Car hire firms are charging customers more than double the going rate for repairs, an investigation by Which? Travel has exposed.
The investigation found that customers were getting overcharged by up to £1,000.
Which? Travel collected photographic evidence of damage from car hire customers across Europe who believed they had been overcharged.
These photographs were then showed to three Trusted Trader garages who were then asked to provide a quote.
In 75 per cent (eight out of 12) of cases that were investigated, all three garages quoted less than the car hire companies to do the repairs.
In four of the cases, the car hire company charged double the average cost suggested by the three mechanics.
Of the 36 quotes received from the Which? Trusted Trader garages, only eight were equal to or higher than the rental firm’s charge.
One of the cases found that a Europcar customer who was renting a vehicle in France was charged £1,154 to repair a windscreen chip.
It was discovered, however, that this chip could be fixed for as little as £35.
At best there was a markup of 300 per cent added to the repair cost but at first the bill was 30 times the cost of the repair.
Another driver, hiring a car from Green Motion at Stansted Airport, was charged £854 for a minor door dent and bumper scratch.
According to an expert at Which? the repair could’ve cost as little as £186.
Some drivers said they suspected car hire firms may have been charging multiple customers for the same minor damage to a vehicle.
Many major car hire firms – including Avis, Budget and Hertz – admitted to Which? that they often do not carry out repairs, even when customers pay for them.
Industry insiders told Which? that a drastic drop in profit margins led some car hire companies to look for new ways to make money from their customers.
These new tactics include include upselling overpriced insurance, excessive repair bills and topping up takings with an additional admin fee.
Rory Boland, Which? Travel editor, said: “It’s outrageous that car hire customers are being made to pay extortionate amounts for repairs that never take place.
“If repairs are required, customers should be sent clear evidence of how costs were calculated.”
“Car hire firms now need to clean up their act and be upfront about the real cost of renting a car instead of offering too-good-to-be-true prices, then clawing back profits via ridiculous repair bills.”