The Nordic consumers are filing an increasing number of complaints concerning car rentals in Europe. These statistics are based on data collected by the European Consumer Centres in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland. In Finland, the number of complaints filed has remained more or less the same while in the other Nordic countries the number has been on the rise over the past few years. The most common causes for complaints include additional insurance policies and expenses charged for damage repairs after the car has been returned.
Sometimes consumers face problems when hiring a car in Europe. The Nordic offices of the European Consumer Centres Network have registered an increase in the number of complaints over the past three years in all of the Nordic countries, except Finland. In 2016, the number of complaints regarding car rentals increased by 25% in the Nordic countries. Since 2014, the number of complaints has increased by nearly 40%.*
The most common complaint when hiring a car in Europe is that the final price is higher than expected after booking the car online. Additional expenses are often caused by insurance policies and repair expenses charged from the consumer after they have returned the car. It is also common that consumers are required to take additional insurance coverage before the booked car is handed over. Damage repairs charged after returning a rental car typically occur when a car is returned outside normal office hours and the consumer has, thus, no way of proving that the car was not scratched, for example, when they returned it.
- During their vacation, consumers often rent a car to be able to travel freely and independently. It is very important to carefully read the terms and conditions already during the booking process, and again at pick-up. It is also advisable to check the car before driving it out, and to verify that even minor scratches and signs of wear and tear are entered into the condition form. It might also be a good idea to take pictures of the car at pick-up and then again when returning the car”, suggests Ms. Leena Lindström, Director of European Consumer Centre Finland.
5 tips for hiring a car
- Check what is included in the price. Check how the price is calculated per day and for the whole rental period. Pay particular attention to whether the price is given inclusive or exclusive of value added tax (VAT). Many car rental agencies charge extra for accessories such as car seats. Also, look out for any delivery fees and service charges. For example, returning the car to a different location from where you picked it up usually carries an extra charge. Compare online booking sites and prices before confirming your booking.
- Read the contract carefully before signing it. Even if you book a rental car online, the contract is not signed until you pick up the car from the car rental agency. Read the terms and conditions carefully, and make sure you get a copy of all of the rental documents. If the terms and conditions include items you do not understand, ask for clarification before signing the contract.
- Carefully review the terms and conditions of any insurance policy before signing the contract. Pay attention to the terms and conditions relating to insurance, because insurance policies available in different countries vary considerably. Be sure to do this even when you have booked a car online. Be prepared - the car rental agency is likely to try to sell you additional insurance coverage when you go to pick up the car. Remember that your travel insurance might already offer adequate coverage, or perhaps you already have other valid insurance policies with the required coverage.
- Pay using a credit card. Most car rental agencies only accept payment by credit card. Should disputes arise on the expenses the car rental agency has charged on your credit card, you can contact your credit card company and ask for a refund.
- Inspect the car before pick-up and drop-off. Inspect the car carefully with a car rental agency employee present before you drive the car out. Make sure that any existing damages and signs of wear and tear are entered into the condition form, and ask for a copy for yourself. When dropping off the car, make sure you receive a written statement that the car was returned intact. Take pictures of the car at pick-up and drop-off. This way your will have something to use as evidence should the car rental agency charge you for damages.
For more information on car rentals during holidays, please visit our web page. If you have problems with a car rental agency in any of the EU Member States, Iceland, or Norway, please contact us.
*) In 2016, a total of 367 consumers contacted the European Consumer Centres in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden on issues concerning car rentals. In 2015, the Centres were contacted a total of 293 times, and in 2014, a total of 263 times.