Ibiza Car Hire Problems are the number 2 complaint in The Ibizan inbox.
U.K. Consumer group Which investigates Spanish Tourist Car Rental Rip-Offs.
From the reports we receive at The Ibizan there are two situations that come up time and again.
First the rental office on-costs, most typically the firm’s own insurance at extremely high rates. People often report feeling pressured into buying it even when they have their own additional cover.
Second is the charge for minor or pre-existing damage to a vehicle on its return.
It is easy to see how these two techniques are closely connected. If the widely reported bad practice of pushing people into buying insurance they don’t want or need is as widespread as our feedback would suggest, and Which conclude that it most certainly is, you can see the M.O. of the Car Hire firm in cause and effect.
‘We want everyone to buy our insurance. The more people we can make pay for damages who do not buy that additional insurance the better as that will make more people feel obliged to buy the insurance.’
Which’s investigation finds that Goldcar are the worst of the lot. I have to say that in Ibiza I have heard bad stories from many of the bigger names. Goldcar is certainly one of the more frequent.
The tactic at both ends, on arrival to buy insurance and on departure to claim damages, preys on the vulnerability of people who are often tired and or stressed. And on departure, what can you do? Who would miss their family of 4 flying home to argue the toss over a 100€ scratch claim? The car hire companies know this and could easily choose to exploit it.
There is one clear trend in the complaints we receive, in that i would guess 90%+ are from the airport offices of the car hire companies. This is the location selected by the vast majority of people who use the mega-cheap hire brokers such as doyouspain.com
In this respect there does seem a bit of a car hire Elephant in the room. These prices are so low, and at some times they are completely insane. To be renting a 4 door, air conditioned, family car for some ridiculous fee – as low as 2 or 3€ per day in low season. It seems the entire rental industry has got itself in a right old pickle in chasing this broker business. But ask yourself, how can they do it? Is it just low season, or cheap cars due to manufacturer over-production, or tough competition in a bad year for tourists? These things may make it cheaper, but none of them go any way to explain this level of cheap. It is the equivalent of being offered a Gucci bag for a tenner, you wouldn’t be stupid enough to think there isn’t a catch.
They have to be looking to get reasonable income in other ways on top of the daily rate. That is where the temptation to scam comes in.
Minimise Risk of Being Scammed
My advice based on those reports we receive is twofold.
First, look casual. Do not let the office see you are late for a flight home, or that some very unhelpful customs staff and a misbehaving child have you on the brink of going postal. If you are using a scamming office these are signs that will flag you as a mark. It will not hurt to drop a little white lie that you are actually staying with friends who live here, thereby giving you a little more clout, and them a little more fear of comeback.
Second, if possible do not choose the airport offices. All of the big companies and many independents have offices in every area of the island. In the local areas the car hire firm have a reputation to uphold. They will not want a stream of people going back to the local hotels with complaints. Plus you will not have that same sense of airport vulnerability. And if you are using these hyper-cheap sites you will often get a much better price during high season if you select an office away from the airport.
I will not say for a moment that these steps will remove the risk of any problems, but they may shift the odds in your favour.
I do have one suggestion that will significantly reduce the risk of a rental rip-off.
Don’t use these hyper-cheap sites to book your car hire.
Accept that the prices are just too good to be true, and if you are spending a few thousand on a holiday, do you really want the hassle of such a tawdry experience at the start and end?
Go old-school. Check in to your hotel and ask the receptionist who they can recommend. Choose to ask the oldest/most experienced receptionist if possible. They may not have the biggest painted smile, but like a good concierge they will know where to get the best of everything locally. Yes you will pay a few euros more than on the hyper-cheap website, but you can relax in the knowledge that you are renting from somebody who has an established relationship with your hotel, and you are paying a rate that doesn’t force them into needing to work out how than can scame more money from you. Every car hire firm in the area will want the business of your hotel. Yes the receptionist will get a few euros kick back, but what is wrong with that? It will be the equivalent of a drink or two, nothing more, however if there is one thing tourist hotel receptionists do not want it is more problems. They will not send you to someone that creates problems for them.
Get What You Pay For
And perhaps think of car hire as you would when booking your hotel. I can guarantee that I could show you hotels in Ibiza where you could save huge amounts of money on your accomodation too. But trust me, you wouldn’t want to stay in them.
Nor do you want to spend the flight home in the knowledge that you have, or may have been, right royally ripped off on your way to the airport and wondering if you will ever see that promised 360€ they said they would return once this ‘little misunderstanding’ had been resolved.
I can answer that question for you; you won’t.
Read the full Which report here.