Most problems with foreign car rental companies that consumers bring to the European Consumer Centre CZ (ECC) lawyers can be avoided. “It may seem trivial, but consumers should never sign a contract they do not completely understand and they should ask about anything in doubt. They can thus save themselves lots of later problems based on assumptions concerning the coverage of car and passenger insurance, conditions for crossing state borders, the possibility of alternate drivers and so on,“ says Tomáš Večl, the Director of the European Consumer Centre CZ (ECC), which specialises in the protection of Czech consumers’ rights in other EU countries, Norway and Iceland.
It’s also a good idea to take your time and think of all the situations that could arise during the use of the vehicle and to ask about the possibility of additional insurance. Insurance terms and conditions can vary significantly in different countries. People should particularly watch out for any “hidden” additional charges that appear on pricelists in a very fine print, as these can considerably increase the final price.
If the consumer damages the vehicle during its use, he/she must pay for its repair. “However, a scratch may appear on the vehicle body long after the consumer returned handed the car over. For example, someone may subsequently scratch the car on the rental parking lot, yet the car rental company will deduct the costs of repair from the consumer’s card on the assumption that he/she has caused these damages,” says Tomáš Večl.
And it is precisely here that a few photos taken when taking receipt of the car and on its return can prove that the consumer did not cause any damages, even if the car rental company claims damages after his/her departure. “Such cases have been known to happen and if a person has no proof, it can cost him or her even hundreds of Euros,” points out Tomáš Večl. “Ideally, consumers should ask for written confirmation on the condition of the car on rental, including any existing damage, and then also ask for confirmation when returning the car in perfect condition.”
Naturally, the consumer should also keep a copy of the contract and receipts for both the rental fee and various deposits.
If a person wishes to complain about anything relating to car rental, he/she should do so immediately, in writing, to the given company. If a car rental company from another EU country, Norway or Iceland rejects the claim, or fails to offer an acceptable solution, consumers can contact the European Consumer Centre by the Czech Trade Inspectorate, which can help achieve amicably resolve such cross-border cases out of court.