Incorrectly charged for damage under front bumper in Munich

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Jan 2, 2018
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#1
We had rented a Ford S-Max van from Munich, Germany for a family trip of 10 days in September. We returned the car back to the same location and made sure that the gas was full and there was no damage whatsoever. The car was fully paid-for through RentalCars.com so we didn't anticipate any additional charges.

But as were auditing the accounts for 2017, we noticed a charge of EUR 336 on our credit card. We called the branch where we picked up the car and were informed that this was due to a damages.

They sent us the pictures - see attached.

Picture 1 does show a scratch underneath the front bumper. We didn't check under the front bumper for scratches when we picked up the car. But if there was a scratch, it had to be before we picked up.

Same applies to the yellow-spot shown in picture 2. Strangely, this spot is not visible in picture 3 that shows the exact same area that should have the yellow spot. [Update: Yellow spot is not an issue. I assumed that based on pictures but based on the incident report, the issue seems to be only the scratched underneath the car]

We dropped off the car after the branch office had closed. So there was no one to check the car.
But we were never called on the cell phone that was registered on the reservation to inform of these charges or for filing the incident report.

How should we go about handling this?
The contacts listed for customer service are US based. Does that apply to Munich as well?

1-scratch-under-bumper.jpg 2-yellow-spot-on-bumper.jpg 3-full-car.jpg
 
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technomage1

Verified Member
Jan 5, 2015
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#2
The yellow spot in picture 2 is a reflection from something. You can see the reflection in the top and bottom of the grille. You can also see the yellow object clearly in picture 3 to the right top of the grille. There does appear to be a small scratch - maybe - near the reflection of the persons left foot.

I'll leave it up to the other advoates to respond but wanted to make sure these facts were noted.
 
Likes: VoR61

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#3
I think you are going to have a problem because it is too late to dispute the charge - I believe you have 45 days from the time the charge is posted to your statement.

Follow this process to try to dispute this. State that you believe this is per-exisiting damage and you want pictures of the 3 or 4 rentals before yours to prove it was not per-exisiting.

http://forum.elliott.org/threads/how-to-deal-with-a-car-rental-damage-claim.1514/
 
Jan 2, 2018
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#4
I think you are going to have a problem because it is too late to dispute the charge - I believe you have 45 days from the time the charge is posted to your statement.

Follow this process to try to dispute this. State that you believe this is per-exisiting damage and you want pictures of the 3 or 4 rentals before yours to prove it was not per-exisiting.

http://forum.elliott.org/threads/how-to-deal-with-a-car-rental-damage-claim.1514/
Should I try to dispute the charge with my credit card?
 
Feb 9, 2016
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#7
the yellow spot in picture 2 is the yellow car in the next row. did they actually tell you the yellow spot was damage and charge you for it's removal?

If they did they are CLEARLY fabricating damage to get money and their entire damage claim should be refunded on that basis.

I would use that piece of information to try and dispute the claim. if your credit card wont refund then I would start writing the executives asking for a full refund on the basis that the employees are not paying attention to the vehicles concerning damage.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Feb 9, 2016
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#8
you can actually see the yellow reflection in the third picture to the right of the ford logo.

good lord, if they really told you that was damage, this is true fraud.
 
R

Realitoes

Guest
#9
I would go ahead and try to file a dispute. It could work.
Had the exact same issue with Hertz a few years ago for a vehicle I returned after hours at Frankfurt-Hahn Airport. In the end, I disputed the the damage charges Hertz charged to my credit card. Since they didn't have my signature authorizing them to charge that amount, my bank sided with me. A couple months later, Hertz sent me a notice to pay or they will send it to a collections agency. It was 300 Euros, so in the end to protect my credit and not have to continue dealing with it, I paid it. I no longer will even consider renting from them again.

Just keep it in mind, that disputing it, may not necessary make it go away!
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,655
12,680
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New York
www.promalvacations.com
#10
Had the exact same issue with Hertz a few years ago for a vehicle I returned after hours at Frankfurt-Hahn Airport. In the end, I disputed the the damage charges Hertz charged to my credit card. Since they didn't have my signature authorizing them to charge that amount, my bank sided with me. A couple months later, Hertz sent me a notice to pay or they will send it to a collections agency. It was 300 Euros, so in the end to protect my credit and not have to continue dealing with it, I paid it. I no longer will even consider renting from them again.

Just keep it in mind, that disputing it, may not necessary make it go away!
That’s absolutely true- just because you win a dispute doesn’t prevent them from sending it to a collection agency.
 

mmb

Verified Member
Jan 20, 2015
809
904
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#11
That’s absolutely true- just because you win a dispute doesn’t prevent them from sending it to a collection agency.
The collection agency does have to prove that you owe the money. You can bombard them with requests for documentation the same way you do with the rental agency to begin with. The collection agency rarely has much in the way of documents.
 
Jan 2, 2018
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#12
I assumed the yellow spot was the damage they were referring to. But perhaps it was just a reflection and not a damage (again assuming).

So the only sign of damage that's visible from the pictures they sent is the scratch underneath the front bumper. I did email their customer service with all the details and got the following response. Looks like I'm out of option now :(

Dear XYXYX:

Thank you for contacting us. I appreciate the opportunity to review your concerns.

I regret any misunderstanding regarding the damage charges billed. When a customer rents a vehicle, he or she accepts responsibility for the vehicle and its equipment. If a customer uses the wrong fuel or an accident occurs resulting in damage to the vehicle, the customer is responsible regardless of fault and will be billed the repair costs.

I have contacted our claims office in Germany to have this matter thoroughly investigated. Please find attached all damage documents for your review.

At the time of rental, the vehicle was accepted the vehicle without any damage to the underside. Also, you have signed the check-out document noting there was no pre-existing damage. At time of rental, customers are advised to check all parts of the vehicle for pre-existing damages and if found, will be marked and stamped by location staff before leaving the location at time of check out.

The matrix for this damage adds up to EUR 286.00 + EUR 50.00 administration fee. Therefore, the charges of EUR 336.00 for the front bumper underside were issued correctly.

It is our hope you will understand our position in this matter. We value your business and look forward to the opportunity of being able to serve you again.

Yours sincerely,

XYXYX
Hertz Customer Services
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#15
It seems to me that signing "paperwork" that indicates no pre-existing damage is subject to a reasonable expectation of the renter's ability to conduct an inspection. Scratches and dents that are "under a bumper or fender" or visible only when light reflects off them at a certain angle are, by their nature, suspect.

We see this one fairly often here. Damage on the "underside" of the car or the roof of a van, or ... Places that are hard to reach and would not normally be looked at.

I would appeal this to a higher authority than Customer Service.
 
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Likes: mmb
Jan 2, 2018
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#16
It seems to me that signing "paperwork" indicate no pre-existing damage is subject to a reasonable expectation of the renter's ability to conduct an inspection. Scratches and dents that are "under a bumper or fender" or visible only when light reflects off them at a certain angle are, by their nature, suspect.

We see this one fairly often here. Damage on the "underside" of the car or the roof of a van, or ... Places that are hard to reach and would not normally be looked at.
Exactly. And they never called me up to inquire or inform about the damages - If the car was in an accident or something. It's my bad that it took me this long to discover that charge on the my CC statement. I thought it was for the rental charge but then remembered that we had paid rentalcars.com in full.

I would appeal this to a higher authority than Customer Service.
Should I go up the executive contact list?
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#17
Exactly. And they never called me up to inquire or inform about the damages - If the car was in an accident or something. It's my bad that it took me this long to discover that charge on the my CC statement. I thought it was for the rental charge but then remembered that we had paid rentalcars.com in full.


Should I go up the executive contact list?
Absolutely, go up the chain. I recommend waiting 10 days between executives ...
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,655
12,680
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#18
Exactly. And they never called me up to inquire or inform about the damages - If the car was in an accident or something. It's my bad that it took me this long to discover that charge on the my CC statement. I thought it was for the rental charge but then remembered that we had paid rentalcars.com in full.


Should I go up the executive contact list?
Has it been a week since you wrote to Customer Service?
 

Carrie Livingston

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Jan 6, 2015
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St Louis
#20
Since you've received a response from customer service, I would go ahead and go up the next level. I would include the information from customer service and let them know you don't feel you caused the damage/was pre-existing.
 
Likes: VoR61