Car hire damage/responsibility

I recently hired a car in the UK. Whilst driving, the splash shield protecting the undercarriage came away from it's front mountings and was scraping along the asphalt as I drove. I pulled over and called a representative of the car hire company who advised me to remove the entire splash shield to prevent it from coming off whilst driving. I returned the car and splash shield and was informed that the company would take the entire deposit from my credit card until a full assessment was carried out. 

I have now been told that the cost of the damage is around £600 and that this will be taken from my deposit. Fortunately, my travel insurance covers this excess.

However, I believe that the damage occurred as a result of an existing defect with the vehicle and not as a result of my actions but as I did not inspect the underside of the vehicle I cannot prove this. 

I have two questions:
  1. Is a customer expected to inspect the underside of the car when picking it up?
  2. Is a customer expected to pay for damage of this nature with no proof that it wasn't an existing defect? 
 

Comments

  • eDicky
    eDicky Posts: 6,574 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    edited 23 January 2023 at 4:40PM
    You don't mention who the hire firm's name. The cheaper and less reputable ones, such as Green Motion, obtain a large part of their revenue by charging for any damage to vehicles, which they often don't actually repair.
    I would say it's prudent to glance undeneath to see if anything is already hanging loose when inspecting a vehicle at pickup, actual responsibility to do so would be debatable. Likewise, proof of whether defect or damage was pre-existing or not can rest with the hirer more than the firm if they are the type to actively generate income in that way
    Evolution, not revolution
  • DullGreyGuy
    DullGreyGuy Posts: 10,380 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Name Dropper
    Riot said:
    I have two questions:
    1. Is a customer expected to inspect the underside of the car when picking it up?
    2. Is a customer expected to pay for damage of this nature with no proof that it wasn't an existing defect?  
    1. Is ultimately your choice but you normally sign to say the vehicle is in a good state other than for the issues flagged on the handover sheet. It's then hard to retrospectively claim something was there at handover if it'snot on the sheet and you've signed to say the sheet is right.


    2. Basically yes, you give them the card to enable them to charge for what damage they find so it puts the onus on you to decide if you're going to go to court to try and recover it and present whatever evidence you have that it was a pre-existing issue.

    They inevitably will say you must have struck something and given the shield was bouncing along the road for a bit its going to look beat up if they present it as evidence.

    Double check on your insurance paying for it too... technically you've paid for the repairs not the excess as the repairs were below the excess. Some policies only respond if the excess is paid and therefore minor incidents aren't covered.
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