The travel market is just starting to recover and get back to its former glory, so the last thing that it needs is to take two steps backward. Unfortunately, that is what is happening thanks to the many Brits who are getting ripped off by car hire companies when travelling abroad.
This claim was made by the popular consumer watchdog group Which?. This group said that when Brits travel overseas, they are getting hit with surprise charges that they never knew about. Since they are already at their destination and need a car, they have no choice but to pay the outrageous fees. Although the surprise charges are commonplace in just about every country, it is worse in Spain. Unfortunately, this happens to be one of the most popular places to visit for British travellers.
Which? says that at least three-quarters of the more than 2,200 British holidaymakers it surveyed said that they were hit with surprise and hidden fees went renting a car. On top of that, three out of four people said that the car hire company they rented from charged an extremely high rate for petrol compared to all of the local gas stations in the area.
The consumer watchdog said that families are being hit by these extra charges, and they do not even see them coming. Car hire companies say that they make the charges known during the booking process, but the fees are always buried at the end in small print. To make matters worse, it is not just little local firms that are guilty of this. It is international car rental companies as well.
The biggest concern right now is the fuel policy known as “full-empty.” This is a policy that says that consumers need to pay for a full tank of petrol when collecting the car. Consumers have to pay high rates to do this and are not given any kind of refund if they return the car with unused fuel left in it. This little scam is being used by car rental companies all over Europe. However, it is worse in Spain and Greece. Not even the United States is safe from it.
Nearly six out of every 10 holidaymakers said in the Which? survey that they were forced to use the full-empty policy because it was their only option. This upset many of the people who were questioned because they said there was very little chance of them being able to use a full tank of petrol during their visit. This went double when visiting small Spanish islands like Majorca. A tourist would be hard pressed to use a full tank of petrol on such a small island.
A member of Which?, Richard Lloyd, said that many of these fuel charges are unfair. That is why the consumer watchdog is calling on car rental companies to by completely upfront with people. If they want to charge these fees, that is fine; no one can stop them. However, they need to be upfront with consumers beforehand.