I'm on holiday this week in Christchurch staying on after Saturday's Geekzone pizza evening. My partner hasn't been to the South Island before, and since redjungle hasn't either, we dragged him and his better half along with us. The four of us are really enjoying the sights here in Christchurch.
To make transport easier for the week, we opted for a hire car. I researched a dozen different options, and picked a hire company with a good web special. After a couple of friendly emails regarding pickup times and multiple drivers, I was satisfied that we were going to have a trouble-free hire.
I was wrong.
My first red flag was the early phone call on Friday morning. Even though I had entered my credit card online when booking the car, they would not charge me - I was advised they couldn't as it was illegal to without the card and the card holder present. Why take my credit card number at booking if you won't bill me? What is the point?
My suspicions are they can't accept Card Not Present (CNP) transactions for whatever reason. If you can't bill my credit card, don't require it at booking as it serves no purpose. The reason I enter my credit card with other companies is to speed up the pickup process - I can sign the paperwork, grab the keys and be on my merry way.
The second and more major issue came with the optional insurance.
I regularly hire cars for business trips, and am well familiar with how the insurance works. The excess for a rental car is high, and you can select to reduce the excess; this does increases the overall hire charge but if you are concerned about the high excess it's a good option to go for.
Since we weren't going for the reduced excess, Euro Car wanted to put a hold on a credit card for the total excess amount - $2,813.50! - to be released when we returned the car. When we declined this, the only other option was to pay an extra $220 to reduce the excess to $500, and they would only hold $500. This increased the cost of the car to a level where we would've been better to talk to one of the hire car companies actually based at Christchurch airport. I could understand if all the drivers were under 25 with driving convictions but we are all over 25 with clean driving records.
I have never had this issue with Thrifty (my normal car hire company). The rental agreement stipulates that if an accident occurs you are liable for the excess, plus they have your credit card number and drivers license details on file - this is sufficient. I'm not sure how many people have $2,800 on their credit card spare, that's not already allocated as actual holiday spending money.
Thanks Euro Car Rental, it's the first and last time we'll be using you. Buck up your ideas and get with the standard practices that the other major industry players have. Holding the complete excess on a credit card is unfair when you already have the contracts you require in place. Also bill the credit card at the time of booking - it's ridiculous to not be able to, plus you get your money straight away - you seem to be trigger happy with credit card holds, so you should be able to do this.
I've learnt my lesson - stick with companies who actually want your business (should've gone with Thrifty.)
P.s. If you're in Christchurch and want to catch-up over a beer with redjungle and I this week, flick me a PM. Your shout of course :)
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