Extra charges fuel car hire complaints

Extra charges are the biggest source of complaint for consumers when it comes to car hire and six in 10 people are unhappy with the way their car hire complaint was handled, a survey by Which? reveals.

The new research follows our investigation into car hire charges in May when we found that some car hire companies are not being upfront about all car hire fees.

In our latest survey we found around one in 10 (12%) Which? members who hired a car in the last two years have complained. A quarter (27%) complained about extra charges added on when the car was returned and nearly one in five (17%) complained about extra charges on pick up. The other top reasons for complaint were customer service (14%), condition of the car (11%) and fuel charges (10%).

Of those who complained, a staggering six in 10 said that their complaint was handled poorly or very poorly. Avis had the worst complaints rating, with 59% saying their complaint was handled poorly or very poorly, and only 19% saying it was handled well. All of the top four car hire companies most used by Which? members were rated more negatively than positively for complaints.

In May we called for all car hire companies to be more upfront about compulsory charges and car hire fees. We reminded car hire companies about their legal obligations under European and UK law to be transparent about compulsory and other significant charges at the point of purchase.  Brokers Auto Europe and Economy Car Hire have since made improvements, with further pledges to Which? from car hire companies Avis, Dollar/Thrifty and Enterprise to make costs clearer.

Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director, said:

“People are completely fed up with sneaky car hire charges and, to add insult to injury, we now discover they are also getting a poor response when they complain about it.

“Car hire websites must be clearer about their charges to allow consumers to shop around for the best deal. We are pleased to see some companies pledging to make charges more transparent following our last investigation but we need to see all of them making improvements, including how they deal with complaints.”

To make sure that you aren’t hit with an unexpected bill, we advise consumers to do the following:

  • Before booking: make sure you know the insurance options, fuel policy, fees for extra drivers and one-way charges.
  • Picking up the car: don’t be pressured to buy extra insurance if you don’t need it and inspect for damage.
  • Returning the car: Make sure that you check for damage, fill up the car and question any unexpected charges incurred.

 Notes to editors:

  1. We asked 3,202 Which? members who had hired a car in the past two years to tell us if they complained and if so, what the complaint was about.
  2. Avis is the car hire company most used by Which? members, followed by Hertz, then Europcar, and Holiday Autos is the most used car hire broker.
  3. The satisfaction ratings for these four companies for handling complaints:
  4. In May, we found that more than half of our researchers couldn’t find the full price of the rental when they went through the booking process.

Press Release