$400 Smoking Fee

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Sep 29, 2020
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I rented a vehicle from Thrifty, but it was actually Hertz, on 9/11 and returned it on 9/18.
I went there, they handed me the keys, and said go out to number 23 and there is the car, you are all set. I thought they usually inspect the vehicle with you; I am not an expert car rental person.
I went out to the SUV and there was a sticker on the door showing it was cleaned, COVID-19.
When I entered the car it did smell of smoke right away. I figured they should already know this because they cleaned the vehicle so I left and didn't say anything.
I returned the car on 9/18, went inside, the employee said do I want my receipt emailed, I said sure and she said I am all set and I left.
Then on 9/22 I looked on my bank account and there is this $400 charge, which made my account negative as well.
I called my bank to dispute the transaction and they cancelled my card, it takes 10 days for them to decide if I will get the money back.
I tried calling up the company but couldn't get through so I went over to the rental location and they said it was a smoking charge and I have to call them up over the phone.
I spent hours on the phone and they said I could only get $100 back. I said no I need the full amount I never smoked in the vehicle and no one smoked in there. I asked for a supervisor and nothing seemed to work. I went back to the rental location and that didn't help either. Then they told me to email [email protected] so I did and I also contacted them on Facebook Messenger. I haven't received any email back yet and on messenger they responded I won't be refunded.
I just found this site/forum so I emailed [email protected] and Dossett.

I really need this refunded and I never smoked in the vehicle, it smelled when I picked it up.
I will wait a few days and then email the next person.
I hope this gets resolved.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
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Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
You should leave the process right now to your credit card company and see what they say if you have filed a dispute.

We have a post on how to fight these if the dispute isn’t found in your favor and you will need to deal with the executives at Hertz because they are the ones that get these dropped.

 
Sep 29, 2020
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You should leave the process right now to your credit card company and see what they say if you have filed a dispute.

We have a post on how to fight these if the dispute isn’t found in your favor and you will need to deal with the executives at Hertz because they are the ones that get these dropped.


Ok, so I will wait to hear from my bank, it will be by 10/6. I used a debit card so it came out of my checking account.
 
Jul 13, 2016
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Unfortunately, you unwittingly made a couple of big mistakes here.

Many car rental companies have foregone the physical inspection, so it is up to the renter to film themselves doing the inspection and keeping the photos for at least 6 months. If you notice an odor like cigarette smoke, you need to go back into the office and request a different car. If you do not, then the rental company has no idea who smoked and will charge it against the last renter, in this case, you. As you have discovered, it is extremely hard to prove you were not the smoker.

Also, in the future avoid paying with a debit card. It does not have the same consumer protections as a credit card. Plus, the car rental company typically puts a large hold amount on the debit card, which can serious affect the renter's cash access.

I wish we had better news for you. It seems likely the charge will stand as is.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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San Francisco
This is a pervasive scam by the rental car companies, from the guy who rents three jalopies out of his garage to the top dogs. They know that the bank will probably not stand behind you if you use a debit card to rent a vehicle, so they grab your money and wait to see if they get away with it. Read the rental car forum threads so you understand what's going on. You need to compose a concise, polite email to Thrifty/Hertz (check your contract) and start at the bottom with Customer Service. Wait two weeks for a response. Use our Company Contacts to escalate your request and DON'T GIVE UP. Stay positive and polite. You know you didn't smoke in the vehicle, so just stick to the truth. They count on customers giving up. They can't prove a negative, but so many customers get scared and just pay up. It's a great new revenue source for the car rental companies. Despicable really.
 
Aug 30, 2015
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It is very important to not accept a car that smells of smoke or a hotel room that smells of smoke. One of the many tricks that cigarette smokers use is they will say a room/car etc. smells of tobacco smoke. They are then offered a replacement car or room, and the trick is to decline it, then they smoke away and when it is returned, they have "documented evidence" that it was that way before.
 
Nov 22, 2019
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Irvine CA
I called my bank to dispute the transaction and they cancelled my card, it takes 10 days for them to decide if I will get the money back.
Do you mean that you disputed the transaction? As a fraudulent charge? Even if you win, the company can still go after you, the bank is not a judge, Hertz could still try to collect the payment so it is good that you are also contacting them, keep on this way but also keep in mind that there is no evidence to show and it mights take some time.
 
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Sep 29, 2020
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Well it looks like I will finally get the refund!
I am so greatful!

Edited by a moderator to remove attachment containing personal information
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Mel65

Mar 23, 2015
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If you used a debit card you should expect that your dispute will not be found in your favor. You do not have the consumer protection from a debit card that is provided on a credit card.

I wouldn't say that so hastily. Everything I've ever disputed on my Credit Union debit charge has been found in my favor. They then cancel that debit card and issue me a new one so no other charges can be made on it. It's only been 3 or 4 times in like 20 years, but I've never had pushback from them.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
10,827
12,606
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San Francisco
I wouldn't say that so hastily. Everything I've ever disputed on my Credit Union debit charge has been found in my favor. They then cancel that debit card and issue me a new one so no other charges can be made on it. It's only been 3 or 4 times in like 20 years, but I've never had pushback from them.
I agree, we couldn't possibly know how every institution deals with their customers' debit cards. Mel's given you a good example of how it can be approached. Good luck, and please let us know what happens.
 
Jan 14, 2021
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Adding to this thread as I am now going through the process of fighting Hertz for a fraudulent $400.00 smoking fee. Funny they would claim this against me. I allergic to cigarette smoke. smh.... Anyway, I've opened with a claim with my credit card company, and since I actually did damage the vehicle (minor accident on the interstate), I've also made my insurance company aware of their claims of smoking and the $400.00 charge I've incurred on my credit card because of it.

I'm also following the recommendations of contacting the executive customer service email, then escalating it up the line as layed out on this site.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
25,519
27,959
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
Adding to this thread as I am now going through the process of fighting Hertz for a fraudulent $400.00 smoking fee. Funny they would claim this against me. I allergic to cigarette smoke. smh.... Anyway, I've opened with a claim with my credit card company, and since I actually did damage the vehicle (minor accident on the interstate), I've also made my insurance company aware of their claims of smoking and the $400.00 charge I've incurred on my credit card because of it.

I'm also following the recommendations of contacting the executive customer service email, then escalating it up the line as layed out on this site.
Follow the instructions in post 2.
 
Jan 14, 2021
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Hello All,

I'd like to provide an update to my issue. I fought and fought with the "Executive Services Team". Their story changed a few times and at one point the admitted to a mistake and refunded the charge, only to several hours later claim they made another mistake and re-charged me. I then started looking into additional resources. I contacted some news outlets in the area, they didn't have much to say since you really can't investigate an odor. However they did direct me to a government agency for the State of Wisconsin. This agency tracks claims against companies and watches for patterns of consumer fraud, so if your state has this agency you might want to do this as well! If they get enough complains to show a pattern, I'm sure pressure will be put on these companies.

Anyway, apparently the straw that broke the camels back was opening a dispute with my credit card company. That is supposedly why Hertz refunded the money. Attached is a copy of the letter I received from the State agency.
 

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Dwayne Coward

Administrator
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Apr 13, 2016
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St. Louis
Hello All,

I'd like to provide an update to my issue. I fought and fought with the "Executive Services Team". Their story changed a few times and at one point the admitted to a mistake and refunded the charge, only to several hours later claim they made another mistake and re-charged me. I then started looking into additional resources. I contacted some news outlets in the area, they didn't have much to say since you really can't investigate an odor. However they did direct me to a government agency for the State of Wisconsin. This agency tracks claims against companies and watches for patterns of consumer fraud, so if your state has this agency you might want to do this as well! If they get enough complains to show a pattern, I'm sure pressure will be put on these companies.

Anyway, apparently the straw that broke the camels back was opening a dispute with my credit card company. That is supposedly why Hertz refunded the money. Attached is a copy of the letter I received from the State agency.
Unfortunately, a successful credit card dispute only removes the credit card provider from the issue. The company can still pursue collections for the amount disputed and/or decide not to do future business with you (which is what this company normally does). It is best if you can obtain some type of documentation from the company stating they are dropping the charge or won't pursue this any further.