Charles Nethersole books a prepaid car rental through CarTrawler for a trip through the English countryside. But when he shows up at the rental agency, a representative tells him he “doesn’t qualify” to rent a car or to receive a refund. Next stop? Our advocates.
I booked and prepaid $113 for a car through Aer Lingus Cars (CarTrawler) at London Gatwick Airport. When I showed up, they would not give me a car. The company didn’t recognize my license, issued in November 2016, for my rental. Apparently, they require a renter to have been licensed a minimum of two years to qualify to rent.
I asked for a refund. The company has refused. I sent them a copy of my previous license. I sent copies of both current and previous licenses, but have had no response. — Charles Nethersole, Miami Beach, Fla.
I’m sorry you didn’t hear back from CarTrawler about your requested refund. After you contacted us, our executive director, Michelle Friedman, reached out to CarTrawler on your behalf.
CarTrawler, whose motto is, “with you all the way,” subsequently contacted you and told you that it did not owe you a refund. The company pointed to its terms that spell out the unusual license requirement for the renters of this agency.
What about CarTrawler?
We don’t have executive contacts with CarTrawler. However, if you use the CarTrawler site to book a car rental, you will be bound by the company’s terms and conditions.”
At a minimum, travelers must make a deposit at the time of original booking. They also have the option of prepaying the rental cost, in which case they would only pay for fuel or optional extras on arrival.
The booking conditions also indicate that drivers must present a full driver’s license from their country of origin issued a minimum of two years prior, a valid passport and a valid credit card in the driver’s name when picking up their car.
Wait, hang on. Did I just say “issued a minimum of two years prior”? Yes, I did.
The terms and conditions provide that failure to present the required documents may result in the rental agent’s refusal to provide a car, with no refund.
Do I need an international driver’s license?
CarTrawler considers U.S. license renewals as brand-new licenses, and thus many U.S. citizens won’t have valid licenses to drive their rental cars.
In an email, the car rental site told you that you weren’t qualified to drive in England because you needed to have a full two years on his driver’s license from the date of issue.
CarTrawler’s website says if you are renting from abroad (outside the EU), an international driver’s license “is usually required” but also “must be accompanied by the original domestic driver’s license of the driver.”
Charles, given your situation, you probably should have reviewed CarTrawler’s terms and conditions more closely. I don’t think CarTrawler would have rented you a car even if you produced a valid international driver’s license.
I know hindsight is always 20/20, but it seems to me, given your particular circumstances, you probably should have booked with a different car rental agency. The terms of this agency are unusual, and I don’t think you would have encountered such restrictions if you had stuck with the mainstream agencies.
A happy ending
Fortunately for you, this story has a happy ending. You later filed a chargeback with your credit card, which issued a full refund.