Have you been a victim of shady car hire firms across Europe?

I am increasingly being made aware of shady practices by car hire firms across the European Union and I am now seeking examples of unfair or illegal charges from constituents in the South-East of England.

In one situation I was informed of a constituent who hired a car in Spain, and discovered that he was charged 256 EUROs for a car shelf replacement in the vehicle, even though the vehicle did not have a car shelf.

In another case a constituent placed the keys of the hire car through a letter box and not a person at the desk as it was late at night, and the hire firm claimed the keys were lost and charged my constituent 300 EUROs for a replacement key.

In many cases I believe that consumers feel vehicle hire companies have unfairly charged their credit cards when these were provided to the company as a guarantee to cover expenses in case anything would happen during the hire period.

These charges are very often made without being accompanied by any kind of explanation and set up a disappointing surprise for the consumers. A negative conclusion of this practice is that these charges are perceived by consumers as non reasonable and non acceptable.

The general advice is when you are going to hire a car within the European Union, is to make sure you know how much you will be liable for in the event of accident inspect the vehicle carefully (with a car rental company employee present) when collecting and returning it. Request a written statement that the car was returned in good working order before you leave.

I support a coherent legal EU-wide framework that governs car hire agreements and believe the issue of vehicle hire is appropriate for EU action; and it is within the EU’s scope to act. As the vehicle hire sector is mainly a cross-border market, this matter should be solved at EU level. By harmonising Member States’ laws, regulations and administrative provisions on vehicle hire contracts, a common high level of consumer protection can therefore be better achieved at Community level than by the different Member States themselves

Please send me your experiences to my email at richardjames.ashworth@europarl.europa.eu

Richard Ashworth

Conservative MEP for the South East

European Parliament

Rue Wiertz

Brussels B 1047