As a long time traveler, I have heard from others the horror stories of Auto rental. I have heard them speak of a reluctance to travel in Ireland because of the exhorbitant rates and fees which are levied at the local level. We veteran travelers can attest that Irish car rentals can be compared to playing a shell game at a carnival. I, as a norm, avoid that by renting from Kemwel, a brokerage company, which provides, usually, the lowest rates and the least likelihood of excess local fees being charged.
After my last trip over in May of this year, I understand why there has been so much reluctance regarding car rental. I unknowingly played the shell game and lost. Using Kemwel, I leased a car from SixT from May 2 - May 12, 2009, ten days. I prepaid for the auto rental, a Nissan Micra, using my credit card, in April of 2009. All was well and right. When I picked up my rental, I noted that they applied my prepayment and indicated that my balance due was zero. Satisfied that I had just completed another satisfying exchange with one of Kemwel's auto companies, I skimmed my bill and noticed under the line which said "Balance due by Hirer - 0" another line which read "Total €364, 38 Euros or $502.59 USD". I asked the rental agent which was correct and she said that my balance was zero owed. She said that the other line: Total €364, 38 Euros or $502.59 was what I would have paid had I paid the day I picked up my car. I had saved money by prepaying as I had gotten a better exchange rate. That made good sense to me. I picked up my car and happily started off on a wonderful ten day solo adventure in both Ireland and Northern Ireland.
It wasn't until I received my credit card statement in June that I realized i had played the Irish Car Rental Shell game and lost. There on my statement was an additional charge from Kemwel for $502.59. Confident that a mistake had been made and would easily be rectified, I contacted Kemwel customer service. They looked at the bill, advised that they would have to contact SixT and have the charge clarified. A week passed with no reply. Half way through the next week, I received a reply from AutoEurope, Kemwel's sister site, advising that the additional monies were valid local charges. If that be the case, then the local fees and taxes:
License fee €20, 00
Location surcharge €33.00
NI cross border fee €30.00
Windscreen and tires insurance €50.00
Credit card processing fee €5.00
Excess waiver insurance €123.30
Total €364.38 Euros or $502.59 USD
equalled EXACTLY the same amount as I had paid for the rental itself. That is absurd. I find it hard to swallow being charged a sixty dollars shy of one thousand dollars for a Nissan Micra for ten days.
I have traveled in Ireland numerous times over the past five years. I have rented vehicles from Kemwel each time. One of them, in 2006, was a People mover which we let for 3 weeks. My total charges for that rental, a van, three weeks, was $1500 USD. There were no extra fees or excessive overcharging with any of my other rentals only this time when Kemwel set me up with SixT.