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British Drivers Ripped Off Hiring Cars

By raccars Published

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Research has suggested that British drivers are charged more than other foreign nationals when hiring cars in the UK. Europcar is the worst offender, with Brits paying up to £200 more than foreigners for the same hire.

Among the data collected, a number of quotations for a week's rental of a Vauxhall Insignia were obtained, varying by pick up centre and country of residence. The results showed British nationals were paying up to £120 more than foreign visitors. The same criteria were given for a VW Sharan, a larger car, with a price gap of almost £200 in favour of foreign visitors. As part of the same research project by Auto Express, it was shown that customers using Europcar's UK website pay a higher price for the same hire than customers going through the company's foreign websites.

The EU Commission has already taken issue with the matter after complaints by customers resident in the EU. The Commission released publicly a letter it has written to all of the major car rental companies - Avis, Enterprise, Europcar, Goldcar, Hertz and Sixt - instructing them to cease discrimination by nationality, after investigations indicated that Avis and Hertz had breached the EU's single market non-discrimination regulations. Other undesirable practices were also criticised in the letter, including the use of IP address identification systems to allocate prices. The EU Commission is determined to uphold its Services Directive on the single market, which makes it clear that discrimination based upon residency is unacceptable and requested that action be taken by the recipients of the letters by the end of August.

Some of those companies have made a point of changing policy accordingly, but that leaves Europcar as the largest car rental firm to continue to allocate different prices based upon country of residency. The EU is planning to review the situation as a matter of priority. In the meantime, Europcar claims that it is operating within EU legislation guidelines and that it is continuing to communicate with the EU Commission on the matter.

As an example, a Vauxhall Insignia hired for one week by a UK resident from London's Heathrow area costs £288.14. A French driver pays £167.61 for the same thing, a Polish resident pays £183.16 and a Swede pays £183.18. A Briton from Birmingham is charged £160.64 for the same car, King's Cross residents are charged £283.04, while residents of Liverpool and Newcastle pay £193.80.

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