Increased dialogue over damage charges would benefit rental firms and fleets
Increased dialogue over damage charges would benefit both vehicle rental companies
and their customers, according to Meridian Vehicle Solutions.
The medium-term rental specialist said that the area was one that had
considerable potential for friction and misunderstanding, and that both parties
could potentially achieve better outcomes by entering into dialogue.
Phil Jerome, managing director, explained: “The underlying problem here is
usually that rental customers feel that they might be ‘clobbered’ with a large
bill because of damage that has occurred to the car while in their care.
“This can lead to some difficult behaviour. Recently, we had a customer who
simply refused to sign the return documentation for a vehicle they had hired
from us and damaged, which is something that is unpleasant to deal with.
“However, we believe that a lot could be achieved through better communication
where customers are more forthcoming about damaging vehicles and rental
companies are able to talk directly about the potential cost of repair.”
Mr Jerome said that the customer perception that a damage charge would be
expensive was very often mistaken.
He said: “Damage to rental vehicles happens fairly often and we are, in that respect,
bulk buyers of repairs. This means that we are usually able to get jobs done at
a low cost and then pass that saving to the customer.
“Certainly, our damage charge rate will tend to be lower than the cost quoted
by your local SMART repair company, which is the usual port of call for rental
customers who have damaged a car.”
He added that customers undertaking poor quality SMART repair was also a
potential source of conflict.
Mr Jerome said “The fact is that a lot of SMART
repairs that we see carried out on behalf of customers are simply not up to
scratch. It is an industry where standards do vary quite widely. This can
create problems where a customer believes they have solved the problem but we
then have to challenge the quality of the repair.
“The truth is that we would much rather customers get in touch and we can have
an honest conversation about the repair and the likely cost. As with most parts
of the whole rental process, transparency and dialogue can overcome most