SFO expected to launch inquiry into Europcar ‘£30m car hire repair rip-off’
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is preparing to begin a
criminal inquiry to Europcar in the wake of a Daily Telegraph investigation into potentially fraudulent charges
for repairs that were inflated by up to 300%.
The Daily Telegraph
last month (Newsfeed: 28 June, 2017)
said it had obtained evidence suggesting that the vehicle rental giant’s UK arm
may have generated millions of pounds in profit by inflating the cost to hirers
of vehicle repairs by up to 300%.
Trading Standards in Leicester was reportedly
investigating the firm over billing concerns amid suggestions that it could be
in breach of the Fraud Act 2006.
Now the paper has claimed that the car hire industry was
facing investigation over alleged “fraudulent” repair costs after Europcar
disclosed that consumers were suspected of having been overcharged by at least
The Daily Telegraph
(17 July, 2017) has gone on to claim that the SFO was preparing to begin a
criminal inquiry into Europcar.
Further, it reported consumer watchdog Which? as calling
for a wider investigation by the government and authorities to establish if
other car hire firms might be profiteering from illegal charging tactics.
The paper said the investigation was focused on
Europcar’s practices if a vehicle was involved in an incident that fell outside
of insurance cover. In that instance, customers were billed for an amount that
was presented as the true cost of the repair, plus an administration fee.
However, The Daily
Telegraph suggested that repair prices were grossly inflated via secret
pre-agreed deals between Europcar and suppliers, which directly financially
benefited the company at the expense of the customer.
Europcar, it was suggested, agreed a net price and a
margin which it got to keep, and customers were invoiced for the total cost of
the work, including the pre-agreed margin. Once the customer paid the bill, the
supplier issued Europcar with a second invoice for the pre-agreed amount, which
was the true cost of the work. It then issued a rebate for the difference for
the first and second invoice, which Europcar kept.