Are car rental employees rewarded for finding dings and dents on your vehicle?

The allegation that car rental companies have turned the damage claims process into a profit center is so common, I could probably write an entire blog on it.

I just covered one big case with Thrifty — still unresolved — that triggered some discussion. Here’s another interesting Thrifty case. And here’s yet another incident.

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But one customer now alleges that car rental employees are being offered a 5 percent kickback every time they find a new ding or dent on a rental car. I think that’s worth investigating.

The charge comes from Juanita Ruf, who recently rented from Enterprise in Las Vegas. She writes,

When I pulled in to get the car it had multiple dings and scratches. The guy who checked me in kept saying, “Don’t worry about that, that is small, we don’t worry about that.”

I rent often from Enterprise or Budget, I am a 59-year-old CPA and very careful. I’ve never had a problem before. When I pulled in to deliver the car I noticed something very strange about the gentleman’s behavior who was checking me in. He ran around the car several times and saw a small dent that was near the right rear well and said that I had caused the damage.

The only thing I can think of is that this is one of the double-dipping fraudulent issues. My cell phone doesn’t have a camera, so I borrowed a cell phone camera from a young man who worked for another rental car company. The dent was very small, and can hardly be seen on the picture. The young man who I borrowed the cell phone from said he had heard they get 5 percent when they find something.

I’ve never encountered anything like this. Although I have insurance, I don’t want to pay for damage I didn’t cause. What can be done?

I contacted Enterprise to get its side of the story. A representative said Ruf’s case would be closed in the interests of providing good customer service. As to the kickback allegation,

Apparently one of our competitors, who shall remain nameless, made a comment to this customer that employees receive some sort of 5 percent kickback — complete nonsense, of course. I believe the customer now understands this is simply not true.

What do you think? Are car rental companies rewarding their employees for finding damage to their vehicles, that can then be turned into a claim?

Are damage claims a profit center?

I’ve been covering this business for a while, and I can say this: The reputable operators probably wouldn’t dream of doing something like this.

But maybe there are smaller, ethically challenged companies, who see this as an opportunity. I wouldn’t be surprised if a car rental company somewhere was offering this kind of incentive to its agents.

(Photo: Spider Hill/Flickr Creative Commons)

4 thoughts on “Are car rental employees rewarded for finding dings and dents on your vehicle?

  1. I have been fighting with Enterprise for over a year now. A few weeks after I rented a car in Philadelphia, I received a call from Enterprise legal telling me that the car I rented had been damaged and that I owed $800. I asked for evidence such as dated pictures and invoices. I received nothing and my account was turned over to a collection agency.

    I then reported the incident to the Better Business Bureau. They got Enterprise to produce pictures of damage (with no dates) and a repair estimate for $650 but no invoice or proof that any repair had been made. Based on this response, the BBB marked the case ‘Closed and Resolved’. Enterprise refuses to retract the charges and I am at a loss as to what to do. My credit score has been ruined and there seems to be nowhere to turn for help.


  2. I work for a car rental company and damage is “big bussiness”. When renting a car LOOK the car over carefully and NEVER assume anything. If you don’t inspect your car you risk being charged for damage EVEN if you did not do it. If you get blamed for damage odds are the car rental company wins since they can always report you to a collection agency if you refuse payment. Employees don’t care about your “I did not do it excuse” all they know is damage is found on your car and you was the LAST renter. BOTTOM LINE… LOOK THE CAR OVER BEFORE LEAVING OR GET THE OFFERED COVERAGES!!!

  3. lol i have worked at multiple car rental companies and wel my current one does not pratce this “damage for profit system however my last job in this field…welll lets just say… they try harder 😉 at this policy

    1. Europcar receive a 25% rebate from the repair companies for parts and labour. This is not shown on the invoice sent to the customer or insurance company as it is on a separate credit note.

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