At one stage or another, we all end up using a car rental company. For example, if you’ve had an accident and need a replacement, when you go on vacation and don’t want to use your own car due to the distance, or even if you don’t drive that often so it’s more feasible to rent a car once in a while. But what’s really interesting is that almost all of us, regardless of how many times we’ve rented a car, have a bit of fear about doing so, mainly because we feel that if we aren’t careful, the price we’ll eventually be charged won’t be the price we were initially expecting.
This feeling is caused largely due to the many ‘urban legends’ going around including stories about additional charges for rental car’s petrol tanks not being returned when full, scratches that suddenly appeared that allegedly weren’t on the car before, and other ‘surprise’ charges that customers often see only days or weeks after the car has already been returned. With so many car rental companies around, and with consumers feeling the need for extra caution, we decided to step in for the benefit of our readers and to try to answer the big question: “Which South-African car Rental Company is Best?”
Disclaimer: Although our review is not scientific, in order to reach an educated and well based conclusion we tried to base this article on as many facts as possible, together with a simple point system. That said, our conclusions are not proven facts, and should not be construed as any form of advice or persuasion to use a specific service or company. Additionally, we’d like to point out that none of the car rental companies paid or influenced this article in any way [if any of them do offer to advertise after this article, we will mention this].
How Was the ‘Research’ Done?
Basically, we’ve broken down this research into three areas. The first of these is how many locations each company has and the second is which services the companies offer. Both of these sections were based on information from the company’s websites. Thirdly, we looked at how consumers rated each company, based on information from the Hellopeter website, a website that lets consumers rate companies based on their experience.
To make our conclusion easier to understand, we added a point system: In each of the three categories, the first place winner gets 5 points, the runner up gets 4 points, and third place gets 3 points. Then, we added all the points from each category, and voila, we have the results.
Wait, What About Price???
You might be wondering why we aren’t talking about pricing in our review. There are actually a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, there are many special offers available that are constantly changing. Secondly, there are simply too many factors that influence the end price of a rental car: the age of the driver, the kind of car you want, how long you are renting for, where you’re picking up your vehicle and if you wish to drop off your vehicle in another location – all of these will effect your final pricing. Lastly, some of the companies require that you provide your credit card details before getting a quote – something that we personally found to be very annoying and perhaps even a deterrent to using that company’s services seeing as how often people like to compare before making a decision – something that we feel is legitimate. So, we preferred skipping this aspect rather than providing you with inaccurate data. We assume that if the second best company offered you a much better price, the average person would take that offer and that if the price didn’t vary that much, then the first and more expensive offer would probably be selected.
Number of Car Rental Locations
The first thing we did was to take a look at the number of car rental locations each company has in South Africa. Why? Because the more locations there are, the easier it will be for you to find a car rental place close to you. Plus, you might want to pick up your car and drop off your car in different locations, and the more possibilities there are, the more flexibility you have. So, in order of most locations to least, here’s how many locations each car rental company offers:
Obviously, Avis comes out on top here, getting 5 points, Budget gets 4 points, and Europcar gets 3 points. But all six of the major car rental companies do offer services at all of South Africa’s major airports, so if you’re flying then location might not be as much of a concern.
Types of Car Rental Services
Next, we took a look at what kinds of services each car rental company offered, and we looked at ten options that made life easier for you as a renter. The options were:
Loyalty Program: does the company have a loyalty or rewards programme that can save you money if you rent frequently or offer you upgrades?;
Child Seats: does the company offer the possibility of adding a child safety seat?;
Add-ons for the Disabled: does the company offer hand controls on vehicles for disabled drivers?;
Luxury Cars: does the company offer luxury vehicles?;
Chauffeur Services: does the company offer the option of a driver should you not wish to drive yourself?;
Delivery and Collection Services: does the company offer the option of having the vehicle delivered to you and/or collected from you, rather than you needing to go to a location yourself?;
Accident Services: does the company offer specific accident services, other than the normal customer service phone line, for example: pick up, towing, or emergency services?;
Different Pick Up/Drop Off Points: does the company allow you to pick up your car from one location and drop it off at a different location?;
GPS Rental: does the company offer the option to add a GPS navigation system to your rental car?;
Additional Insurance: does the company offer additional insurance options over and above the basic insurance?.
*N/A= this information was not available on the company website
Of course, which of these car rental services you need entirely depends on you, but it’s always nice to know what your options are. And for the most flexible options, Avis and Europcar come out tops, both getting 5 points in joint first place, coming in second we get Budget, with 4 points, and Hertz is in third place with 3 points. But now let’s move on to the most interesting part…
What Do Customers Think of These Car Rental Companies?
Just how satisfied are customers with these car rental companies? We took at look at the numbers, using consumer reviews posted on Hellopeter as our guide, and you might be a little surprised by what we found:
Surprised? Customer satisfaction numbers for car rental agencies are pretty low overall which fits with our description in the beginning of this article regarding customer’s concerns. That said, and in order to be fair, there are two considerations that you have to keep in mind: firstly, consumers are more likely to take the time to report a negative experience compared to a positive one. And secondly, and perhaps more importantly here, most customers don’t use car rental companies regularly (maybe once or twice a year) which means that a bad experience will seem more serious to that person, simply because he/she has nothing else to compare it to. Couple that with the fact that many people who rent cars are going on holiday, and a bad car rental experience can effect what’s supposed to be a fun and relaxing vacation, and you can understand why customer satisfaction numbers might be pretty low.
Anyway, based on these numbers, Hertz Car Hire comes up on top getting 5 points, followed closely by Avis, with 4 points, and then Tempest in third with 3 points.
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So Which Car Rental Company in South Africa is the Best?
First place: Avis. Due to its many locations, a full list of services and the second highest customer rating, Avis got first place in two categories and second place in the third, giving them 14 points in total and first place.
* Apparently not only we reached this conclusion. In 2014, Avis won the World Travel Award for best car rental agency in South Africa. These awards are nominated by and voted for by travel professionals.
Second place: Budget, Europcar and Hertz are all tied for second, getting 8 points.
Third Place: Tempest with 3 points.
Final words. Although the article isn’t scientific, and although we are well aware that other factors should and can be taken into account – such as pricing, we hope that this article will at least provide you with more information so that you can make a more educated decision.
Main Subject: car rental
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