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Broker urges car hire companies to issue cash refunds

Zest Car Rental is calling on fellow car rental firms to refund all customers’ cancellations of pick-ups until the end of May.

The car hire broker says it will automatically process refund requests with no charge up to that date and promised to extend the policy if the Covid-19 lockdown continues. The Foreign Office currently advises against all non-essential overseas travel.

But the company said it was “disappointed” in the approach to refunding of some rivals, and noted a report by consumer champion Which? that showed car hire companies ‘making it difficult’ for customers to get refunds and triggering a rise in negative reviews and damaging the reputation of the car hire industry.

It is urging all car hire firms not to offer car rental credits rather than cash refunds, offer partial refunds or change websites to prevent customers from cancelling their bookings online – practices it says it has seen implemented and labelled “appalling”.

Founder and managing director Rory Sexton said: “Our ethos has always been to look after our customers and it’s at the core of what we do. As soon as we knew the pandemic was going to cause a lot of disruption, we decided the best course of action was to refund customers, in full, quickly.

“Companies must treat their customers fairly if they are to come out the other side of this crisis with their reputations intact. Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be a widely held belief across the car hire industry and we’ve heard of a lot of travel companies and competitors not issuing refunds in a timely manner, not issuing refunds at all and some, removing the customers’ ability to cancel online. That’s appalling. We firmly believe that it’s the difficult times when companies prove their worth and customers will reward fairness with loyalty once the situation returns to normal.

“We know we’ll still be here to serve our customers when this is all over but the reputation of the car hire industry may be in tatters by then.”

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