Cost of car hire extras such as collision damage waver to be clearer thanks to Competition & Markets Authority plan.
New car hire rules from January 2017
Car hire websites must show motorists the “true cost” of hiring before they commit by January 2017, The Competition and Markets Authority said. This step makes pricing more transparent. It relates to both companies that provide cars directly, plus comparison sites which are also known as brokers/meta-search sites.
As things stand, a car hire website might state that the cost for (say) a small family class vehicle is “x” for five days. But this price – depending on the site – might be based on prerequisites that motorists fail to consider. There might be a further fee if the return point is different than the collection point, for example.
Car hire website improvements revealed
The Competition and Markets Authority has instructed firms to ensure customers are “provided with easy-to-access information in seven, key, areas”. These are:
- young driver surcharges,
- one-way fees,
- fuel charges,
- excesses and the cost of reducing them,
- pre-authorisations or deposits,
- collision damage waiver exclusions,
- warnings about the need for snow chains (a legal requirement in some countries in winter).
The Competition and Markets Authority expects firms to confirm what steps have been taken in the near future (by post). It emphasised, however, that some have already “made changes or have a good standard of clarity“. From January 2017, it will run a compliance check and firms that fail to meet the standards risk enforcement action.
James Macbeth, Competition and Markets Authority Project Director, explained: “Drivers will see a transparent drive-away price – including every mandatory charge and any options they choose – before they buy. This will take away the surprise some feel when they only discover the real cost of their car hire at the rental desk.”
Mr Macbeth continued: “People will also get information about factors such as insurance exclusions, credit card pre-authorisations and fuel before they buy. This will make it easier to shop around, compare different providers and get the best deal.”
The Competition and Markets Authority's initiative builds on its recent, similar, success on a smaller scale. Avis Budget, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Europcar, Sixt and Hertz all improved their websites by January 2016. These companies – that account for two-thirds of United Kingdom and European markets - agreed to provide:
- more upfront information about pre and post-rental vehicle inspection processes,
- improved notification of, and dispute processes for, any charges for damage.
- improved transparency when making a website booking or reservation: consumers will now have more of the key information they need to shop around for the best deal for them,
- better information at the booking stage about optional waiver and insurance products.