Goldcar and Firefly receive heavy fines for unfair business practices

1/24/2017

After many complaints received by the ECC-Net (where ECC Sweden is included) regarding the car rental companies Goldcar and Firefly, the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) acted. Goldcar and Firefly get a fine of 2 and 1.6 million euros because of their unfair practices.

Booking a rental car online could be easy and cheap. But often consumers are urged to pay additional fees when they pick up their car at the rental desk. It is therefore good to read the information on the rental car company website when you rent through an intermediary or a tour operator.

Insufficient price information on additional insurance

Goldcar is punished now for aggressively advertising their additional products. The Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) declared: Goldcar does not inform consumers clearly and sufficiently about coverage and prices of the additional insurances. The AGCM did also not accept terms and conditions regarding refuelling. The Competition Authority criticized the company for taking advantage of consumers being in a weak position. In total, a fine of two million Euros was imposed on Goldcar Italy and Goldcar Spain.

Insufficient information on damage assessment of rental cars

Firefly did not inform on the website about the criteria used to assess damage to rental cars. Regarding fines imposed on Firefly, AGCM took into account the fact that the company already has improved the procedures regarding deposit.

5 large car rental companies have adapted their business practices to EU consumer laws

In view of numerous complaints received by the European Consumer Centres the European Commission interacted and started a successful dialogue with five large car rental companies in 2014. In the meantime Avis, Enterprise, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt adapted their terms and conditions according to the EU consumer rules. The European Commission will continue to monitor the practices of further car rental companies. Read the full press release.

Our tips:

  • If the staff puts pressure on you, book at a different car rental company.
  • If you are in desperate need of the car, pay the fees for the additional insurance cover but only under reserve. Indicate on the contract that you do not agree with the payment and thus you reserve the possibility to claim your money back. Ask for the name of the employee and note it. Send your complaint immediately to the company's head office, e. g. by mail, to show thus you disagree on this payment from the very beginning.
  • If your claim remains without success, contact your credit card company and ask for chargeback. Your chances for chargeback are best if you are able to proof that you have been pressed to pay. Furthermore, it could be helpful to inform the credit card company about the AGCM's decision.
  • Travelling to Spain: In Spain, an official complaint form exists, named „Hoja de Reclamacion". The car rental agency is obliged to provide it to you when you ask for it. Complete it and send it to the responsible authority, which will follow-up your complaint. It is quite often sufficient to ask for the „Hoja de Reclamacion" to get the problem solved.

Sometimes your dispute can be handled by the dispute resolution body ECRS

Keep in mind that if you have a dispute regarding a car case with any of the following companies: Avis, Alamo, Budget Rent a Car, Europcar, Hertz, National Car Rental, Sixt, Firefly and Enterprise rent-a-car, you can your dispute heard by the dispute resolution body ECRCS, which helps consumers with unresolved complaints concerning cross-border car rental in Europe.