The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched enforcement cases against two unnamed car hire price comparison sites.
The sites are being investigated due to concerns they are breaking consumer law by hitting customers with hidden charges and unexpected fees, such as for fuel, or late night pick-ups and drop-offs.
Over the past year the CMA has been working with car hire comparison sites to ensure their customers get clear and accurate prices.
However, a small number of businesses have been identified which may have still not made adequate improvements.
This has resulted in the launch of two enforcement cases and prompted the CMA to publish advice to the sector on how to comply with consumer law, issuing letters to 40 companies, asking them to maintain standards and, where necessary, make improvements to comply with the law.
The advice makes clear the CMA’s expectations, such as:
- Including all extra charges in the price they first give their customers.
- Clearly setting out fuel pricing policies to customers, and
- Warning them about high excess or deposits amounts.
James MacBeth, project director at CMA, said: "For many people hiring a car is an essential component to days out, holidays and trips. No one should be misled or face unexpected charges, whether they choose to book directly with the car hire company or through a comparison site.
“While we have seen improvements in the way car hire comparison sites quote prices, we are still concerned that some companies may not have faced up to their legal obligations, and as a result we have opened two enforcement cases.
“We expect this sector to provide clearer information about the true costs, and to explain upfront what customers will actually pay.
"Businesses must read our advice and make the necessary changes. If companies break the law they risk enforcement action, as these cases show.”