It is about time we start using this blog to let you know who is treating customers poorly and how to do something about it. We will not list the naughties on this particular blog, but we will try our best going forward to tell you about those companies we see as treating customers unfairly. Pay close attention to any miss-selling practices revolving around Excess Waiver Insurance or better known as Car Hire Excess Insurance.

A dispute resolution service from our friends at the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) are operating on behalf of the pan-European rental industry it has been discovered.

We receive dozens of calls from disgruntled customers dealing with car rental firms across Europe, we feel motivated to try and help you as much as we can. The majority asked us how they can file a complaint against these firms who seem to step over the line with customers.

Launched in Autumn 2010, the European Car Rental Conciliation Service (ECRCS) is currently being piloted by the big four European cross-border rental companies: Avis, Europcar, Hertz, and Sixt.

(Nice name for a dispute resolution service? I actually searched ECRCS on Google and the search results got me the Crocs shoes store UK as my number one choice. This needs improvement!)

Their service is open to anybody with an unresolved dispute involving a cross-border rental in Europe.

According to the BVRLA, so far in 2011, the ECRCS has been asked to investigate 38 complaints. Of the 33 disputes resolved so far, 84% were decided in favour of the rental company involved.

(Hmmm...of course, let us not forget that the ECRCS is run by rental car companies with the help of its trade association which they pay to be members of. Again...hmmm.)

Anyhow, this next piece of information is interesting.

The largest percentage of complaints concerned additional charges, such as insurances, one-way fees and special equipment. In all cases where the ECRCS found in favour of the rental company, it was because the company provided documentation evidence showing that the additional charges were clearly stated on the rental agreement and were signed for by the customer.

Although some problems are caused by language differences, the ECRCS believes many could be avoided if rental staff took time to ensure that customers understand the rental agreement and provided them with documents in their own language.

Nature of Complaint Complaints by country of rental Complaints by country of residence
Charges 50% Germany 25% UK 50%
Damages 41% Italy 16% Spain 44%
Condition of Vehicle 6% France 16% France 3%
Service 3%

We pulled the content below from the BVRLA's public website in view that it can help you get started.

So How do you complain to the ECRCS?

Details of your complaint should be submitted in writing to the BVRLA (or ECRCS). To assist you with submitting your complaint you can download a copy of their complaint form below.

Complaint form

The form and copies of all relevant correspondence should be sent to;

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Fax: 01494 434499

Or by post to;

Chief Executive
River Lodge
Badminton Court

What happens next?

BVRLA will acknowledge your complaint within 5 working days and will then investigate your dispute using our informal conciliation procedure. They will request information from the member concerned and assess your activities against the BVRLA's Code of Conduct before making any decision.

They aim to resolve all disputes within 14 working days.

BVRLA Arbitration Panel

If the BVRLA is unable to resolve a dispute using our informal conciliation service then the matter can by request from either party, be referred to the formal Arbitration Panel. This Panel will independently review the matter with its decision being binding on both parties

A dispute referred to the Arbitration Panel is actioned and a decision given to all parties within 30 working days.

Please note that using our conciliation service does not preclude the your right, or the member's right to take separate legal action.

Disputes outside of our jurisdiction

The BVRLA is unable to resolve disputes that have been booked through a third party or non member organisation. We are unable to fully investigate disputes arising outside of the UK, as the scope and application of our Code of Conduct extends only to members operating within the UK. There is a pilot scheme in place called the European Car Rental Conciliation Service (ECRCS) which helps with unresolved complaints concerning cross border vehicle rentals within Europe. For more information click here.

Useful Contacts

If you are unable to invoke our conciliation service, the following organisations may be able to assist you further.

UK European Consumer Centre
The UK ECC provides free information on consumer rights in Europe and assists in cross-border disputes.
Web Address:

Citizens Advice Bureau
Web Address:

Trading Standards
Web Address:

Consumer Direct
Web Address:

Last resort, write you favourite customer champions at any of the national daily newspapers. They seem to get the attention you deserve from car rental operators if it all goes wrong.

Disclaimer: All prices contained in this article were correct on the original date of publication. Prices may change over time, so for current prices, please get a quote.