When Charles Whitmore returned his Dollar rental to the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., airport location less than 24 hours after it was due, he expected to pay a penalty.
But $246? That must be some kind of mistake.
That’s what our advocacy team thought when his case arrived. And it was.
Whitmore returned the car late because of weather — specifically a canceled flight. “I called the rental extension number on the contract prior to the due date,” he says.
“I got an automated message that informed me that if the extension was less than 24 hours I would be charged the daily rate on the contract, which was $20. I have the recording of this message.”
Wait a sec. He has a recording?
Let’s take a step back, my friends. It has come to this. People expect a company to take advantage of a situation like this to the extent that they record messages.
Bear in mind, this was not a Dollar representative leaving a phone message, and Whitmore simply keeping it. He had to press the “record” button. He suspected there would be trouble.
Of course, he was right. “I was grossly overcharged by Dollar,” he says. The $246 charge came out of the blue.
When our advocate, Dwayne Coward, took over the case, he found a paper trail between Whitmore and his online agency, Orbitz. But it was inconclusive and depressing. Whitmore would send a detailed request for help. Orbitz would reply with the following:
Thank you for contacting Orbitz Customer Relations. This email is confirmation that we have received your correspondence, and a Customer Relations Specialist will be reviewing your concern. Someone from our team will get back to you with an answer within 10-14 business days.
Please note our working hours are 0800 to 1730 CT, from Monday to Friday and we regret the delay in reply over the non-working hours.
Orbitz Customer Relations
To our team, this looked like a slam-dunk. If Whitmore had a recording of Dollar, promising a $20 late fee, then they should honor it. Clearly, the car rental company just fat-fingered this late bill by moving the decimal point. I mean, who pays that much for less than 24 hours use of a car?
Well, OK, I’d pay that for a Tesla, maybe. But he had a standard mid-size vehicle. Nothing fancy.
Coward contacted Dollar on Whitmore’s behalf with the recording. And guess what? It worked.
“I received a phone message from Dollar,” Whitmore told us. “They confirmed that Dollar was in error on the rental charges. They advised the refund of $214 would go back to my American Express card.”
Love that ending. And a hat tip to our great advocates for their help with this one. Way to go, E-Team.