If YOU are not interested in traveling with YOUR personal car, there is a possibility to go abroad with a rented car. To avoid unpleasant situations during YOUR journey, we would like to offer YOU some tips what should be taken into account when renting a car.
Laws and regulations
Regarding the car rental agreements no special regulation currently exists in the European Union, still the concluded agreement must concord with all the requirements in accordance with the legislation of the consumer protection: unfair commercial practice, unfair contract provisions, and requirements regarding the distance contracts (Consumer Rights Directive).
Car rental reservation
A consumer can reserve car rental in various ways:
- By arriving personally at the car rental office;
- Directly from a website of a car rental company or by phone;
- By using various websites of brokers / agents.
When reserving car rental online, the consumer must always be highly careful as the advertised price may not sometimes concord with the final car rental price when receiving the car. The provided price ought to include all the mandatory costs, still additional attention should be paid to various extra choices, for instance, ‘one way rental’, a child seat, navigation equipment etc. that may significantly increase the final price. It is always advisable to verify the final price also with the selected extras included and keep them in mind, when comparing car rental prices, as the lower advertised price may turn out being not the lowest at the end.
In case the car rental has been carried out through a website of an agent / broker, the conditions on this site may differ from the conditions provided by the car rental company. When arriving at the place of pick-up, the consumer must sign a separate contract that regulates the principal commitments of the parties.
In order to avoid unpleasant surprises at the pick-up of the car, one should always familiarise oneself with the conditions of the car rental company in advance. The car rental conditions should be available and clear to the consumer before the reservation procedure is finalised. Usually, on the website, there is a link to the conditions of the car rental company or they are available on the very website.
Prior to reserving always pay your attention to:
- Whether any mileage limit is applied;
- Fuel conditions;
- The payment cards that are accepted by the car rental company;
- Need for a security deposit and the amount thereof;
- The insurance included and the amount of the responsibility in case of any damage to the car;
- The conditions for use of the car abroad.
It is possible that on the car pick-up location, the consumer may need to place a security deposit or the security deposit may be taken from the consumer’s payment card (a definite amount of money is ‘blocked’ and released at the end of the rental period). In case any problems have been detected after the return of the car, the car rental company may deduct the money from the security deposit, for instance:
- Fuel costs (in case the car has been returned with an empty fuel tank that opposite the provided in the conditions);
- Damage to the car that is not covered by the selected insurance;
- Violation of the road safety regulations.
The amount of the security deposit is returned to the consumer as soon possible after expiry of the rental period.
Damage to a car
In order to avoid any situations when a consumer is accused of causing damages to a vehicle, it is advisable to perform the following actions at all times:
- When picking up the car, it is necessary to check it carefully together with an employee of the car rental. In case any visual damage is apparent, they should be indicated in the conveyance protocol. Thereby the risk for the consumer to be accused of causing damages afterwards is reduced.
- When returning the vehicle it should always be checked together with an employee of the car rental. If the car is returned in good condition, without any damages – it should be indicated in the protocol. The vehicle should be returned during the office hours of the car rental company. In case the car is returned after the business hours, there is always bigger risk that the consumer may be accused of causing damages as the consumer is responsible for the vehicle by the moment it is inspected.
Prior to using the car it is essential to familiarise oneself with the conditions provided by the car rental company regarding the policy of assessing the damages – how to dispute the fact of causing damage and the payment applied.
- What to do in case extra payment has been deducted for damages
The car rental company should be addressed and asked to provide explanation for the deducted extra payment. In case you do not agree with the extra costs, you should request for relevant documentation that confirms these costs:
- Protocols with indicated damages,
- Photos where the damages can be seen,
- A copy of the document that confirm the costs of the conducted reparation,
- In case the reparation has not been conducted, the estimate of the reparation costs.
Using a car
In case during the car rental period the consumer has violated the road safety regulations, it is the consumer’s obligation to cover all the expenses and pay the issued fine tickets as well as any administration fee the car rental company may charge additionally.
Violation of the road safety regulations
In case during the car rental period the consumer has violated the road safety regulations, it is the consumer’s obligation to cover all the expenses and pay the issued fine tickets as wel as any administration fee the car rental company may charge additionally.
Detailed information of the actions to be performed in case of a road accident will be icluded in the car rental contract. Usually the consumer must contact the car rental company as soon as possible by informing it regarding the situation.
Technical damage of a car
In case any technical damage to the vehicle is detected during the car rental period, the consumer must immediately contact and inform the car rental company. Most vehicles are provided with technical roadside assistance.
In case of any claims you should send a written claim to the car rental company by specifying your problem. Every rental company has a customer service department that examine consumers’ claims.
If you do not succeed in solving the problem in such a manner, you may always state your claim to ECC Latvia.
A claim may also be submitted to the European Car Rental Conciliation Service (ECRCS) that has been established by the European Federation of Leasing Company Associations (LeaseEurope, http://www.leaseurope.org/).
ECRCS provide assistance to the costumers that have unsolved claims against car rental companies that have joined the ECRCS conditions. More information available on the website: http://www.ecrcs.eu/
The European Commission has engaged mutual actions with the law enforcement institutions in order to better implement the consumer rights in the sector of car rental.
In order to better implement the consumer rights in the car rental sector, the European Commission and the executive institutions of the Member States have commenced joint actions following to which the 5 bigger car rental companies have agreed to review their practice in regard to the consumes. More information at: