Sixt Car Rental Fraudulent Damage Claim

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Sep 10, 2019
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#1
I am posting on behalf of my wife who returned a Sixt rental car to the Sonoma County Airport (CA), on September 12, 2018. Her use of the car was limited to driving back and forth to a friend's house, where the car was parked in the driveway, and one short trip to to an ocean overlook where the car was never out of her sight. She did not notice any damage upon returning the car, though she does not currently have any photos from this rental on her phone. Sixt instructions were to leave the car in the appropriate space in the airport parking lot and return the keys to the counter in the terminal (small airport with no check in process for rental cars).

Almost 5 months later an undated, unsigned letter was received (on February 6, 2019) from the Sixt franchisee requesting payment within 30 days of $4,166.27 for damage to the rental car, with an invoice dated Feb. 4, 2019 breaking down charges as - Damage: $2,277.83; Storage $95; Loss of Use $309.84; Admin Fee: $150; Diminished Value $ 1,333.60. An undated "Preliminary Estimate" from a body shop was attached, for $2,277.83 for replacement of a "bumper cover".

A "Return Checksheet" with a date of the original car return (9/12/18) was included, however, there was no time and date stamp on the Checksheet, and no signature or date recorded from the named Sixt employee listed on the Checksheet. The Checksheet lists "New damage" as 3 scratches (down to primer) 5-10 cm in length in 3 different locations on the Front Bumper, and "Bumper, front - Driver side - loose". "Existing damages" listed included two items related to the Front Bumper, a scratch >10 cm superficial, and "Bumper, front - middle - crash". No further detail was listed on the pre-existing Crash damage.

We sent a registered letter on Feb. 16, 2019, to the Sixt Franchisee and Sixt Customer Service in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, disputing the charges. We explained the limited usage of the car during the rental period, during which the car was not left unattended at any point, and the fact that my wife did not see any damage that occurred during the rental when the car was returned. The letter stated that we found the charge of $1,333.60 for "Diminished Value" to be puzzling, as it was incompatible with our understanding of the diminished value concept.

We further stated that we did not find the documents sent in the letter to be adequate documentation of the claimed damage. We requested that they provide us with:
1. A copy of the original rental agreement and receipt from the return of the car (which my wife no longer had after 5 months)
2. Time stamped and dated photos of the "New damage" alleged on the Return Checksheet
3. A copy of a signed and time stamped incident or inspection report which includes an employee name and dated signature
4. Documentation of the rental events immediately preceding and following my wife's rental of the vehicle
5. A current time stamped photo of the front bumper of the car where the damage was alleged to have occurred and a photo of the current mileage on the odometer
6. A dated and signed estimate for repair of the alleged damage to the rental car completed on the date the estimate was prepared

Sixt Customer Service contacted my wife and stated that they were not involved in this dispute, that it needed to be resolved with the Franchisee. No response was received from the Franchisee, but my wife received a letter dated April 20, 2019, from a collection agency (Alternative Claims Management (ACM) in San Antonio, Texas) requesting payment of a debt of $2,427.83 for the Sixt car rental claim. Evidently they dropped charges for Diminished Value and only kept the Damage and Admin Fee charges, though no explanation for the reduced amount was provided.

The letter from ACM stated "If you notify us, in writing, within thirty (30) days after receipt of this notice that the above debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, we will obtain verification of the debt and a copy of such verification will be mailed to you." We sent ACM a registered letter on May 7, 2019 disputing the claim/debt and indicating that we had requested from the Franchisee "reasonable documentation of the vehicle damage that was alleged", with a copy of the letter and supporting documents that we had sent to the Franchisee. We also requested that their research and response verifying the debt also address the following questions:
1) Why was there such a long delay in notification of the damage and how could we be sure the damage didn't occur after my wife's rental, as there was no verifiable time stamp or date on the "Return Checklist".
2) Why were we being charged for the full replacement cost of the bumper cover when there was "Existing Damage" to the bumper listed as "crash" that would appear to be more serious.
3) What was the damage that required replacement of the bumper cover? If it was because of a "loose" bumper wouldn't that likely be related to pre-existing "crash" damage and over 30,000 miles of driving prior to my wife's rental?
4) We noted that the last time my wife travelled through the Sonoma County Airport there was no longer a Sixt rental counter at the location, and asked if they could inquire of the Franchisee regarding the circumstances leading to their losing their airport location (they still operate at an off-site location and we were told by another rental car rep that they were asked to leave the airport)?

We did not receive any additional documentation of damage, or verification of the debt from either ACM or the Franchisee. On August 31, 2019, we did however, receive a "Final Notice" from ACM "In An Attempt to Collect a Debt", asking us to immediately get in touch with to them discuss the handling of the matter, and pay.

I'm in the process of putting together another letter to ACM, reiterating that we dispute the charge/debt and have still not received adequate documentation of damage to the car from either the Franchisee or ACM, or an explanation of why we are being charged gor the bumper replacement given the pre-existing damage. I will also request some verification that the repair to the bumper was actually performed.

Do you have any other suggestions and or recommendations for handling this going forward? This appears to be such a blatant scam, it's very upsetting that we have no obvious recourse beyond continuing to send detailed letters in response to their one page demand letters. I'm considering also filing a BBB complaint, just because at least Sixt appears to do some kind of review before responding to the complaints (based on their responses). Thanks for any help you can provide.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
19,399
17,897
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#2
Don’t bother with the BBB. They cannot force Sixt to do anything, they will only send your complaint to Sixt and then provide you with Sixts response.

What usually does get these dropped is following this post exactly and moving up one by one through the Executives.

https://forum.elliott.org/threads/how-to-deal-with-a-car-rental-damage-claim.9703/

Almost every case using this has been dropped.

Try it and let us know if it works.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#3
Writing suggestions
Do not use inflammatory language - be polite and professional
Do not start with the CEO - begin at the lowest level indicated in the list shown below
Present a brief summary (list) of your case and give each contact one (1) week to respond before escalating to the next level
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#4
In case they balk at your request for information (which they almost certainly will), I would focus on the time-and-date stamped photos. They constitute what I would call "irrefutable" evidence. And make sure these include the odometer and license plate.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
1,424
2,431
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#5
Kudos to you for doing what you have done so far. Enlisting the help of the executives should resolve this matter. Please let us know your progress as I am curious to how they respond. Good luck!
 
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