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23 May 2024

Read fine print or lose your car rental deposit

By Sneha May Francis

Hiring a car in Dubai is pretty much a hassle-free exercise and one that a sizeable population in the emirate prefer over owning a car. While the process might be simple, the hiccup often appears when a customer returns the car and requests for a refund of the security deposit.

A Dubai resident struggled for nearly two months to get a refund from a car rental company after she used its service for a year.

And this, even though she was told, at the time of hiring the car, that the deposit of Dh1,500 will be refunded on the day of returning the vehicle.

The security deposit, many car rental companies in the emirate claim, is retained to cover costs incurred for Salik (toll) or traffic fines that the customer might not have owned up to. The standard is to refund within 15-20 days of the car return.

Carmelita D, who is now on holiday in Malaysia, informed Emirates24|7 about how she had to make numerous (international) phone calls and send many e-mails to the car company to get back what was rightfully hers.

“I know it’s not a lot of money but I am just claiming what is supposed to be mine,” she asserted.

Carmelita informed us that she had rented a car from the car company for a year, from November 2012 to December 2013, and was promised that the security deposit of Dh1,500 would be refunded when she returned the car.

“They told me that unlike the norm of refunding after 15-20 days, my deposit would be given the day I returned the car.”

However, when she returned the car on December 12, 2013, she was informed that the money would be refunded after 15-20 days.

The money, however, was not refunded even after the time-frame ended.

She then called the company, many times, to figure out what caused the delay.

“The staff told me that it's (the money) with [another person]. I tried to talk to him but either he was busy, or with a client, or on the phone. I asked for his email address and followed it up but the e-mails kept bouncing back.”

After weeks of calling the company office in Dubai, she was directed to the manager, who promised that the cheque would be made and deposited into her account by the last week of January, considering she was not in the emirate.

But, no money reached her account until February 10.

When Emirates24|7 contacted the company and asked them about the delay, they claimed the cheque was ready a week ago.

The official, however, was unable to give any conclusive answer as to why it had taken so long, even when they had claimed that the money would be refunded within 15-20 days.

“I have no idea. Why do you want to know that? The cheque is ready and that’s all that matters,” screamed the staff, who went on to cut the call abruptly.

Another colleague claimed the delay was because the manager, who is authorised to sign on the cheques, “did not have time to come to the office”.

When we contacted the manager, he was a little more forthcoming, and explained that the person responsible for signing the cheques was away on sick leave.

He apologised for the delay and informed that he was willing to offer two-day complimentary car rental services to compensate for Carmelita’s frustration.

He added that action would be taken against the staff for being rude and that such actions are dealt with sternly.

Carmelita, on the other hand, was not aware that her cheque was already ready for her.

“Nobody told me that the cheque was ready - honestly.”