If you're heading on holiday soon and thinking about hiring a car, watch out!
See also: How to drive in Iceland
Car hire companies have a terrible reputation for trying to get more cash out of you – but you can avoid the big scams with a little bit of advance planning.
Here are my top tips:
Book in advance, shop around and read all the documents before you travel.
Check the excess fees – the higher they are, the riskier it is to take the contract. If there's even a scratch on a bumper, some firms insist on costly repairs so watch out!
Consider buying a zero-excess policy. Yes, we know you shouldn't have to but it's worth it.
And don't believe the car hire firm tales of massive delays in paying out on rival policies – it's rubbish.
Ask about the deposit. If the firm 'ring-fences' a deposit, you can't spend that money.
If they debit your card and refund you on return find out how long it takes for the credit to come back - and if you can pay in pounds so you don't lose out on exchange rates.
Photograph the car from all angles. Be pushy. A representative from the firm will sign the car out with you.
Make sure they write down every mark or scuff on their documents and photo the car from all angles too (check the boot).
Do the same when you return the car and make sure that you have agreed with everything on the documents.
Keep all the paperwork and receipts for things like petrol.
Factor in additional costs. Child seats, extra drivers, valeting, all can add up.
If you are in an accident, call the police and get copies of all documentation. Make sure you've checked with the hire firm what their procedures are too.
I'd love to hear your stories about car hire carnage so I can tackle the big companies - so get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter x www.twitter.com/resolvercouk or Facebook www.facebook.com/resolvercouk