There are many horror stories out there about people who have returned vehicles to a car rental location only to hear later that they are being accused of damage that they are not aware of. While many people think that the “car rental company is out to get them" when this happens, it is usually an unfortunate clerical error rather then any maliciousness. However, at times, many renters returned vehicles that have been damaged while they were on rent even though they did not know it occurred. So keep in mind that the possibility exists.
Here are some things you can do if you find out that you have been accused of car rental damage.
1. Remain calm. Nothing infuriates car rental counter agents more than an enraged customer who makes all kinds of threat that they cannot follow up on. If you remain calm, it is more likely that the agents will help you.
2. Get your facts straight. Know exactly when you picked up the car and when you returned it. A rental agent could accidentally put in the wrong time and end up assigning damage to you that was really caused by someone who had the car after you. Or they could be doing a damage report on another person's car and miss-type the rental contract number and it gets assigned to you. It's an innocent mistake by simply pressing the wrong number and you'll be surprised how often it happens. To eliminate this as a possibility, asked to see the “computer version" of your contract. This would probably be a printout of the information input by the counter agent on your contract. This is where you will determine if there are any facts out of line, such as an accidental discrepancy in checkout times, type of car, or contract number.
3. Most car rental contracts have some kind of area on them that indicates damage either with a drawing of the car that gets marked up or an area in which damage is listed. Ask to see a copy of the contract if you do not have yours handy, and ask to see a copy of five or ten contracts before yours and after yours because sometimes damage can be missed if the car was inspected in the dark or in the rain.
Be aware that you may be held responsible for the car until the office gets the keys. So, if you leave the car in your driveway and drop off the keys at the rental office on your way to work, you will still be held responsible if the car is damaged before the rental company can pick it up.
If it is proven that the car rental damage is yours, you will likely be surprised at how expensive it is to repair. Car rental companies do not make money on car repairs but car repairs are very, very expensive and most people are unaware at how pricey it can be. You may however be charged “downtime" to cover for the amount of time that your car was not rentable.
If the damage was not yours, however, using these ideas should help you solve the issue quickly.
Jeff Lakie is the founder of Car rental Resources a website providing information on Car rental