Transportation in Ireland: Car Rental Problems

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Score for day one: Us 3, Dublin 1.

All in all, things are going pretty well. We scored 3 goals today; making it successfully to the hotel in record time AND getting checked in and into Dublin in time to do some sightseeing this afternoon.

We also scored a lunch of fish and chips from a chippie that holds the claim for the best fish and chips in Dublin (which left us all fat, happy and worried about an imminent cardiac infarction.) As a bonus, we are sitting here in a pub having a quick pint before taking the bus back towards the hotel to catch up on much needed sleep.

Our car in Ireland

Our car in Ireland

Dublin did score one goal against us today. It came in the form of unexpected issues with the car rental that we had booked that the goal keeper (me) wasn’t expecting. This should come as a word of warning to anyone thinking about booking a car rental in Ireland…it is somewhat more complicated than it appears at first glance.



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I booked the rental car online and even tried to read through the fine print to make sure that there weren’t going to be unexpected issues. The estimate that I got at the end of the process even specifically states that it was the final total due at the pickup. We got a great rate and I thought that was that. I thought that things were all sorted out. Done. Finito.

Not so easy…we found our way to the car rental desk by means of a friendly Irish stranger. We found out that we were at the wrong desk. We finally made it to the right place and I thought it was all downhill from there…

Until we found out that Ireland is one of four countries in the world that would not accept the Collision Damage Waiver insurance offered through my Visa card. We had to pay for the CDW offered through the car rental company. This multiplied the amount that I had expected to pay by about 5 times. This unexpected surprise made us completely rethink our plans and reevaluate our short little “budget” trip.

So, we took stock of the situation and decided that the car was really necessary for us to get out to see anything other than Dublin.  The system of public transportation in Ireland is pretty good in the big cities, but we have heard that getting out into the countryside and into the small towns that we had been looking forward to as the highlight of our trip would be difficult and frustrating without a car.

We eventually decided to bite the bullet and rent the car and then we got another punch in the gut.

We have rented cars all over the world. The normal procedure is that the car rental company generally makes a hold of a few hundred dollars to cover the deductible in case anything happens to the car. Apparently, the Irish don’t want to be like everybody else in Europe.

In order to rent the car, they needed to make a 2,000 euro hold on our credit card.  Suffice it to say that we were not expecting this and did not have those kinds of funds readily on hand. The icing on the cake was when they wanted to make us prepay for an entire tank of gas whether we used it nor not, then lied to us and told us that gas would not be readily available or cheap when we returned the car and that was why they made us prepay.

This was just one thing too many, and we had to say no and head to the hotel to evaluate our options.

Some of the issues might just have been with the particular car rental company that I was dealing with (whose name I will not mention for reasons of professionalism ) I did do a thorough search of all of the major car rental companies in Ireland, including the big boys (Hertz, Enterprize, and Eurocar) and discovered that the extra charges and fees were almost impossible to find on their websites and all of them were  extremely misleading.

Ireland Castle

A beautiful castle seen while driving in the Irish countryside. Ireland is a country full of ancient ruins dotting the sides of the roads. You don’t have to drive very long before finding a castle to explore in private, as many of them have very little tourist traffic.

As a travel blogger, I feel that I have a responsibility to you, my loyal readers, to not be wishy-washy and to give you my clear opinion about things that could potentially cause you problems in your travels.  I also feel that in promoting companies that are offering good value and good customer service that I am contributing to the greater good of the world.

For both of these reasons I recommend that they only car rental company in Dublin that you should be dealing with is Dooley Car Rental.  Period.  End of story.

First of all, on the Dooley Car rental website, the full cost of the rental was disclosed to us right up front in our initial quote on their website. No hidden fees. No surprises.

The customer service at Dooley Car Rental was second to none, from our very first experience with them when we ended up at their rental counter by mistake and they pointed us in the right direction to our return to them after our bad experience with the other company and to the convenient way that they handled our after hours return. They took care of us and were very clear and upfront about everything.

They did charge us a deposit for one tak of gas, but we could have gotten it back had we returned the tank full and they gave us a very good rate on the fuel (unlike the othe company who lied to us and tried to gouge us with exorbitant fuel costs.)

We got an awesome car that was a much better deal for the money than the one that we had rented through the first car rental company. Overall, our experience with Dan Dooley car rental was perfect, and a refreshing change after what we had dealt with in our first car rental experience.

So, moral of the story. Unfortunately, car rental in Ireland can be unnecessarily difficult. Be careful and make sure that you have all of the details. I don’t recommend any services that I do not personally feel will be a good experience for you (and I am not receiving any compensation for my recommendation) but I truly feel that your car rental experience with Dooley car rental will enhance your trip to Ireland.

My last bit of advice-even though the car rental was expensive, getting out into the countryside and into the small towns and villages is the only way to get a true taste of all that Ireland has to offer.  The system of public transportation in Ireland can be frustrating.  Just go ahead and bite the bullet and rent the car.  If you do your research and follow my advice, it should be an easy experience and you will not regret it.

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Transportation in Ireland: Car Rental Problems

8 Responses

  1. Wow! Sounds like a hassle! You are brave where I am not. I have never considered driving in another country. I’m more of a public transportation, train hopping, hitch hiking gal.

    Kae Lani | A Travel Broad March 29, 2012 at 9:32 pm #
    • To be honest, in the UK (where we are on the other side of the road) my husband does most of the driving, but I did drive in Scotland and had no problems. We do TRY to avoid driving in big cities, but there was that one time when we were driving through the middle of London during rush hour…but for the most part, we have had no real problems. We take a lot of public transport, too, but we like to get out of the big cities and into the countryside, and in some regions, the public transport just isn’t developed enough to facilitate this easily (plus, there are three of us, and by the time you add up public transport costs and hassles for three people, a car makes more economic sense.)

      Shanna Schultz March 29, 2012 at 10:20 pm #
  2. Oh man! I never even considered renting a car in Ireland, riding the bus was scary enough! Between all the weird round-abouts and lack of street signs (at least on the west coast) you couldn’t pay me to get behind the wheel. Hats off to you!

    Rachel April 23, 2012 at 7:08 pm #
    • I am not crazy about the idea of driving on the other side of the road in big cities (my husband is better at it than I am) I have gotten used to the roundabouts and I generally don’t mind driving in the country or in small to mid sized towns. It just takes some practice. It isn’t as scary as people think.

      Shanna Schultz April 23, 2012 at 8:28 pm #
  3. i agree – we’ve used dan dooley, no problems. and as i learned over at irishfireside.com, there can be TONS of problems renting a car in ireland. sorry you had such a hassle!

    Wandering Educators June 3, 2012 at 1:06 am #
    • Thanks for the link to Irishfireside.com – it looks like a great website that I will really enjoy exploring.

      Shanna Schultz June 3, 2012 at 7:24 pm #
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