Balearic government saying it's getting tough with car-hire abusive practices. | Javier Coll

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The regional government has launched a campaign that it hopes will put an end to abusive practices in the car-rental sector. An initiative by the consumer affairs department, the campaign was outlined today by Xisco Dalmau, the department's director.

Leaflets in four languages - Castellano, Catalan, English and German - inform tourists about the procedure for hiring a car and about consumer rights. The leaflets will be distributed at points of entry, i.e. airports and ports.

Dalmau explained that abuses include making clients pay for scratches that were already on cars or making them wait over two hours to be able to pick up vehicles. Otherwise, the most contentious issues which arise relate to price, fuel policy and insurance coverage. He said that there is to be "seal of excellence" for car-rental agencies which will incorporate a set of best practice. This is to be launched next month and will help tourists to know that the company they are dealing with respects consumer rights.

He pointed out that ten proceedings have been initiated so far this year because of abusive practices. These had resulted from more than 55 inspections that the consumer affairs department have conducted. The department has received some 500 complaints over the past two years and is anticipating increasing the number of inspections.