Car rental companies improve treatment of consumers
Last year over 2,000 consumers reported to European Consumer Centres that when they booked a car online they found out that they had to pay more when they arrived at the rental desk.
Responding to the strong increase of the number of complaints on car rental issues, the European Commission and national consumer authorities engaged with the five leading car rental companies to address these issues.
Now the authorities have decided to conclude this phase of the enforcement cooperation. They are satisfied with the changes brought in by the five industry leaders, Avis, Europcar, Enterprise, Hertz and Sixt, to their commercial practices, which now comply with EU consumer rules. The EU trade association, Leaseurope, which helped set up the action from the industry side, is also developing further their guidelines for the whole car rental sector.
Thanks to this intervention consumers should now benefit from the following conditions:
- The total booking price includes all unavoidable charges. For example, when winter tyres are compulsory by law in some countries, the price will include these in the headline price.
- Key rental services description in plain language. Consumers will be provided with clear information about the main characteristics of the rental (mileage included, fuel policy, cancellation policy, deposit requirements, etc.).
- Information on additional insurance is clear. Consumers will be provided with the price and details of optional extras, in particular for insurance waivers that reduce the franchise to be paid in case of damage. What is covered by the waiver in the basic rental price and in any additional insurance must be clearly indicated before the consumer buys such products.
- Transparent fuel policies. Consumers will be always given the option to get the car with a full tank and bring it back full.
When it comes to damages:
- Clear procedure for vehicle inspection. Consumers will be provided with reasons and evidence of any damage, before the payment is taken.
- Fair damage handling processes. The consumer is given the chance to challenge any damage before the payment is taken.
The European Commission and national consumer authorities will continue to monitor the car rental market closely. The Commission has said that it will focus particularly on the practices of other market players, such as intermediaries and other car rental companies. They are concerned that all players should offer the same level of transparency on the service and the cost.
[Source: European Commission, 19 January 2017]