Sorry, but we are consumer advocates, not magicians

By | February 18th, 2017

Lauren Kurtz claims that when she rented a car from Budget in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the rental agent told her that a charge of $439 was “nothing” and “don’t worry about it.” So she thought nothing of it — until the charge appeared on her credit card statement.

If you think that Kurtz is stuck with the charge because her story doesn’t make sense, our advocates agree with you.

Kurtz is asking for our help in getting the charge refunded. She tells us that this charge did not appear in her booking when she prepaid for the car. That might be true — but Kurtz has not provided us with any paper trail that supports her claim.

According to Kurtz,

Had I seen the charge on my statement immediately (or even up to the 10 days later while I was still in the state) after I was told there were no extra fees, I would have gone back to the desk and gotten this taken care of before I left Florida. The rep had simply made an error… [which] I had questioned and was told not to worry about. And an error I was now being charged $439.49 for.

Kurtz called Budget the day she saw the charge, and the agent to whom she spoke agreed that the charge was an error. The agent told her, “No problem, we will make the adjustment.”

But two weeks later, no adjustment had been made to Kurtz’s account. Here’s Kurtz on what happened next:

I called Budget again and was told “too bad, you signed the agreement,” and was met with rudeness and disregard.

I then contacted USAA, my credit card company, and filed a dispute in on the charge. Budget agreed to give me $219 of the charge back. Case closed. Right?


According to my (USAA) paperwork, Budget told USAA that I paid for services rendered and they [don’t] owe me ANY money and rebilled me — on March 14. I have USAA car insurance. I did NOT ask for their coverage. I when I questioned the charge on the spot and was blatantly lied to by Budget’s employee.

Another issue is that this case is over a year old. Kurtz originally posted about it in our forums, where our forum advocates suggested that she write to Budget using our executive contacts.

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But they indicated that Budget’s customer service and higher-ranking executives weren’t likely to reverse the charge. As one poster suggested,

The rental agreement should have shown a breakdown in charges. You should have been able to determine what the extra charges were just by reviewing the agreement.

Yes, they should have told you what the charges were really for, but remember anything verbal is only as good as the paper it is written on!

Did they not give you a copy of the rental agreement? That would be the first thing I would ask for. I couldn’t imagine driving off with a car without something showing I was legally allowed to possess it.

Unfortunately, unless you can prove you didn’t sign for the extra charges, and you have already lost the dispute, your options are extremely limited.

Kurtz then turned to our advocates, who asked her if she had kept any receipts or other documents that would support her version of events. She replied,

Since I was told there wasn’t a change I didn’t keep anything except my original receipt. The only time I saw … $439, it was in red and parentheses was when I picked up the car and signed my paperwork on the kiosk.

That’s when I asked what the $439 was for, and was told it was nothing — no additional costs. When I returned the car there was no additional costs either.

I have never seen another copy of my bill.

This comes down to the Budget agent lying to me.

Well, Lauren, what it really comes down to is that we’re not magicians.

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If Kurtz had kept her paperwork, she might not have needed our help. She could have written to Budget as our forum advocates suggested, forwarding them copies of her documentation. Budget might have agreed to remove the charge upon receiving proof that she didn’t agree to pay for incidentals, such as insurance, when she reserved the car.

Even if that didn’t prove successful, had she forwarded it to us, we might have been able to approach Budget on her behalf. And its executives might have been willing to fully refund the charge to Kurtz.

But without a paper trail there’s nothing our advocates can do — for Kurtz or anyone else asking for our help. You know which which file this case is going to, don’t you?

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