier.com


Life begins at 40 for Budget Car Rental in SA – Travel Wires

November 13, 2008

Life begins at 40 for Budget Car Rental in SA – Travel Wires

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