CHICAGO, IL - June 18, 2013 – Renting a car can be a big expense for consumers. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois (BBB) can help consumers manage high car rental costs by providing potential renters with information to help them get the most value for their money.
BBB figures show that in the past 12 month period complaints rose 75 percent. While at the same time consumer inquires also increased 13 percent with 2,889 for this past 12 months compared to 2,615 in the previous period. Many of the complaints were a result of billing and contract issues. The rise in complaints demonstrates the importance of doing additional research when looking to rent a car. But the good news is the jump in inquires show they are doing just that.
“There are many important details that can be easily misunderstood during the car rental process,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Whether you are renting a car for business or for pleasure, it is vital that you do your research and read the fine print before choosing a company. Make sure you understand all the fine points of the contract.”
The BBB recommends the following tips to avoid unexpected charges and overspending when looking to rent a car:
- Shop around and carefully read the fine print. There are several different budget travel websites that can provide comparison prices. Make sure to follow-up with the rental car websites directly to see if you can snag an even cheaper rate. Always remember, though, if the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t automatically take the low-ball offer and make sure to always clarify which taxes, surcharges and other fees you’ll be expected to pay. Many car rental companies have additional fees for drivers under age 25 or for multiple drivers.
- Opt for a smaller car. If you’re traveling solo, or don’t need a lot of leg room or trunk space, go for the smaller car. Often, the salesperson will steer you in the direction of an upgrade for “only a few extra dollars” because the smaller economy cars are in high demand – decide what is best for the intended use.
- Ask lots of questions. Make sure that you understand where the “unlimited mileage” rates apply. Some rental car companies have restrictions and only apply the mileage to certain states.
- Gas up and be on time. Many times, car rental companies will ask if you want to prepay for gas – it’s not always necessary and it’s might not be the best deal. Don’t forget to refill the tank before returning the car, and make sure to return on time. Some rental car companies will charge an extra day for being late – make sure to know their policy for early and late returns, and call if you get stuck in traffic.
- Bring your own car seat and GPS. If you’re going to be traveling with children, make sure to bring your own car seat. It is unnecessary to pay for the daily fees if you already have one at home.
- Don’t forget your GPS. If you have a portable GPS or can use your phone as a navigation system, avoid paying extra fees by bringing it along.
For more consumer tips you can trust, visit www.bbb.org
As a private, non-profit organization, the purpose of the Better Business Bureau is to promote an ethical marketplace. BBBs help resolve buyer/seller complaints by means of conciliation, mediation and arbitration. BBBs also review advertising claims, online business practices and charitable organizations. BBBs develop and issue reports on businesses and nonprofit organizations and encourage people to check out a company or charity before making a purchase or donation.