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Can an Austrian car hire company charge over the odds for repairs?

In July I hired a Skoda Yeti from Europcar, Salzburg airport. On returning the vehicle I reported minor scratches on the front right wing. I believe the scratches were made when it was being parked, but cannot say for sure. I went to the Porsche dealership near Zell Am See that does Europcar’s repairs and was informed that the repair would cost between 100 and 200 Euros. However, Europcar has informed me the repair cost will be over 900 Euros, which I believe is a greatly inflated cost. Could you kindly advise me if there is some procedure of arbitration I can follow? The cost quoted for this very minor damage is of the order of 5 per cent the cost of a new Yeti and I believe Europcar is unreasonable. I have spoken to Europcar several times and their view is that that is the cost they have been given by Porsche so no further debate.

Asked on 2 November 2013 by BW, Great Shelford.

Answered by Honest John
Unfortunately you are stuffed by this standard European rental car rip-off that relies on foreigners not taking the matter further through the Austrian courts. I recently hired a car from Avis in Bangkok. In their contract, the maximum a hirer can be hit with for any sort of damage is 20,000 baht (about £400), and extra insurance against this for three weeks was 5000 baht (£100). All car rental companies worldwide should adopt this fair and sensible policy. But greedy car hire franchises will try to make extra money any way they can. You can take out annual cover for hire car damage repairs at modest cost from www.insurance4carhire.co.uk .
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