Rapid ReturnI’ve had many conversations with customers over the past couple of months about things that I take for granted because I work in car rental. Like how much it costs to refuel a car, and how to find a petrol station near where you’re returning your vehicle.
It made me think that all this is something that’s easy when you know what to do, but how do you know what you need to know?

Here are my top four tips.

1. Fuel options
I’d recommend Fuel Up Front if you think you’ll be using most of the tank. It means no stress about having to find a petrol station when you bring the car back, and no extra fuel charges at the end. You pre-pay for a full tank of petrol or diesel when you pick up the car, so then you can return it to us empty. To make it fair, the price is guaranteed to be no higher than at the local pumps, and in the UK we give you a 5 per cent discount off the cheapest price in the area, as determined by PetrolPrices.com.

2. Use our return maps
If you’re taking your car back to a different place from where you picked it up in the UK (including at many airports, where the pick-up and return are at different locations), we can give you directions to the return point. Our staff can print you out a map too.

3. Rapid Return
This is a great new one. At around 125 Avis stations across Europe (with 21 in the UK, including all the major airports) we’ve introduced technology that means you can return your car in 60 seconds. With Rapid Return your Avis agent reads a bar code on the car that means they can issue your receipt straight away. We guarantee there’ll be no extra charges after this, so you have the peace of mind of knowing that everything’s sorted out and paid for.

4. Check we’ve got it right
You don’t need any papers to return your car, but if you keep your original rental agreement handy it means you can double-check we’ve got everything correct while you’re at the rental office, rather than finding out when you get home. (Yes, however hard we try, mistakes can occasionally slip through, so like any other paperwork you should always check.)

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38 Responses to “Return your car with less stress”

  1. Professor Hisham Elkadi Says:

    (Editor: this comment has been summarized due to it’s substantial length. However, we have tried to ensure that the nature, tone and issues highlighted in the full comment are adequately reflected in the published summary below)

    Dear Sir/Madam

    I have recently received phone calls from your customer service regarding my complaints of unfair treatment by AVIS. Unfortunately, Avis has now refused to pay back a £70 that the company took from my credit card.

    I hired a small car from AVIS on the 24th May 2007. I arrived at Newcastle airport at 11:00 PM and was given the keys of the car at the desk. I looked for the allocated bay, the light was very dim, I inspected the car as much as I could in this light and there was no damage that I could see

    There has been absolutely no incidence of any sort that could lead to any damage to a tyre or anything else Before I take this matter further to court(Small claims), I would like to give AVIS the opportunity to re-assess their decision.

    These events have caused me a great level of anxiety as I know for fact that nothing has happened to the tyres while I had the car. I hope AVIS will consider its position as soon as possible and refund the money that was taken from my account. I hope I can receive acknowledgement of this e-mail and a response by return. I have sent a previous e-mail to customer service on the 13th June and received no reply. This will be my last attempt to solve this issue amicably.

    Thank you

  2. Eibhlin Payne- Head of Customer Support, Avis UK Says:

    I read with great concern your comments and I am sorry that Avis has disappointed you in such a strong way. It is certainly our responsibility to have taken your complaint seriously and resolve it to your satisfaction in the first instance.

    As part of our 42 point safety check, Avis carries out an inspection of tyres and checks pressures prior to every rental. Any tyre damage should have been picked up on it’s pre-rental inspection. However, I read clearly that we did not get it right for you at all this time. Your comments regarding the lighting being poor at the Newcastle site will certainly be inspected, as it is not in our interests to prevent customers seeing the car properly.

    Given your strength of feeling, I am happy to reinvestigate the matter and we will be in touch with you shortly regarding the case

  3. DAVID UREN Says:

    I recently rented a car from yourselves on Sunday afternoon 7th October at 5.45pm I had been told that as this was after opening hours I would have to pay an excess of £47. I was surprised to find the desk lit up and open for business as usual. I was asked to leave my credit card number as security and collected the keys. The excess amount wasn’t asked for and I assumed that your opening hours had changed and therefore no charge would be made. Yesterday our statement arrived and I find £47 has been taken from my card. Although I was made aware of this charge, I would like to ask what happens when a customer arrives at the desk whilst it is open waiting for me, are they also charged the £47 excess for business after hours. It seems that I am the one being penalised for renting a car from yourselves. I have to add that I have no other complaints with either the car or the service at the desk. Your comments would be appreciated. Eileen Uren

  4. Xavier Vallée- Head of Marketing, Avis UK Says:

    Hello Eileen,

    Would you mind sending us the details of your rental, especially the location and your agreement number to comments@avis.co.uk. This information will help us to answer your question precisely.


  5. Tony Says:

    Dear Sir/ Madam,

    This query is regarding the FUEL UP FRONT option.

    If I hire a car with full tank of fuel and when I return if there is some more fuel left, will I be refunded for it ?

    I also have another query. The Large : Standard e.g. Ford Mondeo 1.8 option is it a Diesel or Petrol?

    Plus I would also like to know the other car options in the same category at the Liverpool City office of yours.



  6. Rob White- Marketing, Avis UK Says:

    Hi Tony, if you bring the car back with 3/4 of tank full then we will not charge for the price of Fuel Up Front but charge the remaining fuel at the “Pay On Return” rate. At the moment is costs £2.13 per litre. This rate includes a service charge but is cheaper than paying for a full tank. Of course, if you return the car back full then no fuel charge will apply.

    With regards to your question about the car, the most likely car you’ll get based on the current mix is a Vauxhall Vectra. However, this may change as we get more cars in for the summer. Most of these are petrols.

    I hope this helps but let me know if you have any other questions.


  7. Nicky Brann Says:

    We are going to rent a car at Hendaye in France but will be staying just over the border in Spain are we allowed to take the car into Spain.

  8. Stephen Spiers - Customer Service, Avis UK Says:

    Hi Nicky,

    Yes, you are allowed to take the car into Spain.



  9. Nigel Houghton Says:

    Dear Sir or Madam

    I would like to draw your attention to the e-mail I have just sent to Avis. I await a reply but it may be useful for others to consider.

    I have since checked with the Clains department who confirm that there as no ‘damage’ claim associated with this exta charge
    Through my company and for person use, I have been a happy customer of Avis for many years, mainly trouble free. However, I would like to express concerns about a recent rental with regards to excessive unauthorised extra charges.

    Due to late arrival at London Heathrow, I did not have time to return the car to the Avis depot. I telephoned Avis to ask their advice and was told that I could leave the car at the Heathrow Terminal 2 Car Park. They explained that there would be a fee for this of £50. After being assured that this would mark the end of the contract, I agreed to this and followed the instructions to leave the car in the Terminal 2 Short Stay car park and the key at the Avis desk at Arrivals in Terminal 2. I even telephoned Avis afterwards to tell them exactly where I had left the car in order to make it easier for them to find it.

    Some months later when my company sent me the invoice, I was shocked to find that a charge of £178 (plus VAT) had been made above the costs of the three day hire. This is substantially more than the £50 that was agreed.

    I telephoned Avis immediately. I gave a contact telephone number and was promised a return call. Unfortunately, I did not receive that return call and so had to call again.

    As a result, I raise the following points:

    Even though I have made several enquiries to Avis by phone and in person at Avis Heathrow, no-one has been able to give me a full breakdown of the extra charge. On the Invoice, it appears as ‘Various’. This lack of clarity makes it difficult to challenge your charges. I would have expected you have an obligation to be able to give a full explanation of any charges made to a customer.

    Avis staff, although unable to breakdown the costs completely, have told me that the bulk of the charge was for the time the car was in the Short Stay car park between when I left it there and Avis staff collected it, although no one can tell me exactly when the car was timed as having been left and recovered from the car park.
    • At no time was I informed that there would be an extra charge for the car park. If I had been told of this extra charge beforehand, I could well have taken a different course of action. Note the extra charge that you have made in this unauthorised manner is more than the cost of a one night hotel stay.
    • I do not accept that Avis can make this charge without informing the customer but, even if I did accept this, surely Avis has a duty of care to pick-up the car from the car park as quickly as reasonable. In order for the car park bill to be in the order of £178, the car would have been in the car park over four days. I suggest that it would be difficult to show that this was reasonable.

    I have been very angry and disappointed with this incident. I hope you can restore our faith in Avis through investigation and a refund.

  10. Stephen Spiers - Customer Service, Avis UK Says:

    Hi Nigel,

    Please could you send your rental agreement number to comments@avis.co.uk and I will investigate for you.



  11. Adrian Ferguson Says:

    I left a comment here last month regarding the additional charges imposed on taking additional damage cover in Marco Polo airport in May this year.

    I have written to yourselves – still awaiting a response – and I have posted a comment – not printed nor responde to.

    Perhaps someone in your customer care dept could see fit to make some sort of attempt to address my concerns.



  12. Stephen Spiers - Customer Service, Avis UK Says:

    Hi Adrian,

    We printed your previous comment on 28th July and responded on 30th July, asking for the details of your rental agreement.

    I’m sorry that we haven’t contacted you back but will respond to your e-mail address directly.



  13. karl traynier Says:

    is the vauxhall zafira range diesel or petrol and could i request a diesel car when booking a car?

  14. Chris Cox- Reservations, Avis UK Says:

    Hi Karl,

    Sorry in which country are you planning to rent?
    We stock both diesel and petrol Zafiras and you could certainly express a preference but the office however wouldn’t be able to guarantee you receiving a diesel or a Zafira either I’m afraid. As we only guarantee a group we cannot confirm that you would only get a particular type of vehicle, as it would depend upon availability within that group on the day. You might get a Renault Grand Scenic or another similar-sized people carrier.


  15. Dorriss Says:

    Any suggestions on dropping off our car at the Marseille Airport before Avis’ opening hours. Our flight is at 6:30AM

  16. Chris Cox- Reservations, Avis UK Says:

    Hi there,

    Avis at Marseille airport has a keybox facility which will enable you to drop the car off at whatever time you need to.
    I hope that helps.


  17. Jamie Fuller Says:

    I have tried to get answers to the questions raised in the letters shown below, all of which have been sent to customer services in the UK. They have not been responded to, apart from the very first (an email), shown at the bottom of this long message, when I was informed/reminded of my responsibilities during the hire. I understand there may be comments in this message which you may want to remove, but all I’m looking for are some answers. I am returning to Austria in the summer, and will be hiring a car again for two weeks. Unfortunately, it won’t be from Avis.

  18. Rob White- Marketing Manager, Avis UK Says:

    Hi Jamie, just to let you know that we published your comment without your full correspondance because it came out quite long and we felt the point you were trying to make (regarding a lack of response on your customer service issue) was well made in your initial comment. That being said, if you would like us to post your correspondance in full then I would be happy to do so.

    Also, I believe that my colleague Vicki has been in touch and she dealing with our Customer Support to team to get your issue resolved.

    Let me know if there is anything more I can do to help.


  19. david clennett Says:

    I find myself in a similar position to Professor Elkadi (above). I hired a car for three days, returned it in the same condition, and find that without anyprior warning an additional £359 has been charged to my credit card. The bill I received explains this as “excess”, a subsequent response by email says it is for “repairs” to the car. At this point I have no other information. The figures I have been given do not correspond exactly with what I have been charged. I suspect that there has been an administrative error, but it’s long and hard work getting any sense out of customer services by email.
    Very unhappy!
    David Clennett

  20. Rob White- Marketing, Avis UK Says:

    Hi David, would you like me to follow up for you with the customer support team and get some clarification? If so, please email in your rental agreement number to comments@avis.co.uk and I’ll follow up for you.


  21. david clennett Says:

    Another week has passed and we have made no progress whatsoever.
    I have now been told that Avis France will look into the problem. I can see no reason for this since the car was hired and “repaired” in the UK. It would have been more helpful if customer services UK had liaised with France if necessary on my behalf.
    Meanwhile Avis UK can’t send me details of the “repairs” for which I have been charged.
    Thet tell me that this must be done through their insurers, but I’m still waiting for them to contact me.
    Looks like we are in for a saga.

  22. Rob White- Marketing, Avis UK Says:

    Hi David, thank you for the update (and I saw your email correspondance). The reason I sent this to the customer service team in France is because your email address implied that you are a resident there and customer queries are always dealt with by the customer service team situated in the customer’s home country (so customer’s do not have to make international phone calls, they speak to someone in their own langauge and everyone is on the same time zone!).

    I did not realise at the time, however, that you were already dealing with someone in the UK team. My mistake! As you already have this dialogue, there is no point in having the team in France duplicate effort so I will instruct them to cease their own investigation (as you suggest they would end up asking the UK for advise anyway).

    As for the progress, I’ved notice that someone has been in touch but so far there does not seem to be a resolution. I’ll follow this up with my colleague who is involved.


  23. david clennett Says:

    Another week has passed – that’s 5 now, still waiting for any news of your “investigation” and any sight of documents explaining the nature of the repairs for which I have been charged. Avis do not seem to be taking this seriously.
    It simply can’t take more than a couple of days to verify the details. Am I going to be refunded the amount plus interest and compensation for all the time I have had to waste trying to find out what has gone wrong?
    For example, I have now had to contact my credit card bank since the payment was due.
    I have asked them to take up the matter on my behalf if Avis do not provide a refund or satisfactory evidence forthwith.

  24. Paul Leyland Says:

    Hello there
    i recently hired a car from Avis at Paris Charles De Gaule. after returning the car on the agreed date I returned home. 3 weeks later they insisted that I had kept the car an extra 2 weeks and charged my account to the sum of £1288.46. I am still struggling to get the money refunded even with a receipt saying when it was returned. I have now resorted to contacting BBC watchdog and the Guardian cosumer column.
    Very unhappy customer.

  25. Rob White- Marketing, Avis UK Says:

    Hi David, I believe that my colleague provided an update on this on Friday and there has been some additional correspondance between yourself and my colleague today. I sympathise with your frustrations with the time this is taking to resolve. Unfortunately damage queries take longer to resolve as there are multiple parties involved but we will get a response to you as soon as possible. I know you have challenged this in your emails to my colleague, raising some interesting points and appreciate the feedback (which I can assure you will be iincluded in a current review we are conducting on this process).


  26. Rob White- Marketing, Avis UK Says:

    Hi Paul, would you be able to email you rental agreement to comments@avis.co.uk and I’ll follow this one up for you and find out what is going on?


  27. Tracey Turton Says:

    It is now over 1 month since my original complaint about vatious excess charges relating from my car rental in August, and apart from an acknowledgement on this blog when I posted a comment (which has dissappeared from the blog for some reason) I have heard nothing from Avis. Having discussed my situation with collegues I now find that 2 of them have had similar experiences with Avis this year (interestingly all in Italy) and have also failed to get anywhere with their complaints. We are now all getting together and have contacted Watchdog as we feel that there is either some sort of scam going on here to try to top up Avis’s income or there is incompetence beyond belief. I own customer focussed business and if we treated our customers this way we would be out of business by now. Unfortunately Avis are so big that unhappy customers seem not to concern them.

    Awaiting your reply with interest,
    Tracey Turton

  28. Rob White- Marketing, Avis UK Says:

    Hi Tracey, just to let you know that I replied to you on another thread…

  29. david clennett Says:

    Avis customer services informed me on 15th September that I should expect to receive details of the damage for which I have been charged within 30 days.
    Why have I heard nothing?

    Second question – I asked Avis online why it is impossible for me to access the online service to view my rental agreement. The service is permanently unavailable to me.
    I received an acknowledgement, but still no reply after several weeks. Why is this?

    “We try harder” ? Not to look after your clients interests, apparently.
    David Clennett

  30. Vicki Wilson - Marketing, Avis UK Says:

    Hi David,

    I’m not sure why you’ve not heard back from our customer service team. If you email me at comments@avis.co.uk with your rental agreement number and details of your rental I will follow this up with customer services.

    Also in that email if you let me know what email address your account is set up with I will ask one of our web team to look into why it’s not working and get back to you.

    If you have any other comments or questions please let me know.


  31. Jonathan Patt Says:

    Could you please explain the “out of hours return” service? I have booked a car that I plan to return sometime between 21:00 and 22:00 at Gare du Nord in Paris. Will an agent be available to process my return?


  32. Chris Cox - Reservations, Avis UK Says:

    Hi Jonathan,

    The office is open until 23.30 so you will have no trouble returning the car.


  33. Jim Magnuson Says:

    Is there still after-hours drop-off available at the Marseille airport? We have a flight departing at 7am in a few days…



  34. Michael O'Donnell- Reservations, UK Says:

    Hi Jim,

    Marseille has a key box that you can drop the keys in if you return early. When you pick the car up they will show you where it is located.



  35. Jim Magnuson Says:

    I recently posted here to find out if the Avis Marseille airport office had after-hours drop-off. Mr. O’Donnell replied the next morning to confirm that they do. We had a truly terrific experience with Avis (every detail was perfect), but I want to make 2 comments. First, if fact that after-hours drop-off was available on-line, I was unable to find it, and I would suggest that that information be made easier to find (and shared with sites like [Travel agents]). Second, a word to the wise: although there is a drop-box in Marseille, it appeared that the gate to the car return is locked until 5am (luckily, we arrived at 5:30am). I may be wrong about that, but it is worth checking when you pick up your car if you need to return it at an even more uncivilized hour.



  36. Michael O'Donnell- Reservations, UK Says:

    Hi Jim,

    Thanks very much for your feedback. I have sent your suggestion to our web content manager to see if they could possibly add more info about after-hours drop-offs.
    Also, I had one of our French agents speak to Marseille Airport about the gate and they tell us that there is a general parking for all car rental returns and there is no gate, you just park the car there. I’m not sure how clearly signed this was but as it was early morning it may not have been so clear.

    Thanks again for the feedback.



  37. shaun Says:

    Hello i recently hired a car from northampton branch for one week
    12.12.12 to 19.12.12
    credit card was charged £93.60 on 11.12.12
    then a few days after return noticed my card had been charged again £93.60 on day of return 19.12.12 have made many phone calls since been told sorry mistake made and will be refunded each time well its now 14.1.13 a month later and still waiting for my refund totally shocking service can you please explain the reasons for such shocking standard of service

  38. Jordan Says:

    Hello Shaun, I’m very sorry this has happened and you haven’t got your refund, could you please give us your reference number?

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