Take a picture of your rental vehicle — your car rental company is

carNext time you rent a car, take a picture of it. No, seriously. Whip out your digital camera and take a snapshot.

Your car rental company might be.

Hertz said yesterday it plans to introduce a new photographic inspection system to take pictures of its cars before and after they’re rented. Such applications have been available for years, but they haven’t been adopted on this scale until now.

The company says it loses $170 million in damage payments a year, which may be true. But it’s also true that many car renters lose hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of dollars at a time when car rental companies like Hertz falsely accuse them of damaging their cars.

This could ensure that innocent drives don’t have to pay for the mistakes of others, and will probably save Hertz a lot of money, too.

“There will be no discussion because the document would clearly show any incremental damage,” Hertz chief executive Mark Frissora told Bloomberg News. “This keeps customers from being placed in a confrontational position and saves time.”

So why take a picture of your rental car? Because even cameras can lie.

If damage is discovered, Hertz will be the only party with a photographic record. I’m not saying a car rental company would manipulate the image (that’s not the Hertz way) but wouldn’t it be better to have your own record — just in case?

Go on. Your rental car is ready for its close-up.

(Hat tip to Michael and thanks to Josh Bancroft/Flickr Creative Commons, for the image)

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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