We’ve been very aware that our policy on cancelling and amending pre-pay bookings has been inconsistent across Europe. This week we hope to have addressed this by re-launching our policy so that it is the same across our European network. We also like to think it is now much fairer to our customers!

Now if you cancel a pre-pay booking, a cancellation charge of £20/€25 will apply (or £40/€50 for any ‘special’ fleet such as Select Series cars in the UK). However, a booking can be cancelled free of charge within 48 hours for call centre bookings or 24 hours for website bookings. If a customer does not turn up for the rental then she/he will have to write in for a refund although a no show fee of £70/€95 will apply (or £150/€200 for Select Series /’special’ fleet bookings) .

If you wish to make an amendment to your booking then there is no charge. However, there will be no reimbursement if the amendment would have resulted in a cheaper rental.

Of course the alternative to pre-pay is to ‘pay later’ where no payment is taken until the rental has completed. But I would recommend going for the pre-pay prices as they are generally a fair amount cheaper than ‘pay later’ prices.

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We had a question yesterday on the blog asking about how we cater for disabled drivers in the UK, so I thought I’d write to provide some clarity on this policy. Under the Disability Discrimination Act it is our duty to ensure that we make the appropriate modifications to our vehicles that would allow a disabled person to drive them. In the UK we do this by fitting our cars with Lynx Hand Controls. They adapt the brake and accelerator pedals of an automatic car to enable these functions to be operated by hand, allowing drivers with lower limb disability but normal upper body function to drive the car.

These controls will be fitted for free so to ensure that disabled drivers are fairly catered for. We simply require a couple of days’ notice to ensure we have supply of the controls and so that we have adequate time to fit them. To request a vehicle with Lynx Hand Controls fitted I would recommend calling the reservation centre on 08445 81 81 81. Alternatively, you can call the rental office directly to make this request after making your booking.

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Signposts in BrightonI know it’s a little late in the day now but if you’re still unsure how to spend your Bank Holiday weekend then have you thought about spending it in Brighton? I spent last weekend there for The Great Escape festival and what a top venue the city provided.

You’ll find so much in Brighton within such a small radius. The best bet is to check out the area around North Laine, North Street and The Lanes where you will find an ecletic mix of unqiue shops, bars and restaurants and an awesome vibe. If you looking for something more “high street” then check out the Churchill Square shopping centre.

On the coast you’ll find the famous Brighton pier (although we did not venture down it) and a number of great bars and music venues situated directly on the pebbled beach. The pick of the bunch for me were The Brighton Coalition and Concorde 2 (which is a 5-10 walk further down the beach but is attracting some great line-ups). And if you do head to Brighton this weekend you’ll be able to catch the end of the Brighton festival where you’ll find a number of theatre performances, shows and speakers including a performance on Sunday from the Philharmonic Orchestra.

For next year I would recommend checking out the Great Escape music festival. Billed as the “Europe’s leading new music festival”, The Great Escape provided a great showcase for emerging talent, mixing largely unknown artists from around the world with some acts, such as The Ting Tings and We Are Scientists, who are starting to establish themselves. But my tip for the one to watch out for is the White Lies.

But if you’re a local looking to get out of Brighton for the weekend then we’re happy to help with your car hire and our office is located at the Brighton Marina.

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VIP ChallengeToday I thought I’d bring a bit of fun to the blog (and put a change to all of the talk about car hire tips and website maintenance)! Yesterday we launched our ‘VIP Challenge’ – an online game that tests your motor racing knowledge for the chance to win a cool prize of 2 VIP tickets to the 2008 Formula 1 Santander British Grand Prix at Silverstone, complete with luxury hotel accommodation and a Mercedes C-Class to get you there. Perhaps just as cool is the runner-up prize of a special edition Silverstone Scalextric set! (Talking of which, I went on to the Scalextric website and it’s definitely worth a look – you can now get digital sets and even design your own track!)

So, if you’re an F1 fan and you’re up for the challenge then try it out at www.avis-challenge.com.

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Lists seem to be a big thing at the moment. Following on from my blog post about Tripadvisor’s top 100 destinations to visit in 2008, the Sunday Times travel mag has published an interesting list that answers what they believe to be the top 50 most asked travel questions.

Ever wondered whether your new, clean shaven look is going to compromise your travels when you present your heavily bearded passport photo? Or perhaps you simply want to know what the duty-free allowances are? For the answers to these questions and more, check out the Travel section on The Times website.

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It occurred to me the other day that I’ve haven’t written any location posts recently. With the summer approaching, there are many places to choose from, far and wide. However, for the first post this year, I’ve decided to stay closer to home and write about Luton Airport.

Luton Airport is located 30 miles north of London and is just off junction 10a of the M1 motorway. It is also serviced by direct trains from St Pancras in London and the North. The airport has grown in size over the last few years, mainly due to the partnership of low cost carriers such as EasyJet, Ryanair, Wizz Air and Monarch. The expansion of these airlines opened up international travel to a lot of people and made it affordable to go further afield. This means that Luton is now the fifth busiest airport in the UK.

In addition to the above airlines, Luton now offers a luxury experience with Silverjet, one of Avis’ partners. Silverjet fly to New York and Dubai and as they say on their website, “We’re bringing back the values that have been lost in today’s world of mass travel by offering you a private jet experience for an exceptional low fare.”

Avis Luton Airport is located at the Car Rental centre, which can be reached by catching a bus from the terminal. When you arrive, you can catch the bus, marked “Car Hire Centre” from Bus Stop 1A outside the terminal and it will drop you right outside the Avis desk. These buses run every 15 minutes, 24 hours a day.

If you’re returning your car, follow the road signs for “Car Rental Return”. If you’re arriving for an early flight, park the car in an Avis bay and leave the keys in the key safe. The staff will check the car in when they open up in the morning. If you’re arriving during opening hours, our rapid return agents will inspect the car and issue you a receipt and the bus will take you back to the terminal building.

Avis Luton airport are also taking part in the Avis Preferred 3 minute promise, which was introduced there last week. However, be warned, the 3 minutes start when you get off the bus, not when you get on!! ;-)

It would be great to hear about your experience of Luton, good or bad, to pass on to our staff. Or if you’ve got any ideas on how Avis at Luton airport could improve their service, please let us know.

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If you have tried to make a booking on our avis.co.uk website over the past couple of days then you may have struggled to complete that booking as we have had problems with the availability of the site. I apologise for any frustration this has caused. The issue has been resolved but we still need to perform some essential maintenance. For this reason the website will be unavailable to take bookings for the following dates and times:

- Monday 2nd June between 4am-6am (UK time)
- Wednesday 4th June between 4am-6am (UK time)
- Monday 9th June between 4am-6am (UK time)

Hopefully the unsociallable hours this maintenance is taking place will minimise the impact on you but if you have an early start or if you cannot sleep and decide to get up early and book an Avis car on any of these dates and times then you might hit a few problems! If there are any changes to the timings of the planned maintenance work then I will post an update here.

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BeachWe’ve had some great weather over the past week and I am (perhaps naively) hopeful we are approaching a fine summer. Summer is our busiest period with many customers renting for the first time in the year as they look for more freedom in their holiday. And if this blog has proven anything, it is just how many different kinds of questions people can have about car hire, particularly if they do not hire on a regular basis. I’ve learned that renting a car is not always as simple and straightforward as you might think!

We’ve written quite a few blog posts now with various tips and bits of information so, as we head into the holiday season, I thought it might be worthwhile re-listing those which you might find particularly helpful when booking and renting your holiday car hire:

- Tips for booking you car hire
- Tips for getting the best price
- Tips for renting a car on holiday – Part 1
- Tips for renting a car on holiday – Part 2
- Information on accepted credit cards
- What we ‘hold’ against your credit card
- Our damage policy

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I’ve just received an e-mail from Trip Advisor with their 2008 Travellers Choice Destination Awards attached. This lists the top 100 places to visit in 2008 as voted for by the people who have visited the Trip Advisor site. Counting through the results, I’m slightly disappointed to find out that I’ve only been to 17 out of the top 100!! This just makes me think that I should travel a bit more. However, I’m still one ahead of Rob who has only visited 16 destinations on the list.

How many places on this list have you visited? Are there places that are not on there but should be? Personally, I think Carcassonne, located in the South West of France should be included. One of the most friendly and beautiful places I’ve ever been.

Let us know your comments.

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Smart FortwoJust a quick note to let you know that we are currently trialling the Smart Fortwo at our location in Mayfair, London. The Smart Fortwo is a flexible and economical city car running at around 60 mpg (combined use of city and motorway driving) with a CO2 output of 112 g/km.

We are trialling the Smart car for the month of May only so get in quick if you want to give it a try. And, as always, any feedback on the Smart car and whether we should be making this a longer term fixture on our London fleet would be greatly appreciated!

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Please note:

The details of all blog posts are correct at the time of publication. Information and offers are subject to change without prior notice. Please check www.avis.co.uk for the most up-to-date information.

All comments will be moderated so there may be a delay in your comment going live. We will filter out anything that is confidential, inappropriate, abusive, defamatory, profane, or anything considered as spam or an advertising link. We promise not to cut something just because it's not favourable to Avis.

We ask that if your feedback is regarding a past rental, you include your reservation details (which will be removed from the live post). If your comment is a customer service issue, you can email customer.service@avis.co.uk .
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Why we love to blog

At Avis, we really do try harder. We pioneered blogging in the car rental world and we aim to make our blog much more than just an information source. You can use our blog to ask questions or tell us what’s important to you when you hire a car. We try harder because we care what you think, so we really do value your feedback.

New to car rentals? Our blog gives you tips and advice on getting the most out of your Avis car hire experience. You can find information about booking and hiring your car, safety tips, and eco driving. We also provide driving advice and the latest news about our fleet.

We understand that hiring a car is just one part of your trip, so our blog covers other aspects of holiday and business travel too. Whether you want to know more about business travel hire conditions, access to location and city guides or ideas for families travelling with children, it’s all here.

But that’s just a taster – find out more about the Avis blog.