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Car Hire Charge for Lost Keys

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Hi guys, I could do with some help with this one, please...


I travel on business every week and, in doing so, rent a car from the same hire company at the airport. Just before Christmas I had a car for a few days, which I returned around 5.30am on a Saturday. Somehow, though, in my rush to catch my flight I managed to lose the keys and, as there was nobody around at that time in the morning, had to call the rental company to let them know, once I landed in London. I always take full collision damage waiver on the cars I hire, simply because the first couple of times I hired they tried to keep my deposit, blaming me for damage already done to the car before I rented it. Fortunately I had noted the damage and their onsite agent had signed the rental agreement to confirm this, so I got the money back. CDW, they told me, clears me of any liability for damage to the car, reducing any excess to £0.


Anyway, getting back to the current problem - I called the rental office and reported the keys lost. As I had full insurance I was told not to worry, as I would be covered. However, last week I received an invoice from them, charging me £95 for the lost keys. I contacted reservations and the girl I spoke with checked things out and confirmed that I should not have been charged. She put me through to customer services, but the next girl I spoke to told me a completely different story, saying that the keys were not covered by the insurance and that the £95 charge was standard. Now, I have looked through the CDW policy and have read the terms and conditions of the rental and there is nothing in there to state this charge. After arguing the case with various customer service agents, I asked to be put through to the supervisor. She agreed to do some more investigation and call me back, which she did. She argued that the keys weren't covered as they were considered 'an accessory' to the vehicle. Now, perhaps I'm missing something here, but it's rather tricky to for a car to perform it's intended function in life without a set of keys, so can they really be considered an accessory?!


Her argument is that, as the keys are considered an accessory, I had a duty of care to look after them. There is a section in the contract about this, but it doesn't really back up her case and, more importantly, another section of the terms states that the maximum liability for loss or damage to "the vehicle or its accessories is limited to the price paid for CDW and the excess payable, where CDW has been purchased."


Now, I see this as pretty straight forward, in that the terms and conditions state that I am covered, but the hire company don't see it this way, so it looks like I am going to have to fight with them over it. I really can't believe they are being so obtuse over £95, bearing in mind that I spend about £800 a month with them. Has anybody else had to deal with anything like this? I don't really want to have to go down the small claims route with this, but if it comes to it, I will...


I received a final email from the company on Friday, stating that the CDW did not cover accessories and that that was their final word on the subject. Should I now put my comments in writing and issue an LBA? I have asked to speak to somebody more senior, but they are apparently always 'busy', or 'out of the office'. I really don't know where else to go with it. Any advice would be gratefully received.


I have a copy of the Ts&Cs on my office laptop, along with the email they sent, so will post these tomorrow, but in the meantime, if anybody has any thoughts, I'd like to hear them.

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i couldnt possibly say whether you are covered or not, have you tried checking with an Insurance Ombusdman?


I would perhaps get someone else to ring the company (might be an idea to record the call) and talk about their insurance as a prospective customer and see if they say that the keys are in fact covered.



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I did try calling as somebody else, but nobody seemed to know the answer. They took my details and said they would call back about it, but I never heard anything from them. Thanks for the suggestion about the IO. I hadn't thought of that...

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They are definately not an accessory, they are as essential as the wheels and engine.

I agree. A car will work fine without an accessory......

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I work for a car hire company and checked with my boss.


No company will cover you for lost keys in your CDW as that is purely for damage to the car.


Some companies will charge you a fixed amount for lost keys, others will charge you the daily hire rate for the car till they can get a new set of keys as they will not hire a car when they only have 1 set.


If you are a regular customer, their customer services should "treat you nicely" and refund this amount, but they are not under any obligation to do this.



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Thanks, Ian. Appreciate the comments, but aren't the keys part of the car? Surely they should be covered by the insurance. That's the point of paying such a ridiculous amount for it! Also, this company is trying to argue that the keys are an accessory. If that is the case, they are covered under the terms and conditions. Please see below for the email I received from the team leader, as well as a pdf showing the terms and conditions of the rental. Sorry, this is such a long post. I have highlighted sections 5-7, which they are using to deny the claim, and section 12, which states that loss or damage to the vehicle and its accessories are covered.



Dear Mr *****


Further to our telephone conversation earlier today regarding our charge to you for lost keys. The keys are an accessory to the vehicle and not part of the vehicle itself and therefore not covered under your agreement.


The MasterCover Plus purchased upon collection of your hire vehicle at *******Airport includes:


Cover for theft of the vehicle

A zero excess if the vehicle sustains damage or loss

Damage to Windscreen and tyres

Personal Accident Insurance

Personal belongings coverage


Please note that loss of keys is not covered under the policy as this is deemed as "duty of care". Please refer to your Terms and Conditions of rental, paragraphs 5 and 7.


(See attached file: UK (in English 2).pdf)


As requested, I have passed your case over to our Escalations Manager who will be contacting you as soon as possible.


Yours sincerely


Emma Gibson

*** Team Leader

******* Vehicle Rental UK Limited

Tel: ++44 (0) 116 *******

Fax: ++44 (0) 116 *******



In these terms and conditions (a) “the Company” means the Company whose

details appear on the front of this form (b) “the Customer” means the person, firm or

organisation by or on behalf of whom vehicles are rented under these Terms and

Conditions © “Authorised Driver” means the driver(s) additional to the Customer

approved and entered overleaf by the Company. The Customer will ensure that

any Authorised Driver will comply with these Terms and Conditions (d) “Vehicle”

means the Vehicle described overleaf (e) “DLW” means Damage Liability Waiver (f)

“TPI” means Third Party Insurance relating to Third Party motor liability (g)

“Insurer” means the insurance company with which TPI is arranged.

1. The Company agrees to rent and the Customer agrees to take the Vehicle on the

Terms and Conditions as set out herein.

2. The Customer will pay the Company on demand all charges due hereunder

including where relevant, sums in respect of DLW, surcharges, additional

charges and VAT or other taxes thereon.

3. DLW and TPI are available through the Company. There will be an additional

charge, subject to the terms of issue, for DLW. There will be no additional

charge for TPI. The Company will always require a current, full driving licence

held for at least 12 months prior to rental, and reserves the right to inspect such

a licence. TPI will not cover loss of or damage to the Vehicle caused by driver

abuse; nor will DLW apply in these circumstances. Vehicles for which DLW

and TPI are taken out are rented to the Customer on the condition that the

Customer complies with their respective terms and conditions. The Insurer will

not accept liability for loss and damage caused while a vehicle is rented to a

Customer who does not comply with these terms and conditions; nor will DLW

apply in these circumstances. The Customer agrees to make any payment

necessary to put the Company in the same position as it would have been in if

the breach of the relevant terms and conditions had not occurred. The Customer

will supply any information concerning the driver(s) of the rented Vehicle to

the Company upon demand and undertakes to allow the Company direct access

to the driver(s) of the Vehicle and will fully co-operate in obtaining such

access. If DLW is not taken out by the Customer, the Customer will be liable

for the full cost of any damage sustained by the Vehicle. In all cases where

Customer’s own insurance has not been arranged, TPI is mandatory. For the

avoidance of doubt Waiver Excess applies not only to damage but also to

theft of the Vehicle. The Customer will use his best endeavours to supply full

details of any Third Party Vehicle involved in any accident with the Vehicle.

4. If the Customer has opted to arrange his own insurance on the Vehicle, the

cover must be comprehensive. Any excess on the policy is the responsibility

of the Customer. The Company reserves the right to ask for satisfactory proof

of the Customer’s own insurance prior to the commencement of rental. The

Customer is responsible for ensuring the Vehicle is properly insured from the

time of delivery until 12.00 hours on the first working day following

termination of the rental and indemnifies the Company against the loss incurred

or damage to the Vehicle in the event that such cover fails to be effective. If the

Customer becomes aware of any changes in his insurance cover during the

period of the rental Company’s Insurance Department (James House, 55 Welford

Road, Leicester LE2 7AR) must be notified immediately in writing. In the event

of accident/loss or damage to the Vehicle the Company will undertake repairs or

select a repairer if applicable and will invoice the Customer for such repairs and

any associated costs. Such invoice will be subject to payment on demand.

The Company may at its discretion accept payment from the Customer’s insurer,

however ultimate responsibility is with the Customer. The Company reserves

the right to inspect the Customer’s driving licence or that of his servant or agent

and the Customer undertakes to ensure that any driver using the rented Vehicle

holds a full (not provisional) licence.

5. The Customer acknowledges that notwithstanding the provisions of (3) and (4)

above he has a duty to ensure that all reasonable care is taken of the Vehicle

against damage or loss throughout the rental period. The Customer accepts

responsibility for any loss or damage to the Vehicle caused by his wilful act or

negligence. This includes but is not restricted to responsibility for any loss or

damage to the Vehicle or its accessories as a result of theft occurring when the

Customer or his servant or agent has left the keys in or with the Vehicle and the

Customer hereby indemnifies the Company against such loss or damage.

6. (a) The Customer undertakes to ensure that the Vehicle is not subject to

overloading in respect of number of persons or weight of goods carried

within the Vehicle during the rental period.

(b) If the Vehicle is used outside the mainland UK, the Customer undertakes to

ensure that the Vehicle is checked for illegal immigrants before returning to

the UK.

7. The Customer undertakes to return the Vehicle with all tyres, tools, audio

equipment and other accessories in the same condition as when received to the

place and on the date set down overleaf. If special cleaning is required for

whatever reason the Company will make a separate charge to cover the cost of

any cleaning and/or repair work required.

8. The Company undertakes to provide a Vehicle to the Customer which is in

good working order and which functions satisfactorily throughout the rental

period. If the Vehicle breaks down during the rental period (but only for

reasons attributable to the Company’s negligence or wilful default), the

Company undertakes to place the Customer in the position which he would

have been in had the breach not taken place. Therefore the Company will,

where the Vehicle breaks down in mainland UK, arrange, as soon as reasonably

practicable after being informed of the breakdown, (a) recovery and repair of the

rented Vehicle so that it is rendered functional, to a satisfactory extent, for the

remainder of the rental period and/or, (b) where the rented Vehicle cannot be so

repaired, provision of a replacement vehicle, of an equivalent standard and size

to the rented Vehicle, to the Customer for the remainder of the rental period.

Provision of this service in circumstances other than those shown above shall

be at the discretion of the Company.

9. Where the Vehicle develops a fault during the rental period owing to any

reason whatsoever, the Customer undertakes to inform the Company

immediately, and not to use the Vehicle while it is in an unroadworthy


10. Vehicles are rented at a daily rate according to the agreed charge, one day being

defined as any period of 24 hours from the time of commencement of the rental

agreement. A grace period of 59 minutes is allowed for after time due back.

After this a day’s charge will be made.

11. (a) In the event that the Customer requires a Vehicle for a longer period than the

agreed rental period the Customer must notify the Company at least 2hours

prior to the termination of the agreed rental period. In the event that the

Customer fails to notify the Company of such requirement his authority to

retain said Vehicle may, at the Company’s discretion, terminate and, in that

event, the Customer will become liable for any loss or damage incurred by

the Company as a result. The Company reserves the right, in the event of

such failure of notification, to use such lawful means as it may choose to

recover said Vehicle.

(b) If the rental is to be extended beyond 28 days the Customer must notify the

Company of the mileage of the Vehicle. The Company reserves the right to

substitute a suitable replacement Vehicle.

© In the event that a Vehicle on rent reaches the mileage at which a routine

service is due the Customer undertakes to notify the Company and make

that Vehicle available to the Company for such servicing to be carried out

or for the Vehicle to be replaced at the Company’s discretion.

12. If at termination, the Customer has complied with all the terms and conditions

stipulated herein, then, but not otherwise, and subject to condition 5 above,

responsibility for loss or damage to the Vehicle or its accessories is:

(a) The full cost of any damage to the Vehicle if DLW has not been purchased.

(b) Insured by the Customer where the Customer has arranged his own

insurance in accordance with clause 4 above..

© Limited to the price paid for DLW and the excess payable, where DLW has

been purchased.

13. All Vehicles are supplied with a full tank of fuel. If a Vehicle is delivered to the

Customer, the Customer is liable for the cost of the fuel from the time it leaves

the Company’s branch until such time as it is returned to a Company branch.

All Vehicles will be refuelled upon return to a Company branch and the

Customer accepts responsibility for the cost of such refuelling at the prevailing

Company rate per litre.

14. (a) The Customer is liable for all penalties incurred during the rental period

including, but not restricted to, parking, clamping, bus lane and speeding

fines, congestion and compound charges and in addition when the

Company has to provide the Customer’s details to the authority levying such

penalty, or it remains unpaid the Customer shall also be charged no more

than an amount equivalent to the actual cost of the penalty.

(b) At the termination of the rental it is the Customer’s responsibility to ensure

that the Vehicle is parked in a suitable place to allow collection at any time

up to a period of 6 working hours from termination without the imposition of

any parking or clamping fines or towing or compound charges. If this

provision is not complied with then the Customer shall be responsible for

such penalties. If these remain unpaid they shall be charged to the

Customer, together with an amount equivalent to the actual cost of the

penalty incurred.

© If the Vehicle is seized by Customs & Excise or the Immigration Authorities

the Customer shall be charged for any Civil Penalty and restoration charges

and loss of income whilst the Company cannot rent out the Vehicle.

15. The Vehicle will not be used:

(i) For the carriage of passengers or property for hire or reward.

(ii) For racing, pacemaking, reliability trials, speed testing or driving instruction.

(iii) To propel or tow any other vehicle or trailer except where the Vehicle is

covered by the Customer’s own insurance and the Company’s

written consent has been obtained.

(iv) In violation of the provision of any legislation, order or regulation affecting

the use, loading or condition of the Vehicle or for any illegal purpose.

(v) Outside mainland United Kingdom without the express agreement of the


16. The Vehicle will not be driven by any person:

(i) Other than the Customer or an Authorised Driver.

(ii) Who is under the age specified by the Company from time to time (details

of which will be available at the time of reservation). At certain locations

an upper age limit may apply.

(iii) Who has not held a valid full driving licence for a minimum period of 12


(iv) Who is under the influence of alcohol, hallucinatory drugs, narcotics or


(v) Whose driving licence is subject to restrictions due to disability or infirmity.

17. The Customer acknowledges that any property placed within the Vehicle is

there at his own risk and that the Company has no responsibility for such


18. The Customer will at the Company’s request do all required by the Company

on its behalf and on behalf of the Insurers and permit his name to be used by

the Company for enforcing any rights or remedies against any persons in

connection with the Vehicle.

19. The Customer or any Authorised Driver of the Vehicle will in no way be

deemed to be the agent, servant or employee of the Company.

20. The Company will not either on its own behalf or on behalf of the Insurers, waive

any of its rights hereunder except in writing signed by a duly authorised

representative of the Company or the Insurers respectively.

21. The Company reserves the right not to reimburse any repairs in excess of £10

not authorised in advance by the Company.

22. If the Customer is a Company or other organisation for which a credit account

has been opened these terms and conditions must be read in conjunction with

the Corporate Terms and Conditions of Trading given to the Customer at the

time of opening the account as varied from time to time. In the event of any

inconsistencies the Corporate Terms and Conditions shall prevail.

23. The Company reserves the right to terminate the rental to which this agreement

refers if it becomes aware of any breach by the Customer of these Terms and

Conditions. Upon breach of the above terms and conditions the Company

may give your personal details to credit reference agencies, the Driver & Vehicle

Licensing Authority (DVLA), Customs & Excise, the police, debt collectors,

and any other relevant organisation. The Company may also give your

personal details to the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association, who

may pass your details on to any of its Members for any purpose stated in the

Data Protection Act 1988.

24. Government taxes and other levies will be charged as required by current


25. The Customer acknowledges that the Company is entitled to charge any credit,

charge or debit card nominated at the time the rental is effected for any charges

due to the Company pursuant to this agreement.

26. If the Customer has chosen to pay in a currency other than that used by the

Company when the quote was prepared, that choice has been made in the

knowledge that the Company has used an Exchange Rate based on a

commercial exchange rate supplied by Barclays Bank, plus 2.75%. The

Customer accepts that a choice of currency was available and that their decision

is final.



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Update: Just had a call from the escalations manager reffered to in the previous letter, shown above. He has dug his heels in and stated that they believe that loss of keys is negligent and is, therefore, not covered! Grrr.... Looks like I'm going to have to go all the way on this one. I think I'll try my credit card company first and see if I can suspend that payment. Anyone have any experience of this?

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Well, apparently they are covered! Alamo have just called back and apologised profusely, stating that, upon further investigation, they have discovered that keys are covered by the MasterCover Plus policy, so they will be refunding my £95. Success!! :D


Thanks, all, for your comments.

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excellent news, just goes to show, a bit of pester power and they usually come up with the right answer in the end, did you have to mention how much money you spend with them per month? :-)



Lula v Abbey - Settled

Lula v Abbey (2) - Settled

Lula v Abbey (3) - Stayed


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I mentioned it a few times this morning when the manager chap called and when he told me that they were not prepared to do anything else, I said that I would take it to the small claims court. I don't know what helped more, but I was surprised when he called me back and said that he had made a mistake and that I was covered. I think what surprised me most was the fact that he had finished the call and continued to research the insurance issue, rather than just ignoring it. Massive respect to him for actually calling back and admitting that they had made a mistake...

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I always take full collision damage waiver on the cars I hire, simply because the first couple of times I hired they tried to keep my deposit, blaming me for damage already done to the car before I rented it.


And you used them again ???

I don't always believe what I say, I'm just playing Devils Advocate

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