Trading Standards has raided the UK head office of Europcar during an investigation following concerns over billing.
The company could now face a fine of up to ten per cent of its turnover if it is found to have systematically overcharged customers.
Hired vehicles returned to Europcar are inspected for damage and anything that falls outside of its insurance cover is charged to the customer and an administration fee is applied.
Evidence seen by The Telegraph suggests that some of the repair prices were grossly inflated through “secret” pre-agreed deals with suppliers.
It’s claimed that the company agrees a price and a margin which it gets to keep but the customer is invoiced for the total ‘cost’ of the work, including the pre-agreed margin.
A second invoice which shows the true cost of repair is issued to Europcar only when the bill is paid to the repair supplier.
One customer claimed they were billed three times more than the actual cost of a windscreen on their hire vehicle.
Legal experts believe the Europcar’s repair policy could breach the Fraud Act 2006 and the Consumer Rights Act.
A spokesman for Europcar said: “Europcar takes the allegations very seriously and is conducting a thorough internal investigation.
“The company is co-operating fully with Trading Standards in its investigations. It can make no further comment at this point.”