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I am starting this blog post without any idea of whether I will be able to offer a solution.

Over this past summer, guests have recounted so many bad dealings with car rental companies here.  As the car rental company is generally the first point of contact for an incoming tourist, the fact that this proves to be a nightmare reflects badly on us all.

Here are just a sample of the issues.

US guests having booked ahead and believing that they have paid everything in advance, arrive and are being charged €3 – 5,000 on their credit card as an extra security.  Similarly, US guests booking with a credit card that includes Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), on arrival being told that the cover isn’t ‘specific enough’ and are charged again – often doubling the cost of rental.  Here’s an American article which goes into great detail as to which credit cards offer best coverage (9 Best Credit Cards for Car Rental Insurance Coverage [2019]).

Then there was the German guest who booked and paid for his 10 day car rental prior to travelling.  Then got into Dublin and the rental company refused to accept his ‘old style’ driving licence.  It was valid and in date, but it was just the ‘old style’.  This guest ended up walking away from the pre-paid rental and forking out a substantial amount to another rental company that would accept his old style licence.

As I said at the start I’m not sure I can even offer a solution to all this mess.

From what research I’ve done, here is what I’ve discovered.

  • Often it is cheaper to hire a car away from the airport… even just travelling from Dublin Airport to Swords (4 miles away) can reduce your rental costs! (A taxi driver told me that it is a €10 journey from Airport to Swords).
  • If you are searching for a car rental company from outside Ireland…. it can often be cheaper to go for a .ie website rather than .com
  • With regard to the CDW issue, I have found that you can buy an annual policy for c. €60.00.  Now I don’t know if all car rental companies will accept such a policy, but it is perhaps worth asking them.

Of course, one of the biggest hurdles with all of the above, is that it is virtually impossible to speak to a ‘human’ when renting a car.

To me, the simple solution with regard to the CDW being included by your credit card company would seem that the car rental companies and credit card companies should perhaps ‘talk’ to each other and clarify the matter.  Or is that just too simplistic a resolution!!!

One solution, that I can offer, when we were travelling a number of years back and needed to hire a car, we too had a nightmare experience as we don’t use a credit card.  Car rental companies won’t accept debit cards!  We eventually found a company called Indigo based in the UK.  They now have an Irish office.  They organised our car for us, with one of the rental companies who had refused us when we approached them.  AND, the rate we were charged on our debit card, was lower than that quoted to us directly by the rental firm.  AND, we actually got to speak to a human to arrange our car hire.  Give them a call if you are travelling … they may be able to assist you.

I have spoken to Failte Ireland (our national Tourism Board) about this whole debacle.  I’m not sure what, if any, influence they can exert over rental companies.

Would love to hear if others have had negative experiences with car rental companies?  Or perhaps someone else has a solution?

 

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We’ve been doing the AirBnB thing for quite a while now, and have really enjoyed the experience.

Sometimes though we do get asked (what we think) are weird questions, so this is some advice for anyone planning on coming to Ireland on vacation, here are our tips.

Un-named Road

    1. Travelling Distance – forget that in the USA, or in Australia, you can cover vast distances on motorways/highways in a relatively fast time.  That just won’t happen here.  Yes, you can drive from Dublin to Galway via motorway in 2 hours, but once you go off the motorways you can bank on only covering 50 or so kilometres in an hour.  Anyway, you are on holiday, slow down, relax and enjoy.
    2. Overnight stays – I know you want to see as much as possible on your holiday.  However, if I can offer one piece of advice it is slow down.  Mostly it will take you a full day to drive to your next destination.  Plan on staying there 2 nights so that you can get there, enjoy the area for a day, and then move onto next place at a leisurely pace.  For example, if you are travelling from Kilkenny to Killarney… take a day to make the journey, stay night 1, spend the next day in Killarney area, stay night 2, then move on to next destination.
    3. Planning your Trip – most folks seem to want to do the Irish coastline on their visit, and who can blame them, it is stunning.  HOWEVER, there are wonderful places to visit and some amazing hidden gems in the centre (Midlands), don’t dismiss them.  Check out Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands for the road less travelled!
    4. Roads with no names –  yes, that is a reality.  It confuses lots of visitors to our home.  We live on an un-named road.  While postal codes have now been introduced, that is not going to resolve the un-named road issue.  And, no, the street a block away is not named either!  We like to confuse!
    5. And more on roads – we, Irish, aren’t the best on using road numbers to direct people.  I struggle to remember the road numbers of the roads around us…. I am getting better at it.
    6. A useful app:  if you have a smart phone with you, a useful app, is ‘autoaddress’…. if you have the Eircode (postal code) for your destination this app is immensely helpful.
    7. Car rental – if you plan on renting a car to tour around the country…. consider picking your car up outside of the cities or airports, it is usually cheaper.  If you are staying in Dublin for the first few days of your vacation, don’t bother with a car, it will not be worth the trouble. Pick up the car when you are ready to leave Dublin or better still hop on a bus and train – enjoy the scenery – and pick your car up once your out of the hectic place that is an airport/city.  I’ve also been told that you get a better rate if you search ‘your car rental company’.ie rather than .com.  And another word of warning… check the small print we are hearing some awful horror stories of extra charges being lobbied onto car rental.
    8. Parking – this one I guess is mainly for our American visitors. Yes, it is perfectly legal to park the car on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. If you are driving on the left-hand side of the road and spot a parking slot on the right-hand side…. go for it.
    9. Tourist attractions – some of our tourist attractions are maintained and run by the Office of Public Works (OPW) – a government division.  They offer free entrance on the first Wednesday of every month.  Well worth availing of this offer to visit their sites.
    10. Cliffs of Moher – sorry to single this one out, but we learnt a tough lesson ourselves with this one… it is best to go there either early morning or late afternoon to visit.  It is crazy busy during the day with very limited parking in the vicinity.
    11. Rainy Season? –  that’s all year round!  Seriously though it rains here – winter and summer.  So, no, I can’t tell you that July is best time to come to avoid the rain, or that it doesn’t rain much in August.  It rains here whenever it wants to.  We regularly have four seasons in one day.  Bring a rain jacket with a hood.
    12. Man-hunting – again, we’ve had some single ladies come who’d welcome a chance to meet a handsome Irishman…. a top tip here is when asked ‘where are you from’? Don’t say US or Australia.  The guys have already guessed that…. be specific, i.e. Melbourne, LA, whatever…. even if it is an obscure town somewhere… you’ve got a great opening line for a chat up!

Hope this helps.  Any Irish, or indeed, non-Irish readers got any other tips to share?

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