Rental Car Possible Damaged after I returned it

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gasdoc
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Rental Car Possible Damaged after I returned it

Post by gasdoc » Thu Jul 30, 2015 2:47 pm

My family rented a car in the Boston area, and returned it after our use. There was no damage that we noticed. One month later, we received a notice that we owed $850 for repair of a broken front bumper. We called and received an email with attached photo's and an estimate for the damages from a third party auto repair company. The odometer reading on the estimate was 4 miles greater than when we returned the car, and the date on the estimate was 8 days after we returned the car. When I brought this to the rental company's attention, and re-emphasized that I did not think we damaged the car, they dropped the request for payment. I am still not sure if perhaps we damaged the car without noticing it, but the personel surely would have noticed if the front bumper had a large crack in it. I am going to let it go, but I am guessing the car was damaged in the garage by the rental company personel, and they were trying to get me to pay for it. I've rented cars frequently in the past, but have never had anything like this happen. Is this something I should report? I doubt it, but wondered what others would do.

gasdoc

FRANK2009
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Re: Rental Car Possible Damaged after I returned it

Post by FRANK2009 » Thu Jul 30, 2015 3:23 pm

I would let it be but keep all photos/documentation etc. Not a lawyer but it seems that the rental car company would have a hard time proving you caused the damage in civil (small claims in my state of NY) court. As you indicated, their inspection of the car upon its return did not note any damage. I don't think you have anything to worry about. I agree with you, an employee is trying to cover his/her backside by blaming the last renter.

Carson
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Re: Rental Car Possible Damaged after I returned it

Post by Carson » Thu Jul 30, 2015 3:55 pm

Rental car damages seem to be one of the most frequently written about problems in the travel section of our newspaper.

IANAL either, but I would think you are in good shape on this too. And it's a reminder to everyone to take time stamped pictures of their rental car when returning. May be a bit extreme and would take a few minutes, but it would save a lot of hassle.
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dolphinsaremammals
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Re: Rental Car Possible Damaged after I returned it

Post by dolphinsaremammals » Thu Jul 30, 2015 4:29 pm

Whenever I've returned a rental car, one of the employees and I check it over and note "no damage" on the paperwork. I check it over also before I take the car.

I guess this doesn't work if you drop it off at an unattended place, in which case I would take photos showing an identifying background.

Sidney
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Re: Rental Car Possible Damaged after I returned it

Post by Sidney » Thu Jul 30, 2015 4:31 pm

dolphinsaremammals wrote:Whenever I've returned a rental car, one of the employees and I check it over and note "no damage" on the paperwork. I check it over also before I take the car.
I finally started doing a quick video with my phone before we depart and again when we return. Just a quick walk around. Takes no time at all.
I always wanted to be a procrastinator.

Cheyenne
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Re: Rental Car Possible Damaged after I returned it

Post by Cheyenne » Thu Jul 30, 2015 5:00 pm

Also, pull on the bumpers when receiving the car. Some years ago I was riding in a car someone had rented for business. When we parked at the hotel the driver drove over one of the cement stoppers defining the end of the parking place (the bumper just barely fit over it and lightly scarped it.) When he backed up the entire bumper fell off of the car! Apparently an earlier renter had somehow pulled the bumper off and just pushed it back on before returning the car and the staff at the rental car agency didn't notice it. (We did the same when we returned it.)

texasdiver
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Re: Rental Car Possible Damaged after I returned it

Post by texasdiver » Thu Jul 30, 2015 9:41 pm

Cell phone cameras are your friend.

When I rent a car I walk around it with my cell phone snapping any damage I see at the time of rental and again when I turn it in. I started doing this when renting cars in Latin America where the agencies can be much fussier about little stuff and more frequently try to get you to pay for stuff that was already present on the car at the time of rental. The cars are often older with more existing scratches and dents in Latin America. The camera automatically adds a date and time stamp to the photo which you can match up with the date and time of your rental agreement.

I also snap a picture of the car and any identifying marker pole when parking in large parking lots at stadiums and large malls. I've walked out after a game to look for my rental car and found that I forgot what color it was not to mention where I parked. Oops! Now I always snap a photo of the nearest marker sign, especially in airport parking lots where I might not be back for a week or so to claim the car at some odd hour while tired and with a tired family.

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gasdoc
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Re: Rental Car Possible Damaged after I returned it

Post by gasdoc » Fri Jul 31, 2015 3:58 pm

Thanks, everyone for the comments! I have never thought to do any of these things- thought there was a routine, maybe, to make sure the rental company knew who had damaged the car. In te future, I will take a before and after video of the car.

gasdoc

reason-logic
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Re: Rental Car Possible Damaged after I returned it

Post by reason-logic » Fri Jul 31, 2015 8:31 pm

Was your experience with Enterprise? I used to have an employee who worked for them who stated that the return damage process was considered a profit center for them (lose of use, etc). I wondered if anyone else had that experience?

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Re: Rental Car Possible Damaged after I returned it

Post by CedarWaxWing » Sat Aug 01, 2015 12:06 am

Many years ago I rented from Hertz in S. Calif..... I returned it 30 mins before their stated closure time, but they were all closed and deserted. I therefore Left it on their properly, at their gate, as instructed....feeling a bit over paranoid i photographed the car on all sides, and also the gas gage showing it to be filled, and the odometer. three weeks later I got a bill for about 10 gallons of gas at about twice the normal rate plus a so called service charge.... I argued my case without mentioning the photos... and was amazed at the level of customer abuse they were willing to dish out...I also demanded to know the name of the person who disagreed with my version of how the car was returned full., without success of course. they eventually simply told me to pay up...at which time I produced the photos. They gave up hounding me, but also refused to answer my follow up communications. I do believe that this is not an unheard of scenario, and I always take before and after photos after that display of gamesmanship.

Dimitri
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Re: Rental Car Possible Damaged after I returned it

Post by Dimitri » Sat Aug 01, 2015 12:28 am

I advise walking around with the agent when you are picking up the car and when returning it. My rental experience (that I have to pay for personally - all else is Corporate which is contractual) is in SE Asia. Being a little bigger and more shall we say, intimidating (well, threatening would probably be the better word but I don't really like it) seems to work well. I've never had a problem. YMMV.
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gasdoc
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Re: Rental Car Possible Damaged after I returned it

Post by gasdoc » Sat Aug 01, 2015 10:51 am

Dimitri wrote:I advise walking around with the agent when you are picking up the car and when returning it. My rental experience (that I have to pay for personally - all else is Corporate which is contractual) is in SE Asia. Being a little bigger and more shall we say, intimidating (well, threatening would probably be the better word but I don't really like it) seems to work well. I've never had a problem. YMMV.
Thank you, Dimitri. What is "YMMV?"

gasdoc

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gasdoc
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Re: Rental Car Possible Damaged after I returned it

Post by gasdoc » Sat Aug 01, 2015 10:53 am

reason-logic wrote:Was your experience with Enterprise? I used to have an employee who worked for them who stated that the return damage process was considered a profit center for them (lose of use, etc). I wondered if anyone else had that experience?
reason-logic,
I have had bad experiences with customer service at Enterprise in the past, so no longer use them. This time was Avis, who I generally like. I think this was probably a rogue employee that did damage and was trying to cover it up. I am impressed that the claim was dropped as soon as I brought the estimate date issue to corporate's attention. Maybe this is a check in the plus column for the company.

gasdoc

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gasdoc
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Re: Rental Car Possible Damaged after I returned it

Post by gasdoc » Sat Aug 01, 2015 10:57 am

mspadorchard wrote:Many years ago I rented from Hertz in S. Calif..... I returned it 30 mins before their stated closure time, but they were all closed and deserted. I therefore Left it on their properly, at their gate, as instructed....feeling a bit over paranoid i photographed the car on all sides, and also the gas gage showing it to be filled, and the odometer. three weeks later I got a bill for about 10 gallons of gas at about twice the normal rate plus a so called service charge.... I argued my case without mentioning the photos... and was amazed at the level of customer abuse they were willing to dish out...I also demanded to know the name of the person who disagreed with my version of how the car was returned full., without success of course. they eventually simply told me to pay up...at which time I produced the photos. They gave up hounding me, but also refused to answer my follow up communications. I do believe that this is not an unheard of scenario, and I always take before and after photos after that display of gamesmanship.
mspadorchard,
Interesting story. As the process gets more customer friendly (check in online, the keys are in the car, no need to wait in line at a desk, drop the keys in a dropbox, etc.) there is more room for funny business. In the future, I will take lots of photo's before and after. Thanks!

gasdoc

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neurosphere
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Re: Rental Car Possible Damaged after I returned it

Post by neurosphere » Sat Aug 01, 2015 11:22 am

This happened to me as well. Picked up the car at one location, dropped it off in another.

I got an email with pictures showing a damaged bumper, about 2 months after returning the car, and a request for $400 or so for the repair. I know the bumper was not damaged when I returned it.

I talked to the manager at the place I dropped it off, and she said that the car went from there location to the garage for routine maintenance. Then from the garage the car went back to the original location where I picked it up. She told me they are supposed to log any damage anytime that the car leaves the lot. She was very helpful, and got the log showed that there was no damage. She also said that the garage is supposed to not if there is any damage on arrival, and on departure.

I filed an appeal with the rental car agency, gave them the information I had been told, and I never heard from them again.

I now take photos/videos of cars before and after I pick them up.

NS

P.S. The same location tried to scam me when I picked up the car. I had reserved the car online, but when I went to pick it up, I noticed that the price was higher by about $20. I was told it was for "taxes and fees" because the online booking system doesn't take into account certain fees. I protested, saying that I had a reservation in hand with the a price, and that was the only price I would pay. We went back and forth for a long time. The agent was adamant, nope, that quote is not valid. I asked to speak to the manager (nope, manager is out). Then I asked to use a phone. I told the agent I was going to call the national number, and ask why they had quoted me inaccurate information. At first they refused to let me use the phone. Then finally, they gave me the original price, with a rude "FINE!". What's notable is that I never told her or showed her the original quote. But the receipt she printed for me had the identical information as the online information. It's very clear to me that they changed the the price of some tax/fee items intentionally. I'm much more vigilant than I used be when it comes to renting cars.
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Workinghard
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Re: Rental Car Possible Damaged after I returned it

Post by Workinghard » Sat Aug 01, 2015 11:49 am

reason-logic wrote:Was your experience with Enterprise? I used to have an employee who worked for them who stated that the return damage process was considered a profit center for them (lose of use, etc). I wondered if anyone else had that experience?
We had problems with an Enterprise rental and won't rent from them again. Thankfully we had pre and post rental photos but had to take it up to the regulatory level.

john94549
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Re: Rental Car Possible Damaged after I returned it

Post by john94549 » Sat Aug 01, 2015 11:58 am

In the "olden days", rental car companies had folks who would actually note existing damage (dents, dings, scrapes, whatever) on your contract before you drove off. Now, the best you can hope for is a cursory once-over by the attendant at the exit (if you demand it) who may, or may not, be willing (or even authorized) to annotate the rental agreement.

Your own cell phone capture(s) are your best protection.

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Re: Rental Car Possible Damaged after I returned it

Post by rustymutt » Sat Aug 01, 2015 11:59 am

gasdoc wrote:
reason-logic wrote:Was your experience with Enterprise? I used to have an employee who worked for them who stated that the return damage process was considered a profit center for them (lose of use, etc). I wondered if anyone else had that experience?
reason-logic,
I have had bad experiences with customer service at Enterprise in the past, so no longer use them. This time was Avis, who I generally like. I think this was probably a rogue employee that did damage and was trying to cover it up. I am impressed that the claim was dropped as soon as I brought the estimate date issue to corporate's attention. Maybe this is a check in the plus column for the company.

gasdoc

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gasdoc
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Re: Rental Car Possible Damaged after I returned it

Post by gasdoc » Sat Aug 01, 2015 3:36 pm

I do appreciate the comments, everyone. I have learned a lesson- almost an inexpensive one, but it turned out fine. Take photo's with your phone when you rent a car!

gaswork

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