Avis Budget charged me for damage that I did not cause

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Nov 27, 2018
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Hi All,

I am hoping someone can give me some advice on this forum, or at the very least this will serve others in the future to avoid my situation.

On November 10th I picked up a van that I had booked online, from Avis Budget in Glasgow. I have rented from them before, so felt comfortable to use them again.

When I arrived to pick up the van it was busy - they were closing in less than half an hour and there was a queue of people. When I was served, the woman ran through the contract with me and said the vehicle had no damage when they had checked - they did not do the inspection with me present, and because they were busy I didn't insist that they do (first mistake).

After a casual glance over the vehicle, there didn't appear to be any large dents or obvious damage, so I took the vehicle, used it over the next 24 hours and then returned it. I was returning it after hours, so there was nobody there to collect the keys and sign off that the vehicle was received back in good order. I dropped the keys in the security box and thought that would be the end of it.

Five days later on the 15th of November I received an email from Avis Budget Damage Services, advising that the vehicle had been scratched and I was going to be billed £496, unless I had been in an accident where I was not at fault. I replied through a company called Resolver.co.uk who help consumers track complaints, and advised I hadn't had an accident (at fault or otherwise). I also advised that I did not believe I had caused the damage and asked that they provide information on how I could escalate the matter.

A reply back said that after investigation they would uphold the charges. There was no information on how to escalate the matter.

At this point I contacted AMEX and requested they block the merchant from debiting my card since I believed the charge to be unjust. I emailed Avis Budget back advising again that I had not been responsible for this damage and requesting again that they provide details on how to escalate the matter. I also requested some further information as advised by the forums here:

- Avis Budget's copy of the original agreement
- 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.

So far they have ignored my second email, and frustratingly the AMEX system allowed the charge to go through. I've been in touch with AMEX to dispute the charge and they have opened an investigation.

The whole thing has been incredibly frustrating, not to mention expensive. The scratch that they are alleging I made to the vehicle is extremely small - about 1/2 inch x 1/8 inch (photo attached), and I have read on this forum that rental companies have been known to charge amounts up to a $500 threshold and hope customers will not contest it.

Very annoying that I had taken the vehicle without insisting they inspect it with me present - trying to be understanding since they were busy has come back to bite me.

Hoping there is some good advice to be found here, and for everyone else, insist they inspect the vehicle with you present and take your own photos, before and after!
 

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Nov 27, 2018
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#5
Yes I've read that thread and am following the steps. They already provided time-stamped photos, a picture of the mileage indicator and photos with the licence plate.

So far they have not responded with:

- Avis Budget's copy of the original agreement
- 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.

I will update the thread if they do.

Working with Resolver, they will help me escalate the matter to Peter Greenhough, Head of UK Operational Fleet. I'll be doing that tomorrow.
 

johnbaker

Verified Member
Oct 2, 2014
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#6
@Cai One thing to keep in mind, if you returned it after hours (your post suggests you did), you own any damage that occurred between the time you picked up the car and they checked it in. So if someone scratched the car between the time you dropped it off and they opened, you would own the scratch. It's the downside to an out of hours drop off. When I have one, I always take the insurance.

Good luck!
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Nov 27, 2018
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#7
@Cai One thing to keep in mind, if you returned it after hours (your post suggests you did), you own any damage that occurred between the time you picked up the car and they checked it in. So if someone scratched the car between the time you dropped it off and they opened, you would own the scratch. It's the downside to an out of hours drop off. When I have one, I always take the insurance.

Good luck!
Cheers John, it's a possibility that it was scratched during that time. In hindsight, I wish I had taken photos of the vehicle when I picked it up. The size of the scratch is so small it may have been there the whole time. I'll be taking photos of every rental car from now on though.
 
Likes: barnyski
Nov 27, 2018
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Nov 27, 2018
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#12
Updating this thread with the latest email I have sent to Avis Budget, escalating the matter. Neil, I've included the reference to the article as suggested (thanks!).


Dear Peter Greenough, Head of UK Operational Fleet,

E835668352

I am writing to complain about an issue with a recent Car Rental.

I have already raised my issue within your organisation, but I feel that my issue is still unresolved, hence my need to involve you in helping to resolve this problem.

Here is what happened: I rented a VW Transporter from Avis-Budget in Glasgow on the 10th of November at approximately 2:30 pm.
There were several people waiting in the reception area and at the time only one person appeared to be on the counter, so they were busy.
I confirmed my identity and ran through the terms and conditions with the representative, Margaret. She said that they had inspected the van and found no damage, but did not do an inspection with me present.

Margaret advised that the van could be returned the following day by 2:00 pm, at which time they would be closing. I was advised that if I was later than that time, I could leave the van parked outside the depot and place the keys in a secure drop box.

I then collected the keys from her and drove the van to a friends house where it was parked overnight. The next day we made several short trips to assist my friend moving apartments. I returned the vehicle that afternoon but the Avis depot was closed, so I parked the van outside as instructed and placed the keys in the dropbox. Both my friend and I did an inspection inside the van to ensure that nothing was left behind and checked outside that the van was in good condition. No damage was found.

On Thursday 15th of November, I received an email stating that there had been new damage made to the vehicle and they sent a photo which shows what appears to be a small paint chip. It is difficult to estimate the size of the chip, but I would estimate it is no larger than 1cm long.
The email that was received was accompanied by a bill for £496.23 for a scratch/dent on the front bumper.

I am disputing that the alleged damage was caused during my rental of the van. I was not involved in any accidents, nor did I hit any vehicle or object that would cause this damage during the rental.

I do not believe that I caused the damage to the vehicle that has been alleged, and I am also very surprised that such a small chip would warrant a bill of almost £500. I have previously rented vehicles with one of your competitors, Enterprise, and no doubt you are aware of their process for assessing damage using their Damage Evaluator cards.

https://www.elliott.org/blog/enterprise-determines-damaged-rental/#more-48724

If this had been an Enterprise rental then the damage would have been recorded as 'wear and tear', with no charge to myself. However, with Avis Budget I have been billed almost £500. I'm sure you can understand the frustration this situation has caused.

I have also requested information from one of your representatives over one week ago (I sent an email on 23/11/18), including information on how I could escalate this matter either internally with Avis Budget or with the relevant Ombudsman. It appears that now my card has been charged, my requests have been ignored, which is very disappointing.

I am requesting that you consider the above information about this case and reverse the charge to my credit card, as I do not feel it fair or reasonable to charge me for damage that I know I did not cause.

Please reply back via this email address, as I would like to keep all my communications in one place.

Yours sincerely,
Cai
 
Dec 10, 2018
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#14
Cheers John, it's a possibility that it was scratched during that time. In hindsight, I wish I had taken photos of the vehicle when I picked it up. The size of the scratch is so small it may have been there the whole time. I'll be taking photos of every rental car from now on though.
I take pictures everytime now since I experienced something similar. I was charged once for hail damage that had occurred outside of my rental dates. I also proved there was not a hail storm on the days I rented the car. Frustrating that you have to put in work to protect yourself with car rental companies.
 
Likes: Cai
Nov 27, 2018
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#15
I take pictures everytime now since I experienced something similar. I was charged once for hail damage that had occurred outside of my rental dates. I also proved there was not a hail storm on the days I rented the car. Frustrating that you have to put in work to protect yourself with car rental companies.
Yep I'll definitely be taking my own photos every time going forward. And good job proving there were no hail storms - sounds pretty open and shut after that.

Very frustrating the work and time you have to spend. It's now been a week since I escalated the matter - still no response from them. I'm sure they're expecting me to just throw in the towel and pay - not going to happen though.
 
Likes: barnyski
Dec 10, 2018
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#16
Yep I'll definitely be taking my own photos every time going forward. And good job proving there were no hail storms - sounds pretty open and shut after that.

Very frustrating the work and time you have to spend. It's now been a week since I escalated the matter - still no response from them. I'm sure they're expecting me to just throw in the towel and pay - not going to happen though.
Good luck on your resolution. I find your case (and a lot of these that are more than "bad experiences") oddly interesting. I'm interested to know how it resolves.
 
Likes: Cai
Nov 27, 2018
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#17
For everyone who may still be following, it has now been two weeks and the December 3rd email to Peter Greenough has not been replied to or even acknowledged.

My previous email on November 23rd was acknowledged by an automated service, but it too has been ignored.

So today I have escalated the matter to the British Vehicle Rental & Leasing Association (BVRLA) - I will keep the forum posted on how they respond.
 
Likes: Neil Maley