Disputing charges for pre-existing damage on Enterprise rental

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Mar 20, 2018
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#1
Greetings, all. I am seeking guidance on paths for disputing charges for pre-existing damage on an Enterprise rental from February 21 through March 14, while my own car was being repaired after damage from a coworker's car in the parking garage at work. I've attempted to summarize some key points from what happened first, followed by additional information that might be helpful context.
  • I do not have photos of the rental car, since I believed that the damage noted in the rental agreement covered things. (I do have coworkers who heard me complain about the damage to the car and saw the condition of the rental car, though not at the time I took possession of the rental on February 21.)
"Vehicle Condition:​
-Key --Other wthr2d2 2-21 - Passenger fender - scratch 6 inch ding on pass frnt fender"​
There was both a scratch and a dent on the front fender, which I pointed out to the employee renting me the car on February 21.​
  • My experiences with the rental process and my subsequent conversations with Enterprise point to indicate a lack of attention to detail at the location and discrepancies in their own record keeping.
    • I pointed out the damage to the car that was noted in the rental agreement; the Enterprise employee did not initially see it.
    • While the Enterprise employee drove the car around from the back of the location from being de-iced, he did not notice that the tire low pressure sensor was lit on the dashboard. After our walk around the car to inspect for damages, he took the car around the back to check the tire pressure, which he indicated was fine, even though the sensor remained on.
    • When Enterprise called me regarding the damage to the vehicle, the employee I spoke with stated that she had reviewed the last two tickets for when the car was rented, and no damage was reported on either. From my perspective, this points to some discrepancies in their record keeping. (If the previous tickets did not show the scratch that was noted when the car was rented to me, what else did they miss?)
    • The Enterprise employee who called me regarding the damages on March 14 indicated that their location does not have surveillance cameras that would have captured the condition of the car before I took possession of the rental on February 21.
  • Miscellanous information:
    • I did not return the rental car to the Enterprise location on March 14; the employees at the repair shop handling the work to my own car told me that I could leave the rental there, and an Enterprise employee would pick up the car. The Enterprise employee who later called me that afternoon described the damage as a softball-sized dent; she appears to be interpreting those notes in the rental agreement as referring to a single issue rather than both a scratch and a dent. She has stated in separate phone calls that none of her employees would have rented me the car with that kind of damage. She said that she would speak with the employee who rented me the car on February 21 and would reach back out to me on Friday, March 16. (She did not; when I called Enterprise again on Monday, March 19, she indicated that she was ill on Friday and was not at work that day.)
    • I called the Enterprise customer service 800 number on Thursday, March 15, with information that I wished to dispute the insurance claim, and they indicated that they would be passing this along to the regional office, who would reach out to me. As of today (Tuesday, March 20), I have not been contacted by the regional office.
    • I called the Enterprise location again yesterday (Monday, March 19) for an update. The same Enterprise employee I've spoken to throughout this process told me that she had spoken with the employee who rented me the car on February 21 and that he agrees with her assessment of the vehicle condition; he did not support my statement that the car was in that condition at the time of the initial rental. I again stated that I disagreed and that the car was in that condition when I received it. The employee indicated that their branch has put in the repair requests and that the next steps would be for the Damage Recovery Unit to contact me (most likely by mail), and that their Risk Management Office might also be involved, since the local branch does not get involved in the claims process.
    • While the rental deposit for Enterprise is on my Discover card, I do not qualify for secondary auto insurance through Discover because the actual cost of the rental was paid by Allstate (the company of my coworker who hit my own car).

I now know not to be so trusting and that I should have documented the damage with photos and/or refused to take the rental car in that condition. However, I did not damage the car, and I do not want my own insurance to be involved in this dispute if at all possible. The employees for my own auto insurance agent (State Farm) have been sympathetic, but they've indicated that at least my collision policy would cover the damage, except for any loss of use while the rental car is being repaired. I have not spoken directly with my agent himself.

Should I be doing more now, rather than waiting to be contacted by the Enterprise Regional Office? How should I proceed to dispute this, when it appears to be a disagreement about how the initial damage on the car is represented in the rental agreement?

I greatly appreciate your guidance.
 
Mar 20, 2018
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Neil and others,

I e-mailed care@enterprise.com on March 22, which resulted in an auto-reply providing an incident number and indicating that the information was being passed along to the regional VP. Since no additional response was received within a week, I forwarded the initial e-mail to the Damage Recovery Unit and David Nestor.

This morning I received a phone call from an employee who reports to the regional VP within the Damage Recovery Unit. He agrees with the assessment of the employees at the local branch that they would not have rented the car to me in that condition, and he says that they would have documented the damage differently on their walk-around inspection; in his assessment, a dent is different from a ding.

I reiterated the discrepancies and lack of attention to detail pointed out in my e-mail disputing the damage claim (see attached), but his response was that he spends a good deal of time training Enterprise employees on the vehicle inspection process so that it is consistent. He will be continuing to pursue damages to the vehicle.

I asked if he would be responding to my original message disputing the damage claim and providing the information requested; he indicated that he would.

In the meantime, the Damage Recovery Unit sent a written letter requesting my insurance claim information. The date of loss indicated on the form was March 1, which seems to be an arbitrary date selected in the middle of my rental contract. When I asked him about it, he could not provide any additional information about why that date, but he said that he would look into it and provide more information.

Enterprise seems to be holding the line that they are not responsible for the damage to the car.

How do you all suggest I proceed?

Many thanks for your guidance.
 

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Mar 17, 2015
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#6
Follow the steps outlined, do not reply to phone calls again, keep everything in writing. This way you have an accurate representation of everything stated and no more he said/ she said.
 
Mar 20, 2018
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#7
I have received a follow-up e-mail from the regional VP stating that there is no evidence supporting that all of the damage to the vehicle was preexisting. He is proceeding in pursuing me for damages and would like to schedule a follow-up phone call to discuss matters.
 
Mar 17, 2015
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#8
I would advise no follow up phone call. Everything stated should be in writing, so just say that you have a job that does not allow much time for phone calls and email communication is much easier. Also, state that you are still waiting on them to send you all the requested information as you are still disputing the damage and need this information.
 
Mar 20, 2018
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#10
From the regional VP: "After reviewing the claim, speaking with the employees involved in the rental transaction, the pictures of the damage, the condition that was noted at the time of rental, the notes from AJ Pearson, my Risk department, and my claims department, there is no evidence that supports that all of the damage to the vehicle was preexisting. I have concluded that we will continue to pursue you for the damages. Based on the investigation, the condition of the vehicle was altered between 2/21/2018 when you picked up the vehicle and 3/14/2018 when you returned the vehicle to Prestige Auto Body."

I've attached the documentation they provided that seems most relevant. The license plate and mileage fits with my expectations from my rental, so I've omitted those.
 

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Mar 20, 2018
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#12
Not yet. I was using the weekly follow up approach outlined in the other thread. I will send another message tomorrow to the next person up the ladder.
 
Mar 20, 2018
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#14
Overnight I received a "first contact" letter giving me 10 days to pay for the damages. I have written to Mr. David Nestor and Ms. Christine Taylor-Broughton, with excerpts from my original e-mails, which highlight that an employee at the Enterprise branch indicate that the tickets from the previous two rentals showed no damage to the car, yet there was a scratch and 6-inch ding noted on the initial condition of the vehicle when I took possession of it on February 21. None of my interactions with Enterprise employees have addressed this discrepancy in record keeping. While employees in the Damage Recovery Unit assert that they would have documented a dent differently than a ding, that is not something that I as a customer would have known.
 
Mar 20, 2018
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#15
I spoke with a representative from Risk Management this morning. While this was the best customer service experience I've had regarding this experience so far (since he treated me like a human being and actually listened to my side of the story), he provided a few additional pieces of information:
  • Additional insight regarding Enterprise's terminology in documenting vehicle condition in rental agreements: Dings are considered more normal "wear and tear" kinds of incidents, usually approximately 2 inches or so. The hand-held damage evaluator tool is used to document any damage larger than 6 inches, which is what Shawn used during the walk-around inspection of the vehicle; however, the fact that he categorized the damage as a scratch and 6-inch ding puts their documentation of the damage as clearly in a different category than the dent that was in place when I took position of the vehicle and would have been more along the lines of something that was noted at the customer's request rather than something that Enterprise would have taken notice of to mark for damages. In the Risk Management employee's perspective, the fact that this scratch and 6-inch ding was not noted from the previous rental tickets actually hurts my claim regarding the condition of the vehicle. (However, I maintain that an average customer does not have adequate knowledge of the nuances of dents vs. dings and appropriate documentation of the damage.)
  • I've spent time retracing my steps to see if there is a business, parking garage, or other location that would have captured surveillance photos to document the condition of the vehicle early in the rental period. So far, I've been out of luck. Either the establishments don't have footage going back that far or they are authorized to only release this kind of information to the police. I'm waiting to hear back from the parking garage at work (which would only have an image from 03/05, toward the end of week 2 of my rental period) and from a shopping mall (which would only have an image from 03/01, just at the beginning of week 2 of my rental).
If you guys have any other suggestions on what I might do, please let me know. I fear that this is moving toward the "hindsight is 20/20" life lesson category...
 
Mar 14, 2018
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#16
I spoke with a representative from Risk Management this morning. While this was the best customer service experience I've had regarding this experience so far (since he treated me like a human being and actually listened to my side of the story), he provided a few additional pieces of information:
  • Additional insight regarding Enterprise's terminology in documenting vehicle condition in rental agreements: Dings are considered more normal "wear and tear" kinds of incidents, usually approximately 2 inches or so. The hand-held damage evaluator tool is used to document any damage larger than 6 inches, which is what Shawn used during the walk-around inspection of the vehicle; however, the fact that he categorized the damage as a scratch and 6-inch ding puts their documentation of the damage as clearly in a different category than the dent that was in place when I took position of the vehicle and would have been more along the lines of something that was noted at the customer's request rather than something that Enterprise would have taken notice of to mark for damages. In the Risk Management employee's perspective, the fact that this scratch and 6-inch ding was not noted from the previous rental tickets actually hurts my claim regarding the condition of the vehicle. (However, I maintain that an average customer does not have adequate knowledge of the nuances of dents vs. dings and appropriate documentation of the damage.)
  • I've spent time retracing my steps to see if there is a business, parking garage, or other location that would have captured surveillance photos to document the condition of the vehicle early in the rental period. So far, I've been out of luck. Either the establishments don't have footage going back that far or they are authorized to only release this kind of information to the police. I'm waiting to hear back from the parking garage at work (which would only have an image from 03/05, toward the end of week 2 of my rental period) and from a shopping mall (which would only have an image from 03/01, just at the beginning of week 2 of my rental).
If you guys have any other suggestions on what I might do, please let me know. I fear that this is moving toward the "hindsight is 20/20" life lesson category...

There are only 3 possibilities:

1) The damage to the car is the scratch and ding that was documented (your assertion--you have no liability)
2) The documented scratch and ding are elsewhere on the passenger front fender. You should request a picture of this damage. If they can provide it, you have a weak case.
3) The dent occurred in the exact same location as the documented damage and covered it up. If this is their assertion, I'd tell them to sue me.
 
Mar 20, 2018
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#17
The corporate folks have punted back to the Risk Management and Damage Recovery Unit employees I have been working with; the final decision is in their hands, and they are sticking with the story that the car was not in that condition when I rented it.
 
Mar 20, 2018
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#19
Silver lining: my State Farm agent is a prince, and they're letting me keep my accident-free discount, so I'll likely only be out the deductible.
 
Mar 20, 2018
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#20
I stopped with the Executive VP/COO, since there's a note that the CEO should not be contacted with customer service problems.