Help! I rented for one day, but I’m being charged for three

Everyone likes to take a day off. But should you pay for your car rental company’s vacation?

That’s what Heidi Hermanson wants to know. She rented a car for one day last week, but her car rental company wasn’t there when she returned it. It had taken off for Memorial Day. Now, her bill has tripled.

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Can it do that?

Technically, yes. But it might have been nice if the company had informed her of the one-day/three-day issue before she drove off the lot.

Here’s her story:

I rented a car on May 29th for one day for the on-line quoted price of $32 at an Enterprise location in Council Bluffs, Iowa. I returned the car later that same night.

Today I got a call from the manager, who told me he was charging my card for $108, because of the dealership being closed Sunday and the Memorial Day holiday on Monday.

He also told me he “had told me that he was charging me for three days at the time he ran my card.”

This I protested, since we did not have that conversation, and if I had wanted to rent a car for three days I would have done that. I understand that he may have been busy that day, but, as I told him, if he had told me I was paying for three days, I would have canceled the reservation on the spot.

“Well, surely you can see where we wouldn’t be able to tell when you returned the car since we are closed on Sunday and Monday,” he said.

That is all fine and good, but I still thought I was renting a car for one day, and I got charged for three. I held up my end and brought the car back Saturday night. Now it all boils down to my word against his. He says we had that conversation. As someone who counts my pennies carefully, I say if he had told me he was charging me for three days, I would have cancelled the reservation on the spot.

He finally said he would split the difference with me, and he took one day off the charge, which was nice of him, but I am still paying $80 for one day of rental of a small car.

Hmm. Split the difference? I get in trouble with my readers when we end up splitting the difference (yes, friends, I read every comment before I approve it).

Enterprise should have told Hermanson about the three-day rate. It wasn’t up to her to figure out the location was closed on Sunday and Monday — that was their responsibility.

I contacted Enterprise on her behalf. Yesterday, the company contacted her and offered to credit her for the extra days. She’ll only be charged for one day.

I guess the lesson here is to ask your car rental company about their hours before you return your car. It seems that’s something the company ought to tell you when you pick up your vehicle, don’t you think?

(Photo: bennylin 0724/Flickr Creative Commons)

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