Rent-A-Cars Say ‘Returned-A-Heap’

One month after returning his Hertz rental car on a German holiday without a scratch, Michael Remmert found himself suddenly billed for $1000 in repairs. Moreover, when he asked to see the repair estimate, they sent him one dated 30 days after the charge first appeared on his credit card.

Welcome to the sleazy world of car rental repairs. The LA Times has posted a good round-up of what seems to be a growing industry of bogus repair fees charged to customers credit cards long after they returned their vehicles. These fees, obviously, mostly seem leveraged against customers who don’t opt for insurance coverage.

The article also features the bold claim that National and Alamo actually pay bonuses to employees who are able to ding customers for scratches and dents.

The entire situation has gotten so bad that the article recommends that customers go over their vehicle with a magnifying glass before they return it, to make sure that a microscopic molecule abrasion doesn’t magically transmogrify into a $500 fee.

There’s a dented fender on my bill! [LA Times]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Sir Winston Thriller says:

    Doesn’t renting with a Visa or AMEX cover the CDL? Has anyone ever had damage to a rental and had the credit card company cover it? What was your experience?

  2. Jim C. says:

    In Chicago, I once rented a car from Enterprise when my own car was in for repairs. It was brand-new, and I dinged it while filling it up at the gas station just before returning it. The ding was small, but a distinct dot of paint (less than 1/4 the size of a pea) was gone along with the dent. I fessed up to the agent when I returned it. But because it was small, and the agent was so impressed with my honesty, he let it go. This may not be their usual policy.

  3. aixwiz says:

    Whenever I rent a car I always take pictures of it (front, back, both sides, and any dings, dents or flaws the car already has) BEFORE I leave the rental car lot with it. The camera in my phone has saved me to the tune of $2,000 two years ago. Enterprise tried to get me to pay for damage done to the rental by one of their employees after I returned it (he was doing donuts in the rental agency parking lot and hit a light pole).

    I love digital cameras! :-)

  4. aixwiz says:

    Oops, forgot to say that I also take pictures of the rental car when I return it as well.

  5. ModerateSnark says:

    aixwiz has the right idea with before and after pictures.

    Forget the magnifying glass, unless you use it to find “before” flaws to photograph.