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Car rental, unfair clauses in contracts: Antitrust imposes a fine of 18 million euros on six companies

The Competition and Markets Authority (Antitrust) fined for more than 18 million euros in total car rental company Avis Budget Italia, Hertz Italiana, Centauro Rent a Car Italy, Green Motion Italia, Noleggiare and Drivalia Leasys Rent for unfair clauses.

The Guarantor contested in particular the clause present in the contracts of car rental companies, published on their websites, which obliged the tenant to pay a lump sum“an unjustified charge to the customer”, to deal with traffic fines or non-payment of parking or tolls when renting a car.

“L’additional amountexplains Antitrust “provided for by the clause – whatever the qualification adopted by each company (such as “penalty” or “fee per act”) – this is not justified in view of the obligations due in the event of a fine attributable to the contractor. Indeed, car rental companies only need to transmit customer identification data to the body responsible for investigating the offense.”

Antitrust: remove these clauses from the forms

According to the Guarantor, the unjustified nature of costs also appears “regardless of the precise amount applied by the company and due to the automatic nature of the charge on the consumer’s credit card, on the basis of the pre-authorization provided at the time of signing the rental contract”.

The six sanctioned companies have the obligation to publish an extract of the decision on its website. Furthermore, with the entry into force of the new power of sanction in terms of unfair clauses from February 1, 2022, each company was ordered to delete the disputed clause of their contractual documentation, in addition to the payment of an administrative fine.

What consumer associations say

“Good, although the subject is not entirely new given that Antitrust was already interested in the surcharges imposed by car rental companies when they have to pay a fine to bill a customer. Enough of practices that impose inappropriate burdens. The customer must pay for the rental of the car and nothing else. Various taxes cannot be added to round up the bill,” he commented. Maximilian Donapresident ofNational Consumers Union.

Also satisfied Codacons: “We have been denouncing for some time that in the car rental sector there are too many unfair clauses to the detriment of users and absurd taxes imposed on customers. The antitrust ruling accepts complaints filed by consumers who repeatedly reported opaque or unjustified fees that unduly increased rental costs. Clauses that significantly increase the profits of companies to the detriment of consumers and, in this sense, the authority has done well to sanction incorrect behavior by imposing a heavy fine, which we hope will have a deterrent effect.