The Fixer: tricky car hire firms

Some car hire companies have sneaky ways of charging you more...

Have you been left out of pocket due to poor service or sharp practice? Do you have a money problem that won't go away?

It can seem impossible to get a fair result when you are battling a financial issue alone. But never fear! The AOL Money Fixer is here to help.

Dear Fixer,
Last time I booked a hire car while on holiday in Italy, I thought I was getting a great deal only to find that numerous extra charges had been added to my bill when I came to pay.

At the end of the trip, the company, a small local firm, also charged me for damage that had been done to the vehicle before I had it.

I argued my case, but eventually paid the amount - about £100 - as I was worried about missing my flight back.

I don't want to get caught out again when I take my family to Spain in a few weeks. What advice can you give to help me get a fair deal?

G Hardy, Gloucester

Dear Mr Hardy,

While there are many honest car hire firms out there, there are also some that will use sneaky tricks to con you out of money.

In Spain, for example, there have been cases of drivers being charged for pre-existing damage and pressurised into taking out overpriced insurance, while over in the US, motorists are sometimes offered a "free upgrade" that turns out not to be free at all.

That's why it is vital to always check the small print of the agreement before handing over your card.

Ways to get a better deal on your car hire include booking in advance online through a reputable company such as Europcar, Avis Budget, Sixt or Hertz, all of which recently promised to play fair over charges following a European inquiry.

If you have young children who need car seats, it may also be worth taking these with you on the plane to avoid extra car hire charges.

On arrival at the car hire desk, you should also stand your ground on any unwanted insurance that is offered, check the policy on how full the fuel tank should be when you return the car and take photos so that you have a record of any pre-existing damage.

The Fixer

Whatever your financial problem, write to and The AOL Money Fixer will get on the case.

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