Budget St. Tomas, USVI charging for damaged steering wheel, which I did not do

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Mar 11, 2021
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You said the car was returned 2/25 and but pictures were from 1/25. Do you mean you returned it in 1/25 and they sent pictures right away?

There aren’t going to send this to Budget executives for you. You need to do it yourself
Yes, I returned The car at 1 pm and got the picture with questions how do you explain that? On the same day in the afternoon.
 
Mar 11, 2021
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Hello, after I wrote to the first to Executives, I immediately got a response that they assignEd to investigate this matter to their operations department. There was no answer until I wrote to them today. A woman from their escalation office called (not emailed) me and stated that the response from Budget St Tomas in USVI was that for LDW to be valid a customer must for die a police report for any damage not only collision. (Of course no one would explain or mention that on check in). While in the US the police report is not required for mechanical damage, international Budget offices can set their own rules. So they are in support of me being charge for the damage which I either did not or happened due to regular driving from the wear and tear while in my possession Even though LDW was bought.
do you think I should even try to write to the last chief executive officer which I did not try yet? The company has sent me to collections already.
 
Mar 11, 2021
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Correction a customer must provide a police report for any damage for LDW not to waived
 
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Am I the only one who finds it difficult to believe that a consumer would have caused this sort of damage to a steering wheel of a car like this? There's something that seems very strange about this whole thing, or am I missing something? I am a pretty strong person and I don't think I could easily cause my steering wheel to go like that... I am a frequent car renter - or at least was before Covid, and this is not encouraging me to deal with Budget, in the USVI or anywhere else.
 
Mar 11, 2021
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I posted this question with the picture on Nissan mechanics forum and their opinion it could only happen from a car accident or abuse. of course they are not expert engineers. I stopped using Avis rentals for work a couple of years ago due to long lines in the airport, no cars when you come, and then when I rented from another company saying I came and picked up the car at Avis. Also having only dented cars, once I ended up driving for two weeks a car with 3 dents marked with large big crosses. Now I am worried that Budget would be next group. And definitely, if anyone goes to USVI, avoid their Budget Rent a Car, there are multiple complaints on them similar to mine on the internet. If you go to St John, get only a car from local St John rentals, a bunch of better, newer cars and great customer care.
 
Mar 11, 2021
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Official response from Budget corporate after I wrote the CEO:
Thank you for contacting the ABG Executive Office.



We have received a reply from our Claims Office. They have confirmed that the vehicle you rented was returned with a broken steering wheel. As outlined in our contract customers that accept our Loss Damage Waiver are required to provide a Police Report to explain the accident or damage. The coverage is voided without it. Additionally we require an Incident Report to explain the damage. Our records indicate that neither were provided. Based upon this information you would be responsible for the repair of the vehicle.

they also sent to collections with extra ~250 usd of what they charge initially.
 
Jun 24, 2019
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I’ve not had the experience of going into a police station and reporting something like a bent steering wheel. I have no idea how that works, especially if there is a language barrier. (I had a very serious Carabiniere in MIlan who wanted me to erase pictures I had taken of a synagogue. While he spoke no English, his assault weapon was fluent in all languages.)

Here in Los Angeles police will not visit a non-injury accident. While I‘ve spoken to the police from time to time (and I have a monthly Zoom with our local officers), I can’t imagine what their reaction would be. Me: Officer, I’d like to report a bent steering wheel on a rental car, and I need a written report from you to give to the rental agency otherwise they will void the LDW coverage they charged me for. Cops: Laughter? Blank stares?

I think you have reached the end of the road of consumer advocacy. Has the damage been charged to your credit card? If not, you might think of closing that number or account and sitting back. Budget may indeed send the matter to collections. Collections might report it to the credit bureaus, or they might not. Collections might sue you, or they might not. The only reason to pay is to avoid the possible hit to your credit and to put this matter behind you.

To me, the question is not whether you bent the steering wheel. To me, the real question is how was Budget prejudiced by the failure to get a police report when the customer bought and paid for LDW, even if a term of LDW requires a police report.

Separately, do you think you could phone in a police report now, long distance? Maybe VI police are used to Budget’s rules? Or even fax in a report to the cops?
 
Mar 11, 2021
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Thank you So Cal Traveller and everyone else for you support, I think that regulations about the optional vehicle coverage in the states are determined not by the rental car company but by the legislature of the state mandating certain rules for rental car agencies. So far I found couple of states where the lack of police report cannot void the LDW at all, or particularly if this is a mechanical damage. If this would have happen in CA than the driver can be sued by the laws of the state he resides only. It’s not clear to me if USVI legislature has any specification about optional coverage for car rentals, possibly allowing rental cars to determine the rules by themselves. And no I did not damage the steering wheel, unless at bent from just driving On hills. I even called the guy who returned the car the day before I got it and noted multiple preexisting damages to the body, but not the steering wheel. He did not return the call. Thank you will have to deal with collections now out principle I guess.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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Sadly, you are likely the victim of an ongoing scam. The car you returned was likely rented with the same steering wheel the next day to another unsuspecting person, who was confronted with the same damage claim when the car was returned, with denial of the LDW. A good way to enhance the bottom line.

You might try posting your experience on TripAdvisor and other travel websites to see if others have had the same experience.

We have seen a recurring "trick clutch" rented from the same rental site in Italy, where the clutch failed a few miles after the rental, and the renter was charged for a new clutch.
 
Mar 11, 2021
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Thank you! I think I will paint them all over the internet Along with US Budget/ Avis. People should know their “heroes” (humour).