Your rights when renting a car abroad
Renting a car abroad is easy and flexible, but also gives rise to many complaints. Here are some tips on how to avoid the typical problems, and what to do if you want to make a complaint.
Familiarise yourself with the rental agreement and the terms and conditions of the agreement in advance
If the rental agreement and contract terms are in a local language you do not understand, insist on an agreement in a language you understand, for example in English. However, you cannot expect to receive a rental agreement in Danish.
Pay particular attention to the sections of the rental agreement that deal with these conditions:
- Unfortunately, if you sign up to purchase extra insurance that you do not want, you do not have a strong legal position if you later want to make a complaint in this regard because the evidence is against you.
- The driver of the car must be present. In many cases, the person named as the driver of the car in the rental agreement is also required to be present when the rental agreement is signed and the car key is handed over. In some cases, the driver of the car must be the person paying for the car rental.
- Use of the same credit card when booking and picking up the car. In many rental agreements, the same credit card used for payment online must be presented when collecting the rental car. If you cannot or do not want to do so, you risk being rejected.
- Accidents and engine problems. You should take note of the procedure in the event of accident or engine problems in advance. If you do not follow the procedure, you may be left with a bill for service, repair, transportation and so on. For example, in many cases a police report must be recorded in the event of a traffic accident. Ask the sales representative if you have are unsure about anything.
Read through the insurance terms before picking up your rental car
When you rent a car, it is your responsibility to make sure that you have the necessary insurance that covers, for example, material damage, personal injury and/or liability when renting a car abroad.
Before you book a rental car, you should check whether you already have relevant insurance cover. You can then avoid buying insurance you do not need.
Remember that the person behind the counter is a sales representative. Keep your cool and stand firm if you are faced with demands to take out insurance or extra services that you think are unnecessary, unreasonable or too expensive.
You have the right to an explanation of what is covered by the insurance, what types of damages are covered, as well as precise information about the excess. (“Excess” is the English word for “selvrisiko”).
Make sure you leave plenty of time for picking up your rental car
Even though you may have travelled by plane and are a little impatient, it is important that you stay focused when you are in the car rental company’s office picking up your rental car.
- Bring a printout of your online order
- Check that the terms and conditions and price of the contract match before you sign anything
- Save a copy of all documents you sign
- Never sign an agreement in a language you do not understand.
Check the rental car thoroughly for scratches and dents
It is important that you prioritise checking the car thoroughly for any scratches and damage on the outside and inside, even though you may feel that you have already spent enough time at the airport car rental counter.
It is also a good idea to ask a representative of the rental company to accompany you to the car with a paper copy of a sketch of a car. This makes it easy to indicate the places on the car where there are dents, for example.
Make sure you get the rental company’s representative to acknowledge any damages and note the date and time with both your and the sales representative’s signature on the paper. Also, take clear pictures of the paper with the date and signatures, and take photos documenting any damage to the car.
Bring an international credit card
Most car rental companies require you to pay with a credit card so they can reserve an amount on the card. You should therefore always carry an international credit card, for example MasterCard, VISA credit card, Diners or Eurocard and not just a VISA/Dankort when you rent a car.
Not all car rental companies accept VISA/Dankort, even if you used your VISA/Dankort when you booked the car online. In many other countries, VISA/Dankort is considered a debit card rather than a credit card.
This is relevant because the car rental company requires a credit card for payment or as security for any damage, both in the agreement entered into online and upon hand over of the car.
Some consumers have found that the car rental company at the destination demands that they purchase extra insurance to rent the car because the consumer only has a VISA/Dankort. In some cases, the car rental company has refused to hand over a rental car to customers who did not have a credit card.
At forbrug.dk you can see an overview of credit cards and debit cards in Danish.
When returning the rental car
It is a very good idea to fill up the fuel tank before returning the car if this is part of the agreement. This can pay off because you have to pay a higher price if the rental company has to refuel the car.
You should also plan to drop off the car during the car rental company’s opening hours. Make sure you have plenty of time to check over the car with the rental company’s representative. Use the paper showing any existing damage that you filled out when picking up the car. If you miss your flight due to a queue at the car rental company, you risk having to pay for a new flight ticket yourself.
Record the kilometres and fuel quantity in the tank and take pictures of the car – preferably as thoroughly as possible. This will help you if you later have to refuse a claim for damages for which you are not responsible. Ask for a final report where any damage is noted, signed by the rental company’s representative.
If you have to return the car outside opening hours, it is a good idea to take some pictures of the car with the date displayed as proof that it was returned in good condition. You should also send an email to the car rental company stating that the car has been returned, with indication of the time.
If you return the rental car late, the rental company may demand payment for the day or days by which the rental period has been exceeded.
When you rent a car abroad, there are also a number of conditions you should be aware of that may not be mentioned in the rental agreement or the rental conditions:
- Keep an eye on your bank account over the first few months after you return home. If the car rental company deducts an amount you disagree with, respond immediately by contacting the car rental company in writing and contact your bank to ask what options you have for disputing a card payment.
- The banks typically have short deadlines for disputing card payments so it is important that you do not remain passive if you disagree with any amounts deducted from your account. At nets.dk you can read about your options for disputing payments made with a VISA/Dankort.
- If you, as the driver of a rental car, violate traffic rules or violate other legislation, you may risk receiving a payment demand up to several years later. This is because there may be different limitation periods for fines, fees and charges in EU countries.
What should I do if I want to make a complaint about car rental?
- Find out who to complain to
- Send a written complaint to the relevant party as soon as possible
- Make sure you can prove you have made a complaint
Find out who to complain to
It is a good idea to read the terms of the agreement and the booking confirmation if you want to know who to complain to should a problem arise.
If you have rented a car directly from the car rental company, you need to complain to them.
Send a written complaint as soon as possible – and provide documentation
In order to have the greatest possible chance of a successful outcome, you must send a written complaint to the company that issued the rental agreement and took payment for the car rental as soon as possible. You can, for example, send an email explaining the situation and your complaint. Attach relevant documents and files.
If you make a complaint via a complaint form on the car rental company’s or the booking portal’s website, save a copy so that you can document your complaint. For example, you can take a screenshot before clicking Send.
If your complaint is not successful, you may be able to get help from the relevant complaints board or appeals board. You can also contact European Consumer Centre Denmark and get free advice and complaint guidance.
How can I prepare before renting a car?
When you start researching the options for renting a car abroad, it is important that you spend time finding a car rental company that you trust.
Among other things, consider these points when you take a closer look at the different car rental companies:
- Where is the car rental company located?
- What do other customers say about the car rental company?
- Can you get a good overview of car types and prices etc. on the website?
- Do you get the impression that the car rental company is customer-friendly, for example with regard to terms, language, opening hours, contact information, etc.?
Once you have found the car you would like to rent, pay attention to what you are paying for. Read through with the car rental company’s terms and conditions.
Look for answers to the following:
- Does the car rental company require a credit card when handing over the car?
- Is there a requirement for the driver to pay with their credit card?
- Who will stated as the driver of the car on the contract?
- Active opt-in or out selection of, for example, GPS, extra driver, extra kilometres and not least insurance?
- Whether you have to pay, for example, a deposit, advance or the entire cost in advance?
- Where do you need to pick up the car? You may not be able to pick up your rental car at the airport
- Who do you need you contact if there is an accident, if you get a fine or a parking ticket?
- Where do you need to drop off the car? You risk additional charges if you do not show up at the right place at the right time.
If you cannot find precise information on the website, then you should contact the car rental company.
What should I be aware of if I rent a car on a booking portal?
If you use a booking portal that compares car rental prices, you must be aware of what the booking site is responsible for when you rent a car.
In some cases, the booking portal facilitates contact directly to the car rental company’s website. In other cases, you rent the car through the booking portal’s website. This is an important difference that you need to be aware of. This also applies to the purchase of other travel services such as airline tickets and hotels.
Other rules may also apply in the country in which they are domiciled, and you may risk becoming a pawn between the booking portal and the car rental company should any problems arise.
Pay particular attention to whether you need to contact the booking portal or the car rental company in the event that a problem arises in connection with your rental car. You can read this in the “General terms and conditions” before booking.
There are several booking portals that facilitate contact with the car rental company and specify that they are not responsible for the car rental itself. As intermediaries, they are solely responsible for facilitating contact with the company renting the car.
It is therefore a good idea to carefully read the terms and conditions of the agreement and any other stipulations that may be important to you in connection with car rental. If a conflict arises after completion of the car rental, it can be difficult to figure out which company you need to make a complaint to.
You should research the market and your options before entering into an agreement with an intermediary.
What should I do if I do not want to sign the rental agreement, but the car rental company is pressuring me to do so?
As a rule, you should refrain from signing an agreement that you do not agree with. Therefore, as far as possible, you should not give in, even if you feel pressured to sign the agreement and feel that you have no other options.
Instead, you should phone the car rental company’s head office. If you have booked the rental car through an intermediary, for example a booking portal or a tour operator, you could also phone or write to them.
It is important that you act immediately while still in the car rental office or at the airport rental counter. If you do not protest on the spot and make the calls immediately, it can be perceived as acceptance of the situation.
If you have not made an immediate complaint, this may make it more difficult to make a successful complaint.
It can seem awkward to protest, especially if you have arrived late and just want to continue your journey. But it is even more difficult to proceed with a case if you have signed anything and have otherwise only communicated orally with the company/companies.
Save a copy of all documents you sign.
Is there a joint complaints board in the EU where I can complain about a car rental company?
If you have problems with car rental in Europe, in many cases you can complain to a complaints board for European rental companies, with which many car rental companies are affiliated. In principle, the car rental companies will accept decisions made by the complaints board.
Read more about the complaints board at ecrcs.com
A rental agreement will sometimes contain information on how to make a complaint. If not, you can ask the car rental company for information on how to make a complaint.
If you are in doubt about who to complain to, it is a good idea to write to the companies you have been in contact with in connection with your car rental. Ask for a written response regarding who you should file a complaint with.