We’ve been contacted by yet another visitor to the island who has been caught out by booking what appeared to be a cheap car hire deal, only to find the price was then laden with “Extras" once they arrived to collect it from the airport.
The practice seems common across Spain, and it’s not actually illegal – I’ve checked the terms and conditions of the hire company in this latest situation and they are quite clear. Sadly, very few people read the small print before committing themselves.
The extra costs generally fall into these categories:
Here’s an example:
The damage insurance (CDW) does not include damage to tyres, wheel rims, hubcaps, interior of the vehicle, wing mirrors, rear view mirror, car glass, locks, undercarriage, clutch, engine, sump, catalytic converter and radiator. Also not included are battery recharge, loss of keys, towtruck, taxi transfer after an accident, deposit for vehicle replacement and compensation for lost rental days while the vehicle is being repaired. It is possible to take out additional insurance to partially or fully cover these exclusions. Please keep in mind that if you do not hire any additional insurance, you must make a deposit of €300 which will be blocked from your credit card.
Wheels and tyres seem fair enough to me, but when you add in Engine, sump, catalytic converter, interior, glass, mirrors (Need I go on?) then that doesn’t actually leave much that’s covered, does it? And then there’s the last line – don’t want to pay extra to cover all these things? Fine, we’ll need a €300 deposit from you..
Here’s what the small print says:
ORDINARY FULL/EMPTY OPTION
Customers who choose this option pay for a full fuel tank at the XXXXX facilities, at the market price for fuel of the type recommended by the vehicle's manufacturer.
By selecting this option, customers waive a refund for any fuel remaining in the tank when they return the vehicle.
XXXXX provides this service at competitive fuel prices as a courtesy to our customers.
“Choosing the option" is a bit naughty because you can only opt out of this if your hire is for less than three days.
If the line “Competitive fuel prices" was true it wouldn’t be too bad, but according to our reader, he was charged €70 for a tank full of fuel on a Fiat Punto. The Punto holds 47 Litres, so at today’s prices on the island, the most you could squeeze into a petrol Punto would be around €50. If it was diesel, it would be cheaper still.
And it’s pretty hard to use a full tank of fuel on a small island like this in a few days, so we suspect that most cars are returned with quite a bit of fuel on board. How often does this particular company add €25 of fuel to the car and then charge the next poor customer another €70?
There are plenty of other extras that some companies charge for, where the more reputable include them. Here are some examples:
- Additional drivers at €4 per day
- Child seats at €4.50 per day
- Diesel vehicle (and you don’t get to choose if you want one or not!) charged at €2 extra per day
- €35 extra if you are collecting your car outside normal office hours
After the hire
Up to €150 at XXXX’s discretion for SPECIAL CLEANING when the state in which a vehicle is returned requires a thorough valeting and cleaning.
We haven’t yet heard of this charge being applied here in Lanzarote, but we’ve found some instances online where people have been charged this fee on the mainland. Whilst we can understand that if a car is handed back really dirty, it may be fair enough to charge a clean to the client, €150 is ridiculously high.
Who to use in Lanzarote
Of course, we’d recommend our friends at Plus Car – we’ve been doing so for years now, and you’ve been telling us ever since how good they are.
They have decent cars, they don’t charge extra for additional drivers, child seats or insurance (which is excess free). Their fuel policy is simple and fair – you return the car with the same fuel that was in it when you collected it. They don’t insist on credit cards, they don’t take deposits from you, and they work hard to make sure every client is happy and keeps coming back.
If you don’t want to fall prey to any of the tactics mentioned above, then ask us for a quote here: Lanzarote Car Hire