Claim back additional costs

If you arrive at your destination only to find that your car hire company has overbooked and you no longer have a car, then there are a few things you can do.

Your first course of action is to see if the car hire company can supply an alternative car that you're happy to accept instead. 

Of course, you may have to wait until a replacement can be offered to you. 

Breach of contract

If an alternative car can't be provided and you're left stranded, or if you're not happy to wait for a replacement, then you can hold the company in breach of contract.

As such, you're entitled to claim back what you've already paid to the hire company. You're also entitled to hire an identical car elsewhere and claim back any additional costs. 

Booking on a credit card

If a credit card was originally used to make the booking, you could also hold the credit card company jointly liable if anything goes wrong, under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

Section 75 covers items costing over £100 and up to £30,000, if at least a proportion has been paid on your credit card.  

Or, if a debit or credit card was used and the sum involved was under £100, then you could use the chargeback system, where your provider can reverse the payment by trying to claw back the money you paid.

This isn't enshrined in law but many providers operate this system.

Will car hire in European countries change after Brexit?

In a no-deal situation, international driving permits would need to be obtained ahead of travel from a post office. This applies to taking your own car and hire car purchases.

There are two permits you could require depending on where you want to travel, and one lasts for longer than the other. Car permits for UK holidaymakers travelling in the EU are being sold in specific post offices from February.

Read our guide for more information on international driving permits (IDPs) including what they are, how to get one and what happens if you're planning to drive to an EU country after Brexit.

If the withdrawal agreement is approved by the EU and UK, it's been agreed that consumer rights will remain unchanged until the terms of the future relationship between the UK and the EU are decided. This transitional period will last from Brexit day on 29 March 2019 to 31 December 2020.

Read our guide on how Brexit could impact consumer rights for more information.

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