Car Rental Company Says I Did Damage to Their Car after 3 Days of Returning It

Hi all, I desperately need advise from the OzBargain community please.

I rented car from a rental company for a few days last week which I returned last Friday without any damage to the car.

Today (Monday) just before midday I got a phone call from the rental company to say there was a chip on the windshield screen. So I went to look at it and there was a chip, a small chip. The problem is the chip didn't occur while the car was in my possession nor do I remember seeing it when I picked it up. The chip is quite noticeable and I would have seen it if it was there already. I believe it had happened after I dropped it off. Upon handing the car keys to the reception lady, she never came out to check the car and inspect for any damages. She simply said "any damage to report?" I responded saying no, she then said I am good to go.

The next day Saturday I was driving past where the rental car company is, noticed the car still parked where I left it the previous day. Thus anything could have happened in that time frame. According the company an employee had moved the car to a secure area sometime between Friday and Monday and they only noticed the chip today when they were washing the car which I thought was a bit fishy.

I would like to know where I stand and what I can do. Has anyone been in this situation? if so what was the outcome? if they get their way it would cost me $300 to have the windshield replaced.

FYI I have already contacted Consumer Affairs and was advised to first make a written complaint to the company itself then to Consumer Affairs.

UPDATE: just got off the phone from the manager from the rental company (Avis) who said that they are not perusing the case as she believes I am telling the truth and I am a loyal customer (which is I thought was bs because I have never rented a car from them before). She also added and said "just make sure you take out insurance cover next time you rent a car with us". Hence why they are hassling me. My wife said to me last night they are doing this because we chose not to pay extra for insurance and I hate to say it but she was right!

Thank you to everyone who have helped and supported.

Comments

  • +16 votes

    Fight that shit. The employee that didn't do the proper check when you returned it should foot the bill.

    •  

      Exactly what I said. The employee who took the keys should have checked the car strait away. I am so angry and frustrated. I will do everything I can to prove that I am not at fault.

  • +15 votes

    I rent cars often, atleast once a month. I always take pictures and video of all panels and windows of the car at both pickup and dropoff and make sure the attendants know that I have taken these pictures. It keeps them honest and gives me evidence of the actual condition of the car and protects me from any damage after drop off being blamed on me.

    •  

      Have you ever had to rely on the photos you took? Seems like it would be difficult to take photos in enough detail to capture a windshield chip and maintain a catalog of the photos so you could recall them several days later.

      I rent cars pretty frequently and gave up on the photos … too hard to take meaningful photos. Easier to pay a little more and go with a major brand and have credit card insurance as a backup.

      •  

        Never had to use them… I feel that the fact the people know that I've taken photos means they don't try getting me with this scam. If you read the reviews, this scam is done by the major brands as well.

        I take about 30-40 photos and just leave them on my phone - no need to catalog them or do anything special to keep them. Later on, I just delete them - sometimes 6 months later, sometimes a year later. I also take videos of the car closeup slowly moving all around the car.

        Check your credit card insurance - many of them do not cover domestic travel.

        •  

          I feel that the fact the people know that I've taken photos means they don't try getting me with this scam.

          This might be useful at a small location where there's only a few staff who don't change from day to day … but at a larger location it's almost useless.

          Have you ever thought about how this would work in practice? The chance of the check-in person vs check-out person being the is small. Just keeping track of who's taking photos and passing that information on to the check-in people is an onerous task. Not to mention at some locations (eg airport), they just tell you to collect the vehicle from the lot and come back to report any issues inside the terminal.

          Then there's the issue of proving the photos are legitimate of check-in vs check-out. Also the issue of capturing enough detail to point of minor issues like windshield chips. I'm sure a dodgy rental company wont hesitate to claim the photos aren't legitimate (eg exif information changed, etc).

          I'm not having a go at you … just thinking aloud and wondering whether you had a way to take/keep the photos in a meaningful way.

          Now there's an app idea for someone!

          Check your credit card insurance - many of them do not cover domestic travel.

          Yes - of course you need to check you're covered.

  • +5 votes

    If Consumer Affairs advised making a written complaint, that might be a good idea.

    Make sure you make it clear that:
    - there was no damage on the car when you returned it
    - if the company had an issue with the car it should have been raised by the company when you returned the car
    - as the damage did not appear on the car until 3 days after it was returned, the most likely scenario is that the damage occurred during the time the car was in the care of the company and therefore has nothing to do with you
    - you will not be paying any kind of damages as the car was not in your care when the damage likely occurred

  • +1 vote

    With the benefit of hindsight for you, after reading of so many such instances as yours I always insist they come out and physically inspect the vehicle and sign off on the return report stating there is no "new" damage.

  • +1 vote

    They would normally do an Inspection Report, email it to you and then raid your Credit Card. If they haven't done that, sounds like a bluff. If they have charged your card, just get it reversed, and put it back to them to justify it

    •  

      I asked to have their claim in writing but the employee refused to do so saying she is not allowed to. But I still insisted on having every correspondence in writing so she said she will get the manager to call me in the morning. She also tried to charge my credit card on the spot luckily I did not have enough money and I am going to keep it that way until this is sorted.

      •  

        Would it be much of a hassle to cancel the card and have another reissued? You may need to update any subscriptions that use it to the new card number, but it would prevent the company from charging it in the future. I would not want such a company to have my credit card details if it were me.

  • +2 votes

    I would fight it too. My experience after returning it, its not your problem once they sign you off.

    OP are you able to view the terms and conditions of renting the vehicle to see if it would benefit your case?

  • +7 votes

    Is it Europcar?

    They got caught charging the same person for the same damage on the same car many months apart.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4635826/Europcar-acc...

    With Europcar in particular they have been found guilty of charging people for damage, not fixing it and charging the next renter for the same damage.
    Europcar has also been on many occasions been found guilty of charging for non-existent damage as well as "invisible" damage.

  • +1 vote

    Like they said, you're good to go.

  • +3 votes

    Funny thing is, you can probably repair the chip for $50-$100 with an resin injection or $300 with a replacement windshield from a wrecker … but the rental company is probably demanding thousands for consequential damages because the car is off the road, etc.

  • +1 vote

    I've had the same thing happen. I wrote a written complaint and all was good.

  • +1 vote

    Fight it.

    I would especially document the fact they won't give you a claim in writing as this will bolster the fact that they are useless at due process etc.

    I actually had a positive experience when this happened to me. Rep told me I was good to go. Spotted a scratch, called me back, wasn't on damage report, no photos when I picked up. He looked for older photos. Found scratch on older photos, apologised for holding me up.

    Like others, when I pick up cars or drop my car for service, I always take a few snaps. I sometimes go as far to email the photos to the vendor when I depart. It has paid off twice.

  • +1 vote

    Why retune it at all? Wasn't it running properly?

  • +1 vote

    Bit late for this advice but always take photos. ALWAYS.

    Also, always check out the car beforehand. I've had 2 hires recently that I've found damage on that weren't reported in their assessment before they gave me the car. Both times I had to take photos and walk back inside the rental reception to tell them and get them to mark it up, otherwise I probably would've been blamed.

    •  

      absolutely this, similar to rental property condition reports, when you're taking possession of the car/property their condition report is super quick and careless but the one done when you hand back the car/property is slow and meticulous, malicious or not they will get you if they can, source: had this crap pulled twice by rental agents and once by hertz

  •  

    If i was op i'd be reading the contract about exactly who is on the line to ensure the condition report is done and correct, you have a good arguement in the way it was handled at drop off but if the contract you signed says its on you well…

  • +1 vote

    If the stone chip wasnt noted when you picked up the car and it wasnt noted when you dropped off the car then it wasnt there during the period you had it.
    Cars get rented out 24/7 and the damage may have occurred with the next rental over the weekend. If not it may have happended whilst in thier care.
    3 days later is a long draw. Would not stand up in court as evidence and they have to prove it happened whilst in your possession.
    I would certainly be asking why they believe it occurred whilst you had it.
    Certainly stone chip damage to windscreens occurr whilst driving out in the country. Not in the city.
    Exactly where did you drive the car? This may also be used as evidence for and against!

    • +1 vote

      Had the car during the week. I work in CBD Monday - Friday 10 minutes from home, roads are all asphalt so no country trip. Had a little more dining on the net and people who have had this sort of problems with car rental companies have been contacted in some form of writing, mostly an email. The fact that they are not willing to give me any of the claims in writing tells me that they are hiding something or things aren't in their favour.

  •  

    Car rental companies' review:
    Although you cannot completely rely on these reviews but it is snapshot how this shonky industry works.

    Avis 1.9/5
    http://www.productreview.com.au/p/avis.html

    Budget 1.6/5
    http://www.productreview.com.au/p/budget.html

    Abel 1.6/5
    http://www.productreview.com.au/p/abel.html

    Hertz 1.5/5
    http://www.productreview.com.au/p/hertz.html

    Europcar 1.4/5
    http://www.productreview.com.au/p/europcar.html

    Alpha 3/5
    http://www.productreview.com.au/p/alpha-car-hire-3.html

  • +1 vote

    Ask them to submit proof that you caused the damage, the fact the car has been seating still for 3 days means there is a large window anything could have happened. And that before you even consider discussing it further you require footage from the time you dropped the car off to the time the damage was discovered shown to you to proof no one at the centre did it.

    The event of finding the footage and presenting it to you if nothing else will cause them to drop the case.

  •  

    I got done over by Europcar recently.

    I handed over the car at the airport and unfortunately did not demand any inspection.Nor did i take videos and photos.I rent cars once in a few years and havent had issues before.

    Anyway 21 thats right 21 days later i get an email saying that that they found damage on the car.

    And can you believe they do not say even in that 21 days later email what the %$#@! damage is or how much its gonna cost me.

    I didnt even sleep that night because of the stress wondering if i was gonna be hit with thousands of dollars because i read on the internet the sad stories of people who got scammed by europcar.

    Anyway the next day i called up their call centre which is in the phillipines who could not do anything but said Uhh its some damage on the wheel cover.I yelled and screamed and said i want proof and i would go to fair trading etc and they finally said they would send me proof.

    I then had to call many more numbers before i got through to that actual airport europcar centre and checked with them and apparently i had "scuffing on one wheel cover".

    I asked that guy why it took 21 days to inform me and he said i dont know.We did the inspection report on the same day that you returned the car.

    Anyway after a day,i then get an email with their proof(copy of inpection report,photos and invoice for wheel cover which was around $150)

    Few days later i get a letter which add claims administration fee and loss of use charge so inflating the cost to me to almost double of the wheel cover purchase price.

    Then after another few days i get another email adding GST to the total charge.

    I had rented the car for just a few days but ended up paying 50% more because of all their charges.

    Unfortunately i couldnt dispute their damage claims as i had no videos or photos to back me up.

    I doubt that i caused that damage and even if i had in all fairness i would count it as fair wear and tear.I have a million of those scuffs on my own car wheel cover.

    But i have learned my lesson.

    First lesson dont use Europcar.Of course other companies also doing these kinds of dodgy stuff but Europcar are infamous for this.

    Look at this>>

    http://www.bbc.com/news/business-40630238

    Second lesson make sure you record every inch of the car in photos and video before you take the car and after you return the car.

    third lesson>>Insist on an inspection at the time of return as far as possible.

    Europcar are a bunch of crooks

    •  

      Europcar tried me on as well. Sent an undated, unsigned quote, so I cancelled the Credit Card charge. If you know they are lying, don't take a step backward.

  •  

    Get it in writing tell them you need it for records.

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