It's a dreary, rainy and gray day, here in North Florida. Nothing much on TV of any interest and the Mrs. is suffering through a rather severe bout of vertigo, so I'm kinda relegated to moping about the house. All-in-all, it's a rather depressing vibe to the day. So -- Let's talk about Car Hire in Ireland, shall we???
Now, in regards to that subject, I've been around the block -- a FEW times. This July will make an even dozen visits there over the last eleven years, but my very first, during the High Season of mid-to-late July. Most of our visits, excluding the one abberation of February, 2002, have been in either April (typically, for nine days), or June (usually for 15-16 days). This year, we wanted to extend our time out to three weeks though, and that meant that our only viable option would be mid-July until August first. I'm familiar with the old saw about Peak Season means PEAK demand and therefor, PEAK prices, so DESPITE the current economy, it was obvious that CAREFUL planning would be required, to make the trip as affordable as possible. I figured that I was up to the challenge, though, as all of our previous trips were self-drive and I've made the arraingments for each and every one of them.
Pity the Fool.
Over the years, I've used Sixt, Enterprise, Europcar, Avis, Budget, Thrifty, Atlas and Dooley, both directly and through Consolidators, like Kemwell, Autoeurope, IrishcarRental and CarRentals.com and I've been horribly mistreated, highly disappointed and grossly over-charged by unexpected "Extras", but I have ALSO been treated honestly and fairly and sometimes --- I've even been been pleasantly suprised.
Not REAL often, though.
Car Hire is THE bane of Irish Tourism. I have likened the process to "Kissing The Frog" -- suggesting that it is THE worst aspect of the planning process, after which, all the rest is smooth sailing and realatively pleasant, in comparison.
This year is shaping up to be even worse than ever before. The ITIC Report ( http://www.itic.ie/fileadmin/docs/ITIC-Car_Rental_Fleet_Shortage_and_Tourism.pdf ) is offering DIRE projections for 2010 and my own research has pretty well substanciated their prognosis.
Here's a timeline of how the process usually unfolds, for me:
Our approximate dates are usually settled upon around the end of November -- at which time I begin the process of searching out a SENSE of available options. Doing so gives me an approximate range for my budget and lets me be aware if any true bargains happen to materialize. I usually settle upon purchasing airfare first, as all other details are dependant upon the specific dates of my flight. After that, I usually secure some, if not MOST of my lodgings. Only THEN, once I've determined the NATURE (Lots of road Time? Bigger car. Mostly Sedentary? A smaller car will suffice.) of the trip, am I prepared to face the morass of the mindfield known as car hire.
This year, we're arriving at the Cork Ferry Port, in Ringaskiddy, about 7 AM on 15 July, via the all-new Fastnet Lines Swansea to Cork overnight ferry. We are departing Shannon at 1300 on 1 August. Our car rental period is for 17 days. Our flight is from Orlando (MCO) to Cardiff, via Dublin, on Aer Lingus.
Here's a chart of some of the 'Usual Suspects' of Irish Car Hire. All rates are for same dates and times and based upon Waiving CDW by using my BankofAmerica World MasterCard. Where that is NOT possible (certain websites), I have tried to NOTE that fact. Bear in mind that a change of dates and/or length of rental, or of car CLASS makes all this information irrellivant -- This is only done as a 'SNAPSHOT' of the state of things, under VERY SPECIFIC circumstances. Therefore, it is NOT intended as an over-all endorsement OR condemnation of any particular company or companies!!! Sorry that the chart doesn't want to format clearly.
COMPANY WEBSITE REFERENCED MODEL DOORS EXTRA FEATURES PRICE QUOTED - In Euro unless shown as other.
ARGUS www.argus-rentacar.com Fiesta 2/4 448.17 Fiesta 5 456.22
Golf 4/5 546.71
Golf 5 AC 584.42
Avensis 4 AC 735.23
Golf 4/5 AC / Automatic 886.04
Fiesta 4/5 Automatic 1039.42
Avensis 4 AC / Automatic 1225.40
Micra 2/4 Automatic 2951.97
AVIS www.avis.ie NO CDW Waiver ( www.avis.com ) (NO CDW ) Corsa 5 997.53 ($979.21)Focus 5 1087.51 ($1058.92 ) Micra 5 Automatic 1262.54 ($1298.05)Focus 4 Automatic 1359.43 ($1458.83)
THRIFTY www.thrifty.ie (Affiliated with: ATLAS ) www.atlascarhire.com Polo 3 916.20Yaris 5 938.57Focus 5 1050.4Passat 4 1.6 litre 1262.93Passat 4 1.8 litre 1363.57Micra 3/5 Automatic 1385.94Corolla 4/5 Automatic 1497.80
KEMWELL www.kemwell.com Hyundai I30 4 $930.62Golf 4 $959.79Focus 4 AC $988.96Astra 4 $1183.98Hyundai Accent 4 Automatic $1484.93Nissan Note 4 Automatic $1543.27Astra 4 Automatic $1572.97
BUDGET www.budget.ie Polo 2 497.9Fiesta 4 522.10Golf 4 546.40Mondeo 4 643.60Yaris 2 Automatic 935.00Auris 4 Automatic 1105.00
HERTZ www.hertz.com No CDW www.hertz.ie (No CDW Waiver) Ford Ka 2/3 822.52Focus 2/4 NO AC 1.4 litre 951.07Mondeo 4/5 AC 1131.06 Mazda 3 Automatic 1259.63 Mazda 6 4/5 Ac / Automatic 1336.79
This was actually the CHEAPEST quote that I found:www.carhire.ie
Vehicle Type: Compact Models Include: Opel Astra, Peugeot 307, Citroen Xsara or similarPickup Date: Thursday, July 15, 2010Pickup Time: 09:00Pickup Location: Shannon AirportReturn Date: Sunday, August 01, 2010Return Time: 09:45Return Location: Cork Airport Child Seats: 0Extra Drivers: 0Cost: 669.27 -- Includes a One-Way Fee of $81.53Currency: USD
From the "Terms And Conditions" page, though, came these disturbing caveats:
"Transaction Processing Fee A transaction processing fee of 10 is applicable for the purchase of any product or service. Premium Location charge There is a charge of 28.00 (incl. VAT) for pick-ups at airport and downtown locations Vehicle Licence Fee (VLF) VLF is 1.32 (plus VAT) per day Fuel Policy Fuel is paid on commencement of the rental. Your rental vehicle is supplied with a full tank of fuel at a discounted price and should be returned with an empty fuel tank. There is no refund for partial fuel tanks.One Way Rentals One way fee is 60 plus VAT. "
So -- In ADDITION to the Quoted price of $669.27, there APPEARS to be a FEW 'EXTRAS' -- Airport Fee - 28 Euro -- Transaction Fee - 10 Euro -- VLF (Road Tax/Licence Fee) - 25.5 Euro (1.32 per day X 17 days, plus 13.5% VAT) -- Totaling 63.5 Eor, or approx $87.63 more, PLUS the Initial Fuel charge, which is difficult to determine as the vehicle fuel tank sizes can vary so much.Still, the 'EXTRAS' only raise the quoted price to $756.90. BUT, when you add in the ASSININE 'Return It Empty' Fuel policy and this (VERY DISTURBING) 'Terms And Conditions" item: "353 car rental CDR cover It is a mandatory requirement for all renters to purchase 353 car rental's CDR cover. 353 car rental does not accept the renter's credit card as CDR cover. " -- I HATE 'Airport Suprises', so I find THAT ambiguity to be a Deal Killer.
Now there are a BUNCH of other players and if I had the time, energy and enthusiasm, I could go on and and and on. Instead, I will spare you more numbers (and ME, more effort) and PRESUME that these are FAIRLY REPRESENTATIVE. They give a SNAPSHOT of what the Car Hire landscape looks like, given the dates of my search and the parameters of my SPECIFIC needs. These prices are NOT inclusive of all 'Local Charges and Fees', of course, NOR do they include the charge for the initial tank of fuel (or the arcane RULES as to whether the car needs to be returned Full, for a refund, or Empty, as no credit is allowed). I finally settled upon using Budget, even though their quote of 546.4 Euro does NOT include 25E + VAT for an 'Administration Fee' applied because I am waiving the CDW via my World MasterCard, or the 28E (VAT Included) Airport Surcharge. (At least they DO offer a REFUND of the fuel charge, if the car is returned with a Full tank!) Their words also state: "A deposit of EUR 2000 will be required on pickup for damages." Theoretically, my total expense SHOULD be approximately 605 Euro PLUS the Initial fuel at +/- 100 Euro (which I EXPECt will be refunded, as I will return it full -- with MUCH cheaper fuel than they would charge!), NOT counting the 'Deposit' and any expenses related to THAT. I HATE that they charge a DEPOSIT, rather than a HOLD, but I ONLY use that World MasterCard for car hire in Ireland, so a deposit or Hold does not adversely affect my travel -- but, the 3% Foreign Transaction Fee ( and MasterCard's 1% ) must also be factored in. Assuming an exchange rate of 1 euro = $1.38, that 700 Euro initial charge will cost me $966. If that is correct, the Foreign Transaction Fees will work out to $38.64 -- and a total of just OVER $1000 as a total.
My decision may come as a BIG shock to those of you that are familiar with my opinions. I've been a big fan of Dan Dooley the last few years, due mostly for their no-nonsence, "No Suprises" marketing model, coupled with reasonable and competitive pricing. This year? Not so much. Absolutely NOTHING makes sense!! Dooley still seems to embrace their 'No Hidden Fees' Policy, but they don't SEEM terribly COMPETIVE in their pricing. Here's a breakdown for a Ford Focus Manual , waiving CDW, all with Drop Off at Shannon Airport, but varied by Pick Up LOCATION. Note that all are for my exact terms -- Start on 15 July and End on 1 August.
WEB SITE PICKUP LOCATION QUOTED PRICE
www.dandooley.com Cork Airport $1410.27
Dublin Airport $1396.30
Belfast Airport $1015.84
Cork Ferryport $1522.01
Just for chuckles -- Same car, same dates, with Pick Up AND Drop Off at Belfast, shows a quote of $792.37 !!! A Belfast to Belfast quote from Kemwell priced out at 418.63 USD for a Focus and ONLY 462.73 USD for an Opel Astra AUTOMATIC!!! Kemwell's quote does NOT include the 'EXTRAS', but they should net out at LESS than $200!!
Now, I interpret the ITIC report to SUGGEST that the Car Hire companies are trying to pressure the Irish government into extending and even enhancing the Tax Breaks and Incentives that they have traditionally enjoyed and I also understand that those same companies exist for the purpose of earning a profit, but, SERIOUSLY, guys! Do you NOT realize that you are Biting The hand That Feeds You????? the Airlines are trying THEIR best to force traffic into and out of Dublin. With Belfast only a relatively short bus or train ride away, with an opportunity of saving Hundreds of dollars on offer there, you are opening the door for Tourism Suicide. Once people have made their way to the North in search of bargains, How are you going to LURE them back????I'm Not making any threats here, mind you --- I'm just SAYIN'..... Bob
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"Ireland Expert" Michele ErdvigClick links for Michele's Book or Custom Ireland ItineraryVisit Michele's Irish Shop for unique Irish gifts and beautiful photos of Ireland.
May the light be your guide and the darkness be your comfort!
Kristin -- I, too normally drive a manual trans vehicle, here in the States --- though the Mrs.' / 'Family' car is an Automatic .I do ALL the driving while in Ireland and have, on all 11 visits since 1999. I have driven everything from 5 door compacts, like the Ford Focus Alfa 146, and Opel Astra, to 5 passenger People Movers (Opel Meriva), to 7 passenger Renaults and 9 Passenger People Movers like the VW Carravelle and Mercedes Vito. In 2007, I drove a VW Passat over 1800 Kilometers around Ireland.ALL of them were Manual shift. I have NEVER driven an Automatic in Ireland -- though a couple of my wife's cousins DO actually own cars that are automatics. I find the transition (TRANSMISSION-wise ) to be NO problem, what-so-ever. The RH driving doesn't usually bother me too much either -- but, curiously, I OFTEN have an 'Ireland Moment' (at LEAST once), shortly after having returned home to the US.Dunno what THAT is all about????? Do you suppose it's 'Wishful Thinking'???
If you are comfortable with a stick, I think the HUGE premium is probably NOT worth the expense.
That's MY (rarely) Humble Opinion!!Are you planning to buy the CDW, or Waive it? 'Excess' is ONLY an option IF you DO buy CDW.As to only 'eating' the charge for one week -- I guess it would all depend on the date of the rental AND the closing Date of your Billing cycle ...If you buy the 'Excess' -- or a Third-Party alternate -- you Don't need to worry EXCESSIVELY (I'm sorry-- I just COULDN'T resist! ). Like anywhere, bad things CAN happen and spending a few hours dealing with getting a Police Report due to a minor side-swipe or smash-and-grab car burglary is best avoided, so MY preference is to take off-street parking whenevever possible. It DOES, of course depend upon WHERE -- a big town or city, versus a small, rural village ...
Nothin' like learning how to drive in a manual transmission car to have that ability for life. I remember being 17 and literally crying with frustration when I got stuck at a stoplight on a hill and had cars piling up behind me... with me inching backwards instead of forwards... *shudder*
After seeing the prices on automatics over there, and with all the advice to rent the smallest car possible, I have never been so glad to have these driving skills!
Folks' this is IRELAND.Believe nothing you hear from anyone.Especially not when they blame the govt. Everyone is after your money, simply. Outwitting them is part of the Irish experience.
Wehn we came in from the UK with a UK car, as residents,it "imported" was incredibly complicated. The biggest tax fiddle here is to live South and use a Northern car. They are in the middle of a huge crackdown on this just now.