Five major car rental firms have agreed to improve the way they deal with customers following an investigation by regulators.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), supported by the European Commission, has led the inquiry focusing on issues including customer complaints and improved booking transparency.

The companies – Avis Budget, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Europcar, Sixt and Hertz, which in total represent around two thirds of the UK and EU markets – have agreed to introduce the following improvements over the next 6 months:

  • Improved transparency when making a website booking or reservation: consumers will now have more of the key information they need to shop around for the best deal for them.
  • Better information at the booking stage about optional waiver and insurance products.
  • More upfront information about pre- and post-rental vehicle inspection processes.
  • Improved notification of, and dispute processes for, any charges for damage.

The CMA said the changes would benefit motorists hiring cars both in the UK and Europe.

“The improvements by these five businesses now set a benchmark for the rest of the industry to follow,” said Nisha Arora, the CMA’s senior director.

The consumer organisation Which? said other companies should obey the same rules.

“The hidden costs and sneaky practices of car hire firms have plagued airport arrival lounges for decades,” said Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?

“We now need all rental companies to be totally upfront about charges, so that people know exactly what they will pay when they book.”

The CMA has produced a 60-second summary providing advice for consumers on what to look out for when renting a car.

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