Thursday, June 05, 2014

Lessons Learned

In preparation for our long weekend in Ireland, I had booked us a hire car to travel around in.  I can't remember now whether I went through the car hire link on the Aer Lingus page or the Dublin Airport page, but it was one of those.  I found a nice little car at not too horrendous a hire rate and booked and paid for it. I also booked and paid for insurance to reduce the excess down to zero. I hadn't heard of the people before, but they had a pick up at Dublin Airport so they must be reasonably legit.

I printed out the two vouchers.  I also downloaded and printed out the credit card statement and the utility bill that they wanted me to produce (in addition to my driver's licence AND my passport).  I must say that I thought this was a bit odd.  I haven't hired a car for some years but I have never been asked for all that amount of identification in the past.  And I don't really get any bills in the post any more.  I do everything online.  The only relevant bill that does come in the post is the council tax bill - and that was specifically excluded! Fortunately, after a bit of digging around, I discovered that you can download PDF versions of your statements and bills.

Some days after this, I was reading the terms and conditions, not for any particular reason but just because. In amongst all the small print I saw that the car hire company was intending to pre-authorise my credit card by €1200.  My credit card doesn't have a limit of €1200.  Even if it did, pre-authorising it by that much would reduce my spending power to zero!  But that can't be right, surely?  I've bought the excess waiver insurance.

I emailed them to ask.  Answer came there none.  I emailed again.  And was met, again, with a stony silence.

I went to the internet forums. And found that person after person after person was complaining that their cards had been pre-authorised, even when they had bought the waiver insurance.  Or that they were refused a car because they didn't have sufficient credit on their card to cover it.  And that they were being charged extra things that no-one had previously mentioned. And that I wasn't actually dealing with a car hire firm, but an aggregator which was trawling through all the various car hire firms and picking up the cheap offers.

I decided to cut my losses.  I cancelled the car hire - and got some, but not all of the price back.  It was too late to cancel the waiver insurance but fortunately that hadn't been too much.

I've gone to Avis, have paid the waiver insurance with them and am assured that they won't pre-authorise my card by anything other than the cost of a tank of fuel. I really should have gone to Avis or to Enterprise in the first place.  I've used them both before with no problem.  They don't ask for millions of pieces of identification. And they aren't significantly more expensive than the original people.

Listen and learn, Dear Reader.  Listen and learn!
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