CMA Review to Lead to Improvements in Car Hire Industry

Following a review conducted by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the pressure is now on for car hire companies across Europe to improve their terms and conditions and get rid of ìpotentially unfairî practices.

This spells great news for the millions renting cars in the UK and abroad, many of whom have complained about hidden charges and generally unfair practises in recent years.

The review comes after the CMA reported a ìsteady increaseî in complaints from consumer bodies across the continent regarding the practises of five major car hire firms: Avis Budget, Enterprise Rent-Car, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt. The complaints relate to, amongst other things, a ìlack of transparencyî on the part of the car hire companies in question.

The companies were chastised for not making several of the key terms and conditions clear enough to customers. This lack of transparency led to several customers having to pay far more than they expected when they came to pick up their chosen vehicle due to various compulsory charges added towards the end of the booking process.

According to the CMA, this left customers with ìlittle option but to pay [the extra fees] or to incur significant switching costsî.

This ìlack of transparencyî extended to charges relating to fuel costs as well, with certain Spanish firms insisting on the customers purchasing a full tank of fuel at the offset, and then returning the car with an empty tank.

As well as surprising hidden fees being added, many customers were also pressured into buying additional insurance products. And along similar lines, many complaints were filed regarding the costs associated with damage assessment and repair.

Following the CMAís review, the five firms in question have now promised to make various changes regarding some or all of the following aspects of their practise:

–    Improved transparency when making online bookings,
–    More clear information regarding waiver and insurance products offered at the booking stage,
–    Increased clarity regarding fuel pricing and related policies,
–    Offering more information about vehicle assessment and damage repair costs, and
–    More information about traffic rules in the destination country.

Senior director of the CMA, Nisha Arora is quoted as saying: ìThese changes go a long way to ensuring that consumers know exactly what they are getting when they rent a car Ö The improvements by these five businesses now set a benchmark for the rest of the industry to follow.î

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