Fleet News

Damaging relationships: why unfair contracts are driving customers away

Gareth Jones, managing director of Dawsonrentals Vans looks at contracts.

Every relationship endures its share of bumps along its journey, with some knocks leaving deeper dents than others.

This heartache might be particularly resonant for customers locked into contracts with commercial vehicle providers, as unfair damage policies often see them facing skyrocketing costs for vehicle repairs.

Although wear and tear is par for the course for any product, those renting vehicles are all too often discovering that standard damage can amount to more than they bargained for.

This is not to say that commercial vehicle providers are disreputable or dishonest, but rather that we currently exist in a culture that does not work to the customer’s advantage.

Hidden costs for damages are commonplace, despite being avoidable, as they can amass up to millions of pounds in revenue for commercial rental companies.

Because these damage policies can accrue financial gains, persuading some in the sector to abandon their existing policies and lose out on the revenue results is not an easy mission.

However, removing this practice in favour of an ‘innocent until proven guilty’ approach to damages would build respect for the rental services, providing the highest quality of customer service.

What we need is to place more emphasis on getting a van on the road and keeping it there.

Investing in damage limitation tools, such as collision avoidance systems, security systems and automatic gearboxes - to name a few - could successfully reduce the need for substantial damage charges.

Fewer free of charge vehicles would support this change, as well as managing vehicle downtime. Though fleet providers recognise unscheduled mechanical failure as unavoidable downtime, we could be doing more to monitor times and circumstances to ensure fairness for customers while their vehicles are off the road.

These strategies might seem costly, but in the long term these investments would help maintain quality vehicles and limit the potential of debt for customers.

For any relationship, it is always best to be clear and upfront. These alterations could revolutionise the services provided by the commercial vehicle rental sector, mending customer/provider relationships and building long-lasting, credible contracts. 

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