Which? has been on the offensive as of late. Not only has it been attacking energy companies and Ofgem’s recent proposal for easy-to-read energy tariffs, but they are also attacking car hire websites. This consumer group says that car hire websites are still very confusing to travellers. It is hidden charges that make it almost impossible for people to compare prices from different sites and find the cheapest deals.
Researchers from Which? recently went through the task of booking a car 120 different times on 10 of the most popular car rental websites. In the end, the researchers said that the total price of the car hire was not made clear until halfway through the booking process. In order for a consumer to find the best deal, they would actually have to go through most of the booking process on multiple sites to find the best deal instead of being able to compare them at a glance.
The charges that were added onto the car rentals were not always made clear. For example, out of the researchers who had a compulsory fuel charge added onto their car hire, 75% said that they had no way of knowing how much this fuel charge was going to be. Not only that, 44% of these researchers said that they did not know how much the optional excess waiver was. For those who don’t know, the excess waiver is something that travellers can buy to reduce the amount of money they have to pay if the car they rent is to become damaged. In some cases, these waivers add more than £100 a week to a car rental.
In order to correct this, Which? strongly believes that car hire companies and booking sites for car rentals need to clearly display certain information. This information needs to be displayed before a consumer has committed to the rental. The information that needs to be listed includes (but may not be limited too): The amount of the excess waiver, the cost of the compulsory fuel charge and the cost of all optional extras.
Which? has already started attacking car hire companies across the UK with its findings. It has written to car hire companies like Enterprise and Dollar to remind them of their legal obligations to make such information easy to find for consumers. The group said that it wants to share this information with car hire companies to encourage them to make improvements without having to be forced to do so.
Unfortunately, most car hire companies are not going to change just because of the results found in Which?’s findings. If anything, they will not even respond to such claims for the time being. Regulators would literately have to force the car rental companies to change the way they display information. Even if regulators do tell them to change, it will take a while for the changes to take place. For now, people just need to continue to do in-depth research before they rent a car.