Being blamed for previous damage that was concealed and not easily seen

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Mar 3, 2018
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#1
In November 2017, I rented a car from Enterprise outside of Philadelphia, PA. To make a long story short, I missed an area of damage on the walk-around (but so did the agent) because it was pouring rain, had a 3 year old in tow, and the area was atypical in that somebody had attempted to cover up damage to the car with patching and matching paint prior to my rental period. It was also low on the undercarriage of the car, and I didn’t get down on the ground to feel the undercarriage. Although I know that I failed to notice the area in question, I think we all can agree that we are primarily looking for obvious signs of damage-dents, paint loss, scratches, etc. and that an area that someone has attempted to conceal would be unique and atypical in nature. The employee who checked me in that day refuses to admit that he may have missed something on his walk around, or that a walk around may not have been done (due to the rapid turnover of the car, and drenching rain that morning). I noticed the area on a dry day 3 days into my rental period and immediately called the office to tell them what I was seeing. Quite honestly, I wasn't exactly sure what had happened because there wasn't any paint loss or scratches, but I don't know cars that well, and never considered it had been repainted and that the damage was old. I took the car right over to the Enterprise location, and was told that I had obviously damaged the vehicle and would be responsible for it. Over the past 4 months, I have followed all of the recommended avenues including respectful letters to the corporate, regional, and local offices, phone calls ad nauseum, then eventually contacting executives and senior VP at corporate (as per your recommendations), as well as the CEO as a last ditch effort. Although I never received responses from the executives higher up on the chain, I was referred to regional corporate, and all my communications were met with the same response: they agree that somebody damaged the vehicle and attempted to conceal the damage, but they believe that person was me. I am a 43 year old veterinarian who works in a non-profit shelter, have a 3 year old, and wouldn't even know how to match paint to a vehicle. Furthermore, if I had damaged and attempted to cover up damage, why would I take it back 3 days later to show them? Rather I would have returned the vehicle and hoped they wouldn't notice (and they wouldn't have because a walk around was not done at the time I returned the car--they only retrieved mileage and gas readings). I absolutely would take 100% responsibility for any damage that I had caused, and everybody who knows me, knows this. I am honest to a fault (as evidenced here). I am willing to testify under oath that I did not damage this vehicle, nor did I attempt to conceal damage to the car. Because the area was weathered and devoid of fresh paint, and possibly had fine rust surrounding it (according to various body shop workers I had view the pictures I took 3 days into the rental), I asked if I could pay for an impartial third party to assess the area in question and comment on the state of the botched repair. The agent told me that that was not necessary: they would have an assessment done on the next business day. The assessment was never done, and I only got a repair estimate dated a week later. The first person I talked to from the damage repair unit (Tina) at Enterprise told me that the damage could not have possibly occurred during my rental window after viewing pictures, however they have filed a claim with my insurance company (Geico). After I told them that the option was never given to me to pay for the damages out of pocket (and avoid an insurance claim), they told me I could pay the repair bill for $809.00, and told me that the claim was removed from my insurance. As of now, I have not paid the 809$ because the claim is still on my insurance. I have not heard anything else. I am away from my home computer, but will upload the images (taken on the first dry day, 3 days into my rental period) ASAP. Thank you in advance for your help!
 
Mar 3, 2018
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#4
Thanks Neil. I already did. I started with local and regional and then wrote David Nestor (primary executive contact) and Christine Taylor, executive VP, as per your recommendations. I received no response, but a second employee from regional called me to tell me she had been contacted by corporate, and she gave me a payment option only and took some fees off. I then worked my way up to Andy Taylor, CEO, and no response.
 
Likes: Mike Tipton
Mar 3, 2018
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#6
Here is our advice:

http://forum.elliott.org/threads/how-to-deal-with-a-car-rental-damage-claim.1514/

Start dealing with the corporate offices as we advise in the thread. Let us know how you make out.
I was advised to post here after I had exhausted all options. I can provide the response from the Damage Recovey Unit where I asked for a copy of the assessment of the vehicle, if helpful. I started with local and 2 contacts from regional, and worked my way through all of the corporate contacts. I also disputed the $500 charge on my credit card. My only responses have been a claim to my insurance, and letters saying I am still responsible (early on). Later appeals were met with silence. I am supposed to pay the damages out of pocket this week (809$) to avoid them pursuing it with insurance.
 
Mar 3, 2018
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#8
Oh come on- it is absolutely ridiculous they think you had the car long enough to get tape, paint it and have it wear like that. This is so preposterous. Keep going up the executive chain.
Thanks. I can try repeating emails to corporate. I wrote the executive VP and primary executive contacts as advised 3 weeks ago, and the CEO one week after not hearing from either of the corporate contacts. I appreciate your help!