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How To Deal With a Car Rental Damage Claim

Discussion in 'Car rentals' started by Neil, Sep 21, 2015.

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  1. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    It seems we are seeing more and more complaints from consumers who are receiving damage claims from car rental companies weeks after arriving home from their trips. In most cases, these damages may not have been from the renter.

    Here are some tips out together by staff members that have helped win claims dispute for some consumers here.

    Dispute the claim in writing. State that you returned the car with no damage, and that the attendant did not note any damage on your return paperwork.

    1. Request a copy of the following items from the company:

    - A copy of your original agreement and a copy of the paperwork given to you when you returned the car.

    - Time stamped and dated pictures of the damage

    - The rental agreements from the five people who rented the car before you and the five that rented if after (this will force them to look at the paperwork for anyone before or after who returned it after you that may have caused the damage)

    - A picture of the mileage indicator showing the mileage on the car when the damage was noted.(Compare it to the mileage when you turned the car in).

    - A copy of the fleet utilization log

    - A copy of the incident report

    - A copy of the receipt showing the car was repaired and the cost that was paid for the repair.

    - A copy of the license plate number on the car to ensure it is the car you rented.

    Hopefully before you rented the car you used our post on the forum about how to protect yourself when renting a car and have photos of the car when you picked it up and when you dropped it off, showing no damage. Send copies of those photos too in your dispute.

    Using our Car Rental Contacts on this site,


    http://elliott.org/class/car-rental/

    write to the Customer Service email address of the car company in question. Ask for all this information and wait for them to respond. If they do not respond favorably, write to the first Executive shown on the contact list. Give that person a week to respond and if necessary continue up the Executive chain writing weekly.

    If doing all of this doesn't get the claim dropped, then post on this forum what the responses were from all parties and we can see if anything was missed.

    Performing these steps has resulted in about 90% of our complaints dropped.
     
    #1
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2016
    Rakesh, Jo Peck, VITA YANG and 5 others like this.
  2. paul hacker

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    as there was no one on duty that morning, i did not receive any paperwork. i didn't expect that they would do this. the accident report shows a dent, presumably the scratches on the front right bumper, but the photo they provided for the closeup is from a different car.
     
    #2
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  3. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    Then you have to explain that to them in your letters.
     
    #3
  4. dourdan

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    Once again I'm going to advocate for just paying for full coverage insurance (in the USA-- as it seems like european branches of US companies have different rules.)

    but as a Enterprise agent in San Diego once said to me "you have our full coverage insurance- that means you can bring the car back in pieces."

    obviously if I bring the car back in pieces it will be taken off the line, but what if I bring it back with a massive roof dent? It's still drivable.
    but who will pay?

    the next person who says "I DON'T NEED YOUR INSURANCE I HAVE MY OWN!" then fails to take pre-rental pictures. they will stick you for the bill- that's how it works.

    the only way you can get out of it is to get the media involved.

    other wise asking for "proof" will only get you sent to collections.
     
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  5. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    The pictures that should be taken when you pick up and return the cars are YOUR proof of condition. Make sure you always have a picture of the license plate as you photograph the car, too.
    And now we have a good reminder to picture the roof too.
     
    #5
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  6. David Brakebill

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    Mine is a little different here, but I do hope someone can help. I rented a car from Budget in Tulsa, OK and someone had hit it in a parking lot at a shopping mall. I acknowledged the damage yet have heard nothing from Budget. What is a reasonable amount of time to expect to hear from them? I turned in the rental on January 25, 2016
     
    #6
  7. sas80

    Staff Member Advocate

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    They have come back at people MONTHS after the car was turned in with ZERO damage noted on intake.

    Honestly, during the 'void' (where there is no contact) they may be assessing ALL the damage to the car and deciding how much to attribute to you. If you didn't take insurance the cost might end up under $500. If you did take insurance the cost will be much higher. Sinoce you admitted it they might try to soak you anyways. Sometimes it feels as if they try to determine how much they think you will pay.

    Or you may never hear another word from them again.

    Depending on how much of a 'prepare for the worst' type of a person you are, you may want to educate yourself on the process that he site posts on how to dispute a claim. If you don't prepare now, just make a mental note to tell the person on the other end of the call you cant speak now but will call them right back - and then come to this site to review the process. You'll be much better off if you do.
     
    #7
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  8. Peter

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    A year ago I rented a car at Newark airport and dropped it off in Manhattan. I took photos at pickup (even though it was like 6:30am and pretty dark), and during my rental it was only parked outdoors in two parking lots - no place where it could have been damaged. When I dropped it off, the attendant pointed to a dent in the upper front corner of the car's roof. I don't know about you, but it was a fairly large SUV, and I don't usually climb all over the car inspecting it, and I never drove it or parked it anywhere that could have caused such damage. Fortunately, one of my photos of the front of the car, that I took at the airport, showed the existing roof indentation, so I had proof and they quickly backed off.

    But can you imagine? You fly across the country on a red-eye. You're already tired and now you need to crawl all over the car in the dark snapping photos?

    This is becoming maddening. Traveling on business just gets worse and worse. Getting hit with the myriad of airline nickle/dime charges (pay to call the airline, pay for a minor seat change, fuel surcharges, extra baggage fees etc.), no decent food onboard, uncomfortable seats, rip off prices for nearly everything sold at the airports, (try $5 bottles of water), hotel add-on charges, and now the rental-car scams (including getting hit for fuel charges if you don't provide a receipt), and the worry of having to fend off spurious damage claims.

    The rental car companies can't have it both ways. They are completely lax about documenting condition when you pick up the car, and not much better when you return it. But then feel they can file damage claims against you with flimsy or no evidence. If the rental car companies are going to get serious about this, then they need to inspect the car with a checklist and photograph it, when it's rented and when returned, and stop putting the burden on the customers. Many of these claims can be for substantial amounts of money - there has to be due process and they have to be proven.
     
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  9. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    Peter I agree with you but until I started volunteering here, I had never heard of these false claims that car rental companies pull. I always took pictures but when seeing how common place it seems to be charged with a false damage claim, it is just good to do.

    I also take a picture of the mileage and gas indicator so they can't say I didn't bring it back without a full tank.
     
    #9
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  10. jsn55

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    I always advise people to rent cars with the strongest credit card you have. I've not had a single problem using an AmEx gold or the Chase Sapphire. Both these companies will back their customer vigorously and the car rental companies must know this. I must admit I walk around the car when I pick it up, but have never taken photos.
     
    #10
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  11. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    Y
    With all the issues we have, you might want to start. You may have been lucky not to have one of these lying rental places hitting you up for damage you never did. Pictures don't lie.

    My wife was cleaning off pictures from her Iphone before she leaves for Peru and she deleted pics from the last two car rentals she still had on her phone.
     
    #11
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  12. Barry Graham

    Barry Graham Administrator
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    I don't think it's advisable for everyone to take out rental insurance from the car companies. For people with their own cars, their own insurance should be sufficient. There may be a deductible but it's probably less than you would pay if you tacked on insurance every time you rented. With regard to credit cards, we've seen that Discover insurance is risky as it doesn't cover theft. Most others that I've seen do cover theft. For business rentals, most companies have their own insurance arrangements, never take out insurance for a business rental without checking with your travel dept or travel policy document first.
     
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  13. jsn55

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    You're no doubt right, Neil. I got that new smartphone, I'll learn to take pictures with it; I think I already took one of my foot the other day. I need a new challenge anyway ... between the phone and Windows 10 on the new laptop - God forbid I should just sit around and read a magazine just for pleasure. No, no, I gotta get techno-savvy!
     
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  14. Brian Brown

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    I rent cars quite often when I travel. Over the years, I have learned a couple of things.
    1) If you have a smart phone or digital camera, put it on video mode. Walk around the car slowly from 3 feet back (or as far as you can get). Walk around the car at least twice with the camera from about 2 feet from the ground and then about 4 feet from the ground. Pause in areas where there might be scratches. If it is dark out or the car is in a garage walk slowly. this process will take about 2 to 5 minutes depending on the lighting.
    2) Check the gas tank before leaving the lot! Make sure the tank level matches the rental agreement. Most places operate on the Full Tank. Some places say bring the car back with the same fuel. I had a car in Chicago. I left the lot without looking at the tank. 2 minutes later I saw the tank was empty. I immediately took out my iPhone and took a picture of the gauge. This picture showed the gas level and geotagged my location and time. when I returned the car, the company Rep (Dollar) reduced my bill by the extra gas I bought. I'm an express member there (as well as other Companies) and I did not even have to show the picture. This car also had 2800 miles on it that were unaccounted for before I picked it up-- weird, but that did not come back to bite me.
    3) Here is a big one that I just noticed last week!!! The vast majority of rental agencies (especially major ones) have unlimited miles. I rented a car last week and I had several reservations with different prices on them (I cancel the ones I don't need before I travel). I happened to catch something on one of reservations that said $ 0.20 per mile! I had another reservation with the same company that said unlimited miles. I used the res with unlimited miles, the cost difference between the reservation price was $2, but with the price per mile it would have been over $60 on a 2 day reservation. This was clearly "Bait & Switch". There were customers there that were ready to riot! The company that did this was Firefly, which was affiliated with Thrifty and Dollar at this location. Watch OUT!
     
    #14
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  15. sas80

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    ALWAYS take a picture of your mileage as you leave the rental company lot. This can be done in conjunction with taking a pic of your fuel gage. As you have read here, and as I have definitely experienced myself, rental companies will send you picture after picture of damage to a car and you will realize that this is NOT the car you rented. they will always include a picture of the license plate from the car you rented, but it will be ONLY the plate. it's never the plate in conjunction wit the entire car. Just a perfectly framed plate.

    Should something go down, you can leverage a picture of the mileage in many different ways.
     
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  16. mellynx

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    Do international companies sell debt to collectors? I live in the US and am having a problem with Sixt (they sent me an invoice two months later for a car I rented overseas, wanting to charge me $250 without any explanation of the charge). I'm inclined to follow the advice in this thread, or ignore the invoice, but I definitely don't want to deal with collections.
     
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  17. sas80

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    Idk about collections but I would follow the advice in this thread, if only to cya
     
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  18. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    Follow the instructions in the letter. In almost every case the claims have been dropped when readers follow these instructions and insist on all of the forms that are noted in the letter.
     
    #18
  19. Batty

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    Just a happy ending story: COMPLAIN TO THE BBB!

    I rented a car from Budget in Baltimore July 28-Aug 2, 2016. On August 29, I received a letter from Viking Billing claiming that I owed $3,000+ for damages to the car. OK, bad on me for not taking pictures of the car before I drove it away, but I didn't notice any damage either before I took the car or when I returned it (no employee was there to inspect it either time). I had no incident with the car. YES I WILL VIDEO THE ENTIRE CAR EVERY TIME I RENT ONE!!

    I read all the posts in this thread as well as consulting with an attorney (we have a legal benefit through my husband's work, so I can talk to one for free). I sent certified letters demanding proof, threatened to file complaints with the attorney general, the FTC, the insurance commissioner--everything mentioned here.

    I ALSO filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau of Oklahoma (for Budget) and the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (Viking)...and the BBB complaints actually got them to close the matter--even before my letters reached Viking.

    I'd had no hope that the BBB would yield results themselves and only involved them to show Viking that I was prepared to be a huge pain in the butt, but it totally worked. This has been a huge stressor for me for the past 10 days, and I am so relieved to have it gone.
     
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  20. ORresident

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    Woohoo! So glad to hear they got off the dime and you're off the hook! Congratulations!
     
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