Car rental company claimed I didn't return the car - A good story!

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May 16, 2018
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#1
Well this is an interesting story!

When I returned my rental car (in Europe a couple of weeks ago) I asked for the receipt and that the rep finalize the return of my car. The agency was small and very busy, and the agent insisted over and over again that they would close it out later and email me the receipt. He said I was good to go. After some back and forth, with him insisting they do the returns in batches at the end of the day, I left, though I had taken photos of the car which were time/date/location stamped.

Later that afternoon, I got a call from another rep asking when I was going to return the car. When I told them that I had already returned the car and given them the keys, she said that they couldn't find it. I told her where I parked it and waited for a call back. When no one called, I called back and another rep apologized and said that they saw the car and all was ok now, but a little while later, when I still hadn't received the final email, I called again. This time, a third rep, a manager, asked me where I had left the car. I politely suggested that he look in his lot, since that's where I had left it. I said that if it wasn't there, then I had no idea where it could be.

The next morning at 8 AM, I still hadn't received an email closing out the rental, so for the first time in my life I called the American Express Global Assist line. I have used the Amex Premium Car Rental Protection for years (less than 20 bucks per rental for primary coverage for collision damage and liability) and thought I should let them know that I was being accused of losing or stealing or just not returning a car. The Amex rep told me that in Europe they do very often close the rentals out in batches and that it could take a few days. She said not to worry, because since I have the insurance through Amex, if the agency claimed the car was missing, I would simply file a claim and that's that. They would deal directly with the agency and take it from there. Music to my ears. What an incredible relief, since in leaving the agency without my final paperwork, I really had no written proof that I had returned the car!

Later that day, I received a call from the rep at the car rental agency who had said I was good to go. The poor man sounded just awful and asked if I could help him, because they just couldn't find the car, and he remembered that I did return it. I told him that I would be glad to help him with whatever info he needed, but if the car really was lost, that they would need to just deal with Amex. He asked if I had the contract in front of me. I didn't. He wanted the license plate number---and that I had, because I had taken photos of the car. When I read him the license plate number there was dead silence, and then he became very happy, gushing that I was the best customer ever for taking photos. The car was found!

Here's what happened:

The agency had 2 identical cars of the type I rented. Same make, model, paint color, and even almost identical license plate numbers. The difference in the license plate numbers was not even in the final numbers, but just 2 numbers different in the middle! When I rented the car, Car #1's license plate was listed on my contract, but the original agent gave me the keys to Car #2. When we went outside to get our car, there were 2 identical cars, so I pressed the fob to unlock the doors. The car on the left blinked its lights and the doors opened, so we put all our stuff in and drove away. 4 days later, when I returned my rental, I of course returned Car #2, but when they went to do the paperwork a few hours later, they were looking for Car #1, since that was the one listed on my contract. Once I told the rep the license plate number in my photo of the car that I had been driving, he realized what had happened and knew where both cars were. The one I drove was there. The one in my contract was still out with another customer, scheduled for return in some hours. Both cars accounted for!

Well....I will never again allow any car rep, no matter what their process and no matter what their policy, to send me away without completely closing out the rental! That said, there may be a time when I have to just drop a car off after hours.....so I guess I can't make that promise after all. Anyway, if I have a live rep right in front of me, then I will hold firm for my final receipt.
And....I highly recommend Amex and their Premium Car Rental Protection.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
1,769
1,765
113
Maui Hawaii
#2
Well this is an interesting story!

When I returned my rental car (in Europe a couple of weeks ago) I asked for the receipt and that the rep finalize the return of my car. The agency was small and very busy, and the agent insisted over and over again that they would close it out later and email me the receipt. He said I was good to go. After some back and forth, with him insisting they do the returns in batches at the end of the day, I left, though I had taken photos of the car which were time/date/location stamped.

Later that afternoon, I got a call from another rep asking when I was going to return the car. When I told them that I had already returned the car and given them the keys, she said that they couldn't find it. I told her where I parked it and waited for a call back. When no one called, I called back and another rep apologized and said that they saw the car and all was ok now, but a little while later, when I still hadn't received the final email, I called again. This time, a third rep, a manager, asked me where I had left the car. I politely suggested that he look in his lot, since that's where I had left it. I said that if it wasn't there, then I had no idea where it could be.

The next morning at 8 AM, I still hadn't received an email closing out the rental, so for the first time in my life I called the American Express Global Assist line. I have used the Amex Premium Car Rental Protection for years (less than 20 bucks per rental for primary coverage for collision damage and liability) and thought I should let them know that I was being accused of losing or stealing or just not returning a car. The Amex rep told me that in Europe they do very often close the rentals out in batches and that it could take a few days. She said not to worry, because since I have the insurance through Amex, if the agency claimed the car was missing, I would simply file a claim and that's that. They would deal directly with the agency and take it from there. Music to my ears. What an incredible relief, since in leaving the agency without my final paperwork, I really had no written proof that I had returned the car!

Later that day, I received a call from the rep at the car rental agency who had said I was good to go. The poor man sounded just awful and asked if I could help him, because they just couldn't find the car, and he remembered that I did return it. I told him that I would be glad to help him with whatever info he needed, but if the car really was lost, that they would need to just deal with Amex. He asked if I had the contract in front of me. I didn't. He wanted the license plate number---and that I had, because I had taken photos of the car. When I read him the license plate number there was dead silence, and then he became very happy, gushing that I was the best customer ever for taking photos. The car was found!

Here's what happened:

The agency had 2 identical cars of the type I rented. Same make, model, paint color, and even almost identical license plate numbers. The difference in the license plate numbers was not even in the final numbers, but just 2 numbers different in the middle! When I rented the car, Car #1's license plate was listed on my contract, but the original agent gave me the keys to Car #2. When we went outside to get our car, there were 2 identical cars, so I pressed the fob to unlock the doors. The car on the left blinked its lights and the doors opened, so we put all our stuff in and drove away. 4 days later, when I returned my rental, I of course returned Car #2, but when they went to do the paperwork a few hours later, they were looking for Car #1, since that was the one listed on my contract. Once I told the rep the license plate number in my photo of the car that I had been driving, he realized what had happened and knew where both cars were. The one I drove was there. The one in my contract was still out with another customer, scheduled for return in some hours. Both cars accounted for!

Well....I will never again allow any car rep, no matter what their process and no matter what their policy, to send me away without completely closing out the rental! That said, there may be a time when I have to just drop a car off after hours.....so I guess I can't make that promise after all. Anyway, if I have a live rep right in front of me, then I will hold firm for my final receipt.
And....I highly recommend Amex and their Premium Car Rental Protection.
But you did the most important thing; you took pictures which showed time/date/location and license plate. Great move. Otherwise they would still have been very confused when the other car arrived.
 
May 16, 2018
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#3
But you did the most important thing; you took pictures which showed time/date/location and license plate. Great move. Otherwise they would still have been very confused when the other car arrived.
I'm glad I took the photos, but I think I still might have been in for a long ordeal if they had not figured out what happened, had I not had the Amex insurance. It was quite a relief to know that no matter what the car rental agency said, I would not be spending months defending myself and trying to get charges for a lost car off of my credit card.
 
Likes: weihlac

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
18,117
16,250
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#4
If you look at the top of our car rental forum, we have a thread about how to protect yourself when renting a car. One of the things we tell you is take pictures of the entire car at pick up and drop off to show there was no damage while you had the car.

Thank goodness you thought to take the pictures.
 
May 16, 2018
76
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#5
If you look at the top of our car rental forum, we have a thread about how to protect yourself when renting a car. One of the things we tell you is take pictures of the entire car at pick up and drop off to show there was no damage while you had the car.

Thank goodness you thought to take the pictures.
Yes! Agreed! We have always done that just to be sure we aren't charged for damage we didn't do--and also to have a precise record of any damage we did do.

But even wth our photographic proof I still think that without insurance we would have been looking at months of misery had the car rental agency decided that we had not returned the car. So for me there are 2 takeaways here:
1. to always photograph the car before and after, and to demand a receipt when it's possible to get one; and
2. to have some kind of primary insurance coverage on the rental car.
 
Likes: Neil Maley