On location, at a price
Here is something I consider to be a scam. I am just back on a brief visit to Ireland, where I am attending an event later today. For various reasons I needed to rent a car, and I did so online while still back in Scotland. The car hire company quoted me a price, and when all details and requirements had been settled I was invited to enter my credit card details. I did so, and after I had finished a new page came up telling me what I had I had now purchased. To my surprise in addition to the previously quoted charges there was now also a payment of €25 which was described as a ‘location charge’.
When yesterday evening I arrived at the car rental desk in Dublin airport to pick up the car I queried this charge, and was told this was standard for all car rental companies (though I must say I have never noticed it before), and was a charge for ‘renting from the location’. I asked whether there was any way I could avoid the charge. The lady said there was, by not renting from the ‘location’. I asked how this could be done. She didn’t know. I pointed out that I considered this unacceptable, because I wasn’t even advised of this charge before confirming the reservation and entering my credit card details. Even Ryanair – who, bless them, are world leaders at adding charges for unexpected and unavoidable items – tell you about such stuff before you pay.
It seems to me that as much commerce and trade migrates online it becomes important to have easily understandable and transparent pricing there. My experience in this case is a blatant example of a hugely misleading approach to pricing, and a plainly stupid reason for a charge. If certain locations are more expensive, then the rental company should include that right away in the standard quoted price. Then I can book my car with another company. But there are examples all over the place, with postage and packing often being another example of pricing obfuscation. It is time for consumer bodies and regulatory agencies to get active.