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How Irish car hire companies are not improving Irish Tourism... By Philip Suter

After renting cars in different countries over the years, it appears that the Irish car hire companies are always trying to find ways of gaining additional revenue for their customers and this cannot be helpful to the tourist market.

For the past thirty years my family and I have been visiting Ireland and hiring cars. We would fly to Dublin and visit relatives.

Comparing the experience to renting in other countries I have always felt that when I booked the rental there would be a lot of additional charges suddenly materializing. Since the Internet became the common way to make a booking this situation has not changed.

Many car hire companies based near Dublin Airport make an additional charge of around €28 so you can collect your car from Dublin Airport where most renters will arrive, I have also come across companies who have depots and offices in other parts of Dublin City who also add on this airport collection fee even though you are nowhere near the airport!

Another charge that can be added on is a charge from taking the car from the Republic to Northern Ireland and visa versa. This can cost in the region of €25 and they claim this for extending the AA breakdown coverage. The AA operates all over Ireland it seems very strange that additional charges should apply.

Car rental companies naturally like to sell car hire excess insurance. When you hire a car the car rental company will normally find that the car rental agreement normally includes cover for Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and Theft. However you are still liable for the Excess on the Collision Damage Waiver.

When the customer collects the car from the car rental dealer, they will normally be charged on a Daily basis. The customer has the right to accept or decline the car rental companies Excess. If they do decline, they will be responsible for the excess charges if they have any damage to the vehicle. This can be a considerable amount of money.

Car hire companies like to sell this additional insurance and the daily rate can be as high as £10.50 per day. Put that onto a 14 day rental and you will be paying an additional £147 you had not budgeted for. The answer of course is to buy the insurance separately from an insurance company like those advertising on the www.insurance4carrental.com website.

I buy an annual car hire excess policy which is very economical, however I have heard from several sources when renters have told the desk staff of the car hire company in Dublin that they have their own they have been told that it is not valid on their cars or their policy is superior so putting doubt into the renters mind and making them buy additional insurance which is not necessary. I have come across some car hire companies in Ireland who immediately deduct an amount of €500 if you have your own insurance in case there is a claim and they don't have to wait for the insurance company to reimburse the customer.

Fuel is another area where you can incur higher charges. Some car hire companies encourage you to return the car empty and I have even seen stickers on the speedo suggesting that you do that. This means that you are normally paying a refueling charge for the petrol. In many cases they decide at the time of collection how much they are going to charge your credit card with and immediately you have to pay.

If you don't use all the fuel you might not get a refund. Fortunately a lot of Irish car rental companies just "swipe" the credit card details into the system rather like when you go for treatment at a private hospital in the UK and only if there is a releavant charge do they deduct the amount at the end of the hire. As the card has the amount dedcuted immediately (as some company's will do if you don't take their insurance) then you can be out of pocket with currency exchange from the Euro to the £ Sterling or Dollar.

(click on image to enlarge)

On the outskirts of Dublin is the M50 motorway that connects the north and south of the city going around the perimeter with connections for motorways and road going north, north west, west and south west and south east. When it was built they put a toll on the West Link bridge over River Liffey. There were numerous tail backs to the Toll Plazas so in August 2008 a new system was introduced.

It works by number plate recognition and you have to pay by pre-paid method, on line or at various pay points around the country usually in convenience stores or petrol stations.

When you rent a car you do not have to sort out the payments yourself as the car hire companies have an arrangement with eFlow the company that runs the toll. You are then charged back via your credit card when the company receives the eFlow statement. Cars should be charged between €2 and €2.50 per crossing.

My wife rented a car in Dublin in August 2010. She was visiting her family and live some 10km from the airport. The car was a 2008 rather badly scratched car that also had a gear box problem. She was immediately charged €69 for a full tank of fuel and as she had only used about €15 worth filled it up and returned it. The full €69 amount was credited back to our credit card, however there was another charge much later in the month from the car hire company - €4.93.

I wrote to the company and heard nothing, so a couple of week later I emailed them. I immediately got a reply "Good Afternoon, The recent charges of €4.93 as the fee for the M50 toll."

I replied "Thanks for your reply. You might have to check this out with your colleagues in Dublin, if you are responding from another part of the country, but can you tell me if the M50 toll is now located between Drumcondra, Malahide and Portmarnock? I was in Dublin for a few days last week and I don't think it had moved.

Now I would be obliged if you can give me a copy of the exact time that car passed through the Eflow toll or should I have to find this out myself? I would appreciate a reply within the next 24 hours."

The car hire company replied "Good Evening, -Thank you for your reply. If you travelled to Drumcondra, this is located at the end of the M50 meaning you passed the toll bridge. To get exact times of use you will need to contact the toll operators eflow for this information".

I replied "Thanks for your reply. This is getting somewhat stupid. The car is picked up from Dublin Airport. It is driven down the M1 for a couple of kms till it joins the N1. You are in Drumcondra, the other places my wife told me she went to were out to Malahide, Howth and Portmarnock. I personally know the area very well having visited my in-laws in Dublin for over 35 years.

I need to now on what day and at what time that vehicle passed over the M50 toll. I am considering copying this together with my initial letter to the Irish Tourist Board. Problems that tourists and visitors have from Irish based car rental companies cannot be good PR for tourism. This is so important.

Please therefore now provide proof that vehicle at the time is was booked out to her actually passed through the M50 toll."

The company replied again "Thank you for your email .Can you please advise me of the main drivers name and the date of pick up and drop of. The reason I require this information is the booking number you have supplied is not link on our system. Looking forward to hearing from you" .

I replied giving them the information and then received an email and letter electronically saying "We are sorry to learn of your concern regarding the charge applied to your credit card. I have reviewed the charge of €4.93 made on your card after the rental was closed. This charge is a toll fee for the use of the M50 in Dublin.

However, on investigation into the toll it would appear that the toll has been charged on the wrong rental, the vehicle went back out on rent later in the day on the 21st August and it was that customer who incurred the toll. I do sincerely apologise for the error and I have refunded the €4.93 back to your card and it should be reflected within the next 5 working days".

Some people would have accepted that, however knowing how these companies are trying to obtain additional fees even if it is €4.93, I had in fact contacted eFlow the toll company.

"My wife rented a car from XXX 08DXXXX Monday 16th August & Saturday 21st August. XXXX claims it went over the M50 toll, Very strange as she only drove it from Airport to Drumcondra area M1 then N1 & to Malahide, Howth & Portmarnock. Please advise if that car passed over the toll in that time and when, because I believe they are oulling a "fast one". Regards".

They emailed me saying "Thank you for your web message, received by eFlow Customer Services on October 5th 2010. I apologise for the delay in responding to your query. We endeavour to respond to all our customers' queries sent by web message within 24 working hours (Monday - Friday). I wish to confirm that vehicle registration number 08DXXXXX did not travel on the M50 toll road during your rental period, August 16th 2010 to August 21st 2010."

Finally I copied the car rental company in with the eFlow email and my final comment "Thank you for your reply and letter. I have actually just received this email in from eflow. Very interesting your comment stating "the vehicle went back out on rent later in the day on the 21st August and it was that customer who incurred the toll." Below is the email from eflow and as you will see I did not mention the time it was rented from or to."

I did not receive a further reply, just the credit to the credit card, however incidents like this are not good for Irish Tourism when the country needs as many tourists as possible now and if people are feeling that they being ripped off by providers of travel services in Ireland they will tell their friends and won't go back there again.

Companies like Ryan Air and Aer Lingus are strongly promoting Ireland to foreign visitors; however once they land at Dublin Airport some of the car hire companies procedures could ruin the visit. I do hope the situation improves as Ireland needs a good strong tourist industry.

(October 2010 ©jmlpropertyservices - Philip Suter)

N.B. This information should not be relied on for accuracy and is presented here without the responsibility of jml Property Service and the website it is being displayed at. jml property Services 10-10

Editors Note: December 2015 - Since this article was published cars that have been rented in Dublin via Budget in 2015 have not had these cross border additional charges, however you should always check the smal print with the car hire company you are renting from.

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Car hire insurance for Irish residents

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See also:

Car hire rental desk very busy in Dublin, Ireland yesterday - August 2016

No Number 13 in Irish Vehicle Registration Next Year - December 2012

Car Hire Dublin. It is a shame that you cannot always collect the car from the airport itself - October 2012

Car hire – it's too cheap - Car hire companies are undercharging – but then making their profits by forcing renters to buy insurance policies - June 2012

Watchdog: Mis-selling car hire cover at Knock Airport, Ireland - February 2012 and more on this at the Car hire excess insurance blogspot Looks like Irish car rental companies are still mis-selling car hire excess insurance

Following on from the iCahireinsurance article "Dubious Dublin airport car rental staff - November 2011" we have added a summary and extracts and comments on the "Car Hire Excess Blog" and invited readers to comment and add their experiences of problems renting a car in Ireland - Visit the blog article "Focus on Dublin Car Hire Rental Staff - November 2011" Here

Car hire company in Ireland charges for unwanted excess insurance - July 2011

Flying to Ireland and hiring a car can prove cheaper than taking your own car - March 2011

Irish car hire companies are taking visitors for a ride - November 2010

Irish Tourism in 2011 - January 2011

Irish car rental consumer's problem hiring a car in France - December 2009

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