Published: 00:01, 02 August 2017
Giles Bones decided enough was enough when he felt he had been ripped off hiring a car abroad.
He paid £750 for a rental in Switzerland in 2015 that he expected to cost £287. Two years later, he is helping to expand a “transparent” comparison website to stop holidaymakers suffering the same fate.
“I was screwed over by a car rental company and I vowed to help change the face of the industry,” said the international relations manager for MyTripCar.
“Around the same time, a Spanish start-up from Alicante got in touch with me and asked me to come on board and work with them.
“After my nightmarish car rental experience I jumped at the opportunity.”
Today, MyTripCar analyses rentals covering more than 1,600 pick-up locations in more than 40 countries with firms like Avis, Hertz, Enterprise and Europcar.
The business has raised €1.6 million (£1.4m) in two rounds of financing from Spain and the UK, including an investment from Mr Bones, who grew up in Faversham and was born in Whitstable.
He bases himself in Herne Bay when he is on UK business, where his father runs a bed company and his mother commutes to Canterbury.
He hops between his home in Kent and Spain, helping the firm expand to 3,000 monthly reservations, with double-digit growth each month.
Mr Bones, a former pupil at King’s School in Canterbury, said: “Our clients are generally travellers, business people and holidaymakers who want to have the security of hiring a car without hidden costs and to knowing the real price from the outset.”
He said the company offers a higher “level of transparency” than rivals, classifying rentals by car types, showing where there is availability and clearly showing insurance options.
He said: “A lot of firms offer their own insurance and will say you can hire a car for €1 but then you find out you have to take out their insurance to get the offer.
“There are a lot of tricks used within the industry.
“We don’t offer our own insurance, so as not to enter into conflict with the car rental company, which is sadly what happens with other car rental comparison sites.”
Since it launched 18 months ago, the company has recorded a 30% client return rate.
Alongside its key markets in the UK, Germany and France, the firm is expanding into Australia and hopes to break into the US soon.
The company has more than 20 professionals from different nationalities.
With the car rental market valued at £47 billion, Mr Bones believes the expansion will continue but insists he will not forget why he got involved in the company.
He said: “I know family and friends who have been stung by hire cars and we are giving consumers protection.”
Hiring a car this summer? Here’s mytripcar.co.uk’s top tips
1. If you decide at the last moment not to hire a car at the last moment, change the dates of your bookings instead of cancelling. Why? Because changing the dates of your bookings is free. However, if you cancel a prepaid booking, they may charge you up to 100% of the price.
2. If you don’t want to pay an extra charge, all drivers must be over 25 and have held a valid driving licence for at least four years.
3. Hire a comprehensive coverage with no deductibles. Check that it really is “with no deductibles”. This way nothing will be charged to your credit card afterwards.
4. Each car hire company has a different fuel policy. Go for a full/full policy – where the car is picked up with the tank full of fuel and needs to be returned full as well. This way you won’t have to pay in advance for the fuel, nor for the refuelling fee, and you will be able to choose the petrol station.
5. The car hire assistants earn a commission depending on the additional extras or better insurances you hire at the counter. Don’t give in to the pressure. You have already compared the prices of all available cars, and you already know the pros and cons of the insurances and extras. Be patient and keep your reservation as it is.
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