THE Balearic Consumers' Association yesterday slammed what it described as “mal-practice” by some car hire companies operating in the Islands who are charging clients for a full day's rate when according to law, they can only claim for the actual time the vehicle has been used.

The Association claimed that this “abusive” practice can in some instances go to make up 10 percent of the income of companies which are exploiting unwitting clients. A spokesman pointed out that legislation designed to protect consumers decrees that people can only be charged for the hours they have used a vehicle, and not for periods of 24 hours. “The practice is totally illegal,” he said.

The consumers' group also singled out other mal-practice in this sector such as the demand some hire companies make that all clients should be in possession of a credit card or the refusal to rent to people under the age of 25.

The Association wants to see people who fall foul of these practices not just to turn a blind eye but to officially complain. Customers are entitled to ask for the complaints book in the offices of the car hire company and to register what are tantamount to illegal practices with local authorities.

Particularly vulnerable groups would be foreign tourists,” said the consumers' group. “Such people, especially those arriving in the Islands for the first time, are unlikely to be familiar with regional bylaws,” said the spokesman. “It's possible they might consider such practices the norm and feel they are not in a position to argue the point.” But it's not just foreigners who may end up being overcharged, he continued. “Visitors from the mainland of Spain may also not be fully aware of their rights.”


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