surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

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Jags4186
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by Jags4186 »

Inframan4712 wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 9:15 am
Jags4186 wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 8:37 am
Inframan4712 wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 8:19 am
"I see Visa does require this to go through my insurance first. I'm going to reach out to Chase Visa."

These 2 sentences do not compute. Call. Your. Insurance. Agent. What is your reluctance to call the company that you pay to protect you?
He doesn’t want to file an insurance claim and find his premiums go up. That is the reluctance…
There is no need to file a claim. Call the agent, not the Claims department. The agent can give him advice.
Not everyone has an agent. I don’t. I bought direct from insurer.
Inframan4712
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by Inframan4712 »

Jags4186 wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 9:21 am
Inframan4712 wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 9:15 am
Jags4186 wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 8:37 am
Inframan4712 wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 8:19 am
"I see Visa does require this to go through my insurance first. I'm going to reach out to Chase Visa."

These 2 sentences do not compute. Call. Your. Insurance. Agent. What is your reluctance to call the company that you pay to protect you?
He doesn’t want to file an insurance claim and find his premiums go up. That is the reluctance…
There is no need to file a claim. Call the agent, not the Claims department. The agent can give him advice.
Not everyone has an agent. I don’t. I bought direct from insurer.
Ah. I would never do that, but to each his own.
tibbitts
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by tibbitts »

I'm still not understanding all the "contact your agent" (insurance company, whatever) suggestions given that so many Bogleheads have older vehicles that don't have collision coverage.

Since we now know this is Avis: I was eventually able to get help from someone at Avis, but not from the front-line 800-number people. Eventually my call was transferred to someone else (I don't remember how) and I was pretty impressed with the degree of follow-up/investigation they did to resolve my problem. Chase didn't help when I claimed the charge wasn't valid. So I was really at the mercy of Avis and they did come through after a lot of effort on my part. Would I have won in court? Probably, but my situation was in the hundreds of dollars range, so obviously I wouldn't have pursued that. Of course that was a few years ago when you didn't have to take out a HELOC to rent a car for a few days, and everything cost less.
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firebirdparts
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by firebirdparts »

Contact your insurance agent.

I figure for each post that you refuse to do so, there needs to be another one telling you to do it.
A fool and your money are soon partners
tibbitts
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by tibbitts »

firebirdparts wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 2:20 pm Contact your insurance agent.

I figure for each post that you refuse to do so, there needs to be another one telling you to do it.
Again, given that many of us don't have any coverage for damage to our own cars or replacement cars, how would you expect the insurance agent to help you? Maybe there's something an insurance agent could do that I'm not aware of; if so, I'd like to know, since I'd never even think of contacting my agent - and maybe I should. I guess I could contact them anyway, but I'm really curious if my odds of getting some help would be any better than if I contacted my dentist or dermatologist about problem. Actually my dermatologist helped me with a social security problem, so I guess you never know.
Mr.BB
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by Mr.BB »

dukeblue219 wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 6:50 am
Prahasaurus wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 6:21 amI took extensive video and pics of the car's condition - with the agent standing by the car in the video - for my own records. With a mobile phone in everyone's pocket now, it literally takes 1-2 minutes to make a fairly accurate record of the car's cosmetic condition at pick up. Just doing this will likely prevent any shenanigans from shady operators.
Not possible at most Airport car rental locations where they assign you a car and you're off. I don't know how likely an employee would be to come to the garage and take photos with me...
When you take a video and photos there are time/date information associated in the background of your photos that is your proof that the any damage was on the car before you left the lot.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
tibbitts
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by tibbitts »

Mr.BB wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 3:26 pm
dukeblue219 wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 6:50 am
Prahasaurus wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 6:21 amI took extensive video and pics of the car's condition - with the agent standing by the car in the video - for my own records. With a mobile phone in everyone's pocket now, it literally takes 1-2 minutes to make a fairly accurate record of the car's cosmetic condition at pick up. Just doing this will likely prevent any shenanigans from shady operators.
Not possible at most Airport car rental locations where they assign you a car and you're off. I don't know how likely an employee would be to come to the garage and take photos with me...
When you take a video and photos there are time/date information associated in the background of your photos that is your proof that the any damage was on the car before you left the lot.
It's fairly trivial to edit the exif and file metadata information, so while the rental provider might choose to accept a photo as proof, they probably wouldn't have to. I suppose you could include something date-identifiable in the photo which would provide more proof, since editing of a photo would probably be easier to detect than altered metadata.
txbear55
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by txbear55 »

Had a similar situation recently...rental car had a blowout and I placed spare tire on the side of the road (they never responded to the emergency services number after three attempts and over 1.5 hours accumulated on hold). Afterwards we were contacted and requested to pay a $1300 repair bill which included two tires to be replaced. They advised letting my insurance company settle it. I refused to even consider without an itemized invoice and photos of the damage. I luckily had taken my own photos of the failed tire. I also stated that there was no way I would pay the bill and that they should settle with me for not responding to the emergency call and placing my life in danger on the side of the road. No further response for over two months now. I really think it's a bit of a scam to get settlement money from your insurance company. I say request they send proof in before and after photos and I'd leave your insurance company out of it unless they can prove their point.
tibbitts
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by tibbitts »

txbear55 wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 4:10 pm Had a similar situation recently...rental car had a blowout and I placed spare tire on the side of the road (they never responded to the emergency services number after three attempts and over 1.5 hours accumulated on hold). Afterwards we were contacted and requested to pay a $1300 repair bill which included two tires to be replaced. They advised letting my insurance company settle it. I refused to even consider without an itemized invoice and photos of the damage. I luckily had taken my own photos of the failed tire. I also stated that there was no way I would pay the bill and that they should settle with me for not responding to the emergency call and placing my life in danger on the side of the road. No further response for over two months now. I really think it's a bit of a scam to get settlement money from your insurance company. I say request they send proof in before and after photos and I'd leave your insurance company out of it unless they can prove their point.
So you were saying that the blowout was caused by a defective tire? I could be wrong but I don't believe insurance (or credit cards) would cover tire damage unless something other than tire damage was involved. They might cover body damage done as a result of tire damage. The closest example I've come across is my rental car hitting a pothole and the wheel cover falling off (unknown to me at the time), which was definitely not covered by my credit card. The rental car company can demand the same brand/model of tire be installed upon return. If the rental company had responded to your call wouldn't they simply have charged you at the time for that service?

And again why would the rental company assume your insurance company would cover this, even if the tire was defective?
Raycpact
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by Raycpact »

tibbitts wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 10:40 am I'm still not understanding all the "contact your agent" (insurance company, whatever) suggestions given that so many Bogleheads have older vehicles that don't have collision coverage.

I recommended it because I assume my agent or his contacts would have extensive experience dealing with bogus rental car claims.

I did not recommend contacting insurance company until running it by agent due to premium concerns.

I also know the CC companies have narrow windows for making claims and waiting could be costly mistake if it cannot be resolved.
txbear55
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by txbear55 »

They were implying I had damaged the car. I knew I had not hit an object, pothole, etc, plus there was no rim damage as my photos showed. Hence no consideration without proof of their claims.
tibbitts
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by tibbitts »

Raycpact wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 4:43 pm
tibbitts wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 10:40 am I'm still not understanding all the "contact your agent" (insurance company, whatever) suggestions given that so many Bogleheads have older vehicles that don't have collision coverage.

I recommended it because I assume my agent or his contacts would have extensive experience dealing with bogus rental car claims.

I did not recommend contacting insurance company until running it by agent due to premium concerns.

I also know the CC companies have narrow windows for making claims and waiting could be costly mistake if it cannot be resolved.
I'm guessing it depends on whether you have an agent or a broker: an agent may be required to report whatever you say/ask to the insurance company; a broker in theory shouldn't.
Mr.BB
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by Mr.BB »

tibbitts wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 3:41 pm
Mr.BB wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 3:26 pm
dukeblue219 wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 6:50 am
Prahasaurus wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 6:21 amI took extensive video and pics of the car's condition - with the agent standing by the car in the video - for my own records. With a mobile phone in everyone's pocket now, it literally takes 1-2 minutes to make a fairly accurate record of the car's cosmetic condition at pick up. Just doing this will likely prevent any shenanigans from shady operators.
Not possible at most Airport car rental locations where they assign you a car and you're off. I don't know how likely an employee would be to come to the garage and take photos with me...
When you take a video and photos there are time/date information associated in the background of your photos that is your proof that the any damage was on the car before you left the lot.
It's fairly trivial to edit the exif and file metadata information, so while the rental provider might choose to accept a photo as proof, they probably wouldn't have to. I suppose you could include something date-identifiable in the photo which would provide more proof, since editing of a photo would probably be easier to detect than altered metadata.
Thank you for clarifying that for me. I did not know that the picture/video- time & date could be manipulated like that.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
Saving$
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by Saving$ »

dukeblue219 wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 6:48 am This has happened to me twice - in both cases a simple phone call to the car rental agency has resolved it. They reviewed the paperwork (and pulled security footage once), agreed with me, and dropped the charges.

It ain't worth spending time with your insurance company and credit card - nevermind immediately filing a lawsuit - until you know theyre serious about this.

IANAL.
This. Happened to me, I called rental car company, got name of person with whom I spoke and followed it up with a written letter. Suggest you revise your letter to something like the following. Others will surely come along and improve on this.:

Dear RENTAL CAR COMPANY:

Per my phone call with Rental Car Company (RCC) person name on mm/dd/yyyy,
1. RCC, through your agent, XYZ, have sent me a letter alleging I caused damage to a rental vehicle.
2. When I picked the vehicle up at the city/state/ location on mm/dd/yyyy at approximately, I was assigned a vehicle with extensive damage. RCC's attendant advised there was no other minivan available, so the attendant took photos of the existing damage.
3. The damage was not caused by me and did not occur during my rental. It was pre-existing.
4. When I returned the vehicle, the pick up inspection documents (attached) do not note damage during my rental; presumably RCC's system document the damage as having occurred prior to my renting the vehicle.

As the damage was pre-existing, not caused by me and did not occur during my rental, I do not owe RCC anything for this damage.
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celia
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by celia »

Hopefully you marked the rental papers upon receiving the car, showing all the places that had damage, and kept your copy of this... That's what I usually do. Who knows if they will keep/ be able to locate their photos/ or even acknowledge previous damage? At least I will have my copy, which should match their copy as the original form used "carbon/ pressure-sensitive paper".
tibbitts
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by tibbitts »

celia wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 7:51 pm Hopefully you marked the rental papers upon receiving the car, showing all the places that had damage, and kept your copy of this... That's what I usually do. Who knows if they will keep/ be able to locate their photos/ or even acknowledge previous damage? At least I will have my copy, which should match their copy as the original form used "carbon/ pressure-sensitive paper".
Maybe I'm not understanding, but I don't see where the OP knows what damage the rental company is claiming. Maybe it's far more extensive than the original documentation indicated. So really the departure documentation might be of no use at all, because the rental company may not be disputing the accuracy of that; only the return documentation would be, but that's never provided to renters unless there's an acknowledge incident.

You do take some risk whenever you return a car. Once I rented a car for a day and the rep spent probably fifteen minutes noting every single scratch and ding - it was like he was practicing to be a judge at Pebble Beach. This was a 30k+ mile car, driven frequently on gravel roads. But I returned after hours so nobody could confirm the condition of the car then, and given the degree he was analyzing the car, no two people would have come up with exactly that same list. Even if photo evidence was acceptable, I returned at night so lighting properly to show every one of those imperfections would have been nearly impossible. Sometimes you just have to hope you're lucky, and I was that time. I'd say I didn't do any damage to the car, but if you count tiny scratches from gravel, I can't promise that - I just don't know.
m@ver1ck
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by m@ver1ck »

I was in a similar position 15 years ago.

I had rented the car because I had an accident in my car and it was in the body shop.

I stalled and delayed for a while / including trying to find out how much the repair would cost in a different store.

Finally - the body shops where I had my car fixed got mad at them for trying to charge me 3500 for a few scratches and gave them a call. (Apparently the rental car co. - enterprise in this case - got a lot of local business from this body shop).

Anyway / I got an email from them the next day stating this was preexisting after all.
sorethumb
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by sorethumb »

This happened to us in Munich a few years ago, and it’s one of the main reasons I keep my Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Enterprise in Munich charged $1000 damage fee on our car rental return which was total [expletive removed by admin LadyGeek]. I made one phone call to Chase and that was the end of it.
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mrspock
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by mrspock »

Drewman wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 9:00 am This is with Avis.

I did not take photos myself. Wife and I watched the guy but that was it - we trusted them...never had any issues in the past.

Reluctant to go with insurance as never worked with them, I have worked with Chase several times with fraudulent charges they have caught on my credit card and they call issue me a new card and correct things immediately.


Well I spoke with Chase - they said I am covered, they said to respond to the Avis letter and to open a claim with Chase. He said Avis should review pre-inspection documents, see there was no issue and I then can cancel the Chase claim.
I rent a ton of cars. I never waste time haggling with the counter people over damage anymore… take your own pics, make sure your phone time stamps them, and make it very obvious you are in the rental garage. Then drive off. If they ever hassle you, send the pics and it’s case closed.

When you return the car, get a verbal “OK” from the returns agent everything looks good condition wise. If there is a dispute try to resolve it then and there (show pics). If it’s an unattended drop off, take pics again.

Never trust their pics or “documentation” or assume they know about the damage… you want possession of the “evidence” from day 1.
NYC_Guy
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by NYC_Guy »

As I said in the beginning of this thread, this smacks of fraud and criminal behavior. Judges and juries love getting cases like this. Don’t be afraid of making their life a living hell.
theplayer11
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by theplayer11 »

Call the rental company, explain what happened, see wat they say or do.
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snackdog
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by snackdog »

This is not really a “surprise” since you rented the car with extensive damage. On return, their default assumption is that you are responsible. You will have to show otherwise. Caution to others - never accept an extensively damaged rental.
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Drewman
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by Drewman »

tibbitts wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 8:26 pm t understanding, but I don't see where the OP knows what damage the rental company is claiming. Maybe it's far more extensive than the original documentation indicated. So really the departure documentation might be of no use at all, because the rental company may not be disputing the accuracy of that; only the return documentation would be, but that's never provided to renters unless there's an acknowledge incident.

You do take some risk whenever you return a car. Once I rented a car for a day and the rep spent probably fifteen minutes noting every single scratch and ding - it was like he was practicing to be a judge at Pebble ....
previous quote by tibbitts shortened for reply.
The letter only contains a few lines about the damage; loss of use value, tow/storage costs, admin costs, repair costs...nothing specific.
tibbitts
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by tibbitts »

Drewman wrote: Mon Sep 13, 2021 5:17 am
tibbitts wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 8:26 pm t understanding, but I don't see where the OP knows what damage the rental company is claiming. Maybe it's far more extensive than the original documentation indicated. So really the departure documentation might be of no use at all, because the rental company may not be disputing the accuracy of that; only the return documentation would be, but that's never provided to renters unless there's an acknowledge incident.

You do take some risk whenever you return a car. Once I rented a car for a day and the rep spent probably fifteen minutes noting every single scratch and ding - it was like he was practicing to be a judge at Pebble ....
previous quote by tibbitts shortened for reply.
The letter only contains a few lines about the damage; loss of use value, tow/storage costs, admin costs, repair costs...nothing specific.
Exactly... we don't know if the vehicle is now damaged (no matter how it happened) beyond the condition when it was returned from the OP's rental. From my experience it can be difficult to prove a negative to the rental company - in this case that it wasn't damaged when in your possession, if it's damaged now. Most of the evidence - tapes, etc. - is in the hands of the rental company, if it exists at all, and short of legal action there's no way for anyone outside the company to know. The vehicle could have been damaged by an employee after it was returned, for example. But realistically if there was much damage at all when the car was rented, it will probably be $7k given the administrative charges like loss of use, etc. Despite some Boglehead experiences to the contrary, many credit cards won't pay for fees like loss of use, since those records are only available to the rental company, and they aren't compelled to produced them for your claim.
tev9876
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by tev9876 »

They are looking for a gullible person and an easy profit score. If you push back and demand evidence and proof that you damaged the vehicle they will likely just move on to their next target. The brand name on the rental agency really doesn't matter - with the exception of some US airport locations most are independent franchises and their level of sleazy tactics varies greatly around the world.

If you rented with a Chase card, start a claim immediately as there are limits on timing. Anytime there is a question of the tiniest scratch of a car I rent I have opened a claim with Chase, but never got billed so just let them expire. Chase outsources their claim management to Card Benefit Services - check your card agreement or here: www.cardbenefitservices.com. I have found them very helpful and efficient when I have needed proof of coverage letters (required in Ireland) and with the claims I have filed.

Last time I filed a claim was for a rental in Ireland. On return he claimed the plastic air dam was cracked on the bottom - I could not prove I didn't do it because it was not noted on the pre-rental report and it was dark/raining when I did my walk around and I didn't check that low. Cars were piling up onto the roadway trying to get into return and the agent ended up jumping in the car and driving off without giving me any paperwork or noting anything on their report. The others told me to just get on the bus and they would email me paperwork. I filed the claim with Chase the next day and also got the final receipt within 24 hours with the final cost which was as expected. I never heard about the crack again so someone down the line probably ended up getting burned for it. The claim expired after 6 or 12 months, forget which.

The one time I did get burned was at National (same ownership as Enterprise) in Munich. I had a brand new vehicle with only 13 km on the odometer (first mistake). The return agent claimed there was a scratch near the rear hatch. It was actually just dirt and I wiped it away with my finger. I also told him there was no English CD for the navigation system (this was around 2008). Several months later I got a bill for something like 400 Euro for the scratch and missing CD. Amex (which I used for the rental) would not cover it because it was too long since the rental. As it was a business trip I ended up just expensing it as it was cheaper in the long run than dealing with it. Turns out they were doing this to many people in our company for missing safety gear. Being as were were part of a huge company headquartered in Germany it was pretty easy to see all of the petty charges coming though. In the end the travel department banned that National location, where we had dozens of people a week renting.
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MortgageOnBlack
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by MortgageOnBlack »

Because of this thread, I'm going to start doing quick videos/pics of my rental cars at pick-up and drop-off.
mtmingus
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by mtmingus »

Thanks for waking up us: like some others here, we normally relied on the rental agents to document tHe conditions at both outs and ins. Never had problem before but now I know nasty surprises could happen like this!
hnd
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by hnd »

I used to have to rent cars so often, this would happen on occasion. I would make a few phone calls and it was gone. after 2 times, i always get their insurance. no fuss no muss.

the harder one was when we received a call a week after returning our rental car wondering when I'd return the car. I was like I returned the car. Now this was odd because the young gentlemen reminded me that I hadn't gassed it up and he said that he could go with me (and my coworker) gas up and then could just drop us off at our gate and finish everything himself. I told myself I would call that night and ensure we were all good to go but forgot as i'm able to do.

It was quite a to do because so much raced through our mind as to what on earth was gonna happen, did this guy just steal the car!? somewhat panicked. And then I told them that I saw tons of security cameras all over the property surely they would be able to see and the guy get int he car with us. The manager said he would investigate. Indeed they showed us getting back in the car with the worker, and 15 minutes later the worker showing back up. parking the car in the lot, and walking back to the offices. He just never checked it in. they found the key in some drawer. I will say i'll never let that happen again.
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Drewman
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by Drewman »

MortgageOnBlack wrote: Mon Sep 13, 2021 2:32 pm Because of this thread, I'm going to start doing quick videos/pics of my rental cars at pick-up and drop-off.
Great to hear!
michaelingp
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by michaelingp »

hnd wrote: Mon Sep 13, 2021 3:14 pm the harder one was when we received a call a week after returning our rental car wondering when I'd return the car.
This happened to me! I returned a car at a totally unstaffed airport lot, following instructions on signs. At the time I thought it was a little unusual not to have someone to check the cars in, but I figured they can save enough on salaries to make up for whatever damage they miss (which would be on them, I thought). I don't think it was a week, but it was several days before I got a (very friendly) call, "Have you returned the car yet?" I didn't take photographs, but would now after reading this thread. I told them where I left the car, and eventually they called me to say they had found it (where I left it). How does a rental car company lose a car? I assume they have bar codes and computers, no? The incident did give me a little anxiety attack, but all's well that ends well, I suppose. I did return it at a different place than I rented it, but they knew that when I rented it. Maybe the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing, or maybe, as someone else commented, they are all franchises and not the same company at all.
02nz
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by 02nz »

tibbitts wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 3:41 pm
Mr.BB wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 3:26 pm
dukeblue219 wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 6:50 am
Prahasaurus wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 6:21 amI took extensive video and pics of the car's condition - with the agent standing by the car in the video - for my own records. With a mobile phone in everyone's pocket now, it literally takes 1-2 minutes to make a fairly accurate record of the car's cosmetic condition at pick up. Just doing this will likely prevent any shenanigans from shady operators.
Not possible at most Airport car rental locations where they assign you a car and you're off. I don't know how likely an employee would be to come to the garage and take photos with me...
When you take a video and photos there are time/date information associated in the background of your photos that is your proof that the any damage was on the car before you left the lot.
It's fairly trivial to edit the exif and file metadata information, so while the rental provider might choose to accept a photo as proof, they probably wouldn't have to. I suppose you could include something date-identifiable in the photo which would provide more proof, since editing of a photo would probably be easier to detect than altered metadata.
That's why I recommended emailing it to an employee of the car rental company at pickup. Then they have a record, and it's up to them to prove that their record doesn't match yours.
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Nicolas
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by Nicolas »

MortgageOnBlack wrote: Mon Sep 13, 2021 2:32 pm Because of this thread, I'm going to start doing quick videos/pics of my rental cars at pick-up and drop-off.
I’ve resolved to refuse any vehicle for rental with existing declared damage. Evidently it can come back and bite you.
Horologium
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by Horologium »

MortgageOnBlack wrote: Mon Sep 13, 2021 2:32 pm Because of this thread, I'm going to start doing quick videos/pics of my rental cars at pick-up and drop-off.
This is what I do. It’s easy to do with a smartphone and only takes a minute. I wait a couple of months after returning the vehicle to see if I get contacted re damage and then delete the pictures/video.

I also have the Chase Preferred card. Their service made the one damage claim I got for a cracked windshield a piece of cake. I sent them the documentation and they reimbursed me in less than a week.
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by TIAX »

If you own a car, your regular car insurance may also cover this
criticalmass
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by criticalmass »

Drewman wrote: Sat Sep 11, 2021 10:58 pm Recently we rented a minivan. It had extensive cosmetic damage from previous renter when we picked it up. rental car company noted damages/took pictures during our pickup inspection and we were off. rental was returned on time in same condition it was rented in.

We received a SURPRISE bill in the mail from a 3rd party company, that rental company uses, for over $7,000 in damages!! :x

A 1 page document was included for us to complete and return, providing us an opportunity to pay the $7,000, through our insurance or a credit card. A fax was listed to return the form and a phone number was listed below that.

How would you proceed with this egregious surprise? (it is weighting on me as we are not at fault - just hoping the rental company uncovers the truth).

1) trying to save time do I write on the 1 page document that the vehicle was returned in the same condition it was picked up in and directing them to review the pickup inspection report and pictures?

2) wait till Monday at 8AM ET and call the number and hope for the best?
You are being accused of something and need to get all resources available to help.

1) Was this a major franchise (Avis/Budget, National/Enterprise, Hertz/Dollar, etc. or a local company?
2) Was the car rented and returned to same location?
3) Was the car returned to an airport location, or a local office?

The most important thing to do now is make a copy of the original damage report they gave you at check out time with the noted damages and photos. You might be able to just send that in with a letter, and have it go away.

Because deadlines are critical, I’d recommend getting loss damage waiver and/or insurance notified to protect you.

You might start with your credit card and its rental car damage and loss waiver. This is usually handled by a subcontractor. Secondary (to any auto insurance you have) coverage will require you getting your own auto insurance involved. Your insurance agent (not claims office) may be able to help steer your first action items to work through this.
Mr.BB
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by Mr.BB »

TIAX wrote: Tue Sep 14, 2021 5:31 am If you own a car, your regular car insurance may also cover this
Then the OP will be paying for something he did not do and probably have higher insurance rates in the future for having his insurance company pay for this.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
JBTX
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by JBTX »

tibbitts wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 10:40 am I'm still not understanding all the "contact your agent" (insurance company, whatever) suggestions given that so many Bogleheads have older vehicles that don't have collision coverage.

Since we now know this is Avis: I was eventually able to get help from someone at Avis, but not from the front-line 800-number people. Eventually my call was transferred to someone else (I don't remember how) and I was pretty impressed with the degree of follow-up/investigation they did to resolve my problem. Chase didn't help when I claimed the charge wasn't valid. So I was really at the mercy of Avis and they did come through after a lot of effort on my part. Would I have won in court? Probably, but my situation was in the hundreds of dollars range, so obviously I wouldn't have pursued that. Of course that was a few years ago when you didn't have to take out a HELOC to rent a car for a few days, and everything cost less.
Yeah seems to me you call the car rental company. I don't know what an insurance agent is supposed to do. Most years I didn't even have an "agent".
criticalmass
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by criticalmass »

Prahasaurus wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 6:21 am
Jags4186 wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 5:21 am
Drewman wrote: Sat Sep 11, 2021 10:58 pm Recently we rented a minivan. It had extensive cosmetic damage from previous renter when we picked it up. rental car company noted damages/took pictures during our pickup inspection and we were off. rental was returned on time in same condition it was rented in.
The lesson here is to make sure *you* take pictures before you take possession of a rental vehicle. Rental car company can take pictures and then click delete the second you drive off. On the rare personal rental I take, I usually insist the rental car person is actually in one of the pictures with the car so they can’t claim “they didn’t see it”.

Oh and *all* rental car companies are shady, don’t think this is limited to one or two select companies. In fact all those rental counters you see are mostly just different brands of the same two companies.
This!

I just returned from a 4-week stay where I rented a car. I took extensive video and pics of the car's condition - with the agent standing by the car in the video - for my own records. With a mobile phone in everyone's pocket now, it literally takes 1-2 minutes to make a fairly accurate record of the car's cosmetic condition at pick up. Just doing this will likely prevent any shenanigans from shady operators.
That works well for a small location where you interact with an employee near your car. At a busy airport location with 30-45 minute lines to talk to a human, not so much. I haven't even interacted with anyone for years at a large airport rental location, except for the guard who checks ID to make to exit gate open. Actually, in recent years, even that is automated for Avis "preferred" and equivalents, so there is zero human interaction.

But I always do a thorough walkaround prior to getting in the car, no matter how late in the day it is. If I see a scratch, I choose another vehicle or go through a staffed exit gate booth to document it in writing on paper.

At smaller locations in the USA, it is typical for an employee to accompany you to the vehicle and make show of looking for any damage with you. Take this seriously and be on guard. While many airport locations just check that four wheels are still on the axles and the windshield isn't missing, the small locations can be extremely thorough.

If you rent a vehicle while overseas, be super careful and document everything, including with photographs on check out and check in. Overseas locations are notorious for trumped up damage reports for visitors.
Starfish
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by Starfish »

Inframan4712 wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 9:15 am
Jags4186 wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 8:37 am
Inframan4712 wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 8:19 am
"I see Visa does require this to go through my insurance first. I'm going to reach out to Chase Visa."

These 2 sentences do not compute. Call. Your. Insurance. Agent. What is your reluctance to call the company that you pay to protect you?
He doesn’t want to file an insurance claim and find his premiums go up. That is the reluctance…
There is no need to file a claim. Call the agent, not the Claims department. The agent can give him advice.
Agent? What year is this?
simplextableau
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by simplextableau »

Starfish wrote: Tue Sep 14, 2021 10:10 pm
Inframan4712 wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 9:15 am
Jags4186 wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 8:37 am
Inframan4712 wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 8:19 am
"I see Visa does require this to go through my insurance first. I'm going to reach out to Chase Visa."

These 2 sentences do not compute. Call. Your. Insurance. Agent. What is your reluctance to call the company that you pay to protect you?
He doesn’t want to file an insurance claim and find his premiums go up. That is the reluctance…
There is no need to file a claim. Call the agent, not the Claims department. The agent can give him advice.
Agent? What year is this?
Aside from that being a bad idea, his normal auto insurance won't cover it anyway because the policy only insures against his negligence, not someone else's. As soon as he tells the insurer that he didn't cause the damages, they'll tell him there is no coverage.
Topic Author
Drewman
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by Drewman »

Thanks to all those mentioning they don't have insurance agents!

STATUS UPDATE - Chase Visa Signature claim started on the recommendation from Chase. They said it can be cancelled but advised me to open it promptly.

I submitted my letter to Avis/Sedgwick and I have not heard anything back. From others experience I may not hear anything...time will tell.

I'll post another update when there is something to update.
criticalmass
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by criticalmass »

Mr.BB wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 6:47 pm
tibbitts wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 3:41 pm
Mr.BB wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 3:26 pm
dukeblue219 wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 6:50 am
Prahasaurus wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 6:21 amI took extensive video and pics of the car's condition - with the agent standing by the car in the video - for my own records. With a mobile phone in everyone's pocket now, it literally takes 1-2 minutes to make a fairly accurate record of the car's cosmetic condition at pick up. Just doing this will likely prevent any shenanigans from shady operators.
Not possible at most Airport car rental locations where they assign you a car and you're off. I don't know how likely an employee would be to come to the garage and take photos with me...
When you take a video and photos there are time/date information associated in the background of your photos that is your proof that the any damage was on the car before you left the lot.
It's fairly trivial to edit the exif and file metadata information, so while the rental provider might choose to accept a photo as proof, they probably wouldn't have to. I suppose you could include something date-identifiable in the photo which would provide more proof, since editing of a photo would probably be easier to detect than altered metadata.
Thank you for clarifying that for me. I did not know that the picture/video- time & date could be manipulated like that.
The date time on the photo metadata will usually be set to the time on the device. Most computers, cameras, and smartphones have changeable time settings, so the time stamp doesn’t mean anything official. It is also simple to change the metadata on an existing photo.
CurlyDave
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by CurlyDave »

criticalmass wrote: Wed Sep 15, 2021 7:37 am
...The date time on the photo metadata will usually be set to the time on the device. Most computers, cameras, and smartphones have changeable time settings, so the time stamp doesn’t mean anything official. It is also simple to change the metadata on an existing photo.
On my smartphone the time stamp comes from the phone service provider, and is probably traceable to some government-operated atomic clock. I have never had the time, or date, be wrong on my smartphone.
Answering a question is easy -- asking the right question is the hard part.
Topic Author
Drewman
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by Drewman »

Wasted a lot of time on this today but may have made some progress. The 3rd party, Sedgwick called. I explained the circumstances to the lady on the phone. She said unfortunately she gets that a lot and the quickest thing to do is to e-mail her photos before we took possession and she could clear it up.

I explained how we didn't have any nor were we given anything at the time of rental, only that we saw the attendant take pictures of several issues and he acknowledged our concerns and said we were good, so we drove off.

She said to call the local office at MCO, get the rental agreement that will contain pictures and then send that to her.

I told her that wasn't my place to be the go between and that she can get that from Avis. She said unfortunately that burden was not on her and that they just send it to court unfortunately. She again, encouraged me to reach out to the local office.

Avis customer service has been horrible and I am struggling to get a hold of the local office....ahh.
Luckywon
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by Luckywon »

Drewman wrote: Wed Sep 15, 2021 9:26 pm Wasted a lot of time on this today but may have made some progress. The 3rd party, Sedgwick called. I explained the circumstances to the lady on the phone. She said unfortunately she gets that a lot and the quickest thing to do is to e-mail her photos before we took possession and she could clear it up.

I explained how we didn't have any nor were we given anything at the time of rental, only that we saw the attendant take pictures of several issues and he acknowledged our concerns and said we were good, so we drove off.

She said to call the local office at MCO, get the rental agreement that will contain pictures and then send that to her.

I told her that wasn't my place to be the go between and that she can get that from Avis. She said unfortunately that burden was not on her and that they just send it to court unfortunately. She again, encouraged me to reach out to the local office.

Avis customer service has been horrible and I am struggling to get a hold of the local office....ahh.
So Avis has contracted a company that is charging you for damages with no good basis and that company is putting the onus on you to disprove what should have never been asserted in the first place. Simply outrageous. :annoyed
Topic Author
Drewman
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by Drewman »

Luckywon wrote: Wed Sep 15, 2021 10:03 pm So Avis has contracted a company that is charging you for damages with no good basis and that company is putting the onus on you to disprove what should have never been asserted in the first place. Simply outrageous. :annoyed
It IS OUTRAGEOUS. Just search for Avis Sedgwick and it is all over the internet.

I take my family down there for a special treat, trust the people checking you in as they explain it is the only minivan available and we have to take this one, they take pictures and verbally confirm with my wife and I that they have everything.

Then you get an egregious claim for $8,000 for something YOU DIDN'T DO. The real kicker is all the time on the phone and how NO ONE at AVIS can help.

ANYONE KNOW ANY AVIS HIGHER UPS?

Trusting the truth will come out!
tibbitts
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by tibbitts »

Drewman wrote: Wed Sep 15, 2021 9:26 pm Wasted a lot of time on this today but may have made some progress. The 3rd party, Sedgwick called. I explained the circumstances to the lady on the phone. She said unfortunately she gets that a lot and the quickest thing to do is to e-mail her photos before we took possession and she could clear it up.

I explained how we didn't have any nor were we given anything at the time of rental, only that we saw the attendant take pictures of several issues and he acknowledged our concerns and said we were good, so we drove off.

She said to call the local office at MCO, get the rental agreement that will contain pictures and then send that to her.

I told her that wasn't my place to be the go between and that she can get that from Avis. She said unfortunately that burden was not on her and that they just send it to court unfortunately. She again, encouraged me to reach out to the local office.

Avis customer service has been horrible and I am struggling to get a hold of the local office....ahh.
I haven't rented a car for years (since before Covid - like another era) but I've never had anyone take photos of the car I picked up, but the rental document always had diagrams with all the sides of the car with damages noted by the rental agent. Do you have that document, or isn't that being provided any longer?
criticalmass
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by criticalmass »

CurlyDave wrote: Wed Sep 15, 2021 8:53 am
criticalmass wrote: Wed Sep 15, 2021 7:37 am
...The date time on the photo metadata will usually be set to the time on the device. Most computers, cameras, and smartphones have changeable time settings, so the time stamp doesn’t mean anything official. It is also simple to change the metadata on an existing photo.
On my smartphone the time stamp comes from the phone service provider, and is probably traceable to some government-operated atomic clock. I have never had the time, or date, be wrong on my smartphone.
Umm, I think you missed the entire point above. If you want the phone's time to be accurate, let it auto update. That is not the point, we know that most phones can auto update their clocks to the mobile network service provider.

If you want to change it so photos are stamped with a phony time, turn off auto clock and set the clock to any year you like, then take a photo. The point is: You can't trust the EXIF data is accurate, and neither can a car rental company, because it is trivial to change any photo's timestamp to an arbitrary time, like the moment you picked up the rental car. If you don't want to bother changing your phone's settings, you can just modify the EXIF data on an existing photo. Send me any photo, and I can create/replace a timestamp for any date/time.
Luckywon
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by Luckywon »

criticalmass wrote: Wed Sep 15, 2021 11:53 pm
CurlyDave wrote: Wed Sep 15, 2021 8:53 am
criticalmass wrote: Wed Sep 15, 2021 7:37 am
...The date time on the photo metadata will usually be set to the time on the device. Most computers, cameras, and smartphones have changeable time settings, so the time stamp doesn’t mean anything official. It is also simple to change the metadata on an existing photo.
On my smartphone the time stamp comes from the phone service provider, and is probably traceable to some government-operated atomic clock. I have never had the time, or date, be wrong on my smartphone.
Umm, I think you missed the entire point above. If you want the phone's time to be accurate, let it auto update. That is not the point, we know that most phones can auto update their clocks to the mobile network service provider.

If you want to change it so photos are stamped with a phony time, turn off auto clock and set the clock to any year you like, then take a photo. The point is: You can't trust the EXIF data is accurate, and neither can a car rental company, because it is trivial to change any photo's timestamp to an arbitrary time, like the moment you picked up the rental car. If you don't want to bother changing your phone's settings, you can just modify the EXIF data on an existing photo. Send me any photo, and I can create/replace a timestamp for any date/time.
This does seem to be an Achille's heel and I'm not sure it's possible to take photos showing clearly both damage and exact location of the vehicle. Perhaps if one wants to better document the time photos were taken one should email them to the car rental company at pickup. That would create some sort of time stamped record.
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sperry8
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Re: surprise $7000 rental car damage bill

Post by sperry8 »

Jags4186 wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 5:21 am
Drewman wrote: Sat Sep 11, 2021 10:58 pm Recently we rented a minivan. It had extensive cosmetic damage from previous renter when we picked it up. rental car company noted damages/took pictures during our pickup inspection and we were off. rental was returned on time in same condition it was rented in.
The lesson here is to make sure *you* take pictures before you take possession of a rental vehicle. Rental car company can take pictures and then click delete the second you drive off. On the rare personal rental I take, I usually insist the rental car person is actually in one of the pictures with the car so they can’t claim “they didn’t see it”.

Oh and *all* rental car companies are shady, don’t think this is limited to one or two select companies. In fact all those rental counters you see are mostly just different brands of the same two companies.
This "lesson" doesn't always work. I've taken pictures only to be told later that the rental car company doesn't accept pictures from customers. Happened with both EuropCar and Hertz. So snap away just in case, but it may not help.

I've also asked personnel to take photos of damage I see only to be told it was done already. When I asked to see the photos, they said there is no way to see them, they were taken and stored alongside other cars. They are there, and I shouldnt fear. And they are "too busy" to take more. What are we going to do, walk away? Impossible, we need a car - and need it then. If a company is shady, no amount of attempted protection is going to help.
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