Dinged For Enterprise Car Rental Dent

Shawn writes:

About 3 weeks ago I had a job interview in California- I currently live in Philadelphia. The employer reserved a rental car for me with enterprise so I could get around town, with his credit card. I had a long flight with a lay over, and didn’t arrive at Enterprise until about 2 o clock Philadelphia time. There was a long line, and after about a half hour I was taken back and shown a Chevy Aveo. She handed me papers to sign saying there was no damage to the car, and that I would pay an additional 10$ a day for being 23 years old. I walked around the car, and didn’t see anything. I was eager to get to my hotel and go to bed, so I signed the papers and left.

I used the car to get to my job interview, to my hotel, and back to the airport. Everything was in about a 5 mile radius of each other. I returned the car on Sunday with a full tank of gas. When I returned the car, I pulled up and started to take out my bags. The gentleman asked me how the car was and checking the car over for damage. After a few minutes, they told me I had to sign some papers for the damage to the car. I read the Consumerist a lot and a siren went off in my head…

I knew I was screwed pretty much right there. I dropped my bags and went to the car and asked him to show me the damage. Below the driver’s side door handle there was a dent/ripple in the door panel. The paint of the door wasn’t scratched at all, and it was covered in dust. If it had happened when I had the car, it had to have been on the first day or two. He told me it was no big deal, that someone probably opened their car door in a parking lot and dinged my car door. I thought it was a big deal. I started flipping out. I couldn’t even see if it was damage or the design of the car, because it was so difficult to spot. I told him that if the damage was there before I had the car, which it more than likely was, I would have never noticed it when I inspected the car.

He said he would have their loss department check to see if the damage was noted previously. I knew this was a load of crap and I was just going to get a huge bill in the mail in a few weeks. He asked me to sign papers accepting the damage. I told him there was no way I was signing it. We argued for about 10 minutes, and he added to the paper that I didn’t think the damage was there when I received the car. I needed to get my flight so I signed it and left.

Sure enough, I received a bill for $495.20 today, including $50 for administrative charges. The car brand new is only $10,000. They also included a summary of the charges, and 10 pictures of the car showing the damage. The funny thing is, there is no damage visible in any of the pictures. They are incredibly low res, and probably the most ridiculous part of this story. I have included the letter they sent me and the pictures. These charges are outrageous on so many levels. Do I have any recourse besides paying? Will they attack my credit, or go after the employer’s credit card first?

It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but it does look like something made an impression on the car. If you signed papers saying there wasn’t any damage before you rented, and now you signed papers saying there was damage that occurred after you rented the car, yes, you might be in a pickle. How much depends on how you did the insurance.

Did you pay for Enterprise’s, or did you waive it and put it on the credit card? If the latter, you need to get in touch with the employer and let him know the situation and see if his credit card company will pay for it (this is at no cost to him). If you took the Enterprise insurance, you need to see if it covers the damage they say is done to the car. Your situation is more complicated, though, because of it being paid for by your potential employer… hardly the foot you want to set out on. You still need to tell them because if the insurance was on their credit card, there could be a liability issue down the round.

These are just our best ideas based one what we’ve heard, are there any readers in the audience here with more experience with these issues who can share their insights?

Comments

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  1. UX4themasses says:

    My rule from reading Consumerist.

    Never sign something that says it is your fault when you didn’t do it.

    That being said, did they send you the bill or just charge the credit card they had on file?

  2. Go4EVA says:

    I never would have signed it. You just gave away your only bargaining chip.

  3. Go4EVA says:

    Your only choice now is to get this taken to court, imo. Otherwise they will definitely place collections against you and trash your credit report. You signed one document stating there was no damage, and then another stating there was damage caused while you had it. I’m not sure if you can do anything, except start calling local news channels and posting this on as many related blogs as you can in an effort to create negative publicity.

  4. tomdtom says:

    So what’s the alternative to signing the initial form? Would they have let him rent the car in the first place?

  5. Go4EVA says:

    @tomdtom: No, he has to sign that first form. I would have never signed the second form, which I’m assuming acknowledged responsibility for the damages. What are they going to do, arrest you?

  6. darkened says:

    Yeah that sucks, I’d have told him I refuse to sign for this damage that was pre-existing and not specifically pointed out to me and left.

  7. coolsright says:

    Yo.

    I work as a vendor to the car rental industry. Nothing that gives me any inside knowledge to this issue.

    I do know that this issue is much like arguing about a pre-existing condition of an apartment you’re moving out of but failed to note. It’s really up to you to make sure that doesn’t happen.

    My point, though, is renting a car scares the crap out of me for this reason. It’s so easy to be liable – as I’m sure you’ve painfully noticed. One dent, a minor accident, etc.

    I also know from my distant ‘insider knowledge’ that the rental insurance isn’t akin to the Extended Warranty scam. Instead, they figure out the statistical loss/damage cost and price accordingly.

    That being said, I ALWAYS buy their insurance. I recently near-totaled a Budget car and simply dropped it off and went on my merry way. No contacting my insurance agency or credit card. No calls, no fuss. Money well spent.

    Sometimes, it’s best to pay for piece of mind. Had you forked over the $12 or so for LDW, you’d be nice and relaxed now.

  8. redhelix says:

    I think the more important question is how the hell a 23-year old is getting an all-expenses paid trip by a company that hasn’t even hired him yet

  9. sarahandthecity says:

    really? you’d have left? and walked to the airport with your bags?

    sorry i dont have anything more constructive to offer, but surely $500 is not the going rate to repair a tiny ding. isnt there some sort of fair rate provision, like there is for fees apartments can charge you for damages?

  10. Go4EVA says:

    @redhelix: Happens all the time. I’ve been paid to go to several cities around the country for job interviews over the past few years, and I’m 27. When companies are going to be paying $50-80K/year, paying about $800 to make 100% that its the right person is a cheap insurance policy.

  11. thirdbase says:

    well, your pretty well screwed. You signed that second document. If anything you should have used a George Bush style signing statement. Some wording like
    “this damage was not pointed out to me when I rented the vehicle therfore I am signing this document under protest.” At least give the lawyer or credit card company something to work with when you don’t pay.

  12. cmdr.sass says:

    I always write “minor dings and scratches” on the condition report, even if there aren’t any. I haven’t been called on it yet.

  13. Franklin Comes Alive! says:

    @redhelix:

    All my job interviews in/after college were like this… this is pretty standard.

  14. TurboWagon00 says:

    (almost) happened to me over the summer via Enterprise, rented a SUV with a huge (8″ x 2″) scrap in the front bumper cover, after he waves me through “Its clean” and was obviously trying to get out of there before 6PM, guy was like, “oh yeah that was there already”. Well no s*** Sherlock, and you would have raped me if I turned it in like that.

  15. Geekybiker says:

    You can get a ding like he’s describing repaired for under $100 with paintless repair places. They’re soaking him plain and simple.

  16. Antediluvian says:

    When I rent cars, I follow the agent around, looking closely at EVERY SINGLE possible ding or dent, scrape or scratch, inside and out. I take pictures with my cell phone of anything, and make sure the agent notes any damage on the form before I take the car off the lot. The last time I had a car the agent didn’t want to note some black scrapes near the trunk — those are just luggage marks, she said, we don’t count those. Well, then just include them on the form anyway, thank you very much (she did).

    It’s your responsibility to verify the car is not damaged, or that any pre-existing damage is noted properly. Yeah, it takes longer, but think of how much time you’d have saved if you spent 10 extra minutes before you took the car, never mind the money.

    Anyway, painful lesson learned.

    Next thought: Let’s pretend this damage WAS caused while the poster had the car (and we assume it wasn’t his fault). Whose responsibility is it now — Shawn’s, or the employer’s?

    If he already HAD the job, the employer would most certainly pay for damages incurred on a company rental. I would think concept ought to apply here, too.

    But SHOULD he put this onto the employer-to-be is another question entirely.

  17. Antediluvian says:

    @cmdr.sass: I like that idea, because there are almost certainly ones that you wouldn’t notice (like what happened w/ Shawn).

    I gotta remember that.

  18. mkguitar says:

    When renting a car ALWAYS take photos of the car before and after.
    Most everybody has a camera on their phone.

    Try to include the rental agency personnel in the photos if possible.

    This saved me in a HUGE dispute with Budget- in which damages and cleaning fees were falsely claimed by an employee. I was able to present photos of the vehicle on pick up and drop off.

    About 6 months AFTER this was settled, the same Budget agency tried to put through the charges again. I disputed and it went away. I then had my CC account number changed.

    MK

  19. Go4EVA says:

    @cmdr.sass: Wow, I’ll have to do that from now on.

  20. tomdtom says:

    @Shane112358:

    If he wouldn’t have signed the second document, they probably wouldn’t have allowed him to rent the car.

  21. Buran says:

    Why is he being billed when he didn’t pay for the car?

  22. AD8BC says:

    I once rented a Chevy HHR (orange)… it wasn’t my idea… looked like a really gay car. Anyway, it was a piece of $#!+. When I was unloading something out of the back, the hatch dropped on my head. I got all pissed, slammed it shut and punched the hatch. Yes, I actually punched a car. The funny part was, it left a real nice dent!

    I was able to roll it out (mostly) by popping an access hole and sticking a handle from a broom in and pushing it out. It still looked like crap… When this happens to you, you need to get the car wet and throw a bunch of mud on it. Get the whole car nice and dirty.

    It’s even better in the winter when it’s all slushy and snowy outside.

    One time (before I got preferred status at most of the rental car outlets) I rented a car at a small airport. The car they gave me was covered in snow. The person at the counter had been a real jerk to me earlier (not a good people person) so I made him clean off the ENTIRE car before I would sign the paperwork saying there was no damage.

  23. UX4themasses says:

    @tomdtom: Wrong signing time. He signed to get the car and then signed a SECOND time..thus accepting guilt and backing himself into a corner.

  24. Go4EVA says:

    @tomdtom: Umm, I already said, this document he signed was when he dropped the car off. He was finished and headed home. All he needed to do is not sign the document and go get on his plane. The first document was the one he needed to sign to get the rental in the first place.

  25. JustAGuy2 says:

    Another reason not to rent from Enterprise. Never had Hertz even take more than a cursory “are all four wheels attached” look at the car before giving me my receipt and sending me on my way. The one time there was damage (I rear-ended someone at 5mph, totally my fault – hood was pretty well crumpled and the bumper bashed), the guy took a look at the car, said “don’t do that again,” and gave me a new car. Credit card company’s insurance got billed, I never paid a penny.

  26. sulu9999 says:

    You might want to check out this website: [www.failingenterprise.com]

  27. Michael Belisle says:

    I’d start by being calm and rational in further dealings with Enterprise. There’s no crime against humanity here. Enterprise certainly could show some consideration, but the paper trail with Shawn’s signatures says he’s responsible and obligated to foot the bill.

    So he needs a favor from Enterprise and it helps to ask nicely. Flipping out on the foot soldier only makes him think, “I hate people and I really hope you enjoy your $500 bill.”

  28. cynicality says:

    I was in a similar situation a few years ago and I contacted my auto insurer even though I didn’t have any rental coverage on my policy. State Farm contacted the rental company and worked with them to get the bill down to less than half its original amount. The amounts are so high because the agreement allows them to collect for repairs AND ‘time in the shop’ – so if a repair (which they won’t have done) takes 4 days, then you just rented the car for four more days.

    When someone signs that it isn’t damaged, then signs that it was damaged while they had it, they’re on the hook for the damage. I realized that when I went through this. Admit you owe them something, and negotiate them down to something that’s at least more reasonable.

  29. MDSasquatch says:

    What baffles me is this: if Enterprise is so meticulous about damages that they chase you down for the cash, then why are any of their cars going out with damage? Are they taking the money and not fixing the cars?

    Check with your potential employer, mine has a deal with the rental agencies, the insurance is rolled into the cost of the rental.

    Final thought, Enterprise is a bit predatory. I rented some car a few years back, they give me the paperwork that shows no damage. When I get to the car the windshield has a huge crack/star. I go back inside and add it to the paperwork. When I take it back the agent makes a beeline to the car, comes back in with the bad news ” the windshield has damage”. I pointed out the note on the paperwork and she looks quite dis appointed. My guess is that they were trying to “take” for the damages.

    On the surface, I’d say you are screwed!

  30. HurfDurf says:

    How interesting is it that the charges came to right below $500, which I’d assume to be most peoples deductibles.

  31. ToadKillerDog says:

    I always take photos when I rent from Enterprise. If nothing else, it makes them nervous. I like to get the rental agent in the photo to establish preexisting conditions.

  32. humbleish says:

    I rented a van last year from Enterprise on South Beach (Miami). It was a small location with an off-site garage, so after you wait in the line to get your rental, you have to wait another 20-30 minutes for a driver to come around and drop off your car. It took about an hour overall, by which point I was happy to just get out of there, so when the driver came with the van, I just signed the papers and went on my way.

    About a block away, I notice the gas tank is only 3/4 full, even though they marked it as full on the paperwork. I didn’t go back (parking was a nightmare there), but it definitely wasn’t an isolated incidence. While I was waiting in line at the counter, someone who had rented a car about 30 minutes before me stormed into the office, complaining their tank was only 1/4 full even though Enterprise had marked it “Full” on the paperwork. I had forgotten all about that by the time my car arrived.

    After I got to the place I was staying with the van, I decide to check how the rear seats fold down, etc., and it was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen in a car. There were cheetos between the seats and on the floor, sunflower seed shells on the door panels, sticky residue all over the cup holders, pretzels, opened bags of snacks on the floor. I ended up having to stop at a gas station to vacuum the car and clean every surface with disinfectant wipes. I didn’t bother complaining because the rate I got was so much less than all of the other rental places in the area were charging, but I’m never accepting a car again without looking through it no matter how much of a hurry I’m in.

  33. pigeonpenelope says:

    did you not get the extra insurance? i do when i rent from enterprise. a while back, i accidently backed into a truck. i really dented the car. i returned the car and didn’t pay a single cent more. they totally forgave me for the whole thing.

    enterprise, for the most part is good. i really can’t see where it would be enterprises’ fault. did they drive car after you dropped it off but before the inspection?

  34. nuchio10 says:

    Same thing happened to me with Advantage Rent-a-Car. Rented a PT Cruiser, they claimed damage done to the roof and hood of the car. They didn’t notify me when I turned it in, I just got a bill from a Subrogation Management Team (a pseudo-collections agency) for around $3500. Of course, the nitwits at SMT couldn’t do anything, and the branch manager told me there were meteor sized dents in the roof after I turned it in. Ridiculous. Luckily both my credit card and my car insurance cover rentals (I declined the Advantage Damage Policy). So I had nothing to lose.

    Long story short, after about 6 months of back and forth with customer service, loss recovery specialists, etc, I started writing letters. I wrote to the CFO and basically hammered his office with telephone calls. When he didn’t respond, I wrote to the CEO and called his CFO unprofessional. Finally I received personal attention (and phone calls) from the CEO after I threatened to go to my local news media.

    In the end, there were discrepancies in the paperwork Advantage sent me, and those saved me. If I were you, I would carefully scour all the paperwork they sent. Check dates, times, signatures, mileage anything that might help your case. And forget the lower level people. Go straight to the execs or PR people. Go to Google Finance, find Enterprise’s listing, and pound their corporate office with calls. Don’t forget to remind them of the article in the New York Times a few years ago singling out Enterprise for participating in exactly this type of behavior as a cost-recovery strategy. In the end, if they do sue you (they won’t…they’ll just sell the debt to a collections agency), the onus of proof is on them.

    Good luck. My case was extraordinarily frustrating, but satisfying once I finally got it dismissed. It’s tempting, but don’t give in. This is a corporate cost-recovery strategy designed to make up for depreciating value of cars in their vehicle fleet.

  35. Rachacha says:

    Similar to what CMDR.SASS suggested, I start at the front of the car and point out even the most minor of scratches. By the time they get to the front door, they just draw big circles on each of the doors and the quarter panels & front & rear (unless the car just rolled off the delivery truck, it will always have SOME minor damage.

  36. Jasmo says:

    @sulu9999: That is the saddest website ever. Talk about someone unable to let go and get on with their life.

    I can’t say that renting a car has ever been a pleasant experience, but I’ve rented from Enterprise in the past several times and have never had a problem. Off the top of my head, I’ve rented from them in Boston, San Francisco, Albany, Raleigh, Los Angeles, and DC. Never had any problems. Your mileage may vary, of course.

    As in any transaction involving expensive objects, if you go in blind and don’t pay attention and don’t ask questions and sign on the line in a hurry to get going, you’ll get burned eventually.

  37. weave says:

    My wife rented a car from Enterprise last year and I almost divorced her for being so stupid.

    I always rent from Hertz (3-4 times a year). They have never nailed me for minor dings and scratches. With #1 Gold plan, it’s easy pick-up and easy drop off. I love a no hassle rental, even if the base rate is more than some of these cheap-ass places that can offer low rates because of crap like this.

    I wonder if they even fixed it or just nailed the next sucker for the same “damage.”

  38. TurboWagon00 says:

    @humbleish: I’ve always wondered (but never had the courage/anger to follow through) , OK, the tanks not full ? I’ll be right back. Tap water will rise the float just as well as gas will…

  39. rworne says:

    I’d have a talk with the (potential) employer. The company (if it is anything like my corporate behemoth) likely has an exclusive or preferred arrangement wth the rental car company.

    In my case, our company uses Enterprise. If we had this problem, one phone call would clear it up in a hurry.

    At a previous employer we were given upgrades that turned out not to be complimentary – they wound up charging us for it. So we had abou 6 rentals between three people over several months that ran up to $1000+ in upgrade fees. We told our expense departent that we were told the upgrades were complimentary and they said nothing about additional charges. One angry phone call from corporate had all the extra fees immediately dropped.

    At the very least, it will also show how the potential employer would treat its people. Going to bat for a job applicant would be a plus, would it not?

  40. iheartconsumerist says:

    Enteprise is one of the biggest sleaze ball companies ever. They pull crap like this all the time.

    Personally I hate them because I was hit by a driver behind the wheel of one of their cars many years ago. Even though the driver had bought extra insurance that covered him up to a million dollars, Enterprise refused to pay for me and my wife’s medical bills, and they also refused to pay to fix our car (even though we were clearly rear ended and no one ever denied their driver was at fault). In the end they offered us $500 total, meanwhile my wife and I ended up footing the bill for about 15 grand in medical bills.

    I’ll never rent from enterprise, and strongly suggest you all do the same.

  41. iheartconsumerist says:

    l

  42. AbsoluteIrrelevance says:

    I have several friends that work for companies like Budget, Alamo, etc. They all agree that Enterprise is the worst place to rent a car, both from their experience and from the horror stories their customers tell them. Everyone agrees Hertz is the best, even if it is fractionally more expensive. Oh, and Enterprise pays their workers ~$10 per hour (4 year degree required to work in sales) with 5 OR LESS vacation days to start. Just don’t go to Enterprise.

  43. Sudonum says:

    I rented from Enterprise once about 10 years ago. I was working out of town for 6 months and had a long term rental. One night I backed into another car. My rental had the rear bumper cover badly scratched, paint chipped, do dings or dents though. I went over to Pep Boys, got some spray paint to match, cleaned the bumper and painted it. Still looked terrible, but not as bad. Well I kept the car for another 2 months and never washed it once. By the time I took it back to Enterprise the exterior was filthy. They walked around it, said everything was fine and I was on my way. Never heard a thing. But I probably could have paid for the car with what the rental cost.

  44. Me - now with more humidity says:

    Never, ever had a problem with Enterprise.

  45. Me - now with more humidity says:

    And to Absolute: If you don’t like the money or benefits, don’t take the job! If you do take it, don’t bitch about the benefits you AGREED to accept. No one hires you at gunpoint.

  46. trujunglist says:

    Definitely contact the employer. Since they are corporate bed buddies with each other, there was likely insurance already put on the car.
    At my place of work, we get corporate credit cards and all that jazz, so when we rent cars, we have to put it on the corporate card. We also have to make reservations through a special system. Since my company and a couple of rental car companies have some sort of secret blood pact with each other, the insurance is always taken care of, even though they still try to upsell, thinking that we weren’t informed of it several times.
    So, I wouldn’t sweat it. Contact your future boss, explain things rationally as you did above, and you’re likely good to go.

  47. mariospants says:

    Reminds me of this time my friend’s mom rented a car while hers was in the shop. We borrowed the car and while parked at a mall, we had a discussion over the roof of the car. My friend banged the roof with his fist and a heavy painted piece of bondo about 2feet by 1 foot filling in a caved in dent, fell off the roof. We chucked the bondo in the rear seat. His mom went off to the rental company about “what a dangerous car it was to drive, with shit falling off it”. It was hilarious to watch the poor guy suck it all in.

    Oh, and there’s the famous saying: “A rental car is transportation. A rental care with INSURANCE is entertainment.”

  48. coffee177 says:

    I rented a car from enterprise because mine was in the shop for a few days. I needed one for work. This was in the winter. We had a heavy snow when I picked up the car and didnt see about a 1 inch crack in the windshield. This was right at the top on the drivers side. It was probably covered by snow at the time.

    Got dinged for a windshield replacement.

    Be careful! Inspect and then take another look around. If the car is covered in snow I would tell them that the car is unacceptable until you can inspect the whole car minus the snow.

    As for the original poster, You signed your rights away and are now obligated to pay. Im sorry to hear it. But it did sound like you were in a hurry and didnt catch the damage.

  49. StevieD says:

    @mariospants:

    A ‘vette with insurance is even more fun.

    Way back when a corp tech flew into town on an emergancy visit. The ‘vette was the only car on the rental lot. Corporate contract, the ‘vette was his for the econo car rate.

    Hehe, that was a fun time.

  50. Nytmare says:

    @Me: He can complain about poor benefits and negotiate for better ones all he wants to. He’s not holding a gun to our heads.

  51. ciaright says:

    @ Redhelix

    I am a 23 year-old college student who will be graduating in May. I have accepted a full-time position for which I had not one, but two seperate on-site interviews. Each of these interviews were multi-day affairs that were completely comped by my future employer. I know of more classmates then I can count who have had similar experiences, many of them with companies who ultimately don’t offer the a job. I even know of a couple who were flown overseas by a potential employer. I realize the idea of a 23 year-old traveling like this might seem out of place to you. But for my generation, it is the reality of business. We are adults as well, and as such we have the same business to conduct.

  52. RichieR says:

    If you have signed the damage report saying that you caused the damage, and the initial rental contract saying that you agreed to the condition of the vehicle, they really do have you over the barrel. But I will say this:

    If your employer rented the vehicle with his credit card, then he will have a credit card on file agreement with Enterprise. This means, that the company uses the credit card for rentals quite frequently and they more than likely have rental insurance through the card. Your employer would simply have to make a claim with the credit card company, and the damages would go on to the card and it would cost you and him nothing.

    I work in the rental car business – and this is what I tell my customers. If they are simply going to have the car for a few days – take the rental company’s CDW (collision damage waiver: it’s NOT insurance as everyone believes, but it means that the rental company contractually waives their right to collect for damages). $20/day for a few days is WAY cheaper than a new bumper, windshield or body panel. I also tell my customers, if they are going to have their vehicle for a longer period of time, then they should check into their own personal coverage for rentals, either through an extension policy or a credit card. Cover your own ass people! You might be a safe driver, but look at all the other idiots on the road OR in the parking lot.

    Next – the rental car companies are in business, and yes they sell CDW to make money, they are again a BUSINESS. They provide a needed service/product for profit – it’s what makes our wonderful world go around.

    Finally, if you are renting with Enterprise, and you do have an unpleasant experience – make it known. Make sure your phone number is on the rental contract and get an area manager’s contact information. Enterprise has a customer satisfation survey for every branch and their employees cannot get promoted if their survey score is lower than average – if you’re unhappy, speak to a manager immediately, they generally will bend over backwards.

  53. SayAhh says:

    @ciaright: As a 23-year-old college student, you should find out how to spell the word “separate,” and should avoid starting a sentence with a conjunction, e.g., “but,” especially when a comma would be more appropriate in this case, i.e., “I realize the idea of a 23-year-old traveling like this might seem out of place to you, but for my generation…”

    But I digress :P

  54. SayAhh says:

    @ciaright: As a 23-year-old college student, you really should learn how to spell the word “separate” correctly. Also, you should avoid starting a sentence with a conjunction, e.g., “but,” or fix it by not ending the previous sentence, i.e., “I realize the idea of a 23-year-old traveling like this might seem out of place to you, but, for my generation, it is the reality of business.”

    But I digress :-p

  55. Landru says:

    I know the liability damage waiver seems steep, but it is so nice to be able to look the rental guy in the eye and say “I don’t know,” and then smile at him and say “And, you know what? I don’t care.” and then walk away.

  56. SacraBos says:

    @redhelix: I’ve had that happen to me when I was getting ready to graduate from colleg.e

  57. gingerCE says:

    Okay I just rented a car–not from Enterprise but another well known company. I have to say I didn’t sign any form saying that there was no damage to the car–and I think to have done so would be ridiculous. Most people don’t carefully inspect a rental car. I know I rented my car close to closing (6pm) and it was already dark so even if I had to go inspect it and sign off, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t have seen anything in the outdoor parking lot.

    My rental company did try to sell me extra insurance (9 a day) that would cover anything and everything on the car with no deductible. I did think about it, but decided against it. Now this story makes me wish I had agreed to the extra fee.

  58. gingerCE says:

    I just rented from Hertz and so far, so good. But I wonder if it seems suspicious if I suddenly call up to ask for the extra 9 bucks a day insurance.

    I have rented from Enterprise in the past and haven’t had any problems–amazingly, despite having the car for over 3 months one time–but they never charged me for extra damages or dings. But now that I think about it, Enterprise makes you do that inspection of the car. From my experience, Hertz doesn’t–and again, they didn’t ask me to sign something saying the car wasn’t damaged.

  59. uhohagain says:

    at the company i work for, we don’t get people for “minor damage” – the dents have to be bigger than a silver dollar, scratches must be longer than 2″ and have a certain depth, etc.

    when i was a return agent, i rarely bothered people about damage like that, unless they were amazingly rude and i just wanted to waste their time.

    enterprise is awful. i have almost been killed by their employees when driving while i’m just walking through the lots.

  60. deadlizard says:

    Morale of the story: Pay that extra $12 a day for insurance. Specially if it’s on your employer’s tab.

  61. dreamcatcher2 says:

    @redhelix: When you include all of the many and varied costs of hiring somebody (recruiters, ads, HR, time managers spend in interviews, marketing materials, and so on) I’m told that spending $30,000 to hire a skilled employee in a technical field is pretty reasonable. I work at a software company with 180-200 people and we have two full-time recruiters, with their combined salary + overhead probably in the $100k-200k range… and that’s just a fraction of the total costs for about 5 skilled/technical recruits and 15 nontechnical recruits (who are much easier to hire… most of that recruiting manpower is aimed at the technical folks). Spending up to a few thousand dollars on your target’s trip to make sure that everything goes smoothly (AND to make a good impression on him) is very reasonable. You don’t want to miss your chance to hire somebody good because they couldn’t afford to fly out there or some silly reason like that.

  62. TheJenya says:

    OH MY GOSH! I paid for the extra insurance at Dollar Rental for a car, I paid every extra damn thing last April especially because I was also only 23. I drove the car from airport to a city 2 hours away where my father was buried. The car was next to me at the cemetery; I was watching it while I ate, etc. It was parked in a garage for two nights (I only used it 2 of the 3 days). When I returned the car (mind you to a different drop-off so I had to pay more money for that), the guy walked around the car with me and said everything looked fine. I should have taken a picture apparently. Three months later I receive a bill for damage done to the rear bumper. Excuse me?!

    After speaking with them several times that A)nothing happened to the car when it was in my care and B)I had bought the renter’s insurance that was out of my hands. They probably dinged it up themselves. They told me I should have filed a police report when I saw it, even for a hit and run. How can I file a police report when I returned the car in the same pristine condition?!

    I said I’d file the police report now, for the fat lot of good it would do them. They are cheats and are trying to get money from innocent people. I am currently ignoring calls from them while I speak to a lawyer about what to do. I feel for you!

  63. Bruce Bayliss says:

    This is a HUGE scam. Especially by Avis and especially in the UK.
    Although this [youmustbefromaway.blogspot.com] incident in France takes the cake

  64. redhelix says:

    @ciaright: I’m actually in the exact same boat as you, at 22 years old graduating in August. I suppose this is a foreign concept to me because everyone I know who has had to travel for a job interview has had to pay their own travel expenses.

    Then again, most of said people are pursing journalism, and both myself and my colleagues at school never have to travel to find a job because we’re all computer science and biology guys living in Massachusetts.

  65. John says:

    Am I missing something here? This guy signs a paper saying he has inspected the car and there is no damage to it when he admits he didn’t make more than a cursory glance, then he signs a paper saying that he’s responsible for the damage, and I’m supposed to feel sorry for him? Not only that, but he claims that there’s no visible damage in the pictures when I can clearly see damage in at least 3 extremely lo-res shots?

    Inspecting the outside of a rental car before signing for it is Rental 101. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that it’s time well spent.

  66. rochec says:

    When you contact the employer who rented the car for you, expect not to get the job. I wouldn’t hire someone who didn’t have enough savvy to prevent the position you’ve put yourself in.

    It’s a a real world show of pressure and how you handle it. Even worse for all you know he might think you are lying and did cause the damage and are somehow trying to dump it on him.

  67. snoop-blog says:

    yeah at the expense of sounding like a victim basher, i’ve been in a rental car for 5 weeks now. i’ve had to switch cars a few times (finally in one i like now 07 jeep patriot) and checking it for damage first is absolutely necessary. plus the op clearly admits the damage ‘could have’ happened within the first day or two. and the last time you signed your name with them, sealed your fate.

  68. jneal says:

    Hi – I’d rather not submit my name, as I work for Enterprise and I am on the other side of this situation at least 3-5 times per week. Let me say a few things for the record, to all you beleaguered renters, in the hopes of setting some of you (even if it’s just one of you) at ease:

    1) PROFESSIONALISM – Nobody is accusing you of “doing the damage.” Any rental agent who goes down that road is crossing a professional line. The rental agent is either a manager, an assistant manager, or is being prepped for those positions. They’re not care-nothing corporate underlings, and they’re more than aware that the customer service image of our company reflects directly on their words, their behavior, and how they handle any number of tricky situations. Which leads me to

    2) OWNERSHIP – Let me be clear: these are *our* cars. We bought them, we’ll be selling them, we wash them, take them in for check-ups and repairs, and all the other things regular owners do. And when damage isn’t caught when a renter returns the car, that fix makes an even bigger dent in our bottom line. Let me be clear: we gotta do what we gotta do. It comes straight out of our PAYCHECKS, for pete’s sake.

    3) THE BURDEN OF PROOF – You’re asking: “How do you know it wasn’t there already?” Again with the bottom line. Your credit card, your insurance company, they want to pay for this damage like they want a HOLE IN THE HEAD. Believe me, they will put us through the ringer, and if there are any uncrossed T’s, any undotted I’s, we’re beat. For example, if the damage is marked on a previous contract.

    Please listen carefully to us as we walk you through our procedure. Enterprise has been renting cars for over fifty years, on two continents. We will not ask you to sign an admission of guilt. This storied “report” that some of you were extorted into signing (/friendly sarcasm) is a disclosure of (a) our evidence, (b) relevant facts like your name and your address, and (c) your RIGHTS. That’s right! You have a full and fair set of rights. You are not up a creek just for having signed the darned “report.”

    How do you know I’m not just whistling Dixie down here? Call any Enterprise regional office. Ask for our adjusters, who are called Loss Control Administrators. They are friendly, articulate, customer-oriented men and women (they have to be; they were promoted from rental) and they will be more than happy to answer your questions. And they’ll give it to you straight.

    I will not disclose my thoughts re: Failing Enterprise because it involves certain four-letter words.

  69. Baz says:

    Shawn -

    It looks like you made the following Critical Mistakes when you rented this car.

    1. You did NOT do a thorough walkaround of the car – you likely made a quick pass and blew right through it.

    2. You “flipped out” when the associate found the damage upon return.

    and most importantly,

    3. You SIGNED a rental contract that includes a picture of the car, with the “no damage” box marked. You also INITIALED this box.

    Nothing pisses people off more then a customer “flipping out”, especially if it’s a 23 year old kid – I know, I’m 25 and we tend to have this problem with both accepting responsibility and a sense of entitlement…

    I’ve rented from Enterprise almost exclusively for 6 years, both personally and on a corporate account. Their level of service is absolutely, and consistently, the undisputed TOP within the auto rental industry, especially for business clients.

    I’ve had Enterprise respond to problems and issues favorably almost every time. Their employees are smart, career focused, college-educated, professionally-dressed, and give a damn. They are also empowered to make adjustments, resolve problems immediately (at the branch level) and generally make you very happy to have rented from them, provided you don’t act in a way that would disincline them to assist you.

    In a situation like this, you automatically shot yourself in the foot when you missed the damage on a walkaround and signed the rental contract. Sorry. They have every right to bill you for the damage, and the fact that you are an underage driver, and therefore a greater risk for damage, doesn’t help much.

    My end advice – when renting cars be VERY careful with what you sign and what you drive away with. Take the extra 3 minutes and really look the car over, ask any questions, and be absolutely sure you understand EVERYTHING. Unanswered questions are their fault, the unasked ones are yours.

    Be twice as careful if you are renting on someone else’s account or dime, and be three times as careful if you are under 25.

    On the positive side, you’ll probably never do it again, so take that as the silver lining and keep on trucking.

    P.S. If you don’t man up and pay for the damage, and your prospective employer gets stuck with either paying the claim or the administrative hassles of fighting it, I wouldn’t be expecting a job offer anytime soon.

  70. Beerad says:

    I realize I’m a bit late to this discussion, but I got hosed by Enterprise in a similar situation. I live in New York, but some years ago rented a car in Ohio for a month from Enterprise. No problems, but when I returned the car, the guy doing the walkthrough stared at the trunk for a long time, then sucked in his breath sharply and pointed out two invisible “marks” that he found on the top of the trunk near the back windshield. I got in close and squinted and after trying several different angles saw what might have been two tiny pin-point size divots in the trunk next to each other.

    He wrote down that there were two dime-sized dents in the trunk (a gross overstatement, unless he meant dimes used by Lilliputians), and we had a nice chat which involved me saying things like “You must be joking!” and “How was I even supposed to see that without a magnifying glass when I rented the car?” I asked him how I could possibly have even caused “damage” like that, and he suggested, with a straight face, that I had parked under a tree and maybe acorns fell out of the tree onto the car.

    Long story short, I refused to sign anything, and a month later started being harassed by someone in Enterprise for I think about $160. I wrote several letters and had a few phone calls with someone, and agreed to pay them half — not as an admission of wrongdoing, but because I didn’t want to have to deal with collection issues. I had moved back to New York by then, but if I was still in Ohio would have gone to court over it. Weasels.

    I travel a lot for my job, including car rentals, and have several decades of productivity ahead of me. Guess what rental company will NEVER get my business ever again?

  71. zgori says:

    Only Avis and Hertz are capable of providing a satisfactory rental experience. All the others are scammers. Alamo’s the best of the scammers. Thrifty and Enterprise are the worst, in my experience.

    Also, for what it’s worth, if your prospective employer isn’t willing to help you out with this it may not be the sort of place you want to work anyway.

  72. krztov says:

    they tried to pull that on me too, i left out of a dark garage, they didnt even have me look it over (my mistake really, was the first time i had ever rented a car), no one told me, when i brought it back they told me i put a small scratch on the door, made me fill out the same form, so in bold letters i wrote “I WAS NOT INFORMED OF INSPECTING VEHICLE ON PICKUP, DAMAGE IS PRE-EXISTING”

  73. FLConsumer says:

    So far I’ve never had a rental car agency try to screw me over on damage, BUT I have had rental car agencies double-bill me. On the last service on my own car, the dealer was out of loaner cars and arranged for an Enterprise car at their expense.

    Well, one month later I see a $60 charge on my credit card from Enterprise. Called the dealer who told me it was paid in full. Called Enterprise who said the dealer only paid for 1 day. Called the dealer back who said they’d take care of it.

    1 week later the charge was still there. Called the dealer who said they’d already talked with Enterprise. Called Enterprise, they said they were aware of the issue and were working on it.

    2 weeks later: Same deal. Told Enterprise they had 5 business days to figure out what the heck was up before I was going to file a dispute with Visa. They promised it’d be taken care of by the end of the day. 3 days later it still wasn’t processed. Called Enterprise again and let them know I was serious about filing the dispute with Visa. They said they were working on it.

    3 weeks later: I filed a dispute with Wachovia. The Wachovia rep was very courteous and I faxed her my list of phone calls from my logs and people I spoke with and their responses. The next day I see a credit from Enterprise for the full amount. The day after that a nice letter from Wachovia arrives indicating what had happened and Enterprise’s sudden willingness to actually refund the charge.

    Enterprise -5
    Wachovia +5 in my book.

  74. stegosaurus1 says:

    @cmdr.sass:

    LOL I ALWAYS do that..the little car diagrams on the checkout forms are all pretty much covered with little “damage noted” circles, so if I do pick up a ding, it’s a better than 50%+ chance it’ll fall inside one of them.

  75. Charlotte Rae's Web says:

    @cmdr.sass, thanks for the tip. I was in a car accident on Friday that I know will end up with me getting a rental car while my car is fixed. I’m going to definitely put that one the forms if I have to.

  76. FishtownYo says:

    I rent cars every single week. I know to stay away from Enterprise. If you use Avis or Hertz and you have insurance through your cc, your pretty much covered. I had somebody dent my bumper while I was in Minneapolis recently and Hertz told me not to worry about it. Talk about shocked! I thought my company was going to give me the bill. Also use amex to rent cars, they have great rental car coverage.

  77. edrebber says:

    On the rental form, write the following.

    I do not have any experience or qualifications in evaluating automobile damage. I require corrective lenses for viewing details up close and I do not have the corrective lenses available at this time.

  78. kich20 says:

    I’m a former Enterprise employee (quit 12/07). Here are a couple insights:

    1. Enterprise is the largest rental car company in North America, they did not get that way by consistently offering crappy service.

    2. The document that Shawn signed was not a paper to “accept the damage,” rather, it’s an internal document that Enterprise uses to open a repair order and log the damage in their system. The actual rental agreement is what makes the customer responsible for any damage that occurred during the rental period that was not marked on the contract. If Shawn did not thoroughly inspect the car prior to signing the rental agreement, I can’t say I have too much sympathy for him.

    3. Counterintuitively, most rental car companies do not make any money from actually renting cars. Instead, they profit from resale (“flipping,” to use industry lingo). However, Enterprise actually does make money from rental because they run their business at very high occupancy rates, which means that between 90 to 95% of the entire rental fleet is on the road at any one time. This further means that it is to the company’s advantage to get damaged cars repaired and back on the road as quickly as possible. Judging from the pictures, that damage could have easily cost $500 when you factor in labor at a body shop. Believe me, as a former Branch Manager, if I could have gotten that car fixed with paintless dent removal, I would have, as it would have meant that the car would be back on the road as quickly as possible.

    4. Enterprise reps are thoroughly trained to check cars for damage. If Shawn didn’t see anything and neither did the rep who rented him the car, most likely that damage wasn’t there. I doubt that Shawn visually inspected the car for damage every time he got in it either.

    5. Enterprise has in-house loss control departments in all of their local regional offices–they DO NOT outsource that function like most of their competitors. Having been on the inside, I can assure Shawn that if that damage was previously indicated on any of the past 5 rental contracts, he will not have to pay for it. Enterprise employees make mistakes, and I was personally on the receiving end of calls from loss control that essentially went like this: “sorry, we found that damage on an old contract and we’re charging your branch for it.” I was paid off of profits, so I had a very strong incentive to make sure my employees were extremely diligent about damage.

    Basically, the rep who checked in Shawn’s car was just doing their job. If the damage isn’t marked, it’s the customer’s responsibility. Throwing a fit and biting their head off doesn’t change that fact.

  79. Haughey6 says:

    There is a technique I learned for checking minor dents while I was a police officer, when we could be disciplined for a ding found by the next officer to use the cruiser, no matter when it happened. Stand at the courner of the vehicle, bend down, so you are at the level of the side of the car and look ALONG the side. Minor dents that do not affect the finish of the vehicle are very difficult to see straight on, but they show right up when you look at them sideways.

  80. missbella1 says:

    I had a similar experience with Enterprise. Rushed walkaround (I was tired from waiting for a car) Then when I returned the car, which was only driven a few miles, they accused me of causing damage in two places. They treated me like a criminal, with the agent even concocting a wild tale how this happened.

    From years ago, I remember Enterprise as professional and their cars were in good condition, but no longer. In my experience, their relationship with me as a customer was completely adversarial.

  81. enterprisevictim says:

    I took my car into the Bill Jacobs BMW dealership in Naperville, IL for required work and was given a dripping-wet Enterprise rental car (the better to hide dings and scratches, I have apparently now learned) instead of a loaner as promised. I returned the car to the dealer the next day undamaged after it spent the night in my garage. The day after that, I received a call from the local Enterprise office alleging minor damage ($490 worth) to the car that they stated they intended to charge to me, despite no evidence of me causing damage and the dealer having possession of the car for a day. I was informed by the national office they would look into it. Now, a month later, I am being called by a collections agency on this! I actually rent cars during travel relatively often, and have never had this type of experience from other rental companies, nor from a dealer coercing me into a rental car situation.

    If you have been the victim of a similar problem with Enterprise and would like to be part of a possible class action lawsuit, please contact me at althepa at yahoo dot com (written longhand to avoid spam, hopefully!) Thank you.