Rental Car Scratch
September 7, 2009 9:55 AM   Subscribe

Ever scratch a rental car in Europe?

Relatively minor bumper scratch. Looking over the paperwork, it appears I've screwed up and not purchased the coverage I intended to, so I'm assuming I'll have to pay (and there's no need to discuss that further, lesson learned). Credit card coverage not active. I do have US insurance, no access to the policy wording right now.

How much did it cost you? Online travel forums have interesting answers, but they tend to attract the most unhappy examples. Question anonymous just in case there's a dispute pending. Thanks.
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total)
Depends on who you rent with, and where.

A lot of the smaller, local players will try and screw you. There are lots of cases from Italy and Spain where franchisees make you pay fairly hefty amounts for small dinks.

The bigger players - especially where they are non-franchised - go a little easier.

I've just returned a car to one of the bigger players where Mrs MM had managed to scrape a load of metal off one of the hubcabs. Thus far, a week after returning it, we haven't been charged.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:01 AM on September 7, 2009

Also, although this is probably not helpful after the event, you can buy 3rd party insurance that covers the excess that hire car companies always want to charge you $10 a day for.

Depending on where you're from and how often you go abroad, it can be very cost effective.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:03 AM on September 7, 2009

I've just returned a car to one of the bigger players where Mrs MM had managed to scrape a load of metal off one of the hubcabs. Thus far, a week after returning it, we haven't been charged.
What do they make the hubcaps out of over there, Aluminum foil? I rented a car in England once and just barely grazed the curb (or "kerb," as it were). The hubcap looked like a piece of paper someone had scrunched up in their hand. I hadn't bought the additional scratch and ding coverage and thought for sure they'd charge me for a full new set of hubcaps. Or worse. I lucked out and it was pouring rain when I returned the car; the clerk said "I'm not going out in this!" and signed me out without inspecting the car.

However, once I got home and related the story to family members, my Mom reminded me that I'd paid by credit card, and they would probably just charge me for the damage later. But they never did. So either they didn't think the hubcap damage was that bad, or maybe they weren't allowed to because the clerk hadn't inspected the car immediately after I returned it. I wish you luck with this!
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:14 AM on September 7, 2009

Check your US policy, but when this happened to us our US policy did not cover outside of the USA. Credit card protection in these cases is sometimes there but iffy.
posted by arniec at 10:36 AM on September 7, 2009

Four years ago I returned an Opel Astra to Europcar with a giant dent behind the right rear wheel. They didn't care. Three years ago I returned a Peugeot 407 to Europcar with a bunch of scratches on one of the mirror pods. They didn't care. Two years ago I returned a Citro├źn C3 ditto, plus a broken cargo-partition-thingy. They didn't care. I pointed them out on return, and never had a question or charge about any of these little faux pas - the worst I got was a charming Gallic shrug. (All the damage except the broken cargo partition happened while the car was parked and I wasn't around.)
posted by jet_silver at 9:48 PM on September 7, 2009

Good lord, dozens of times.
I've also returned cars with multiple dents and creases in the body panels courtesy of a tricky fence/brick wall combo at the end of my corporate house's driveway, chipped windshields, and on one memorable occasion, a blown tire that we'd replaced with the full-size spare on the side of the motorway while conducting a conference call.
One of my dimmer colleagues left his car in gear and drove into the wall of a parkade when he started it back up, screwing the hood up so that it wouldn't close.
These were mostly in England, mostly from large groups like Avis and Europcar, and we never heard anything back from them.

There's a chance that you'll be charged for it later, but it's highly unlikely. We did used to return the cars dirty if we'd done particularly egregious damage to the paint, but that's about it.
posted by Kreiger at 3:27 AM on September 8, 2009

I was in France and dinged a car up twice and they charged me 3500 francs. It wasn't real bad either. C'est la vie!
posted by bravowhiskey at 10:36 AM on September 8, 2009

Avis tried to ding us ~400 Euros, for a dinged windshield. We protested until they removed the charge. The price was for replacement, in spite of the fact that repair is preferable with windshields. Also, we believed strongly it didn't happen while we had the car. We picked it up in the rain, on a busy street. Now, we always inspect cars carefully, when renting.

Another time, I discovered the passenger door of a rental was seriously wrinkled (and rusted in the wrinkle) only after I had driven it and stopped at a rest area. I noticed when I returned to the car. I freaked out! (I was 20-something then). But they let it pass without a problem. I was doing a dead-head for them, because I'd missed a flight (long story), returning a car from DC back to NYC.
posted by Goofyy at 6:59 AM on September 10, 2009

Oh, should have added, the windshield problem was in Germany.
posted by Goofyy at 6:59 AM on September 10, 2009

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