What would you do? Billed for car rental damage, and then re-billed

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By Christopher Elliott

I was about to move Don and Carri Schoeller’s car rental case into the “solved” file when I got the following email from them:

“Guess what?” wrote Don Schoeller. “These SOB pond scum jerks after months have out of the blue re-billed our credit card account again so we ask please do another expose article in your blog read by thousands of subscribers in regards to the unscrupulous business practice of Enterprise.”

Uh oh.

In order to understand why Schoeller is upset, let’s have a look at his case.

Driven to injustice

I’ll let his wife, Carrie, explain.

Enterprise is trying to hit me for $550 on a Ford we rented from their Phoenix office. When we picked the car up the representative viewed the vehicle with us but when my husband noted a couple small marks she said no worries as anything under four inches was waived.

However, we drove on some dirt roads so the car was quite dusty when we returned it and to say the rep eagerly went around the car like Sherlock Holmes looking for clues would be an understatement. She found a small scratch on the left rear bumper which appeared to be possibly from someone backing into us as we knew it wasn’t done by our usage.

Before one could blink we were hauled over to the processing office and our $256 bill now jumped to $772 of course taken from our credit card account without our authorization. Trying to get through to the representative assigned to handle our claim is impossible as she never is available on the phone but her assistant was very helpful in informing us that the bill for repairing what he even admitted from the photos was a small quite insignificant flaw was over 500 bucks.

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Enterprise wants us to pay $440 for damages, $60 for loss of use and to add insult to injury a $50 administrative fee. When I challenged him on how in the world a small dent could cost $440 he said actually anything under a thousand from a shop is a bargain.

Revving up the advocacy engine

My advocacy team and I contacted Enterprise on the Schoellers’ behalf despite having a few misgivings about his case. Many car rental companies have strict rules against taking their vehicle on dirt roads. Also, just because the couple didn’t scratch the car because of their own negligence, it was damaged during their rental, and they’re responsible for it. (Related: How Enterprise determines if you damaged a rental.)

Still, the Sherlock Holmes routine made me suspicious, as did the size of the bill. So I thought I’d send it to Enterprise to review it. (Here’s our guide to renting a car.)

If Enterprise had come back to me and said, “We checked. The damages are legit,” then I would have let this one go. It was a borderline case.

But few days later, I got a note from the Schoellers: “We got a message from someone at Enterprise confirming that they are not intending to pursue us for any of the damages. Thanks!”

Three months later, the Schoellers’ credit card was re-billed.

Now what?

There are three options, the way I see it.

First, they could dispute the fresh $550 charge on their credit card. If they have documentation from Enterprise that says they’ve dropped the charge, it should be a slam-dunk.

Second, they could protest this action with an Enterprise manager. Here are a few names.

Third, there’s the nuclear option: take the car rental company to small-claims court to recover the $550.

What would you do?

Here’s what you said.

This one had a surprise ending. I contacted Enterprise again, and it verified that it had closed the case. Turns out the problem wasn’t Enterprise. It was a misunderstanding between the Schoeller’s and their credit card company.

Schoeller’s wife explains:

I did some digging with Capitol One regarding this re-charge of $500 for the car rental.

It turns out Capitol One reacted to my dispute charge back in September and took $500 off my account.

Then Enterprise reversed the charge of $516 and that also came off my account.

Capitol One never reversed the charge back in October and all these months have gone by. They must have reviewed their files at the end of the year and realized they did not put back the $500 against my account and did not inform me.

So my reaction of being billed again was automatic. In this case, I have to eat some crow and apologize to you and Enterprise Car Rental that they did what they said. It really was Capitol One who failed to send me any info by e-mail or regular mail that this was going to occur.

Lesson learned? It might be worth checking with your credit card before assuming the worst.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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