by Sally Peters April 22nd, 2010
A British man is facing a fine of £1,500 after he drove home from Portugal in his rental car.
The volcanic ash cloud that has caused travel chaos across the continent led the Coventry native to make the decision while on holiday in the popular Portuguese resort destination of the Algarve.
Paul Stidworthy, from the suburb of Coundon, was left with little alternative but to make the emergency dash home after his family’s flights out of the Iberian peninsula were cancelled due to the volcanic disruptions which have only now begun to dissipate. He has looked for alternate means to get his family back to the UK but was unable to arrange the necessary transport.
The long drive back to the UK ended for the Stidworthy family at the Budget Car Hire rental office at Birmingham Airport. It was then that he was informed that, under the terms and conditions of his rental agreement, he would be charged an additional £1,500. According to a spokesperson for Budget Car Hire, the fee was standard when applied to one-way journeys that were not specifically signed up for as a one-way rental. The £1,500 charges, claimed the group, was to cover the cost of returning the hire care to its point of origin.
Mr Stidworthy told reporters that he has been advised by legal representatives to attempt to negotiate an agreement with the Birmingham Airport rental office, but that so far attempts had proven unsuccessful.
The Budget Car Hire group said that the actions of Mr Stidworthy were not being considered as any attempt at a theft of the vehicle and that it was merely applying the agreed upon conditions of the rental contract. They have taken possession of the vehicle back from the driver.
The incident comes after leading car rental website carrentals.co.uk and AA Travel Insurance both issued warnings earlier this week for UK holidaymakers to thoroughly check the terms of their rental contracts to avoid such circumstances arising.