JEDDAH — Owners of car rental offices face a myriad of problems that are difficult to address. A large number of them have to contend with the reality that their cars could be stolen and driven by joy riders. Moreover, there are complications caused by forged documents and duplicated keys used to steal cars after they have been returned. There are also customers who return vehicles in poor condition.
On the other hand, some customers also complain of violations on the part of rent-a-car offices. Speaking to Al-Riyadh Arabic daily, several Saudi citizens urged the traffic department and municipalities to take action against rent-a-car offices that violate traffic rules and regulations. Some of these offices do not have a parking area or even enclosures for their vehicles, increasing the chance that cars parked on roadsides will be stolen. This also results in traffic jams in the districts in which these offices operate. Moreover, some offices are also being run without a proper license.
Mahmoud Abdul Munem, a receptionist at a car rental office, said that cars leased from his office are often used for joy riding by young men. “Once when I was walking down the street near my office I saw one of our cars being driven by some young men who were performing crazy stunts with it. However, the car was returned with no reported damage. They must have repaired any minimal damage, if it had occurred,” he said.
Another employee of a rental office, Waheed, said that a man once leased the best car available. But it was returned in dreadful condition. Investigations revealed that the man ran away after committing a crime. He possessed a forged work permit and driving license.
Sabri, a concerned citizen, said that some parents take the latest car on lease for their children, who recklessly drive around town putting other drivers’ and passengers’ lives at risk. On the other hand, Hatem once leased a car from a well-known rental company using a valid driving license. However, traffic authorities blacklisted his name stating that his driving license was expired. It has now become impossible for him to rent a car, and this is the case even two years after the incident.
Mahmoud Adel Ismail, a supervisor of a rent-a-car office, stated that some customers are criminals who are wanted by the police.
“Recently a man leased a car from us, but did not return it for over a month. He was later caught red-handed in a crime. Investigations revealed that he was involved in several crimes.”
Muhammad Al-Sudani, another rent-a-car employee, said that the company only wants to deal with decent customers to avoid damage or theft of its cars.
“Those who want to steal our cars make a duplicate key before returning the car. When the offices close, they take the cars away and sometimes damage them,” Al-Sudani said.
On the other hand, customer Saleh Al-Buraidi complains of unjustified charges. He was shocked when he received a text message informing him of a SR1,500 fine for violating car rental rules.
“When I questioned the traffic office, I was told that the fine was for not returning the car. I went to the car rental office only to learn that they had not updated their records when I returned their car,” he said. Al-Buraidi warns all customers to make sure the process of returning the car is complete.
Some customers are often surprised when rental offices refuse to lease them a vehicle. The common excuse is that cars are not available. However, their offices are often crowded with people.
In spite of all these issues, car rental service has witnessed a tremendous growth in the Kingdom. – SG