One Thrifty rental car driver for the price of two

By | November 23rd, 2016

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.

Should we help customers even when they don't have a paper trail?

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  • Jeff W.

    Unless you start a side business of consumer advocacy where you charge for your services, it is not unreasonable for you to demand that the consumer requesting help has put in some type of effort with proof that he/she has done so.

  • Alan Gore

    If your first inkling of a problem is a mystery charge after you have turned the car in, how do you go about retroactively setting up a paper trail to prove she rented as the only driver? Thrifty can claim the agent told her about multiple drivers at checkout, and she has no way of refuting it.

  • KennyG

    Where is the rental agreement she signed before she drove the car away? That should have all of the information she needs for the “paper trail”. Either there is a 2nd driver on it or there isnt. If she threw it out before she returned the car [when she would have been given a receipt for the car showing all charges], or “lost” it afterwards because it doesnt back up her claim, then that may explain her hesitancy to “start” a paper trail at this point. Something is a bit fishy methinks.

  • KennyG

    The first part of the paper trail was already in her possession, the rental agreement she signed before driving the car away. Where is that?

  • MarkKelling

    Did the OP rent the car online in advance in her name and using a credit car also in her name (providing all the necessary info at rental time like license) and then when the car was picked up her husband stated he would be the driver? If a car is rented in one person’s name and then a different person is the one who says they will be the only driver at pickup time, many rental companies will charge for the second driver. It is a shortcoming in their software (also a way to make additional profit so no major hurry to fix it) that does not allow a second driver’s info to be added to the rental agreement without triggering the charge. Also, this charge should have been clearly noted on the rental agreement and could have been questioned/resolved at that point in time..

  • AJPeabody

    Isn’t it usual for spouses to be added as a second driver at no additional charge?

  • LeeAnneClark

    Agree that this sounds like a person who doesn’t want to do any of the work herself. Call the company, no immediate resolution, hand it off to Elliott and expect them to do it all.

    It blows me away how some people seem to feel that Christopher and his team work for them…for free.

    She might want to try lifting a finger on her own behalf.

  • Chris_In_NC

    It depends. Certain states, ie California, the spouse is automatically an authorized driver. Also, membership in certain programs, or certain corporate rates will allow a spouse as an authorized driver. But, in general, no. Most places do charge for an additional driver.

  • Chris_In_NC

    Does she not have ANY documentation? What about the original reservation, the rental agreement and the final statement? What do these documents say? If she has absolutely no documentation then the case absolutely should be dismissed.

    The OP had at least 2 opportunities to notice the charge. Did she not pay attention to the rental agreement? I know that rental car agents are notorious for the upsell and trying to mask the charges, but they do provide a summary of charges that you have to initial or agree. When she returned the car, did she not notice the final statement?

    Was this a case where they agreed to the extra driver, but then in retrospect wants her money back because she never drove the car? I guess we will never know!

  • Annie M

    I guess she doesn’t want that credit back too badly if she can’t be bothered to respond to your requests for documentation. You can’t make a miracle happen with no proof. She should have questioned it before she left the return too. Bye Bye Judith.

  • taxed2themax

    I agree. I think that the advocates, like Chris, act as your assistant if you will, but the onus or the primary person responsible for and who should do “the work” should be you, the consumer. Does she have a case? Maybe. However, absent her share of the work, I don’t see an actionable path forward and with the realization that Chris’ (and team) time is limited, hard decisions must be made as to where those limited assets will be deployed. I don’t see a good case – at this point – for expending further assets on the OP’s case as it currently stands.

  • sirwired

    Yet another lesson in how you should at least glance at the summary of charges before driving off into the proverbial sunset.

  • michael anthony

    Yes, there should always be a minimum of a rental agreement, BUT, beyond that, i can see where a person may have a lack of a paper trail, especially when you have enjoyed a good relationship. My hospital, mixed my bill up and my rep assured me should would fix it, along with the steps she was taking. It was their coding error. My surprise, she sent me to collections without another word. One call to the CEO of hospital cleared it up, but beyond the initial bill, that was the only paperwork I had.

  • SierraRose 49

    Could not have said it any better, LeeAnne. I do think that sometimes people come to Elliott.org and expect Chris and the advocacy team to wave their magic wand and all is well again with the world.

  • jim6555

    Some rental companies will allow a customer to download a copy of their rental agreement within a reasonable time after the rental has ended. I wonder if it possible to get a copy of the LW’s rental agreement this way?

  • Blamona

    Her credit card, she should have been the driver, that’s why she has no paper trail

  • PsyGuy

    As long as the help you provide is appropriate to the strength of the case, help them even if that means doing nothing more than telling them nice time have a paper trail.

  • PsyGuy

    Well if they have a magic wand, why do they need to advocate?

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