Car Rental Giants Vow to Amend Services After EU Action

wewFive of the biggest car rental operators in Europe are vowing to make changes to their services to better serve the needs of their customers. This game changer came after the European Union and national consumer welfare authorities called out car rental companies for the increase of consumer complaint cases filed against their offices over the last two years.

Industry bigwigs Avis-Budget, Europcar, Hertz, Sixt and Enterprise have unanimously agreed to look into their current customer policies and make the necessary changes to abide by the European consumer protection laws. Most of the issues raised by the European Commission on Justice, Consumers, and Gender Equality revolved around terms and agreements that are unfair to customers, hidden costs charging, and vague policies on refuelling rented cars.

As such, the aforementioned companies have pledged to improve the following areas of concern:

  • Working on improved transparency for online bookings
  • Giving the customers adequate opportunities to challenge any damage claims from the company
  • Improving the policies revolving around charging additional costs to consumers
  • Setting a clearer, more easily comprehensible distinction between costs that are optional and costs that are mandatory
  • Providing more transparent and more easily comprehensible terms regarding deposits and other costs that are charged to the customers’ credit cards
  • Providing clearer terms and policies about the terms and other requirements before renting out a vehicle
  • Making sure the customer understands everything concerning optional waivers as well as insurance products while booking and before making any payments. Many customers have filed complaints about having bought insurance without fully knowing important details like how much or how little it covers, any allowable excesses, as well as exclusions and exceptions on coverage
  • Increased transparency on policies and terms revolving around fuel and fuel charges
  • Providing objective and more transparent vehicle inspection policies to ensure that the customers are renting vehicles that are roadworthy and well worth their money

These policies are expected to be gradually set into place by the respective companies and should be fully implemented by the end of 2015.

The commission expressed appreciation for the swift action and commitment of the car rental companies in complying with the rules set out by EU to better protect consumers. The commission also praised the national authorities for making sure that the consumer complaints are acted upon properly.

According to data obtained from the European Consumer Centres, the number of complaints reported to their consumer protection bureaus jumped from 1,050 in 2012 to over 1,700 by the end of 2014. These were complaints on car rental transactions that were booked in another country.

The car rental industry in the EU is massive and it is a big contributor to the tourism sector in the continent. In 2013 alone, the EU logged a total of 21 million distinct car rental transactions. With the changes in booking and consumer treatment policies set in place, the EU expects the industry to show a growth between two and four per cent in the next two years.

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