Sunday 22 September 2019

'I was charged €849 for damage I didn't cause' - Car rental customers call on Ryanair to investigate complaints

Margaret and John Billington were charged €849 for the marks on the rear bumper and boot lid
Margaret and John Billington were charged €849 for the marks on the rear bumper and boot lid
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

RYANAIR passengers are calling on the airline to investigate how car rental companies advertised on its website are charging customers hundreds of euro for scuff marks and scratches.

Some customers who rented cars through CarTrawler, Ryanair's car hire provider, have highlighted incidents where they were charged over €800 for minor scratches and marks which they claim they didn't cause.

Advertisements for various car rental companies appear on Ryanair's website as part of its new car hire service.

Last summer, CarTrawler suspended the services of car rental company Green Motion on the airline's website after Independent.ie exposed a number of horror experiences by customers.

The travel technology company has now resumed the services of Green Motion on Ryanair's website after the company "changed its processes".

However, customers continue to complain of incidents where they were charged hundreds of euro for minor marks by other companies.

Margaret and John Billington recently booked a flight to Dublin Airport and hired a car with Europcar through Ryanair's website.

When they returned the vehicle they were charged €849 for marks on the rear bumper and boot lid.

"We collected the car at ten minutes to midnight and returned the car at midday on a Thursday," Mrs Billington said.

"We drove to Leitrim and drove back to the airport and when we were not driving, the car was parked on my home drive with no other vehicle in the vicinity. There is no way it was damaged by us, so we can't understand how it amounted to over €800."

Mrs Billington said the experience "took the good out of" their trip to Ireland and has made them reluctant to hire a car again.

"I wrote a review on their website when I returned after they refused to refund us and I was shocked by how many people have had similar experiences," she said.

In a statement to Independent.ie, Europcar said the vehicle damage was assessed by a third-party expert from the Society of Irish Motor Industry (SIMI).

It also claimed the car had no damage when inspected following the previous rental.

"As the vehicle was collected approaching midnight, Europcar’s agent confirmed that there was a 12 hour amnesty to identify any further pre-existing vehicle damage beyond what was noted on the rental agreement and notify Europcar Ireland if damage was found.

"The rear bumper and boot lid damage for which the customer was charged was not recorded on the vehicle’s rental agreement, and we did not receive any contact during the designated time period to highlight the damage.

"SIMI independently assessed the cost of repair.  The cost that has been charged will be upheld."

A Ryanair spokesperson directed queries to CarTrawler, who said the company takes "customer service extremely seriously with all our car rental partners".

"Green Motion UK remained suspended from our platform for a three-month period while service issues were addressed. Throughout this time Green Motion International continued to engage with CarTrawler to keep us informed of their change in processes and all new implementations being put in place. Only when we were satisfied that these changes were rolled out to the UK network, did we reinstate their content on the CarTrawler platform.

"In addition, at CarTrawler we are continually monitoring CSAT, Complaints and insurance claims with all suppliers. We endeavour to work closely with our car rental partners to ensure the service provided is at an acceptable level for our customers."

A number of people have previously issued complaints to Ryanair about car rental companies experiences and were told Ryanair Car Hire is an "introductory service" and as a result, "we are unable to investigate damage charges with our car rental partners directly."

If you have had a negative car rental experience and wish to highlight it, email amolloy@independent.ie

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