/ Motoring, Travel & Leisure

Have you had a car hire nightmare?

Car hire sign

Hiring a car on holiday should be stress free and easy, and for most of us it is. But all too often unexpected charges when we pick the car up or drop it off at the airport can turn this into a nightmare.

This happened to my sister-in-law last month. She returned her car in the same state that she’d hired it in, apart from a miniscule pockmark on the wing caused by the road surface which she explained to the hire company.

On returning home, she was faced with a £300 charge for the damage. After disputing this with her credit card company, she managed to get the money back. But it would’ve been much better if she hadn’t been charged in the first place.

Car hire scams and rip-offs

Whether they’re scams or not, car hire firms have plenty of ways to extract extra money from us once we’re at the point of picking up our hire car.

Which? members have told us about the unauthorised and unexplained payments in the hundreds of pounds appearing on their statements once they return home. We’ve also heard from people who’ve been forced to buy extra insurance or breakdown cover even though they’re already covered.

We’ve had stories sent to us about the fictional damage people have been unexpectedly charged for when the car was already covered in scratches when it was picked up.

We’ve seen 25% mark-ups in the price of fuel, when compared to the local price. And we all know about the expensive nightmare of the ‘pick it up full’ and ‘drop it off empty’ fuel policy.

Tell us about your car hire nightmares

We’ll be featuring car hire in the March edition of Which? Travel, so do tell us about the car hire nightmares you’ve had.

Have you been hit by dubious practices and money making rip offs by car hire companies? How have you avoided being scammed out of your money? And if you were faced with unauthorised charges, what did you do to get your money back?


I hired a car from OK Rent a Car in Palma Mallorca.

DO NOT USE, they are crooks.

I booked an Audi A1, and paid for both the rental and the damage wavier insurance through doyouspain.com. I was collected by the OK Rent a Car minibus from Palma airport and taken to their off airport office. After a long wait in a very busy office I was offered a special offer upgrade to a Range Rover Evoque for €25, which seemed like a good deal so I decided to go for it. I also had to pay a €200 deposit for fuel, and was told that if I return the car full then I wouldn’t have to pay any of their extortionate refuelling charges.

So I returned the car full of fuel, and was told by the man inspecting the cars that I would receive my €200 refund within a few days.

On checking my bank account they have only refunded £59.64 out of the £199.04 that they took from my card which included the €25 upgrade. So with the conversion rates they still owe me €133.

I called their customer service number, where the operator first said that the upgrade was €45 (I would not have paid this much, and their figures don’t add up anyway). She then changed her story to say that it was €75 for the upgrade (which still didn’t add up). When I argued this she put me on hold for ages.

So I called their Palma airport office, where the man I spoke to started saying that I was supposed to return the vehicle empty of fuel, which is in complete contrast to what I was told by his colleague. When I argued this he hung up.

Norman says:
10 August 2017

Avoid Europe Car hire who have twice tried there insurance scam on me trying to say I had not brought the car back in the same condition received and another time texting me after I handed back their car to inform me I had been in an accident. Most of all, avoid “Do you Spain”.
Enough said

Gabriel Gidlow says:
14 March 2019

Yes I totally agree Avoid Europcar [edited] They conned me into paying £22 per day even though I showed them the excess policy I had taken out prior to travelling I have tried to get a refund but realise I am kidding myself

Moderator’s note – this comment has been edited to remove potentially defamatory content. Please make sure you abide by the Community guidelines when commenting.