Recent research has revealed that some clauses in car hire contracts could prove to be unfair to consumers. Websites of some car hire companies provide inadequate information about the conditions of their contracts.

In the contracts of Europcar, Hertz and Enterprise there is a condition that could be potentially unfair to customers in the event that the car was stolen. This clause states that if customers were unable to produce the vehicle’s keys after the car was stolen, they would be responsible for the full cost of the vehicle. Therefore, someone who was the victim of a car-jacking, or had the keys were stolen along with the car would be required to pay for the car in full.

In addition, it has been discovered that two companies, Enterprise and Avis, did not provide any information on their websites about the terms of their contracts. Budget, Alamo and National offered some information on their websites, but did not reveal all of the conditions in their entirety. This means that customers would be entering into car hire contracts with these companies unaware of all of the details of the contracts, and thus would be unaware of what would be expected of them in certain circumstances. Inadequate information on the websites also made it very difficult for Which? Holiday to compare prices between companies to find the best deal. Many of the companies in question failed to include on their websites the costs of waivers and extras that might be added to the rental cost.

According to Rochelle Turner, Which? Holiday’s Head of Research, the prospect of hiring a car for a holiday might seem like a good idea, but it could in fact prove to be a minefield. The confusion of trying to figure out what type of insurance is needed and what will be covered often causes customers to skip to the end and sign on the dotted line. Most people just want to pay for the car and go, so they sign the contract without reading it thoroughly.

Turner stresses the importance of reading and understanding every part of the contract before signing. Being unaware of all of the terms of the agreement could leave you with a huge unexpected expense in the event that the car is stolen while in your possession.