EU-wide crackdown as half of car rental websites broke rules


Authorities in EU member states must crack down on rental car brokerage websites, as 55% of the 78 sites were found to be in violation of EU law.

Under the coordination of the European Commission, authorities from ten EU members, together with Norway, checked 78 car rental brokerage websites, including airline websites, to check whether the main brokers operating in Europe comply with EU consumer protection rules.

Only 45% of the sites assessed met the standards, while the rest were plagued with issues such as the company name not being clearly stated or other vital information missing.

Sweeping involved a series of checks carried out simultaneously by national authorities at sites to uncover breaches of laws in place to protect customers.

Investigations take place in two stages: websites are reviewed for violations, then legal authorities in different countries prosecute merchants to ensure that corrections are made.

The survey of car rental sites revealed that:

  • On nearly a third of websites, it was unclear whether consumers should contact the broker or the rental company if they had a question or needed to make a complaint;
  • In 28% of websites, the broker’s company name was not clearly visible and consumers did not know what their insurance would cover.
  • In 32% of cases, it was not clear that the company would be bound by the rental terms and conditions.

EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said: “Many consumers will soon be going on holiday and renting a car. Often they do this on hotel or airline booking websites.

“Consumers need to be transparently informed about rental conditions and the role of brokers.

“For example, consumers need to know which company to contact if their flight is postponed.

They must also receive clear and complete information on the total price of the rental and the insurance, in order to avoid unpleasant surprises when picking up the car.

Other violations found include pre-selection of optional prepaid services on 21% of sites.

Authorities also noted issues with pricing information, such as insufficient information on mandatory fees for young drivers and one-way fees.

The national authorities of the countries involved in the sweep will now contact traders who have breached EU law and ask them to bring their websites into compliance with the regulations.

If companies fail to do so, then authorities will initiate enforcement action in accordance with their national procedures.

Last year, the European Commission conducted an extensive online consumer survey to detect misleading practices in 26 member states as well as Iceland and Norway.

Of the 223 sites that were examined as part of the operation, authorities found that 104 do not tell consumers how reviews are collected, 118 did not explain how fake reviews are avoided and 176 did not not mentioned that incentivized reviews are prohibited by their internal policies. .


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