The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), the trade body for the UK car rental industry, is re-issuing its advice for customers to take extra care when confronted with cheap deals for Christmas car hire on the Internet or in the press.
Festive season travellers have been caught out by bogus car hire companies for the last two years year, hoodwinked by their offers of very low prices and nationwide availability right up to Christmas. Many customers handed over deposits of hundreds of pounds for cars that never materialised.
The BVRLA is warning that similar scams could already be up and running this year, targeting unsuspecting travellers.
“These companies offer unbeatable prices and free delivery – but they really are too good to be true,” says BVRLA chief executive, John Lewis.
“Unfortunately it is very easy for fraudsters to build a simple website and set up a call centre to pass themselves off as legitimate businesses.”
The BVRLA is offering five simple tips for customers looking for safe and hassle-free car or van rental.
1. Only use a BVRLA member. Seeing our logo on the front desk or website is a sign that you are dealing with a reputable company that has been vetted and operates to a professional code of conduct. You will also be able to use our conciliation service in the event of any dispute. Find a BVRLA member via the ‘member locator’ on our website at: www.carhire.bvrla.co.uk
2. Never hand over cash. Most reputable rental companies will only want to accept credit/debit card payment
3. Make sure the company is operating from a bona fide commercial premises, not a PO Box or virtual office, no matter how prestigious the location sounds
4. Make sure the company actually owns and operates the cars it is offering – all BVRLA members operate their own rental fleet.
5. Remember, if the price or service being offered seems too good to be true, it probably is and you may well end up out of pocket and disappointed!