Flyers to/from the European Union are likely familiar with EC 261, which provides benefits for many customers in many cases of inconvenience caused by airlines. Similarly, rail travelers in the European Union may also benefit from EU policies in the cases of cancellations or delays, as will some bus passengers and ship passengers. And given the European Union has adopted customer protection for pretty much every other form of travel, it's a bit of a surprise that the European Union doesn't regulate delays or inconveniences with rental cars. However, that doesn't mean all hope is lost, as multiple rental car companies have elected to be part of the voluntary European Car Rental Concillation Service (ECRCS), offered for free to rental car consumers on issues related to the computation of charges on bills.
Which companies participate in ECRCS?
The participants in ECRCS are largely the same as the members of ACRISS, the trade organization that is involved in categorizing vehicles. And as usual, the AvisBudget Group companies except Payless are parties to this customer-friendly initiative.
Members of ECRCS have to accept a Charter agreement and affirm compliance with Rental Best Practices (hence no Payless). And ECRCS only handles specific complaints about whether the charges assessed by the rental car company are appropriate. So there's no compensation for delays and ECRCS isn't going to help with traffic citations or toll charges. However, ECRCS does provide some renters with an additional means of having a grievance against their selected rental car company heard. While rental car companies are bound by any determination made by ECRCS, renters are not.
So How Does ECRCS Work?
There are some checkboxes that have to be clicked before submitting a claim to ECRCS. For instance,
- The renter has to be a resident of the EU,
- The rental has to originate in a different country than the renter's residence,
- The rental company has to be one of the ECRCS participants listed above, and
- The renter has to complete the rental car company's initial appeal process.
Even if the renter loses the initial claim through the rental car company and then a second claim through ECRCS, that renter still retains the right to seek legal recourse (if appropriate). In the U.S., we often recommend booking with highly-rated firms that have a history of quickly solving problems when they arise (all rental car companies encounter problems at times, so a renter may prefer a company that will fix the problems quickly and effectively). If all of our team were EU-based, we clearly would happy to take advantage of working with respected companies that voluntarily provide an extra free-of-cost appeals mechanism for those limited instances where a rental car company doesn't meet a commitment made in a reservation.