Rip-off car rental excesses? Beat the system

I’m so fed up with car rental companies, who still seem take plenty of joy (in a business concept that’s now well over 100 years old) from milking customers of every last possible morsel of extra cash at every single opportunity.

Renting a vehicle today remains an absolute chore at best and at worst resembles downright daylight robbery. It’s one of my very least favourite things to do…and its happy smiling industry advertising and marketing face tells a very different story to the reality of turning up at a car rental desk and then being strong-armed by the ‘customer service agents’ to bend over and drop your financial trousers.

Sure, there’s always a lure that got you there – an attractive base rental price wrapped in a convenience message; but the sweetness of every original good-looking internet deal is completely and immediately soured at the pick-up point with the insidious aiming and thrusting of the insurance add-on’s directed at the often tired, unfamiliar and baffled customer from across the so-called ‘welcome’ desk…

“You might want to consider the windscreen excess?” “Then there’s the tyre damage insurance?” “The CDW (Collision Waiver Damage) cover?” “The theft loss waiver?” “What about a Super Waiver Liability?” “Save yourself a fortune in the event of an accident!”  “Do you have any idea how much it would cost you in the event of not being covered?” “What if someone vandalises the paintwork; you need to be covered” … and so it goes – on and on; browbeating folks into signing away even more cash…which adds up to a large amount of money.

How any industry can still, in this modern age of customer service, get away with this type of pressurised selling is beyond me. Its plain wrong, and serves now only to remind me of the fact that the rental unit itself is a only a by-product; designed to screw the maximum amount of cash possible from our wallets and purses. It’s only because we, as customers are confronted with such tactics when we are at our most unfamiliar, tired and vulnerable, that we meekly acquiesce to such fear-driven tactical selling and often, albeit reluctantly, agree.

Taking excess insurance cover at the point-of-sale (and there’s a good reason they call both of those things that) will often end up costing you a great deal more than the cost of the vehicle rental itself! It’s ridiculous!

Thankfully I’ve just discovered that it’s all completely unnecessary, and avoidable.

It’s time to stop being screwed, and learn what no car rental company wants you to know. You can avoid forking out more than the cost of the rental itself by simply self-insuring before you rent. Look; it involves even more insurance… but at a mere fraction of those options offered by the bully-boys themselves.

Having been told this by a travelling colleague who’d previously discovered the alternative, I merely googled ‘car rental excess insurance products’ and was amazed at the sheer number of really cool options. I bought one of these; an annual policy… covering all the excess insurances I’ve ever been offered every time I normally rent; at the sum total of less than the cost of one excess offering on one singe rental – and turned up at the next airport car-rental office waving it in the face of the salesman. He didn’t like it…but there was nothing he could do but accept it. Strike one back for consumers everywhere!

Look; there is a downside – if something does happen to your rental unit, you still pay for damage repairs, but then you simply claim everything back.

And nor is this a scam; googling several journalists who’ve done exactly this I’ve discovered some very happy people. The process works. And always leaves me with a massive smile on my face.

Do it for yourself – and take back control!

One last thing… to avoid the other famous car-rental scam of later claiming you damaged a car when in reality you didn’t… I’ve also learned to video the whole car, for two or three minutes when in situ at the depot, on both pick-up and return, with a member of the car rental company present and seen in the video. The wheels, rims, side-mirrors, any bodily scratches as well as the front and rear windscreens are dutifully filmed and held in reserve for any later spurious claim to be safely and properly repudiated. The car rental guys don’t seem to like this very much – but I believe it’s saved me a fortune. And it will do the same for you.

Call me pedantic – but I refuse to be ripped off.