CONSUMER | The AGCM fines six car rental companies for unfair contract terms

On 18 April 2024, the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) concluded proceedings CV242CV243CV244CV245CV247CV248 against Italian car rental companies Avis Budget Italia S.p.A., Hertz Italiana S.r.l., Centauro Rent a Car Italy S.r.l., Green Motion Italia S.r.l., Noleggiare S.r.l. and Drivalia Leasys Rent S.p.A. (the “Companies”) and imposed fines of more than 18 million Euro in total. Notably, the AGCM found that the clause in the Companies’ terms and conditions obliging customers to pay an additional fee in connection with any fine imposed by administrative authorities on the rented vehicles during the relevant rental period, including those for omitted parking or toll payments, is unfair and in breach of Article 33(1) of the Italian Consumer Code. These fees – regardless of their legal classification (i.e., “remuneration for services” or “penalty”) or the amount – appeared to be unjustified, given that, upon receipt of an administrative sanction related to a rented vehicle, the Companies are only required to provide the competent administrative authority with the customer’s personal details, and are not subject to an economic loss in relation to such notification. The AGCM thus concluded that the clause represents a significant imbalance in the consumer’s rights and obligations under the contract, also considering that the charge on the consumer’s credit card is automatically applied solely based on the pre-authorisation provided at the time of signing the rental agreement.

Newsletter n. 96 – May 2024