The Competition & Markets Authority recently released details of an EU-wide settlement which it has agreed with Avis Budget, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Europcar, Sixt and Hertz. Within six months, all of these firms will make fundamental changes to the way in which they sell their cars online.
The list of agreed changes is long and varies from firm to firm depending on their existing processes. You should expect to see:
Young Driver Surcharges included in headline prices
Clear information about pricing of optional extras
All optional extras to made available for purchase during booking and not held back for sale only at pick up
Clearer information about key terms and conditions
Clearer upfront information about the size of the credit or debit card preauthorisation that will be required
Optional waiver and insurance products to be outlined during the booking process, including the pricing, exclusions and applicable excesses
Information about the pre and post rental vehicle inspection process
No damage payments to be made to credit or debit cards before the customer is given a ‘reasonable opportunity’ to challenge them
A BBC report on these changes mentioned one which was not covered in the CMA press release. Customers will no longer be forced to pay upfront for a non-refundable full tank of petrol, however full the tank when the car is returned. This may end up being the biggest change. This is not usually an issue in the UK but is a well known problem when hiring in Europe.
To be honest, at least with Hertz (which is the firm I use the most), I have never had any major issues with clarity during the booking the process. I did, however, once have a Hertz employee in London make up a fake damage claim when I returned the car and then offer to waive it if I paid him £50 in cash.