Smoking Charge for Two Non-Smokers?!

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Apr 12, 2016
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#1
A friend and I rented a car from AVIS at Long Beach Municipal Airport over the weekend and were charged $250 about a week after we returned the car. My friend, Pilki, is a non-smoker, an actual police-in-training, and drove the car for the whole weekend. Upon returning the car, no $250 fee was even mentioned and the car was fully inspected inside and out! Even signed off on the return that stated $147.
The two of us went to speak to AVIS employees to see what the charge was for and the Manager in charge, Brian, stated over the phone that a Raul was the returning agent. What was really suspicious was when we asked if he mentioned a worker named Raul, he declined that he even uttered the name (although we BOTH heard the name...)
They mentioned the car had a broken cigarette on the passenger seat, which is IMPOSSIBLE as none of us smoke!! We asked for proof of possible smoking in the vehicle, perhaps a picture, but nothing was shown, Could they be falsely stating evidence just to gain profits?!
Were two college students that can not afford exorbitant fees, and are definitely smart enough to see signs prohibiting certain actions. PLEASE HELP.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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#2
"Could they be falsely stating evidence just to gain profits?!"

Yes!

Read this link about rental car damage claims and follow the advice of Neil's:
http://forum.elliott.org/threads/how-to-deal-with-a-car-rental-damage-claim.1514/

If there really was a broken cigarette on the passenger side, one explanation could be that it stuck to the bottom of your shoe while walking and was transported into the car unknowingly. I know that has happened to me (not into a rental car though!)
 
Likes: jsn55
R

Realitoes

Guest
#3
Welcome to the forum!

I recommend disputing the charge with Avis in writing. You can use the company contacts provided by this site. Start at the bottom and work your way up the executive contacts, one at a time, giving each contact a week to respond. To ensure your communications is actually read, try to keep it short, including just the facts (without any emotion) and your desired resolution. It is important to develop a paper trail, that way if you don't reach a satisfactory resolution, we can ask Chris to take a look at it.

You can also dispute the charge with your credit card, but I would recommend attempting to work this out with the company first. The paper trail will give you more documentation, plus if the credit card company rules against you, you have lost some leverage with the company. Do keep an eye though on the time limit you have to dispute it (normally 60 days from the statement date it shows up on).

Good luck and please come back to let us know how it works out for you.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#4
These rental car gouges are getting out of hand. Hang up the phone, everything needs to be in writing. Just write to Avis very politely, denying that anyone smoked in the car during your rental. Tell them that you want a $250 credit issued to your card within 10 business days or you will be forced to dispute the ENTIRE charge with your credit card. Ask for an email confirming the credit; if they call, don't talk with them.

I'm sorry you have to go through this, but the blatant over-charging by travel providers is running rampant and all we consumers can do is to fight back one case at a time.
 
Aug 28, 2015
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#5
Also, did he say the car smelled of smoke? There is no rule that you can't have cigarettes in the car. If there is no smell, then what's the difference? It probably got stuck to your shoe of already there and got dislodged from the gap in the back of the seat.
 
Likes: JVillegirl541
Feb 9, 2016
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#6
Inform your credit card company that you do not authorize any more charges on the rental car company without yourself and the card being present. Dispute the charge with your credit card company and tell the rental car company to PROVE IT! That cigarette could have been on the shoe of one of the employees, an employee could have smoked in the car, etc.

Stop using the phone and start writing letters. Follow the contacts at the top of the page and you will not have to worry about this, the rental car company will back off.
 
Jan 8, 2015
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#7
Everyone has given you good advice and you should easily prevail. Make sure you stay on point and don't argue about who returned the car and checked you in. Simply point out the fact that you have a receipt for the rental and return and nothing was noted. if they push, i would also say that having cigarettes in a car is not against the rental policy, but that smoking is.
 
#8
The $250 is so they can cleanse the car of smoke . . . . ask to see the cleaning bill or time card of the staff who performed the work . ..

Now, most car companies have changed the language to call it a smoking 'fee,' and not a cleaning charge to get away from having to prove they cleaned the car.

I'd offer a DNA test - give them the DNA of the people in the car, and take the dna off the cig - if it matches - you pay the $250 plus the fee, if it doesn't they do. I had this one local guy who was absolutely adamant that my dog was crapping in his yard - I told him I'd pay him $1000 in writing if the dog poop he produced from his yard matched my dog's DNA. Plus the cost of testing. It's an exclusionary test - can the same exclude your dog - its fairly simple. Guy agreed to it cause he was so angry,. Not my dog. Then he tried to weasel out of it so I shamed him on social media - he paid up.

Having a cigarette in the car is indirect evidence of smoking - not direct evidence. And a broken unsmoked cigarette is not presumptive evidence of smoking in the car. Thats what the LW called it. . .
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#9
The $250 is so they can cleanse the car of smoke . . . . ask to see the cleaning bill or time card of the staff who performed the work . ..

Now, most car companies have changed the language to call it a smoking 'fee,' and not a cleaning charge to get away from having to prove they cleaned the car.

I'd offer a DNA test - give them the DNA of the people in the car, and take the dna off the cig - if it matches - you pay the $250 plus the fee, if it doesn't they do. I had this one local guy who was absolutely adamant that my dog was crapping in his yard - I told him I'd pay him $1000 in writing if the dog poop he produced from his yard matched my dog's DNA. Plus the cost of testing. It's an exclusionary test - can the same exclude your dog - its fairly simple. Guy agreed to it cause he was so angry,. Not my dog. Then he tried to weasel out of it so I shamed him on social media - he paid up.

Having a cigarette in the car is indirect evidence of smoking - not direct evidence. And a broken unsmoked cigarette is not presumptive evidence of smoking in the car. Thats what the LW called it. . .
Joe you are too much. :)
 

kenish

Verified Member
Sep 1, 2015
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#11
Philly K, can you give us an update on this? What was the resolution?
This thread is just over a year old. Unlikely there will be a response. This forum is unique because stale threads aren't locked. So it's important to look at the date of the previous post(s) so old ones don't re-surface and crowd out fresh posts. :)
 
Jul 20, 2017
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#12
Welcome to the forum!

I recommend disputing the charge with Avis in writing. You can use the company contacts provided by this site. Start at the bottom and work your way up the executive contacts, one at a time, giving each contact a week to respond. To ensure your communications is actually read, try to keep it short, including just the facts (without any emotion) and your desired resolution. It is important to develop a paper trail, that way if you don't reach a satisfactory resolution, we can ask Chris to take a look at it.

You can also dispute the charge with your credit card, but I would recommend attempting to work this out with the company first. The paper trail will give you more documentation, plus if the credit card company rules against you, you have lost some leverage with the company. Do keep an eye though on the time limit you have to dispute it (normally 60 days from the statement date it shows up on).

Good luck and please come back to let us know how it works out for you.
I saw your article on Dollar rental car, http://www.elliott.org/blog/a-fee-for-lighting-up-in-my-rental-but-i-dont-smoke/, my wife rented a car and she doesn’t smoke. This is what she wrote “On Friday 07/14/17, I Kendra Davis rented a vehicle from Dollar Rental Company at Philadelphia International Airport. Before checking out, there was a smoking smell, scratches on the car and not clean in the vehicle. The agent, did not check to see about what was wrong with the car as she was on her cell phone speaking with someone and I advised her of this and let me know it was fine. I returned the car and advised them of the same issues (smoking smell, dirty car and scratches) when another agent apologized and then said it will be fine also giving me a printed receipt as well as an email of $168 charge for only the car rental. Upon coming home, I received another email with a $300 charge for smoking. They advised me they had it documented and that it will be fine when I rented the vehicle and upon returning it with an email receipt. When I went back to the facility, the manager laughed in my face and told me 'even if I could do something I would not help you because of your attitude' and just put a card on the table and walked away. I called the corporate office and they told me that there is nothing else they can do and hung up the phone.”


Is there any way that you could help us? My wife again doesn’t smoke and it’s like we are not given any help because my wife was upset because there was a charge on the account. We have an email receipt as well as paper stating no $300 charge and then another email stating that there is a $300 charge for smoking.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,852
6,778
113
San Francisco
#14
This kind of thing is so annoying with rental cars. When she writes, per our advice, probably best to state that she may have been angry and frustrated when she came in to see the manager, but she did not smoke in the car and she wants the claim dropped.