Car rental firms hide charges in smallprint finds Which? study

Car rental firms hide charges in smallprint finds Which? study

Holidaymakers face higher than expected bills as car rental companies continue to detail hidden extras in the small print of contracts, a consumer probe has found.

Despite promising to make fees more transparent, several companies, including Avis, Budget and Alamo, continue to add on costs that were not made clear at the time of booking, the study by Which? magazine found.

Almost a third of the price of car hire extras, from additional drivers to dropping the car off at a different point, were not set out during the booking process online.

This rose to 51% of the charges added by Avis, 44% of the extras from Budget and 43% of Alamo’s, the consumer group said.

It also found that drivers were put under pressure to buy additional insurance they did not need or into hiring satnavs at extra cost when they picked up their vehicle.

Which? looked at 300 prices for car hire extras from seven of the biggest rental companies used by UK holidaymakers to find that a third were either buried in the small print or not shown at all when booking online, The Times reported.

The Competition and Markets Authority last year got several of the big companies to commit to improving transparency in their website booking process.

But they could even be breaking some consumer laws by failing to display mandatory charges, such as the extra compulsory charge for picking a car up in one place and dropping it off in another.

In some cases this could be as much as an extra £137 on top of the advertised price, said Which? editor Richard Headland.

He 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 is 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.”

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