Increase of complaints on car rental
Consumers who get problems when renting a car in Europe have become more common. The Nordic countries of the European Consumer Centres (ECC), a network that works across EU borders to assist consumers about cross-border trade within the EU, have received an increasing number of complaints over the past three years. Last year, 25 percent more consumers contacted the Nordic ECC offices compared with the year before due to rental car-related problems. Since 2014, complaints have increased by almost 40 percent *.
The most common problem consumers encounter when renting a car in Europe is that the car became more expensive than the consumer had accepted when booking the car. Something that depends mainly on costs for additional insurance and post payment for damages on the car. Often, the consumer must purchase extra insurances on site to be able to pick up the car. Problems with post payment of damages usually occur when the consumer has returned the car after the rental agency's opening hours.
"Read the rental agreement carefully as there are no specific consumer protection rules to refer to if you run into problems. Check which insurance is included, insurance waiver and see if there are any previous damages to be recorded in the protocol and attached to the agreement. If necessary, take photographs of the damage to avoid any problems afterwards. Make sure to get a copy of the agreement, the terms and conditions, and the protocol", says Jolanda Girzl, Director ECC Sweden.
5 tips on car rental
- Check what is included in the price. Some rental agencies have low base rents but expensive options, and others include what some charge extra for. Remember that age and the number of drivers can affect the price. Carefully read the information on what is included in the price and compare between different rental agencies before booking.
- Read and understand the contract before signing. Even if you have booked the car online, the actual contract is usually not signed until you pick up the car from the local car rental company. Take time to read through the contract and save copies of all documents you sign. If you do not understand the contract - do not sign!
- Check the terms of insurance before signing. This also applies if you have booked the car online. Be prepared that the car rental company will to try to sell additional insurance when picking up your car. Remember, some of these may already be included in your travel insurance.
- Pay by credit card. Most car rental companies require it. In addition, you can contact your credit card issuer for help with repayment in the event of a problem between you and the rental agency.
- Examine the car before pickup and drop-off. Check the car with a representative of the car rental company before you drive it out of the lot. Make sure to get all the damages noted, and request a copy of the inspection report. When you return the car, make sure that you get a report that the car has been returned. A good precaution is to take photographs of the car in connection with both pick-up and drop-off. Then you have proof if the rental agency would claim post payment for damages on the car.
* In 2016, 367 consumers contacted the Nordic ECC offices Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden due to problems with rental cars. In 2015, the number of contacts was 293 and 2014, the number of contacts was 263.
About the ECC-Net
ECC Sweden is part of the network of European Consumer Centers Network that consists of ECC offices in 30 countries in Europe. ECC-Net offers free information and advice to consumers on cross-border purchases within the EU, Norway and Iceland.
Questions are answered by ECC Sweden's Head Officer Jolanda Girzl, phone: 054-19 40 52. Follow us on Twitter.