Top car rental companies to stop discriminatory practices

The European Commission this week made public a letter which was sent recently to the CEOs of six international car rental companies which offer their services to consumers in all Member States of the European Union.

Car Rental desk at AirportThe letter refers to several complaints received from consumers concerning discriminatory practices for renting a car online. It urges the car rental companies to stop their discriminatory practices that prevent consumers in various Member States from getting the best price offered online and therefore from benefiting from the opportunities of the single market.

Michel Barnier, Vice-President of the European Commission, in charge of Internal Market and Services, said “The Single Market should be a daily reality not only for major international companies but also for consumers in Europe.”

The Commission’s letter points out practices of automatic re-routing following the identification of the consumer’s IP address.
The IP address may also prevent the consumer from completing any booking online. Alternatively, with no re-routing, the consumer may be given a different price after having entered his/her country of residence on the website of the car rental company concerned.

In a recent case, a consumer from Germany saw the announced price increase by 100 percent for renting a car in the United Kingdom after entering their country of residence.

Some car rental companies are complying with the non-discrimination principle, but it is not yet fully applied throughout the sector. Since the Commission’s letter was not followed by effective and comprehensive review of the practices by three out of the six car rental companies contacted, the Commission decided to make the letter public, in the interest of consumers.

The Commission has asked the car rental companies which are not yet complying with the non-discrimination principle to report on how they have reviewed their practices at the latest by 30 August 2014.
Six companies were contacted. Sixt, Enterprise and Goldcar were deemed to have replied to the Commission’s letter in a satisfactory way, while Europcar, Hertz and Avis did not satisfy the EC and will now have until the end of the month to do so.
Rental and leasing of cars account for 5.5 percent of the complaints dealt with by the European Consumer Centres Network.


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