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Friday, 16 December 2011 13:10

Car Hire Excess Deposits - Are They Necessary?

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Radio 4's Money Box programme this week tackled the thorny issue of what you can do if your hire car company does not return your deposit, even if the vehicle has been returned scratch-free.

Two customers of, based in East Sussex, contacted Money Box who had both lost their deposits, of up to £900, which still hadn't been returned months later despite constant communication with the company.  It took Money Box raising the cases with the company to get the deposits repaid.

What can you do to protect yourself?

Rochelle Turner, Head of Research at Which? Travel, was critical of firms which take deposits rather than just earmarking the sum: "If they are going to do this, it needs to be absolutely crystal clear that this money will be taken from their accounts at the point of purchase."

She said if for any reason a deposit was not returned, customers can appeal to their bank to use either the Consumer Credit Act or to "charge-back" the sum: "It is a breach of contract and that's what Section 75 protects you for and also charge-back.

We recommend that customers should try to use rental companies that just pre-authorise a credit card for the value of the deposit, rather than one that asks for the deposit to be actually paid in its entirety on vehicle collection.

If you are renting with a company that requests payment of the deposit rather than a simple credit card pre-authorisation you should never use cash.  Instead make the payment on a credit card where you have protection under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. Alternatively, with a debit card customer are protected by the "chargeback" system which enables your card provider to claw-back the deposit on your behalf in certain circumstances."

More information on the protection credit and debit cards offer to consumers when buying goods or services can be found on the Which? Website.

To listen to the programme in full, please click here .



Last modified on Wednesday, 16 October 2013 13:47
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