Raw Deal: Ian had already paid for insurance in the UK, but was forced to pay again

Ian Butterworth, from Stockport, was forced to pay for car insurance when he booked to hire a car in the UK and then again when he picked the car up at the airport in Alicante. (Jacob King/Mercury Press)

WITH Christmas over, the next thing we’ll all be looking at is booking our summer holidays.

But here’s a tale that should act as a warning to all of us.

Are you absolutely sure you’ll get everything you’ve paid for?

Do you know exactly what you’ve paid for?

And, perhaps most importantly, does your travel agent know what you’ve paid for?

A double-check when at home can save a lot of trouble if you find yourself in the midst of a problem in a foreign country.

Mind you, the pitfalls can be difficult to spot! Ian Butterworth, of Stockport, reckoned he’d covered all the bases when arranging to hire a car, through Ryanair, that he’d pick up at Alicante Airport during his holiday in August.

He paid for the car hire in full and took out extra insurance, as recommended on the Ryanair website.

The extra insurance policy was through the reputable firm AXA Insurance, and Ian was confident he’d done everything required.

But, to his horror, when Ian went to collect his hire car he was told the extra insurance wasn’t valid and that if he didn’t stump up for a new insurance policy there and then, he couldn’t take the car.

The car hire office was quite a distance from the terminal building, Ian was stranded, with his family, and all his arguments were falling upon deaf ears. He felt he had no choice but to pay again to get the car.

But, once home, Ian resolved to make every effort to recover the £90 he’d paid for a useless policy. He was angry that he’d been clearly told what to do while in the UK, but this had changed entirely when he got to Spain.

Got a consumer problem? The Sunday Post’s Raw Deal team can help

He attempted, several times, to phone Ryanair, spending quite a while on the phone, but didn’t ever get through to anyone who could help him.

The only way to communicate seemed to be via email, but this drew a rather frustrating response. The firm didn’t want to know, Ian says, and wouldn’t pay up.

Ian wrote to Raw Deal and we got in touch with Ryanair’s car hire team. They sent us a response that really didn’t address the problem.

It said: “We have looked into this matter with our car hire partner, Car Trawler, who confirmed the customer authorised the purchase of the supplier’s insurance at the rental desk.”

And that was it!

Yes, Ian had indeed purchased insurance at the rental desk. He wasn’t arguing that he hadn’t. It was the useless policy he’d been advised to buy while still in the UK that was the problem.

Raw Deal got in touch with Ryanair again and explained the situation in a more forthright and fulsome manner. We think they got the message and it led to better news – it agreed to refund Ian.

Ian told us: “Thank you for your intervention in our dispute with Ryanair Car Hire.

“After weeks of me getting no joy with different staff members, you have managed to sort the problem out.

“We have now received a refund after weeks of trying.

“Many thanks again.”

All’s well that ends well.

But if you are going out to book a holiday, or car hire abroad, or any excursions, tickets or any third-party service then there is one thing you should do.

Make absolutely sure that the person you are speaking to knows that tickets for a show you have booked will definitely be left, in your name, at the box office; or a sight-seeing flight arranged as a shore trip from a cruise is indisputably arranged, paid for and all details are nailed down.

The details will be different in every case, but the principle remains the same.

You want a cast-iron guarantee that there will be no problems.