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SFO expected to launch inquiry into Europcar ‘£30m car hire repair rip-off’

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 £30 million.  

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.