Dispute with rental company about a key snapped in ignition

I hired a van from a rental company today to move some office equipment around. I paid a £200 deposit upfront, the charge for hiring the vehicle for the day plus £12.50 to reduce the excess charge from £750 to £250.

Everything was fine, I loaded the van with the stuff, got in the drivers seat to set off for home and turned the key in the ignition and it snapped. I called the rental company who told me to contact AA. AA said as it was an issue with the key, this was not something that is covered by the hire company involved and they would require payment, either by myself or the rental company.

There followed a dispute between the two organisations while I was left waiting for help. Eventually, I managed to get the car started using pliers to turn the key and made it back to return the van with the key still broken. I have not caused any additional damage doing this.

The rental company tell me as I have not returned it in the condition they hired it to me, I am liable for the £250 excess charge so I am not getting my deposit back.

If I had crashed or damaged the car I could accept this, but I feel this was not something of my doing and therefore I should not have to pay all that money. How do I know the key wasn't already weakened or there isn't a problem with the ignition barrel?

I spoke to a local Peugeot dealer who told me a replacement key would cost £180.

Asked on 28 March 2013 by jessunsureofthelaw

Answered by Honest John
From the people you can link to from here: www.honestjohn.co.uk/useful-websites/specialists/ a replacement key will cost less than £50 and the van hire company should have a second key anyway, so waiting for a replacement should not deprive them of any rentals.

Tell them they supplied a key in a weak condition so it was their fault, but you will pay £50 towards the cost of replacement.

If they take any more from your credit card you will sue for its return using www.moneyclaim.gov.uk , which may take the matter to the small claims track of the county court.
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