CarRentals.com won’t cancel my reservation

If you can’t return a rental car when the agency’s offices are open, should you be allowed to cancel your rental car reservation? William Joyce thinks so. But CarRentals.com disagrees — and unfortunately we can’t help.

Joyce booked a car reservation with Economy Car Rentals using CarRentals.com. He planned to return the vehicle at Kennedy Airport in New York at 5 a.m. But when he learned that Economy’s rental facility at Kennedy Airport doesn’t open until 8 a.m., he immediately called CarRentals.com to cancel the reservation.

Which makes sense — we’ve exhorted our readers to never just drop off a rental car, but always to take photos of the car at all angles and have the receiving agent sign the contract in order to protect themselves in case of post-return damage claims, which are highly profitable sources of revenue for car rental agencies.

Joyce, a disabled veteran and senior citizen, didn’t want to risk dropping off the car and then receiving such a claim later.

But the facility was closed, so CarRentals.com told Joyce to call back the following day. He called and emailed CarRentals.com the next day and was told that CarRentals.com was “working on it.”

And despite several emails since then, all Joyce heard from CarRentals.com is that they’re working on it.

How long, and how much work, does it take to cancel a car rental? Joyce is an elderly, disabled veteran, and he’d like his money back. So he contacted our advocacy team for help in getting a refund.

Our advocates reached out to CarRentals.com on Joyce’s behalf, but unfortunately, we were not successful in securing a refund for him.

A representative of CarRentals.com sent the following response to our advocates:

According to our records, you purchased a nonrefundable Economy rental car reservation online… Our research of your booking indicates that before purchase, a link to the ‘Car Rental Company Rules & Restrictions’ was displayed next to the purchase price of the vehicle you chose.

As our research confirms no error on the part of CarRentals.com during this booking, we reached out to Economy on your behalf. Regrettably, Economy has declined our refund request due to the cancellation policy you accepted at the time of purchase.

And CarRentals.com’s terms of use provides that

The Customer does not have an automatic right of cancellation unless such rights are provided for in the Car Rental Company Rules and Restrictions or Rental Conditions.

You agree to abide by the terms and conditions of purchase imposed by any supplier with whom you elect to deal, including, but not limited to, payment of all amounts when due and compliance with the supplier’s rules and restrictions regarding availability, minimum age requirements, and use of rental cars and/or other products or services.

You acknowledge that some suppliers offering rental cars and/or other products or services may require you to adhere to local policies as a prerequisite to using and/or participating in the service and/or activity they offer.

You understand that any violation of any such supplier’s rules and restrictions may result in … your forfeiting any monies paid for such reservation(s), and/or in our billing you for any costs we incur as a result of such violation.

The takeaway is to not finalize a rental car reservation without being aware of all the conditions surrounding the rental — including the times when the rental facility will be open and ready to receive the car upon return. And don’t click the “accept” button when making the reservation online until you are aware of, and ready to accept, all the conditions involved.

So sadly, Joyce is stuck with a nonrefundable reservation. He will either have to forfeit the cost or assume the risks involved with dropping off a rental car when the agency’s facility is closed.

Should CarRentals.com have refunded this rental?

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