Car Rental Mental and the Mystery of the Aloe Vera Road Map – Part 1
I think I could teach a class on how to hire a car. I am no expert on it but I think I have done it so often now that I am at the stage when I can no longer be annoyed or disappointed by the experience. When I approach the check in desk to collect the keys I have reached a Zen like state that no matter what they say or do I just smile nod and hand over my credit card to pay whatever extras they have dreamed up to relieve me of as much money as possible.
I love the process, you logon to the internets and search for your required term. My most recent adventure was “cheap car hire Fuerteventura” it yielded about 1,800,000 results in 0.19 seconds. Your first instinct is – wow 1.8 million results I have to be able to get a bargain here. This is wrong and you need to suppress the initial feeling of success or you will not be able to cope with the disappointments later in the adventure. You input your chosen dates into the wonder machine and the computer tells you that you can can hire a Ferrari 458 for 12 days for €129 including all taxes, insurances and fuel for the duration of the hire. You think great a Ferrari just what I need for my Island adventure.
I generally book whatever car is on the screen at this point. I never choose the dearest and I rarely pick the cheapest. I just pick anything knowing that what is on the screen in front of me is not what will be waiting in the airport. On the last trip I had the added bonus of being met in the airport by a man with a clipboard that had the name of my car hire company, spelt wrong in large hand written letters blazed across the back of it. I found out that it was this mans job to drive me half an hour away from the airport to an industrial estate to collect my car.
The desk was the usual ball of fun, I presented my drivers license and gave the girl a laugh when she looked at the picture, I presented my passport and I thought the poor girl was going to have to be resuscitated. I signed all the usual forms and then I was hit with the extras. It turns out when I payed for my all inclusive package it did not include the charge for the fuel that was all ready in the car. The girl at the desk explained that I was lucky that the car had petrol in it so that I was not inconvenienced by needing to visit a petrol station and I could start my holiday as soon as I drove out the door of the car hire warehouse. I had to pay a local car hire tax, my Spanish is not very good but I think what I read translated as “stupid tourist tax” but as always my personal favorite is the extra insurance.
I was offered extra insurance at the low, low price of €60 per day. I tried to decline this offer but they went and got THE BOOK. This is a hard bound tome that outlines all the terrible things that are covered by the extra insurance. If a chipmunk undoes all the wheel nuts while you are driving and the car rolls down a cliff – you are covered. If bandits steel the car and use it to rob a bank – you are covered, not just for the loss of the car but also you will not be prosecuted because you allowed your car to be used in a crime. If the world ends and you cannot return the car – you are covered.
I continued to try and decline their kind offer. Then they showed me pictures of my wife and they had used photoshop to cover her in injuries. They explained that if I did not take out the insurance more than likely we would have a crash and my poor wife would receive most of the injuries – this was said in a way that suggested that they would make sure this crash happened. So I paid and paid again. I was handed the key to my car. I headed outside to put on my hot blue 1999 Fiat Panda with 239 thousand kilometers on the clock. I drove off into the wilds of Fuerteventure repeating my little mantra, right hand side, right hand side, right hand side…..
Just on the off chance that someone wants to know what a 5’11” Irish man poured into a Fiat Panda looks like this is a photo that my wife was kind enough to take.