Car rental owners to form first CROA

PULLING TOGETHER – The Grand Bahama Car Rental Industry has been under attack for the past few years and now, leaders in the business are banding together to establish the first-ever Car Rental Owners’ Association. (PHOTO: JENNEVA RUSSELL)

The Grand Bahama Car Rental Industry has been under attack for the past few years and now, leaders in the business are banding together to establish the first-ever Car Rental Owners’ Association.

Darren Cooper, D’s Car Rental owner is leading the charge and along with representatives of K.S.R Rent-a-Car, Extreme Auto & Sales Rental, Camacho Auto, Ever Star Auto, Island Car and Brad’s Car Rental held a press conference recently – Wednesday, May 9 – inviting all legitimate car rental business owners to also partner up and demonstrate their support.

“Several weeks ago, a number of car rental owners met and had a discussion as it relates to challenges that we are all faced with in the industry, as well as what we could and could not do to strengthen our business and thrive within the community.

“Today, we are extending an invitation to all legitimate car rental companies, who may be unaware of efforts as it relates to establishing a Car Rental Owners’ Association to come out and be a part of our nominations and elections scheduled for Thursday, May 17 beginning 6:00 p.m. at the Flamingo Restaurant at Castaways Resort & Suites.

“The goal is for the Car Rental Owners’ Association to be the voice for car rental companies within the Grand Bahama community and to address all of the challenges we are faced with, as well as approach The Bahamas Government as it regards several issues of significant concern and what we expect from them in order to help us to continue striving in this industry,” Cooper explained.

“Among the challenges we have to fight against involves the illegal operation of persons, who are renting blue-plated vehicles,” he maintained.

“These persons are killing the market as it relates to car rentals and although they have prices that are very low, which allows them to make significant profits, they are a detriment to legitimate business owners, who are required by law to pay Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) business licensee fees, Bahamas Government license fees, Road Traffic Department fees, franchise fees, insurance fees, Bahamas Customs fees and value-added tax,” Cooper stated.

Pointing out that there are other grievances faced by the car rental owners, Cooper claimed that within the franchise industry there are public bus, private charter and taxi cab operators, who are given an exemption from The Bahamas Government in relation to the importation of newer model vehicles that is not afforded to those in the car rental industry.

He notes that with the establishment of a Car Rental Owners’ Association, the members would be able to approach the government and negotiate to have the same offered to them as well.
“We are in the same industry, offering service to foreigners and we are mandated to keep our products up to a similar, upgraded standard and if the same concession would be given to us within the car rental industry, it would serve to help us quite a bit.

“Furthermore, we want to better streamline our service to prevent unscrupulous renters, who rack up a bill and/or cause damages to rental vehicles at our company and skip out on payment and do the same at another car rental company.

“Those who attempt to do so would find themselves blacklisted at other rental companies, which would again prevent them from doing the same to any other car rental business within the community,” Cooper shared.

Proud of the stance being taken by car rental owners and operators in working together to form the first-ever Car Rental Owners’ Association and not sitting on their laurels simply complaining is Island Car General Manager, Harold Williams.

He maintained that for far too long car rental owners have been losing revenue from unscrupulous persons operating illegally within the industry and essentially stealing from those who are in complete compliance with the law.

Urging all car rental owners to support the efforts of those who have come together to protect the industry, Williams warned customers who are renting from “blue-plate rental operators” to be careful as they are putting their safety, lives and that of other road user in serious jeopardy.
“If customers were to properly review the certificates they sign, they would notice right away that those vehicles are not properly insured neither are they allowed to be used for hire.

“Hence you are putting your lives and that of others in jeopardy, especially if, God forbid, you were to be involved in an accident, as you are not legally protected at all,” Williams said.
Bonnie Culmer, Brad’s Car Rental owner agreed with the sentiments expressed by both Cooper and Williams, noting that the legitimate car rental owners have no problem with competition in the industry once it is legally set up.

She notes that the car rental owners have been working together and the Car Rental Owners’ Association will help to further bolster their efforts.

Furthermore, she maintained that Bahamians are not the only ones that are trying to cheat the system.

“Again, we are all just doing our best to come together to stop all of this nonsense that is going on, so that we can run our businesses the right, legal and legitimate way,” Culmer maintained.

K.S.R Rent-a-Car president, Cathleen Graham; Extreme Auto & Sales Rental owner, Jason Hendfield; Camacho Auto owner, Errol Camacho and Ever Star Auto owner and operations manager, Joel and Jessica Rolle respectively, were all on-hand for the press briefing and urged those in the industry to come on-board and work together to effect positive change so the industry can continue to thrive within the Grand Bahama community.

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