Consumer advice organisation UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC) welcomes the news from the UK’s Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) that it is launching its first direct action again car hire companies across Europe.

The enforcement action follows extensive complaints from people encountering hidden costs on collection of their car at the airport abroad. The businesses are based in European countries but selling directly to UK customers online.

Michael Grenfell, CMA Executive Director for Enforcement, said: “This move sends a clear message: just because a business is not on UK soil doesn’t mean the law doesn’t apply when it sells in the UK. British consumers have a right to protection under consumer law and the CMA will work to ensure they receive it.”

The move comes as the UK ECC reveals that complaints and enquiries about car hire in the EU rose by more than 35% in the year to the end of February 2018 compared to the same period the previous year. From March 2017 to February 2018 there were 753 complaints and enquiries compared to 555 the year before (March 2016 to February 2017).

The top three causes for complaint (to the UK ECC) from UK consumers hiring cars in the EU included (in no particular order):

  • Disputes related to insurance – unrequested, overpriced or excess waiver
  • Post-hire damage charges, especially after unsupervised drop-offs
  • Fuel policies – hidden charges for fuel

Andy Allen, UK European Consumer Centre (UK ECC) service director, said: “We are very pleased that the CMA will be taking this action. In an age where buying from overseas has never been easier, it’s important that UK consumers feel that someone is looking after their interests. UK consumers are protected by rights that apply throughout the EU and there are provisions to protect them from rogue trading practices, unfair terms in contracts and rip-off pricing practices.”

The CMA also announced that 30 leading websites now carry transparent prices for over 1,300 car companies in over 10,000 destinations, which means UK customers can be more confident that they will now be hidden charges and unexpected fees.

As part of the release, the CMA has published advice for consumers on what to watch out for when renting a car. See the UK ECC’s car hire advice too.

If you are a UK consumer (whatever your gender) and find yourself in dispute with an EU trader, then please contact the UK European Consumer Centre for advice on 01268 88660 - weekdays between 9am and 5pm.


Notes to Editors

For further information, please contact UK European Consumer Centre’s press office on 01268 582206.

The UK European Consumer Centre is part of the European Consumer Centre Network (ECC-Net). There are 30 centres in the EU, plus Iceland and Norway. The aim of the network is to provide advice and support to consumers who have a dispute with a trader based in a European country outside the UK. The Network will assist consumers in the attempt to resolve the complaint.

UK ECC can provide advice in the following main areas: buying goods and services, online shopping, internet auctions, holidays, timeshare and holiday clubs, air travel.

UK ECC is co-funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and the European Commission. The UK ECC service is delivered by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute

  • Consumers can make contact with the UK European Consumer Centre via the website – – or by phone on 01268 886690 weekdays between 9am and 5pm.
  • If in doubt before you buy, contact our sister organisation – the European Consumer Centre for Services – for  pre-purchasing advice: