Car rental experiences

This item appears on page 59 of the January 2011 issue.
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I agree with the travelers who take digital pictures of their rental cars upon picking them up (Sept. ’10, pg. 40). I do so, myself, and although I have returned cars with a scratch or two it has never been an issue.

I have found that rental cars tend to be inspected more thoroughly at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports than they are at the less-well-known airports (e.g., Bristol), where the return inspections have been cursory or nonexistent. I do get a “prerental” damage description from the rental agent.

We rented a car at and returned it to Heathrow in June 2010. The return inspection was quite thorough.

We also rented from and returned a car to Marseille airport in France in September-October 2010, then rented another in Marseille, returning it to Bordeaux airport, in October 2010. In both cases, the inspections were minimal.

I always rent cars with my American Express card and decline the rental company’s CDW rates. This has paid off more than once.

In Carcassonne, France, in 2003 I hit a pothole. The car had extensive damage to the rear suspension and a rear tire was destroyed. After we returned to the US, Europcar sent me a bill for the repairs, which I promptly forwarded to American Express, who took care of the whole matter and kept me informed along the way.

Europcar later sent me a bill for “loss of service” of the damaged vehicle. Again, American Express handled the matter, informing Europcar that they would pay only if Europcar could demonstrate that more than 90% (I believe) of their fleet was currently rented. The matter was dropped.

Incidentally, I do not rent directly with the major car companies in Europe because their rates generally are high. For many years now I have rented through Rob Liddiard Travel (6903 Babcock Ave., North Hollywood, CA 91605; 800/272-3299 or 818/982-0149, e-mail bonvoyagebycar@yahoo.com). Rob rents through Kemwel at very attractive rates, which he passes on to his customers.

Our recent Heathrow and Marseille-to-Bordeaux rentals were made through Rob Liddiard.

BOB DEAR

The Woodlands, TX

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

I agree with the travelers who take digital pictures of their rental cars upon picking them up (Sept. ’10, pg. 40). I do so, myself, and although I have returned cars with a scratch or two it has never been an issue.

I have found that rental cars tend to be inspected more thoroughly at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports than they are at the less-well-known airports (e.g., Bristol), where the return inspections have been cursory or nonexistent. I do get a “prerental” damage description from the rental agent.

We rented a car at and returned it to Heathrow in June 2010. The return inspection was quite thorough.

We also rented from and returned a car to Marseille airport in France in September-October 2010, then rented another in Marseille, returning it to Bordeaux airport, in October 2010. In both cases, the inspections were minimal.

I always rent cars with my American Express card and decline the rental company’s CDW rates. This has paid off more than once.

In Carcassonne, France, in 2003 I hit a pothole. The car had extensive damage to the rear suspension and a rear tire was destroyed. After we returned to the US, Europcar sent me a bill for the repairs, which I promptly forwarded to American Express, who took care of the whole matter and kept me informed along the way.

Europcar later sent me a bill for “loss of service” of the damaged vehicle. Again, American Express handled the matter, informing Europcar that they would pay only if Europcar could demonstrate that more than 90% (I believe) of their fleet was currently rented. The matter was dropped.

Incidentally, I do not rent directly with the major car companies in Europe because their rates generally are high. For many years now I have rented through Rob Liddiard Travel (6903 Babcock Ave., North Hollywood, CA 91605; 800/272-3299 or 818/982-0149, e-mail bonvoyagebycar@yahoo.com). Rob rents through Kemwel at very attractive rates, which he passes on to his customers.

Our recent Heathrow and Marseille-to-Bordeaux rentals were made through Rob Liddiard.

BOB DEAR

The Woodlands, TX