Call from Enterprise about car damage AND smoking?!

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Mar 9, 2019
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#1
Hi there!

I’ve spent all last night and so far this morning reading these forums. But I feel I need to trouble you for advice.

I was rear ended pretty badly the beginning of February. The other drivers insurance immediately decided they were at fault and approved a rental for me while my car was at the body shop. They told me I wasn’t allowed to get additional rental coverage though otherwise they wouldn’t pay for it. Okay I thought, that means they’ll be responsible.

I picked up my car from Enterprise during a work shift so I didn’t have a lot of time but needed a car. The only two vehicles available were a truck and a sedan. I chose the sedan as that’s what I usually drive even though the car itself was still pretty dirty from salt covered New England winter roads. No big deal. I don’t really care if it’s shiny. It’s not mine.

While walking around and inspecting the vehicle I noticed a couple dents that fell within the ‘buff out’ rules they have. But noticed two spots on the front and rear bumper. One was under the front bumper clearly from someone hitting a curb. So we marked it and I photographed it. The rear bumper had what looked like a long scratch along the top. A deep one. You couldn’t see it from more than a foot away from an angle. But looking directly down on it you could see the dirt contour to the scratch.

I pointed this out and was told since it was a scratch that could be buffed out that it wouldn’t need to be marked. I trusted his opinion but photographed it regardless as I did with all the other dings and dents.

Anyway. Fast forward to two days ago when my car was finally ready. When I picked it up at the body shop (a VERY reputable chain of body shops in New England) they told me I could just leave the rental with them and they take care of returning it. I thought awesome, that’s super convenient so I don’t have to have someone follow me to the rental place too to bring me home. I left the keys and pointed to them where the car was.

So last night while at work I get a voicemail from the manager at enterprise about my car. He said he wanted me to call him back about the car because it looks like there was some damage on it. A CRACKED bumper. And that the employee at the collision place said it smelled ‘heavily’ of smoking.

So now I’m very worried. All I wanted was my car back and now I’m going to have to deal with this and I’m not sure how. There is zero chance of it smelling like smoke. I don’t smoke. No one in my family smokes. And my daughter is will me for 75% of my daily driving and I would never put her in a car that did smell like smoke. The crack in the bumper I can only assume is the deep scratch that I clearly pointed out to the enterprise guy, but was told it could be buffed out.

So my questions. What’s my first step? I need to call him back. Clearly I dispute both of these? Since the other drivers insurance was paying for the rental, do they cover this? Since in theory I never would’ve been in that car if it wasn’t for their driver hitting me, and them telling me I wasn’t allowed additional coverage if I wanted it? Do I go rogue and cancel my credit card? I’ve tried to find templates of letters people have mentioned when disputing these claims, but I can’t find them anywhere on the forum. Since I’m sure it will come to that.

I don’t really know how the whole insurance process works as I’ve never been in an accident before and never needed a rental from an accident before!

Thank you for all your help in this!
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
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Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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#2
Did you take pictures of the car when you left it to show there was no cracked bumper? Taking a picture at pick up is great but you need to take pictures of the car when you return it as well showing it was in the same condition as when you rented it. If it IS the same scratch in the bumper from when you picked it up, then tell the employee and show them the picture you took at pick up.

You say you didn’t smoke in the car but do you smoke? If you are a smoker you might have the smell of smoke on you that transfers to the car.

I suggest you go to the rental place, tell the manager you want to see the car and check the bumper yourself. If it’s the same scratch show him the pictures and then get in the car and see if you smell smoke.

You had the option of buying the car rentals insurance even if his insurance wasn’t paying for it, but find out if your own car insurance covers rentals- if you have to put in a claim do it through your company. It don’t cave yet- you need to see the damage yourself to determine if it’s the same scratch you took a picture of,

Do NOT cancel your credit card- they can send you to collections and ruin your credit rating.

Go to the rental place and speak to the manager and dispute their claim in person. Most people aren’t lucky enough to live where they rent a car and can’t go back to discuss the problem.

Let us know what happens.
 
Likes: VoR61
Jan 6, 2015
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#3
In the future, do not accept their word about "buff out" and "quarter size blotches" not counting. Many threads exist here where agencies count them upon return after saying "meh" at check-out. And, as Neil says, always take pictures before renting and at return. That includes tires, rims, license plates, odometer, and the inside and roof of the car.
 
Mar 15, 2018
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#5
You say you didn’t smoke in the car but do you smoke? If you are a smoker you might have the smell of smoke on you that transfers to the car.
She specifically stated she's not a smoker. Eighth paragraph down: "There is zero chance of it smelling like smoke. I don’t smoke. No one in my family smokes."

OP: Neil is correct that it would have been better to take photos both before and after. But you do have the "before" photos, so you've got a good weapon against this. I suspect you're right, that the so-called "crack" is the scratch you photographed.

I agree that going to the rental shop in person is a good bet. Be sure to tell them that you took photographs of the car, and ask to see the damage on the vehicle so you can compare it with the photographs. And of course, let them know you are not a smoker, and have witnesses to prove such.

If that doesn't work, I would suggest you use the contacts from the contact list provided here, and send a letter stating that you have photographs proving that the damage on the car already existed, and disputing the smoke. Follow Elliott's rules for writing a proper complaint letter. I'll bet they'll drop it.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#6
You state that you've spent a great deal of time reading these forums. How to dispute a claim like this is very clearly laid out. I don't think it has ever failed to get a damage dispute dropped. Is there something unique about your situation that we can clarify for you? As LeeAnn states, just follow our rules for writing the letter. Please come back to us if we can answer any questions. And try not to worry. This will take some effort and some time, but you should come out just fine in the end.
 
Likes: LeeAnneC
Mar 9, 2019
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#7
Hi everyone!

Just wanted to update this. But first I want to apologize for posting for advice. I had read a lot of the forums but had a hard timing fitting it into my situation so I reached out. I am sorry though if it seemed I was wasting anyones time.

I’ve called my local enterprise daily now since I posted. I always get told the manager will call me back and he doesn’t. I had a couple of opportunities to get over there between working (their open hours are about the same as my work schedule) but the manager was always away. So they would take a note and tel me he would call. So I haven’t really gotten anywhere with them.

I gotten all my pictures ready if need be when I do get to speak with him. In the meantime though I just got a voicemail from the assistant manager, who is the one that walked around the car with me when I picked it up. The voicemail was this:

“Hey my name is _⁠_⁠_⁠_⁠_⁠_⁠_⁠_ I'm calling from enterprise over in _⁠_⁠_⁠_⁠_⁠_⁠_⁠_⁠_⁠_⁠_⁠_⁠_⁠_ going to close out your contract year from last week um looks like everything was covered by the other drivers StateFarm the ⁠only other charge is for the the full tank of fuel you prepaid for. the 16 gallons came to $31.84 so it was just under two dollars a gallon so I'll get that all closed on your credit card and you’ll be all set any questions concerns feel free to give me a call at ______ um if not I did just want to reach out and make sure you're completely satisfied of our services um if you get any feedback feel free to reach out thanks bye-bye…”

I’m not sure if that means I should continue trying to reach the manager that initially reached out to me about the damage and smoking or if I should just save the voicemail and the photos and see if I hear anything else?

Thank you again everyone.
 
Mar 15, 2018
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#8
Hi everyone!

Just wanted to update this. But first I want to apologize for posting for advice. I had read a lot of the forums but had a hard timing fitting it into my situation so I reached out. I am sorry though if it seemed I was wasting anyones time.
Please don't feel like you were wasting anyone's time! That's what this forum is for. I'm sorry if any responses made you feel like you were imposing. I personally think your situation had some nuances that made it worthy of asking for advice.

I'm a little confused by that message! What do they mean "the other driver's State Farm"? What other driver? Is it possible they have your account mixed up with someone else's? And you didn't mention anything about an issue with prepaid fuel - did you use the prepaid fuel option? Was there any disagreement about the charges? Did you get charged $31.84?

Unless there are pieces of this story you haven't mentioned, it really sounds to me like they have you confused with someone else.

That being said, it does not sound as if they've charged you for the supposed damage and/or smoke. Is that correct? If nothing turns up on your credit card, then you have nothing to worry about. So yes, I would just leave it alone for now. If they do end up charging you, then you will need to fight, using Elliott's instructions for fighting erroneous car rental damage claims. Be sure to save everything, and carefully watch your credit card statements, because I've heard of such charges showing up MONTHS later!

If they've already charged your card, definitely do NOT let it lie - you need to vigorously pursue it. The clock is ticking...if they refuse to reverse the charges, you will need to launch the nuclear option and dispute it on your credit card, which you have a limited time to do after the charge.
 
Likes: VoR61

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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New York
www.promalvacations.com
#9
No one implied you were wasting our time- we told you to use the process we have to fight it which usually works. The corporate offices are the ones that usually get these dropped, we wanted you to go to them.

I’m glad this was resolved I’m your favor but get it in writing from the guy you spoke to. Verbal isn’t enough. It does sound like they mixed you up with someone else.

Do you actually owe for the gas?

I would call back and tell the guy you spoke to you need it in writing that the claim was dropped. If you don't get it, again - write to the sorporate offices. They are the ones that get these things dropped.
 
Likes: VoR61
Mar 15, 2018
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#10
Oops - I can't edit my post above, so I'll add a new one - I just remembered that you had this car because you'd been in a collision and the other driver's insurance was paying for your rental. So the "other driver" they were referring to was the other driver from your accident with your OWN vehicle, not the rental. I get it now. So in that case, it does sound as if they are not going to charge you for the crack or smoke. And if you used the pre-paid fuel, then you can expect to see that $31.84 charge on your card.

Sounds like a win!
 
Likes: VoR61
Jan 6, 2015
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#11
Although it appears to be "cleared up", I am skeptical. The voicemail implies that the insurance of the person who hit you paid for the alleged damage to the rental car while in your possession. I don't see any way for that to be possible, as it would be YOUR insurance that would cover any damage.

While we have possession of a rental car, any damage is OUR responsibility. In the context of your Enterprise rental, this sets off my alarms and may come back on you. I would continue to follow up . . .
 
Mar 15, 2018
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#12
Although it appears to be "cleared up", I am skeptical. The voicemail implies that the insurance of the person who hit you paid for the alleged damage to the rental car while in your possession. I don't see any way for that to be possible, as it would be YOUR insurance that would cover any damage.

While we have possession of a rental car, any damage is OUR responsibility. In the context of your Enterprise rental, this sets off my alarms and may come back on you. I would continue to follow up . . .
Gotta say I agree. I had that thought too - if the other driver's insurance is paying for this false damage/smoke claim, that could come back to bite you if they decide to come after you.

At this point all you can do is hang onto EVERYTHING - make sure you've documented all the efforts you made to clear this up with Enterprise as well.

What I really think is happening, though, is that once they realized State Farm was paying for the rental and not you, they decided against pursuing this fake damage claim. Certainly, having a third party involved would complicate matters and make it more difficult for them to collect. My hunch is that they try the ol' fake damage scam whenever they think they can get away with it, but now that they realized this one has additional complexities, they won't bother with it.

I suspect you'll be fine.
 
Mar 15, 2018
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#13
I would call back and tell the guy you spoke to you need it in writing that the claim was dropped. If you don't get it, again - write to the sorporate offices. They are the ones that get these things dropped.
I don't think that's necessary. If I'm reading all of this correctly, it sounds as if they never actually charged anyone for this fake damage claim. If no charge happened, then there IS no "claim"...and thus, nothing for corporate to cancel. If anything, I'd be concerned that pursuing it further could cause something else to happen!

As of right now, all that she has is an initial voice mail from the manager saying they wanted to TALK to her about this supposed damage and smoke smell. No charge, no claim. And now she's got a voice mail saying she won't be charged for anything else but the gas.

I really think she should just leave it alone, unless something else happens.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#14
You may be right, LeeAnn, but if the assistant manager misunderstood the renter's inquiry, the manager could later re-introduce the claim, charge the credit card, and then time has passed (we have seen a year here) making it more difficult to contest. I'm with Neil on this particular case . . .
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Mar 15, 2018
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#15
You may be right, LeeAnn, but if the assistant manager misunderstood the renter's inquiry, the manager could later re-introduce the claim, charge the credit card, and then time has passed (we have seen a year here) making it more difficult to contest. I'm with Neil on this particular case . . .
Oh believe me, I completely agree! I'm certainly hoping they've decided not to push this one...but you never know. The OP definitely needs to save everything and watch her credit card statements VERY closely! I wouldn't put it past them to try to slip that charge by much later, claiming they notified the customer with that voice mail message.
 
Likes: VoR61
Mar 15, 2018
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#16
Oh, and just to clarify (because I realize I didn't make this clear), the only part I was disagreeing with was contacting corporate. I DO think it would be a good idea to ask the manager to say IN WRITING that they will not be pursuing a damage claim against her. My point was that I don't think a claim actually exists, as they never did charge her, and I expect they didn't charge State Farm. But definitely, if she can get that in writing from the manager, that would be great insurance against them trying to hit her with this months down the road.
 
Likes: VoR61
Mar 15, 2018
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#18
Neil, are you actually reading my comments? Because I believe I've made it clear that I don t believe an actual claim exists. So what would she write to corporate about? To drop a non-existent claim?

I'll try this again: at this point all she has is one voice mail message from the manager SAYING he wants to TALK to her about this fake damage. But she has not been charged. Nothing has happened beyond that initial message. AND she has a subsequent voice mail stating that all they are going to bill her for is the pre-paid gas fee.

So what would she say to corporate? "Please drop this claim that doesn't exist"? My concern is that writing to corporate might start a chain of events that could lead to an actual claim being filed.

By all means, IF a claim gets filed, she'll get notified in some manner. THAT would be the time to write corporate. But not on the basis of a threat to file a claim that, as far as I can tell, never actually happened.

In the meantime, going straight to the manager...the one who threatened to file this so-far nonexistent claim...and asking for something IN WRITING staying that no damage claim WILL be filed, seems like her best bet.

I hope my point is clear now.

By the way, yes I'm fully aware of Elliott's process to deal with rental car damage claims. I've been following Christopher's blog for many years...I only recently started commenting in here, thinking those years of education might be of help. But if you think I'm not helping, I'll stop.
 
Mar 9, 2019
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#19
Hi guys!

Thank you again for your replies!

Apologies for making it confusing. Yes, I had that rental because I was rear ended and my car was in the body shop. So when they say the other insurance they meant the third party. The gas I did agree to so I’m okay with that. It ended up being cheaper than filling it when I was done with it.

I’ll call the location back and ask for it in writing. Should I specifically bring up ‘the claim’ can of worms or just ask for my full closed out receipt and that’s considered it’s been closed? I just don’t necessarily want to poke the hornets nest if I don’t have to. But you think waiting it out could make it worse?

Do I just specifically say another manager said there was smoke and damage and I just want it written down that I’m not being charged for either or those?

You all brought up very good points that maybe since this was being covered by State Farm, they didn’t think it would be worth the headache pursuing it.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
16,150
14,741
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#20
Tell them you want it in writing that there will it be no claim filed and verify the rental and the dates they are talking about. Make sure it is the car you rented they are talking about - I can’t understand how the guy that hit your car is covering “damage” on a car you rented.

It’s more likely a bogus claim period and they should just say they aren’t making any claim against you because you didn’t damage the car
 
Likes: VoR61