Thrifty alleging damage (bumper scratches)

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Sep 23, 2018
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#1
We (wife & I) rented a car from a leased Thrifty location at a medium size airport in the U.S. last month. We were shown a ding in the driver's side door when we picked up the car, and which was noted on the check-in ticket that we signed. However, when we returned the car, middle of the day on a Sunday, there should have been an attendant in the lot, but no one was around. We decided that, instead of missing our flight back home, we would walk inside the rental car center and drop off the keys, which we did - handed them to the agent, who said that's all we needed to do, and we proceeded on our way home.

We were quite surprised to find out little more than a week later that Thrifty had opened a claim with our insurance claiming that there were scratches on the front & rear bumpers of the car we rented. They also seem to have immediately assigned this to a company called Subrogation Management Team Ltd of San Antonio, TX. They're demanding the laundry list of claims - money to cover repair of both bumpers, loss of use, administrative fee, etc.

Now, we feel fortunate that SMT are being cooperative - they forwarded us pictures of the damage, along with copies of the rental agreement, contract, and repair estimates. I did some examining of all the documents, and discovered the following:

1. The metadata (EXIF) embedded in the pictures shows that they were taken 4 days after we returned the vehicle.
2. The pictures were taken of the same make / model we rented, but with the license plate removed.
3. There were no pictures showing mileage.
4. The mileage at time of check-in, and the mileage where the damage estimate was performed, is off by 41 miles. However, the location where the estimate was given is over 190 miles away from the Thrifty we rented from. (leading us to conclude that the car was driven 41 miles and then transported by truck / carrier to the repair facility).
5. A separate check-in ticket marks the bumper damage, but fails to show the side-door ding. This ticket is undated, and unsigned.

The one thing we of course do not have are our own pictures showing no damage to the vehicle when we returned it to Thrifty. We definitely did not notice any scratches on either bumper however.

I've started the process of contacting the first-level executive contact (of Hertz) using the contacts listed here, and I will be sending a certified letter to SMT tomorrow disputing the claims (buying us at least another 30 days according to their fine print). I used a letter that I found here, tweaked it to highlight the facts I listed above, and of course, kept it as polite, but also direct, as possible.

Any other advice for how we should proceed?
 
Likes: bignevermo
Jun 30, 2017
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#2
You must insist that they prove to you that the car with damages is actually the one you rented, not just the same make model. That may be why the mileage doesn't add up. If it is not the car you returned the mileage would be different than what they have shown you. Did you actually inspect the car on return in spite of the lack of pictures? Could there have been bumper scratches?
 
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Sep 23, 2018
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We did a very quick walk around of the car and did not notice any scratches when we returned the car. As for certified vs e-mail, that is interesting - I will check to see if we have the e-mail of the contact at SMT. I did already send a Fax to them on Saturday notifying that we are disputing the claim. I also added a note to the claim file at our insurance provider instructing them not to pay out while we await the results of the dispute.

My side of this is that it looks very suspicious that scratches somehow appeared on both the front _and_ rear bumper. That would seem to imply that there would have been two separate incidents. My own personal car which I've owned for 15 years now has no scratches on either bumper. And I did all of the driving of the rental car, and can not recall even getting close to an object that could have caused scratches, let alone having that happen twice.

Thanks also for the links - I've read both of those threads in their entirety, so I feel about as prepared as I could thanks to the help from others who have had to deal with this in the past!
 
Sep 25, 2018
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#6
I have taken to taking a picture of the amount of gas and filming the car when I pick it up and then again when I return the car. This has saved me hundreds of dollars
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Aug 9, 2017
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#9
Now, we feel fortunate that SMT are being cooperative - they forwarded us pictures of the damage, along with copies of the rental agreement, contract, and repair estimates. I did some examining of all the documents, and discovered the following:

1. The metadata (EXIF) embedded in the pictures shows that they were taken 4 days after we returned the vehicle.
This is great use of information embedded within a digital image and likely key to the case being dropped. I wonder how many people know how to obtain the info and also know it can be critical to have the date/time set properly if you are using a camera.