12 December 2022, etc.venues Monument, London
Business Travel Show Europe, presented by The BTN
21 November, London Hilton Metropole
Car rental firms have been urged by the European Commission to end “unjustified discriminatory activities” which sees customers from different EU countries being charged different prices for the same car rental sale.
The commission said it had written to six of the major car hire companies following complaints from customers who had tried renting a car online but were unable to get the best available price because they were based in another EU country from the site they were trying to make the booking on.
“The letter urges the car rental companies to stop their discriminatory practices that prevent consumers in various member states from getting the best price offered online and therefore from benefiting from the opportunities of the single market,” said the EC in a statement.
The commission is complaining about practices such as the “automatic rerouting following the identification of the consumer’s IP address” which prevents customers from making online bookings through a rental firm’s website based in another EU country. Prices also sometimes changed when customers entered their country of residence.
“In a recent case, a consumer from Germany saw the announced price increase by 100% for renting a car in the United Kingdom after entering their country of residence,” said the EC.
The commission said that half of the companies contacted – Sixt, Enterprise and Goldcar – had provided “satisfactory” responses to its concerns.
But the other three operators – Europcar, Hertz and Avis – had replied in an “unsatisfactory way”. They have been asked to provide a further response by the end of August on how they intended to change their practices to comply with this “non-discrimination principle”.
Hertz said it was “fully compliant” with the EU’s Services Directive and had told the commission that it would improve its web booking platforms to allow consumers to “shop for the best deal” across all of its sites from early next month.
The EU asked for consumers to remain “vigilant” about these kinds of business practices by car rental companies and added it would “take whatever action is necessary to make the single market a reality for consumers as well as car rental companies”.