Who is pulling a fast one? The odd case of a car rental cover-up

I see strange cases all the time in my line of work, but fewer are stranger than Rebecca Davis’ rental from Enterprise in Norwood, Pa.

Here are the facts: Davis rented a mid-size sedan while her car was being repaired. At some point, maybe while the car was being rented by her, there was damage to the vehicle’s bumper. Enterprise claims that whoever scuffed the car tried to cover it up with paint (see picture above) and it believes Davis was responsible.

Enterprise’s proof? A series of photos showing what appears to be a shoddy repair job and her rental agreement.

All of which leads to the question: Is someone trying to pull a fast one here? And if so, who?

Davis is dumbfounded by what happened. She says no damage was found to the car when she picked it up or when she returned it. She dropped the car off at the body shop, as requested, when her car was fixed.

Several hours later I received a call from an agent at Enterprise who stated that I had damaged the car. He accused me of scratching the front bumper and then painting over the scratch with white paint (the car was white).

I was shocked and appalled by this claim, as I had done absolutely nothing to damage the car.

I immediately called my insurance company and filed a claim. An adjustor went out to look at it and there was indeed damage to the car.

When I spoke with the adjustor he said that it looked like a scratch but from a while ago and that rental car companies often engage in this type of scam.

Next I received a notice from Enterprise with an invoice for $941.44. I called my insurance company and they said that they would investigate further and that I should hold off on doing anything until further notice. A few weeks later I received another invoice from Enterprise in the amount of $822.67.

And then recently I received a third invoice in the amount of $556.10 and instructions to pay within 10 days. I have been given no information as to what the actual cost of the repair was and why the amount kept changing.

I am very upset about this. I did absolutely no damage to this car and do not feel that it is my responsibility to pay for this.

I suggested Davis ask for proof that she damaged the car, including repair records, timestamped photos and any documentation of loss of use. But Enterprise only sent her a copy of her rental agreement and photos of the painted-over bumper — a bumper that may or may not belong to the actual car that she rented.

I recommended that she appeal her case to someone higher up at Enterprise. A manager responded to her request for additional documents with the following note:

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to review your claim; at this point we feel the claim is legitimate for the following reasons.

1. Your contract shows the condition of the vehicle upon check out (which you initialed directly above the car diagram) that shows the vehicle had no damage in the area in question.

2. The damage is clearly visible and would not have been missed during a normal check out/check in process (as you can see in the pictures).

3. Your insurance company has reviewed the claim and has made a partial payment on your behalf.

I didn’t think those reasons were valid, so I contacted Enterprise on Davis’ behalf. She also sent a written appeal to the supervisor, wondering if it’s possible that the car might have been damaged after she returned the vehicle to the body shop.

A manager responded to her that it didn’t matter what happened to the car after she dropped it off at the body shop, even though Enterprise had allowed her to return the car there. Her agreement was with Enterprise, and she was responsible for the car until it was returned to the rental agency, not the body shop.

Still, Enterprise agreed to split the difference on the deductible, lowering her charge to $250.

Since Enterprise was threatening to take her case to a collection agency if she didn’t pay up, she reluctantly agreed to the compromise.

I’m not sure what to think about this case. If Davis damaged the car and then painted over the scuff, then she’s pulling a fast one. But if Enterprise sent her a random photo of a car and claimed it was hers, then it’s pulling a fast one. Or maybe it’s the body shop?

I surveyed more than 500 readers. Here are the results …

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