The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), the trade body for the UK car rental industry, is again warning customers to take extra care when confronted with cheap deals for Christmas car hire on the Internet or in the press.
Festive season travellers were caught out by bogus car hire companies this time last year, handing over deposits of hundreds of pounds for cars that never materialised. The BVRLA believes that similar scams are being planned this year and has already made contact with Police and Trading Standards over one potential threat.
“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.
“These sham operators are damaging the reputation of car rental. We are working with the authorities to help stamp them out.”
In the meantime, the BVRLA is offering five simple tips for customers looking for safe and hassle-free car rental.
1. Only use a BVRLA member to be sure that you’re dealing with a reputable company that has been vetted and operates to a professional code of conduct.
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!
For more information or if in doubt, visit www.bvrla.co.uk