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Five of the top car rental companies have improved the treatment of consumers thanks to a joint EU-action which began following a rise in the number of complaints received by the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net) from tourists across the European Union.

The European Commission and European consumer authorities have confirmed that they are satisfied that changes to commercial practices of car rental companies Avis, Europcar, Enterprise, Hertz, and Sixt, 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 guidelines for the whole car rental sector.

 

EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová, said: “Today is a great day for European consumers. We worked hard with the car rental companies to guarantee that people across the EU can rent a car and are treated fairly – no matter where in the EU they rent a car. I thank the national consumer authorities for their excellent work and the car rental companies for their cooperation. Consumers across Europe can now enjoy their rights and be better protected.”

 

Consumers continue to face car rental problemscar rental companies

Car rental continues to feature in the top five area of consumer complaints received by ECC-Net. Last year, more than 2,000 consumers in Europe contacted the European Consumer Centres to report that they booked a car online only to find out at the rental desk that they had to pay more.

According to its Annual Report, ECC Ireland was actively involved in 49 cases concerning car rental in 2015. The main issues faced by consumers related to supplementary charges, price increases, and payment-related disputes. There were also problems concerning alleged damage to the vehicle, insurance/cover provided or the fuel policy.

Positive changes brought by the five car rental companies

Thanks to the dialogue with national consumer authorities, facilitated by the European Commission under the lead of the UK Competition and Markets Authority, consumers will benefit from the following conditions:

  • Transparent fuel policies: Consumers will always be given the option to get the car with a full tank and bring it back full.
  • 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 such as mileage included, fuel policy, cancellation policy, or deposit requirements.
  • 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 amount to be paid in case of damage. What is covered by the waiver in the basic rental price and any additional insurance must be clearly indicated before the consumer buys such products.
  • Clear procedure for vehicle insurance: 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.

 

Want to find out more?

Click here for the full European Commission’s press release.

There’s more about the car rental complaints received by ECC Ireland in its 2015 Annual Report.

Find out about the work of the European Consumer Centres Network by reading its 10 year anniversary report.

ECC Ireland also has some car rental tips to help you next time you wish to take a vehicle for a spin in another EU country.