Enterprise - Shady Rental Damage Claim

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Mar 7, 2018
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#1
Hello everyone,

I've been reading material on this website for months. I love learning all sorts of different travel hacks and tips to make each and every trip a smooth, wonderful experience, and I enjoy arming myself with information ahead of time should something go wrong. I didn't think I'd ever have to post here with a problem of my own, yet here I am. I would appreciate any and all advice. I have seen the article on what to do to get this claim dropped and as of right now, I am beginning the process. However, in the meantime, I would appreciate any and all advice I can get in handling this shady, strange situation I'm in.

In mid January, I rented an SUV from Enterprise in Pennsylvania for a long weekend trip. I had a great deal, or so I thought, and I'd been using Enterprise pretty much once a month since summer of 2017. In fact, I had just rented from this location a little over a month ago, and there was a $30 discrepancy on my bill, after a one day rental. I managed to walk into the office and get that incident straightened out before flying out to go back home. They had earned my trust by fixing their problem, so I decided to use them again in January. That has proven to be a mistake for several reasons.

I returned the car after hours early one morning, only an hour before the office opened. I had an extremely early flight to catch and reluctantly had to take this flight to make it back in time for work. On my layover, I found I had a voicemail from the office, they must have called while I was in the air. An employee had called to confirm that everything checked out okay on the vehicle and there was no issue and they look forward to seeing me again soon. (That's what he said.) Great, a smooth after hours return, I thought. I had been very reluctant to return after hours as I'd never done it before, and always preferred the face to face changing of hands of the car keys. It made me feel better. I am a young renter, a few years under 25, and I almost always travel alone. I'm the perfect target to be taken advantage of, apparently.

Imagine my shock when, over two weeks later I receive a letter in the mail from Enterprise corporate informing me there was actually a damage claim on the vehicle and they are investigating it to determine responsibility. Within minutes of receiving that letter, I called the damage claims department to figure out what was going on. They had no cost information or assessment to give me. All they were able to say is a cracked bumper had been reported. I immediately confronted them, saying I returned the car in excellent condition aside from normal dirt as it was winter and the roads were dirty and I had not been in an accident or backed into anything. I also informed them of the call, which I still have saved, why was I called and told everything was okay if everything was in fact not okay? They were speechless, and the employee told me I could expect to receive a final assessment in 30 days and that was all they had to say about it for now. The call was abruptly ended, by the employee. I then called the manager of the location I had rented from and attempted to glean more information. He said there was a cracked bumper but no other information at this time and they had a lot of cars, 4,000, so much damage all the time I don't know. (Cool, now I can use that info to dispute loss of use charges.) He was also speechless in regards to the phone call I received, and "apologized" for the mistake on their part. How do you make a mistake like that? I should've been told there was damage if there was damage! He did send me a picture, no time or date stamp though, after I had asked him to please send me a time and date with the picture. There's clearly bumper damage in the photo, but I had two suitcases in the trunk when I dropped it off and I noticed the car was completely fine when I pulled them out to head into the airport. I even watched a minivan pull up behind me as I was walking away. They stopped with plenty of space and made no contact with the car, so I assumed I'd be okay. Obviously, I should have taken pictures. But I had an hour to catch my flight, there were tons of cars parked closely together in the returns line with no room to stand back and get good pictures, and the line at bag checks and security was already very long - I had to get moving. Yes, I've learned my lesson. No after hour returns - ever. No returns without pictures and a face to face sign off always, period.

A couple of days ago, I came home after being gone for nearly a week to another letter. This time, there was a damage assessment. But get this! The assessment creation date is 3 days after I dropped the rental off, yet 2 weeks later when I called, nobody had any information to give me. It's for about $1,000 in damage and another $300 in administration, loss of use, diminished value, etc... They say I owe them $1300 basically. There are also 4 very bad photos showing damage and parts stripped/replaced all without time stamps or dates. The license plate is not even visible that's how bad they are, however it was visible in the photo the manager sent me weeks ago. (Strangely, that photo is not included with the ones I received in the mail). Today, I found a missed call/voicemail from damage claims and I just received an email moments ago saying they expect payment within 10 days. (They sure aren't having a problem communicating with me now!)

What should I do now? I think I have a very good case against it, short of the photos I obviously should have taken. I have the voicemail, I have the date assessment inconsistencies, I have yet to receive time stamped photos, and all I've really gotten from them is this bill that seems to be "just go ahead and pay up, you're responsible," without any real proof that I am.

For what it's worth, what I think happened is an employee hit the van behind me with the bumper - it's the perfect height for the damage shown! Or vice versa, an employee hit the SUV with the van against the back of the bumper and then pulled back out causing the bumper to crack as it is. It was a very, very crowded returns line! I asked them to show me footage from when I had the car returned but they refused saying they don't have cameras.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#2
You can present this to Enterprise for consideration by using the Company Contacts link at the top of this page.
Before you do, be sure to read and follow the instructions at the top of the first page. Include your desired resolution.
 
Mar 7, 2018
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#4
It’s too bad you didn’t read our tips on protecting yourself before you rented- we advise taking pictures when you pick up and return the car. Then you would have proof that the car wasn’t damaged.

We also have this :

http://forum.elliott.org/threads/how-to-deal-with-a-car-rental-damage-claim.1514/

Follow it to a T!
Thank you for the links! Yes, I have definitely learned my lesson regarding taking photos/videos and other precautions. I am writing to customer care now. I normally take pictures of the fuel gage just to make sure I don't get charged for fuel, as up until now that has been my biggest worry. (I did not this time as it was 5am and I was sleep deprived and in a hurry.) Oh how I wish I was disputing a $10 fuel bill rather than a $1300 damage bill! I rented a convertible a couple weeks ago from Hertz. Took photos of it all around, inside and out. And returned it to an agent face to face, no after hours drop box! So what if I have to pay for another day or go out of my way - cars are too expensive to worry about being inconvenienced because I had to wait for an attendant.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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New York
www.promalvacations.com
#5
In reality, no one should have to worry about this when they rent a car. Why over the last few years this has become such a problem that we have posts on how to deal with it shows what a Dad state of affairs there is in the car rental business.

I attribute it to the car companies not thoroughly checking the cars when you return. Most of the time they check the gas gauge, scan a bar code and tell you goodbye

Later on when the car is being cleaned and really checked, if you have an employee who doesnt care of the car was scratched or dented by the person before you and didn’t mark anything - you rent it next, bring it back exactly yet as you got it and the person who’s checks it in later notices the scratches- voila, you get blamed.

I am dealing with a pissed off wife now with our car rental. We picked up a black car and as she went around the car taking pictures of every scratch and ding all I heard was cussing because the black car was reflecting her taking the picture instead of the scratches and dent.

When we left she made me get out of the car and point out every scratch and the dent to the woman and the exit to mark on the paperwork.

I hope the sun isn’t as bright tomorrow when we return it.....
 
Mar 7, 2018
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#6
Update:

I have so far followed the advice in reaching out to the Enterprise customer service email and the damage claims department. To date, I have received two unsatisfactory and rather evasive replies. The first is an email I received which was really just an initial response from a customer service representative, verifying my message was received and I would be contacted via email by someone from damage claims and that my message had been forwarded to the regional VP. The second was an email from the branch manager at the location which I rented from. There was a screenshot of the damage photo in a group iPhone text message with a time, about an hour after I'd dropped off the vehicle, but the date was conveniently cropped off. Ha! Upon receiving the latter email, I immediately replied, thanking the manager for his cooperation, but also requested the additional information, including that he scroll up on the text message and provide an actual date (obviously to show the time had not been fabricated later on). The manager's response was that he "unfortunately had no other photo available at the time." (Maybe because it was fabricated...)

Besides this, my emails have been ignored. I never received a reply from damage department, I never got a reply from the VP to whom the customer service rep supposedly forwarded my email to and promised a response. (I informed them due to my business scheduling that email would be the best method of contact.) Today, I received another email saying that if I did not pay up they would refer the matter to an independent collection agency and that this would be their final contact. I am also officially on the do not rent list. (As if I hadn't already moved my business to Hertz...)

They have been unable to provide an incident report. They never sent me their copy of the rental agreement for records. They are unable to provide a mileage photo at the time of the damage report. They are unable to provide any time AND date stamps of the damage whatsoever, and at this point, frankly, it's rather obvious that they don't have it nor do they have a case.

As far as I'm concerned, this should be a closed matter. I have yet to be given an actual opportunity to dispute it, since no one ever replies and Enterprise is apparently ready to move forward in handing the matter over to a collection agency (perhaps because they know they can't collect from me?). I am not getting any replies from anyone except for the email I received today, which was not a reply just a notice, and I really do not want a credit collection agency hounding me and potentially bringing down my great credit score.

Right now, I am moving forward with emailing the next executive contact on the list, and while I'm at it I may as well "follow up" with damage claims and customer service.

I have also mentioned in my email that filing an insurance claim for damage I did not cause is insurance fraud, which I obviously have no intention of doing.

What do you think? Have I missed anything important?

I appreciate your replies and advice, and consider myself an avid follower of the website. Of course, I will be taking every precaution in the near future to ensure I never find myself in this situation again.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
14,670
13,745
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#7
Stop dealing with the local branch and deal with the corporate offices we have listed on our website.

If you have written to Customer Service and it’s been at least a week, then move to the first executive be we lost and repeat. Move up the corporate contacts once a week. Tell who you wrote to that never responded and thst are asking for the new executIves to that you wrote to for help:
 
Likes: VoR61
Mar 7, 2018
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#8
Update:

After writing a detailed email to the vice president of North American Operations at Enterprise, which included a recount of the information I have shared here, the evasive replies, a screenshot of the screenshot with the conveniently cropped off date, and mp3 of the voicemail I received assuring me everything was fine, I today received an email from the general manager of the location which I first rented from. The email informed me that the claim will be written off after "a check in" with the corporate office due to the phone call they made at first which assured me there was no problem. I am beyond ecstatic right now!

As you may imagine, I have saved the articles on protecting yourself when renting a car. My next rental is a convertible in Atlanta (with Avis) in about 3 weeks and I plan to be videoing the walk around at pickup and at drop off. I will also never be dropping a car off "after hours" at any rental location for as long as I travel. I do plan to return to Enterprise, there's no need to sever a relationship and needlessly yell "I'll never do business with them again," (as another article here points out not to do) but I think my personal psyche needs a bit of a change in pace for at least a couple of months.

A special thank you to you, Neil, for your replies, and to everyone here at Elliot.org that provides all of this information to help consumers fight for their rights when dealing with major corporations.

Thank you thank you thank you!!!
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
14,670
13,745
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#9
Told you. And he’s full of baloney it was because HE reached out. It’s because YOU went over his head.

And don’t worry about looking like an idiot when you pick up and return the car as you are video’ing. My wife is the Queen of taking pictures and hanging on to them. Chances are you me never is this happen again but if it does- before and after help.
 

Carrie Livingston

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Jan 6, 2015
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#10
I actually told the clerk at checkout that I wanted every ding, etc. marked b/c they make false claims all the time. Whether she notated that in our account or not, I don't know. Fingers crossed, we haven't gotten a claim yet for the October 2017 rental.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
14,670
13,745
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#11
My wife will not leaving the lot without having the paper work marked and signed. It’s usually at the outgoing gate and they don’t care. They mark whatever to tell them so they don’t have to walk out of the booth.
 
Mar 7, 2018
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#12
Exactly, hence the quote on "a check in" with corporate ;)

And hey, I don't mind looking strange for a few minutes in front of people I'll never see again if it saves me 2 months of headache and keeps me from being threatened with over a thousand dollars for a bill of "damage."

Hopefully something like this never happens again.
 
Likes: Neil Maley