Europcar hires out thousands of vehicles daily, so it's not surprising that a survey of its UK network of branches revealed some strange excuses for damage and late return, as well as rather unusual items of lost property.
One customer got more than he bargained for while he waited for a horse to pass on a country lane. The driver watched in horror as the horse, with rider in tow, slowly backed onto the car bonnet as a vehicle on the opposite side passed on the narrow country lane.
Another animal encounter occurred when Europcar staff at the Newport branch noticed a large chunk was missing from a bumper. The customer explained they had visited Longleat Safari Park and driven through the lion's enclosure where a lion had taken off a part of the bumper with his claws.
Europcar's funniest reasons for damage and late returns
• A collision with a cow (Liverpool)
• A horse sat on the bonnet (Newcastle)
• A nasty accident with an ice cream (Derby)
• Keys go missing while driver has a snooze (Derby)
• Car is lost in multi-storey (Birmingham)
• Helpful neighbour gives keys to dustman (Leicester)
• A lion took a dislike to the car (Newport)
As would be expected, sunglasses, CDs, mobile phones and keys are among the most common items left in Europcar's vehicles, but sometimes odd items turn up - ranging from a mannequin, to 50 fluorescent light bulbs, and a Scottish Piper's black ostrich hat.
However, Europcar's customers have also been known to leave more valuable goods. One customer left £1,000 worth of designer clothes in the boot of a car.
Unusual items left in Europcar's rental cars
• A false leg (Liverpool)
• A mannequin (Hull)
• Furry Handcuffs (Yeovil)
• 50 Fluorescent Light bulbs (Hamilton)
• A Scottish Piper's Black Ostrich Hat (Hamilton)
• A printer (Aylesbury)
• Flowers (Stansted)
• A wheelchair (Bradford)
• An ammunition case and stretcher (Reading)
• Half a pint of beer with a CD called ‘The Art of Speed Seduction' (Reading)
• 10 odd pairs of shoes (Salford)
Ken McCall, managing director for Europcar, said: "There's never a dull day in the life of a hire car as some of these stories and items of lost property reveal. Our staff are always professional and understanding no matter what the reason for late return or damage and often go to great pains to reunite lost and forgotten property with their rightful owners."