I often rent automobiles when I travel, and totally identify with some of the frustrations readers have expressed to me over the past months.
In this column I have written a few tips which I hope will save you a few dollars the next time you are dealing with an automobile rental.
Every time I have rented a car lately the pressure to buy insurance has been extreme, and it seems clear that these people are on a commission over and above their salary.
Their salary is the base. Their real income is derived from the add-ons they can sell you at the counter. It is all about suggestive selling i.e. Will you have fries with your burger.
It goes even further that. There can be targets set which will affect the amount of commission they get if they don’t get you to agree with their suggestions.
How many times have you heard one of the agents suggest you take an upgrade for an extra daily fee.
An article I read lately suggested that the upgrade price is not fixed but left to the discretion of the agent to get as much as possible for it.
You may even be able to negotiate with them for a price you find fair if you are considering an upgrade.
One of the newest add-ons sounds like a real customer service, but in the end isn’t entirely. Pay for a full tank of gasoline in advance, they suggest, and the price per litre, or gallon, will be lower than what you would have to pay at the nearest filling station.
The reality is that what you will pay for is a full tank according to the tank size in the automobile.
Few people return a car that empty. While there may be some element of convenience in the offer, in most cases you are likely to pay less if you have the time to stop and fill the tank at the closest gas station near the airport.
As a counter to that, you need to know where the closet filling station is, and give yourself plenty of extra time to make sure that tank is returned full.
Many airports in the United States and Canada now have them virtually on site. I once had an agent tell me that the company had introduced a policy where liability insurance was now mandatory.
While this is the case in some countries it is not in the United States.
When I complained about this upon returning the car, the attendant said this was not the case and suggested I speak with the manager. Knowing this process could take time, and with my flight’s check-in deadline approaching, I passed on the suggestion. Like many others I am sure, I never followed up afterwards and that individual may still be scamming people..
There are also a variety of insurance packages you are presented with, often with connotations meant to inspire fear and a subsequent agreement to purchase.
There are ways to save on car rentals and saying no to suggestive selling is just one of them.
In the US, most car rentals are not actually at the airport but a kilometre or two away. But in Canada they are often on site within easy walking distance.genuinely on site.
If you have the time, you can avoid the ‘airport location fees’ by renting with a company not actually with a booth in the airport. In most cases these companies will pick you up and deliver you back to the airport, while still charging you substantially less fees.
This may take a lot of extra time but the savings for many are well worth it.
Remember as well that when you sign your final exit documents you are agreeing that you have inspected the vehicle and are responsible for all damages, small or large. No matter how late you may be, walk around the car, make note of all dents and scratches, and bring them to the attention of the attendant. And keep a copy of the report that outlines all of these past flaws.
It is good to have extra automobile insurance, just in case.
My own credit card covered me completely for a small accident I had many years ago, but it took time and I had to pay the costs in advance.
Some jurisdictions and/or private companies offer car rental insurance that will be less expensive than what is offered by the auto rental company. In Manitoba, out of province or out of country insurance coverage can be purchased for under $10 a day.
Finally, if you are booking online, be sure to go through all the pages of the rental options. On one of the main booking agencies, I have seen the same brand automobiles on subsequent pages at a lesser price than on the landing page.
Remember to take along any car accessories you may keep in your own vehicle that you might need with you. Phone chargers and other items will come in handy when you are away.
If you want an extra one you can see a selection to order online here.