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Car hire firms including Europcar and Sixt make changes to the way they show charges

Car hire firms including Europcar and Sixt have made changes to the way they display charges and other key information on their websites in order to meet commitments made to the competition watchdog.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) says the changes mean people will now know exactly how much they are paying upfront. The changes came after a review found some firms were providing unclear information on their websites.

In 2015, Avis Budget, Enterprise, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt made a series of commitments to the CMA, including providing customers with the total price they will pay at the start of the booking process and clearer information about any other costs, such as excess amounts and deposits.

But after reviewing the firms' practices recently, the CMA found that in some cases customers could still be hit by hidden costs or misled by unclear information. It now says it is  satisfied, but will keep the firms under "close review."

What commitments did the firms make in 2015?

Back in 2015, Avis Budget, Enterprise, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt – which in total represented around two thirds of the UK and EU markets – agreed to introduce the following improvements and said they'd make them within the next six months:

  • Improved transparency when making a website booking or reservation means customers will have more of the key information they need to find 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 inspections.

  • Improved notification of, and dispute processes for, any charges for damage.

The CMA wasn't happy with the progress after a review, but now says it is.

These changes will also apply to Goldcar after it was bought by Europcar.

The CMA has also taken action against two Spanish car hire firms

In addition to the above announcement, the CMA says it has taken separate action against two Spanish car hire companies following concerns that UK holidaymakers were being misled by their practices.

Centauro Rent-a-Car and Record Go Alquiler Vacacional have now agreed to improve the way they display information on their websites, ensuring that they include all compulsory charges upfront.

What does the CMA say?

George Lusty, senior director for consumer protection at the CMA, said: "No one should be misled or caught out by hidden fees when renting a car.

"The big five told us in 2015 they would update their practices, but we've found they weren't doing all that they'd committed to. Following our further intervention, the charges people see on the big five's websites will be clear, prominent and accurate, allowing customers to choose the best possible deal for them.

"We'll keep the firms under close review to ensure they deliver on their commitments."

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