One Thrifty rental car driver for the price of two

Judith Aplis and her husband had the perfect case against Thrifty after they returned their rental and found a mysterious charge they didn’t approve.

Except for one thing: No paper trail.

Having a paper trail — a series of email or text messages between you and the company — is often all the evidence you need to get satisfaction. And without it, our advocates are sometimes left with no choice but to close a case.

Aplis and her husband rented a car from Thrifty for one week. They realized after returning the car that the amount they were charged was higher than they expected — $200 higher. Aplis contacted Thrifty by phone and learned that the additional charge was for one additional driver. But Aplis says only her husband drove the car, and she’d like a refund.

If Thrifty charged her for an additional driver, there are procedures that it should have followed. According to its General Car Rental Policies, Thrifty has this to say about authorized drivers:

The THRIFTY vehicle may be driven only by an authorized driver. An authorized driver is the renter and any additional person who appears at the time of rental and signs the rental agreement. All authorized drivers must satisfy our age requirements, have a valid driver’s license, provide a physical street resident address, a major credit card in their own name, and fulfill our other qualifications, which vary by location.

Because Aplis’ husband was driving the car, a credit card and address would have been required, which wouldn’t have raised a red flag. But if Thrifty had asked Aplis for her driver’s license and signature on the rental agreement, this should have prompted her to ask questions about why the company needed her information.

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If Thrifty charged for an additional driver but didn’t take the required information, then it should immediately credit Aplis’ $200 back to her — it may also need to implement additional training for its employees.

When Aplis called Thrifty, it refused her request for a refund, so she wrote to us. Our advocacy team asked for a paper trail. She said she didn’t have one and didn’t seem inclined to get one, either, so she wrote to us, and we asked her for her paper trail.

There’s nothing wrong with making a phone call to a company immediately after noticing that you have a problem. Many times, a company either understands it has made a mistake — or it chooses to work with the customer on a solution even though it doesn’t agree that a mistake was made.

But when the customer doesn’t get a resolution from the phone call, the first step should be putting the complaint in writing. Had Aplis gone online to Thrifty’s online form or sent an email (and kept a copy of either), she would have started that paper trail. Thrifty’s online acknowledgement or email response would have continued to build her paper trail. That we could have worked with.

With no paper trail, there’s nothing we can do but advise her to create one — she needs to document the problem and contact Thrifty again. Aplis can use the contacts we list for the corporate office of Hertz (Hertz owns Thrifty).

She should start with the main customer service contact, wait one week, then move to the next contact if she doesn’t receive a response from the first. If she runs out of contacts without getting a response, she can bring her paper trail of contacts back to us, and we’ll be glad to help.

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But for now, this is a Case Dismissed.

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Michelle Bell

Michelle worked in the travel and hospitality industry for almost two decades. Born in Germany, she has lived in 15 states and two foreign countries, and traveled to more than 35 countries. After living and working in Southeast Asia for several years, she now resides in New Orleans. Read more of Michelle Bell's articles here.

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