The European Commission, the executive body responsible for legislative propositions, maintaining treaties, and managing the day-to-day workings of the European Union, has publicly warned six car rental agencies to cease their discriminatory online price practices. Currently, many of the rental car suppliers with online booking systems, have scripts in place to re-route online traffic based on the consumer's IP address to reflect rates specific to the customer's country of origin. This prevents consumers from accessing the lowest fares possible, a practice that the European Commission says violates the EU's "single market policy."
The concept of re-routing online customers to location-specific pages is a strategy that, in theory, is beneficial to both parties - suppliers and consumers. Using an online customer's IP address - the unique number assigned to every computer user based on their location - to identify the customer's country of origin is a way for companies to make sure customers book in their native currency, avoiding surprise currency conversion and higher-than-expected credit card fees. Unexpected pricing often leads to cancelled bookings and potential losses for rental companies, but the European Commission is clear that this practice - regardless of intent - is in violation of the EU's single market policy.
The six companies identified by the European Commission for potential market infractions, are: Sixt, Goldcar, Avis, Hertz, Europcar, and Enterprise. In early 2011, the EC engaged in talks with representatives from each of these companies to discuss complaints from consumers relating to discriminatory practices, but the EC has now felt the need to reiterate their position, publicly, in an attempt to settle the allegations and put a stop to discriminatory practices once and for all. 3 of the 6 companies identified - Goldcar, Enterprise, and Sixt - have already responded, explaining how they will amend their current systems to comply with EU policies, and the European Commission has deemed these responses satisfactory, thus avoiding potential fines and citations. The remaining three: Europcar, Hertz, and Avis, have until the end of August to communicate their intentions with the European Commission. If they do not do so they will be subjected to regulations from the EU. Thankfully, the remaining 3 companies have released statements in regards to the allegations and according to these statements they are currently in communication with the EC, ironing out the wrinkles in their current price practice policies.
Auto Europe does not currently engage in IP re-routing, but does work closely with all six companies named by the European Commission, among many others. Auto Europe remains committed to maintaining a fair marketplace for suppliers and consumer alike and by identifying the best available rates for online shoppers from local car rental suppliers around the world; we guarantee the best rates industry-wide and will always honor our customers with the lowest prices available, regardless of your country of origin.
As the European Commission wraps up its investigation and helps these companies conform to EU standards, know that you don't have to look far for fair pricing practices in the meantime. A reputable international rental car broker with a 60-year track-record of excellent customer service, Auto Europe remains committed to transparent pricing practices and award-winning customer service.