Book a hire car well in advance, warns the OCU. / sur

Spanish consumer organisation warns of rental car shortage this summer

Answering a survey from the OCU about their experiences of car hire in Spain, 35% of respondents said they had had a problem with the rental company

SUSANA ZAMORA Madrid

The Consumers and Users Organisation (OCU) is warning that there may be problems when trying to hire a car in Spain again this year, as there were last summer.

In 2021, because of the pandemic, many companies were forced to sell some of their fleets in order to keep going, and now the lack of microchips means they are finding it difficult to buy new cars to replace the ones that were sold.

For this reason, the OCU is advising people to book their hire car well in advance, pointing out that many companies offer free cancellation until close to the date the rental is due to begin, and it also recommends that those thinking of renting a car carefully compare prices and conditions online before selecting a company.

Insurance

Although many people prefer to take out additional insurance, the OCU also says no company can force clients to do so. It is, however, advisable, as 7% of users have accidents or incidents while driving their rental car. “In any case, if you are going to rent a car, check how much excess they stipulate: it is not unusual for companies to demand over 1,000 euros from clients if they are involved in an accident or anything happens to the car,” say sources.

It seems that general satisfaction with car hire companies is closely linked with the transparency of the contract, the clarity of the invoice and the level of assistance if needed. It is clear that not all companies respond as well as others if problems arise.

Problems

Answering a survey from the OCU about their experiences of car hire in Spain, 35% said they had had a problem with the company. The most common problems were as follows:

- 19% were obliged to take out extra insurance to stop the company blocking a large sum of money from their credit card as a guarantee.

-15% noticed damage to the car which had not been noted in the initial inventory when they collected the vehicle.

-9% said the car they were given was worse than the one they had booked.

-Another 9% said their final invoice included services they had not contracted.

However, despite all this, the OCU says here are very few accidents or incidents with hire cars. It only occurs in 7% of rentals, and paradoxically, in more than 70% of cases, the clients had taken out extra insurance to cover any damage.