Car hire prices: Brits charged £200 more than foreigners

Car insurance
19 Aug, 2014 8:00am Joe Finnerty

Leading hire company charges British drivers up to £200 more than foreigners

British drivers are being charged hundreds of pounds more than foreign visitors to hire a car in the UK from one leading rental company, Auto Express can reveal.

We got several quotes from Europcar for a Vauxhall Insignia at various UK pick-up locations, with different countries of residency selected. On all but one, Brits were being charged up to £120 more for a week’s rental.

If drivers want something larger – such as a VW Sharan – the price gap can be nearly £200. We also found that customers pay a premium for making any booking – at home or abroad – through the UK Europcar site compared to the identical foreign websites.

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Our findings back up concerns issued by the EU Commission, which published a letter written to car rental companies ordering them to stop discriminating based on nationality. It had found a non-discrimination policy was not being fully applied in the rental sector, with Hertz and Avis believed to be breaching the EU ‘single market’ regulations, too. 

Since then, both have cleaned up their acts – leaving Europcar as the only major firm to still change a residency-based price – and the EU wants a review carried out by the end of the month.

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Michel Barnier, vice president of the European Commission, in charge of Internal Market and Services, said: “The single market should be a daily reality not only for major international companies but also for consumers in Europe.”

A spokesman for Europcar said: “The Europcar group always seeks to comply with EU-applicable rules and in particular consumer-protection rules. 

“We have an ongoing dialogue with the EU Commission, which we will keep pursuing in accordance with the planning required by the Commission. Objective market differences can justify a degree of price differentiation that EU legislation perfectly allows.”

How UK rental fees vary based on where you live

UK resident France resident Poland resident Sweden resident
London Heathrow £288.14 208.96 (£167.61) 228.34 (£183.16) SEK 2099.39 (£183.18)
London Kings Cross £283.04 208.96 (£167.61) 228.34 (£183.16) SEK 2099.39 (£183.18)
Birmingham  £160.64 208.96 (£167.61) 228.34 (£183.16) SEK 2099.39 (£183.18)
Liverpool £193.80 208.96 (£167.61) 228.34 (£183.16) SEK 2099.39 (£183.18)
Newcastle £193.80 228.34 (£183.16) 228.34 (£183.16) SEK 2099.39 (£183.18)

Have you ever felt ripped off when hiring a car? Tell us your experiences in the comments section below...

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