The five major car rental companies — Avis, Europcar, Enterprise, Hertz and Sixt — have changed and improved their commercial practices, contract terms and internal policies, which now comply with EU consumer rules, the European Commission said on Thursday.
The changes follow the dialogue launched in 2014 between the Commission, European consumer authorities and the five major car rental companies after the European Consumer Centres received a large number of complaints from tourists across the EU.
“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”, Věra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said on Thursday.
Last year, some 2,000 consumers in Europe had reported that after booking a car online, they had to pay more at the rental desk.
“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 will 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, the car rental companies provide a clear procedure for vehicle inspection. Consumers will be provided with reasons and evidence of any damage, before the payment is taken. Also, in damage handling processes, consumers will be 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 will focus particularly on the practices of other market players, such as intermediaries and other car rental companies. All players should offer the same level of transparency on the service and the cost.
The number of complaints for the car rental sector in Europe doubled between 2010 and 2016, while the overall number of complaints received by European Consumer Centres only increased by two thirds. There were about 1,050 cases in 2012, 1,750 in 2014, and more than 2,000 in 2016. This evidence of widespread problematic practices in car rental seen by ECCs led the European Commission to ask the national enforcement authorities, under the lead of the UK Competition and Markets Authority, to act jointly at EU level to require the car rental industry to better comply with EU consumer legislation.