In today’s marketplace, the competition for greater profit margin is fierce. As a result, more and more service industries are expanding customer benefits. Occasionally, these add-on benefits closely mirror core products from other service providers, potentially upsetting customer demand for those. For example, if a gas station begins offering free car washes for all customers filling up the tank, that offer may affect demand at the full-service car wash across the street.
A question facing the car rental industry is whether damage waiver protection offered by major credit card companies is diminishing demand for damage waivers offered at the rental counter.
Most will agree there are similarities between the rental car industry’s damage waiver and the damage waiver products extended to consumers through credit cards. Many consumer advocates and travel industry experts are more inclined to broadcast negative opinions about the value of the rental car industry’s damage waiver. They have a skewed perspective of who stands to benefit most from the purchase.
The fact is, the owner of the rented vehicle, not the credit card used to rent it, can provide the best protection for the renting consumer’s assets, whether they’re measured in time or money. The damage waiver offered by rental car companies remains primary, regardless of the vehicle type, length of rental and the customer’s final choice of payment. Most importantly, the rental company’s waiver eliminates potential up-front or out-of-pocket cost for the customer.
But what’s the use in having the best product if no one believes you?
Using the Internet to research, I spent hours reading virtually anything I could find on automobile rental damage waivers. In countless articles, chat messages and press releases, I came upon words and phrases like “strong-arm,” “ploy,” “imply that it [the damage waiver] is required,” “pressure,” and the proverbial “hard sell” — all in reference to the manner that rental agencies offer damage waivers to consumers.