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Ten Things Only Car Rental Workers Will Understand

The good, the bad, and the ugly truth of working in the car rental industry.

Anyone who works in the car hire business will be all too familiar with these everyday problems… Send this to your rental buddies for a shared laugh. If you have your own, submit them at the end and we’ll add them on 😉


1. Travelling makes everyone grumpy.

Think about it, you are the first person a customer meets after their flight. All of the grievances and complaints from their journey will spill out onto your rental desk for you to mop up. Especially early in the morning or very late at night (which is when the majority of budget airlines operate.) You must keep a smile plastered on to your face whilst you hear about how delayed the flight was and how loud their baby cried and how inedible the food was. You’re basically an agony aunt in a neckerchief, trying to package them into a car as quickly and politely as possible. It’s not for the faint-hearted and it’s never personal but boy does it make all the difference when you get a lovely, happy traveller at your desk for a change.

2. Finding the stop-start button isn’t as easy as you think.

You’ll be getting in and out of a lot of different types of cars, vans, trucks, people-carriers, electromobiles, you name it. Finding the on button is more of a challenge than you predicted. Why don’t all cars have it in the same place? Who knows. But it’s infuriating and when you need to move a car quickly from one place to the next, don’t be surprised if you turn the wipers or indicator on by mistake.

3. People do not take care of rental cars.

It never ceases to amaze me the sheer state of the vehicles when customers bring them back. Before working in car rental I thought people would treat cars that aren’t their own with the utmost respect and care. But sadly, I was wrong. Not a bit of it. Because it isn’t theirs they don’t care what happens to it. We’ve seen cars covered in pet hair, sick, urine, nappies, alcohol, mud, sand, and a whole variety of food types. We’ve seen cars bashed to bits, doors scraped, wing mirror clipped, alloys scratched, chunks of tyres missing, the list is endless. For all the cleaning and perfecting our lovely valeters do to the cars, you never know what state they’re coming back in and what size valeting job will be needed between rentals.

4. Keys. Keys everywhere.

Buckets of keys overflowing, keyboards dripping in keys, keys on the desk, keys in the cars, keys in your pockets, endless keys with endless registration numbers yet somehow your fleet manager will know exactly where everything is. You will have to do a mini-search for the right key at least ten times a day as they seem to have minds of their own and often go missing or end up on the wrong peg/hook. Not to mention some have a metal key and some are just fobs and come in a range of shapes and sizes. You would think the manufacturers would keep all their keys similar in style, but you’d be wrong. Oh, and for every key, there is always a spare or two…

5. You’ll know the name of cars by their licence plate.

People in the rental business often refer to vehicles using the letters or numbers from the registration plate so don’t be confused when you hear a rental agent speaking in strange code like asking for DOA or PPL or KIP, for example. It’s just an easier way to organise the fleet and keep track of multiple vehicles of the exact same make and model. When you have 150 Ford Fiestas in the car park, it doesn’t help when someone asks “where’s the key for that fiesta?”

6. The customer is rarely right.

As most will know, car rental companies use comparison sites and third-party booking agents to get customers which can be confusing for the customer who thinks they booked with ‘Expedia Car Hire’ and the sign on the door says ‘Edinburgh Easy Car Co’. Each supplier has a different set of rental terms and conditions on top of the booking agents terms which can often throw people at the rental desk when they are told they have to pay for something they already paid for (or so they thought.) You will get a lot of hirers tell you “I hire all the time, all around the world so I know what I’m talking about.” which sadly, means nothing as the insurance policies vary from company to company, country to country and cover to cover. Basically, it is your job to calmly explain to them how it works without saying out loud “you’ve got it wrong pal”.

7. Child seats are confusing as *&^%.

You thought your kid’s car seat was tricky? Try hundreds of them, day in and day out, in every variety of design and installation. Iso-fix? Base? Rear-facing? You’ve got them all and a hundred manuals in a drawer somewhere while an impatient parent clutching their screaming kid stands over you, scrutinising your safety skills. It’s a tough gig but thankfully in the UK most rental companies state that they will not fit child seats in the vehicle so the company cannot be held responsible for the safety and security of the child. Luckily, most parents will be familiar with how the chair goes in or have brought their own with them.

8. An accident is never straightforward.

Just when you get your head around your own car insurance policy, car hire insurance is a hugely complicated business in itself. When a hirer is involved in an accident, it is on the hire companies’ insurers to get to the bottom of who’s fault it was and then take the costs from the responsible party. If the hirer was at fault, they will have their excess (deposit) taken but if they paid for insurance cover, the hire company has to foot the bill. Insurance claim cases can drag on for years if neither party can take responsibility and the paperwork involved is endless. As a customer, it’s always best to pay for insurance and avoid losing a hefty wedge of your money. As a rental agent, it’s always best to make sure your customers are aware of the ramifications of leaving a large deposit.

9. You will find the most bizarre lost property.

Ask anyone who has worked in vehicle rental, both commercial and leisure – people keep weird things in their cars! Of course, there are the usual suspects like a pair of gloves, headphones, mobile phones, coat hangers, packets of chewing gum, etc. But then you come across all manner of strange and unexplained items such as:

  • Ashes
  • Dog collar
  • Plant pots
  • Personal “massagers”
  • Bleaching kit
  • Garden Gnome
  • Snowglobe collection
  • One high heel shoe
  • Baby Food
  • Scrabble

10. You basically become a tour guide for your area.

Honestly, you should get commission from the local attractions and restaurants for the amount of times you’ve recommended them. Customer are always asking “where’s good to eat around here?”, “what’re the best bars for a night out?” or “where’s the nearest shop?” and every time you’ll lean in and tell them your favourite place like it’s a state secret, just exclusively for them and they’ll look delighted and ‘in the know’ like a local. When the truth is, you’ve told the ten people who asked before them and it’ll probably be rammed and the next time you visit you can joke “I should get a commission on the amount of tourists I send over here!”


Got your own suggestion? Submit it below and we’ll add it to the list anonymously.



Only Car Rental Workers Will Understand…

02/09/2019 11:28 PM GMT Anonymous submitted:

You know how much petrol a car can take just by looking at it! 😅


03/09/2019 08:17 AM GMT Joe J submitted:

If I had a dollar for every time someone has legit asked me “cant i just drive without insurance?” smh.


03/09/2019 01:03 PM GMT avisrep88 submitted:

how hard it is to get the smell of smoke out of carpet!! 😷😷

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