Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Disputing Car Rental Charges
Lastly, and on of the largest disputed areas with auto rentals, is damage to the automobile. Many companies will simply give a "walk around" form and expect the customer to note existing damage on said form. These work well, but are most definitely imperfect. The best way to protect yourself against being blamed for damage that you did not cause is to take pictures - of everything! If you have a smart phone, the best way would be to record a video or multiple pictures of the entire vehicle including the roof. Also, make sure that the interior is completely detailed in terms of broken or missing parts, etc.
So you've done everything you're supposed to do and still the company is attempting to charge for something that you feel you should not have to pay for. Before proceeding any further, make sure that you have done due diligence in terms of re-reading all of the terms and conditions on the rental agreement. If the cause of the charge is something that was overlooked on your rental agreement, you are best off to stop right there. By pushing the company and making demands in a situation where it was your mistake, most companies are not going to listen to your pleas. However, if you still want to push the issue, remember that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
Any negotiation should start with the facts followed by discussion with facts being what the rental agreement states.
Disputing late fees, mileage, fuel, etc, are all aspects that should be clearly shown on the agreement. For instance, the fuel in and fuel out should match. If they do not, if you have taken a picture of the fuel gauge with the odometer, you will have proof that the fuel level was inaccurately entered in the rental agreement. The same is true with mileage disputes or late fees. All times, mileages, and overtime charge amounts should appear on the originally signed rental agreement. Many companies will be willing to adjust certain charges within reason in the interest of customer service, but making demands and threats will almost never get you anywhere! Be nice, understanding, and reasonable. Auto rental companies are in business to make money. The expectation of the company to lose money in the interest of customer service (especially if the customer was at fault) is both unreasonable and morally reprehensible. This is not to say that companies are free from making mistakes. If that is the case, if you've done everything as outlined, you should not encounter any problems. If you do, you will have the proof and ammunition to dispute the charges.
The last piece of advice I would like to offer has to do with damage to a rental vehicle. The vehicle that you are renting is the property of the auto rental company. Imagine that you are borrowing the vehicle from a friend when you rent. If you damaged the friend's vehicle, whether you are at fault or not, it is your responsibility to return the vehicle in the same condition as it was rented. I have encountered a number of people that have emphatically denied damaging a vehicle despite the fact that the vehicle was literally brand new with no damage when rented. Recall that denying damaging a vehicle when you actually did cause the damage is considered fraud. In addition, if an admonition of damaging the vehicle is given, most auto rental companies will be much more agreeable and willing to work with you in getting the situation resolved!