Nearly a third (32%) of prices for car hire extras aren’t being presented clearly online at the time of booking, according to a Which? investigation.
Which? gathered more than 300 prices for car hire extras, including additional driver and GPS hire, from seven of the most-used brands.
Avis was found to have the least clear website – more than half of the prices checked (51%) were not presented clearly to consumers. Sister company Budget didn’t fare much better – 44% of its prices were unclear.
A lack of transparency at the booking stage could leave drivers with a nasty surprise at the rental desk, and by then it’s too late to change providers.
It’s such an issue that in July 2015 the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) took action to tackle this problem, convincing Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt, to commit to improving transparency.
Yet, more than a year later, these major problems persist.
Find out more: best and worst car hire companies – 12 companies rated
Missing one-way charges
One-way charges (where you have a different pick up and drop off location) are one problem area. Despite the requirement to type in both the start and end point of the car hire to obtain a quote, in nearly 10% of cases the price of these mandatory charges were not available anywhere on the car hire company’s website.
Europcar’s quote for picking up a car in Auckland and dropping off in Wellington didn’t include the £109 one-way fee, and Avis and Budget’s quotes for picking up at New York’s JFK and dropping off at Washington Dulles Airport also didn’t include the mandatory £137 fee.
By failing to notify customers of mandatory charges, car hire companies are likely to be breaching legislation that exists to protect consumers – the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (CPRs).
Car hire extras still unclear
Across the brands we analysed, excess waiver insurance (63%), one-way rental (49%) and additional driver charges (30%) were the fees that were most commonly unclear or unavailable at the time of booking.
Some of the prices were buried deep in T&Cs, some were unclear, conflicting or just plain wrong, and others were not available on the website at all.
Amber Dalton, acting editor of Which? Travel said: ‘Despite car hire companies agreeing to greater transparency over the cost of extras, customers are still getting a nasty surprise at the rental desk.
‘Improvements have been made since the CMA’s review, but there’s still a long way to go. We expect car rental companies to be upfront about all charges so that consumers can make an informed choice at the time of booking.’
|Clarity issues by car hire brand|
|Clarity issues by extras|
|Excess waiver insurance||63%|
We deemed prices to have clarity issues if they were a) not clearly displayed in the final price breakdown, meaning you had to hunt for them b) were unclear, wrong or conflicting, or c) were not available on the website at all.