How to spot an unscrupulous rental company

Usually, if you rent from a large company with thorough practices, then you should be generally safe. However, even then, if you don’t follow our guidelines when picking up and dropping off your vehicle, you are eventually going to come unstuck.

When you are dealing with the more lone-ranger style companies with a small fleet of cars, then you really need to be on your guard as these sorts of set-up tend to have no qualms about, and a degree of expertise, in cleaning you out.

Also, in places like LA or London, you might come across luxury vehicle lenders who will lease you Ferraris and other such sports cars. Don’t expect these kind of firms to be any less cowboy than someone lending a NissanMicra. If you clip the underside of the chassis of a Lambo, then expect to be hammered in fees. The company will invariably charge you for the outage time of the vehicle (the time they say they need to repair it) and obviously to do the actually repair job itself. On any top-end vehicle, you will pay through the nose. So a rental that might start at say $5000 could easily end up in the $20000 region before you know it. Some of these high-end rental companies are seasoned experts at ripping off unwitting one-off clients too, so you have been warned.

Also, be aware that if you do rent a sports car in LA, then the chances are you will clip the front of the chassis due to the unevenness of the roads. Beware of any ramps at gas stations or even at some hotels.

In some developing countries, you might come across a car with sign on it saying $40 a day indicating that this car is up for grabs should you want it. Our advice here is leave it. This is clearly a small operation with no standards. They will be making very little money and will obviously be looking for as many ways as possible to monetize, whether they be orthodox or not. You can almost be sure, that by the time you’re done dealing with this kind of “firm”, it will be a lot more than $40 a day and the chances are you might find some hefty hits taken to your credit card months later that you knew nothing about.

Our advice regarding smaller firms is quite simply avoid them! If you have to use a smaller firm, then you must be extremely careful and follow the advice we gave in other sections to the letter regarding collection and dropping off. Also, make sure you give yourself plenty of time when collecting and dropping off.

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