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Long Term Visitors to Italy: Lease, Don't Rent a Car

■ 11 August 2009 by James Martin

The print version of International Travel News (a good publication for frequent travelers) published an interesting letter in a recent Travelers Intercom section. It seems a traveler had rented a car for 36 days at the Frankfurt Airport. She’d been told to charge the rental on two credit cards, since credit card insurance only applies to 30 days of a rental.

After all that, disaster struck—or what passes for disaster in the current world of auto rental freaky economics. The car suffered a couple of “scratches”, pointed out to them by the attendant. The charge to “fix” them (replacement and repainting of body panels) was $2,258.

Imagine the scamage. Rental car companies price cars below what they can rent them for because they are big, inefficient corporations and the internet provides a lightening fast, efficient market that matches prices to buyers hungry for an impossible bargain—and there are no predatory price regulations anymore to keep prices honest. So they suck you in by low-balling you and if you happen to live very far away they sock it to you when you’re home and can’t do anything to thwart the claim.

Its sad, isn’t it? Who hasn’t lamented over a door nick after owning a new car for a week? You live with it. Or you get a little bottle of paint and a tiny brush and you make it go away for a few bucks.

This scamage is hard on the overseas workers, too. “Sorry, meester, de boss, hee need some profeet reeel bad for hees stockholders.”

Odd that the rental was through National Car Rental through a contract by Auto Europe. Auto Europe leases cars. Surely they would have told the traveler about the advantage of leasing a car on vacations more than three weeks long. I’m thinkin’ that the bottom line, a few dollars saved, pushed the traveler into a bad, bad, corner.

The French Buyback Lease is one of those clever schemes the French should be commended for. You drive off in a brand new car that might be pre-sold to, say a rental car company who’ll get it when you get back from vacation.

The VAT on new cars is something like 20%. When you lease a car for 36 days, you’ll go a long way toward paying that VAT so that the rental car company doesn’t have to. They’ll get a slightly used car (with no VAT obligations) for a lot less than they would have paid for a new one. You get to drive a brand new car under full warranty for just about the same price as rental. If it’s a few bucks more than renting, so what? Because you get GREAT insurance.

You see, it’s in the best interest of the company leasing the car to make sure they can unload it after you’ve had it for the contract period. So they look for good, comprehensive insurance for you. It’s all included.

So, dammit, don’t live with the increasing likelihood of being surprised by a scratch you’re told is worth $2500 in today’s economy.

Find out more about Leasing a Car on Your Vacation

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Long Term Visitors to Italy: Lease, Don't Rent a Car originally appeared on WanderingItaly.com Aug 11, 2009, © James Martin.

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