I've been overcharged for car hire in Spain. What can I do?

Louise Wakely / 19 November 2018

A car hired abroad has turned out to cost more than expected. What avenues are open to pursuing a claim, and are you likely to get any money back?



Question

I hired a car in Majorca, signed Spanish documents and was told I was paying for a tank of fuel and deposit. When I returned to the UK I saw I’d been charged extra for a diesel car, which I hadn’t asked for, and mis-sold car excess insurance. My credit card provider refuses a refund – I’d signed the documents and should have asked for English copies. The Financial Ombudsman says both companies are liable. What can I do?

Answer 

Lousie Wakely, Commerical Litigation solicitor at JMW Solicitors LLP, says: It is not possible to bring a claim against the car-hire company in the UK as the company itself is outside the jurisdiction of the UK courts. It would be necessary to instruct a lawyer in Spain, so consider the value of your claim against the legal costs, and prospects of success, to determine ‘if the juice is worth the squeeze’

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With regard to bringing a claim against your credit card provider, on the basis that they have denied your claim in view of you entering into a signed contract, it would be difficult to succeed.

I recommend you formally lodge a complaint using the car-hire company’s standard procedure. You can also contact the European Consumer Centres Network for advice and assistance (01268 886690).

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It’s always prudent to hire a car from a company that’s a member of the European Car Rental Conciliation Service.

It helps customers with unresolved complaints. Importantly, it can also only assist with complaints concerning companies that participate in its scheme.

What is car hire excess insurance?

The conciliation service is free, straightforward, and its decisions are binding on the companies. And avoid signing contracts that have not been accurately translated into English. The risk of getting into a dispute is increased if you don’t understand your obligations and rights under the contract.

How to avoid car hire scams

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.