Budget operator Goldcar has been rated the worst holiday car hire company for the fifth time in six years, receiving a car-crash customer score of just 39%.
With an abysmal one-star rating for customer service, and 40% of Goldcar customers telling us they had a problem with their rental, Which? advises you to steer well clear.
Thankfully, there are several car hire companies that you can trust at the top of this year’s table. Canary Islands specialists Cicar and Auto Reisen lead the way with impressive customer scores of 97% and 96% respectively.
Big player Enterprise (79%) was also recommended for its friendly, reliable service and fleet of well-maintained cars.
Find out how Avis, Hertz and other big brands did in our full best and worst car hire companies table.
The worst car hire companies
Starting life in Alicante in 1985 with just four Ford Fiestas and an Escort, Goldcar has grown to become one of Europe’s biggest budget providers with offices in 17 countries.
Despite offering attractive headline prices, from as low as £1.20 per day, the company received just two stars for value for money. Customers told Which? that shock charges left them paying through the nose. One customer reported that they ‘were charged (sometimes twice) for extras we hadn’t needed, wanted or agreed to’.
Others complained of long queues at the check-in desk, pressure selling, rude staff and fees for non-existent damage.
Parent company, Europcar, is still under investigation by Leicester City Trading Standards for systematically inflating the cost of car hire repairs.
The best car hire companies
Cicar, which provides hire cars in the Canary Islands, gained a galaxy of stars and the best customer score our car hire survey has ever seen. Hot on its heals is another Canary Islands specialist, Auto Reisen.
Travelling to the US, or hiring a car in the UK? Find out which leading car hire companies were rated best by customers and passed all of our pricing transparency checks allowing them to become Which? Recommended Providers.
Which? Travel acts on car hire complaints
We get more complaints from customers about aggressive sales, unauthorised and unexpected charges and appalling customer service in this industry than any other travel-related service.
The problems in the car hire industry may be complex, but they need fixing. That’s why Which? Travel is joining forces with Telegraph Travel to investigate the major issues and find better ways to protect consumers.
We are focusing on three areas of the industry that need our attention:
The insurance hard sell
High insurance excesses (up to £2,500) are used as a way of inflating prices. If you don’t pay to waive them, you could be hit with excessive charges for even the smallest scratch when you return the car. Worse still, unscrupulous staff use scare tactics to bully customers into buying a policy that can more than double the cost of hire.
It’s never worth buying insurance at the car hire desk, you can buy a more comprehensive policy online at a fraction of the cost. See our table of the best and worst third party policies for car hire insurance.
Unauthorised and unfair charges
Unexpected and unexplained charges accounted for more than a quarter of the problems that car hire customers told us they had experienced. Customers were hit with spurious extra charges for cleaning, excess mileage, fuel and even admin.
And many people told us they had no idea about these charges until the checked their credit card statement when they returned home. Find out how to complain about unexpected car hire charges.
Dodgy damage repairs
You regularly tell us that car hire companies have over-charged you for accidental damage, or billed you for damage that you didn’t cause in the first place.
And last year we found evidence of car hire companies overcharging by as much as 300% for repairs that were never made.