The latest car rental scam: hail damage?

A few years ago, car rental companies made a small but profitable change to their contracts. They said if one of their vehicles was damaged by an Act of God, you were on the hook for the car.

Since then, I’ve received reports from time to time about hail damage claims that may or may not be legit. Usually they get worked out long before I have to get involved — after a little back-and-forth, the claim is quietly dropped because the car rental company can’t be sure the hailstorm happened before or after the drop-off.

But Spencer Gorman’s case was a little different. In September, he rented a Nissan SUV from Enterprise in downtown Philadelphia. When he returned it, he says an Enterprise representative told him he needed to fill out a damage claim form since there had been a hail storm in the area. He says he began taking pictures of the vehicle, which he claims was undamaged by hail.

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“I knew something was wrong,” he says. “I was asked to leave and she threatened to call the police when I started [taking] the photos.”

Gorman says Enterprise moved quickly on its claim. By the time he phoned his insurance company half an hour later, the car rental company had already filed a claim, saying there had been hail damage to the vehicle.

“The next day I noticed a $500 charge on my credit card, which had also been charged at around 4 p.m., just after my insurance company was called.”

Gorman searched for evidence of hailstorms within a 150-mile radius of his home, but couldn’t find any. His insurance company had doubts about the validity of the claim, and after conducting its own investigation, refused to cover it.

Then Gorman received a package from Enterprise with copies of photos of his car, none of which showed any damage to the car, he says.

I received a bill for $2,575, which had the $500 already deducted, and a nasty threatening letter saying I was responsible for damage to the car. There was nothing about hail being mentioned.

I am accused of damage to the right fender, the left fender, the liftgate, the hood, the roof, the pillars rocker and floor, headliner right and left sun visor and the map lamp, as well as the left and right inside panel.

No point of impact is mentioned, no accident, but the odometer is logged in at 15,968. I turned the car in at 15,216 miles.

Gorman thinks this is a scam. I asked Enterprise if it could review his case.

A representative called him back and here’s how the conversation went, according to Gorman.

The person you called on my behalf called me. He was rude and said, ‘Enterprise has every right to use black lights or whatever methods they deem necessary to see damage that a customer may not see.’

He said, ‘Enterprise has every right to charge renters for this damage.’

He said, ‘Just because damage is not visible at the time of rental does not excuse the renter. The contract is ironclad and Enterprise does not negotiate.’

That’s a strange response.

Certainly, a car rental company has the right to inspect for damage any way it sees fit, although black lights seem a little over the top. I agree, too, that Enterprise has the right to charge for damage to a car.

But there’s no excuse for being rude about it. And driving a car another 700 miles before making the repairs strikes me as odd.

This isn’t the first car rental hail damage claim I’ve received in the last few weeks. Are car rental companies capitalizing on the weather? If they are, it seems like a stupid way to make extra money. The law will catch up to them, eventually. Indeed, Gorman has taken this case to the FBI, asserting that Enterprise is engaging in insurance fraud.

I’m not sure. I haven’t seen photos of the car, and Enterprise’s response to my request for a review is so out of character, I just can’t believe it would act that way.

Is Enterprise trying to scam Spencer Gorman?

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122 thoughts on “The latest car rental scam: hail damage?

  1. Any time an employee threatens to call the cops for you taking pictures, reply “Go right ahead. I’ll be glad to tell the authorities that you are a thief trying to scam me and I might even say that I feel like you threatened me or touched me inappropriately. Hope you can afford to spend a few hours with the cops sorting it all out. Does your employer allow you paid time off to handle personal legal matters?”

    I used that once on one of these car rental thugs. She decided it wasn’t worth the effort to bother me after that.

    This sounds like a total scam. Shame on Enterprise.

    1. If Mr. Gorman was behaving abusively to the employees, they have every right to ask him to leave the premises. A car rental lot is PRIVATE PROPERTY. Just because you spend a dime at a business does NOT give you the right to treat the employees like dirt simply because you don’t agree with what they are doing.

      1. I must have missed the part of the story where Enterprise claimed that Gorman was “behaving abusively” or “treat[ing] the employees like dirt.” Do you have a chip on your shoulder from working at a rental car company, by chance?

        1. Everything in this story is told from the perspective of the OP, including the statements from Enterprise. To me, it’s a big red flag that the OP conveniently left out everything that he said and did. Also, if he has pics, why didn’t he send them to Chris? I guess that I don’t buy the whole “all rental agencies are evil corporations and any attempt to collect for damaged vehicles is a scam” thing.

          I also straight up do not believe that the OP had the police threatened to be called simply for taking pictures. I believe he was making a scene, was asked to leave, and subsequently did not. I guess I just don’t take a completely one sided story and believe everything at face value without giving the other party a chance to respond. That’s just me, though.

          1. Believe what you want (you’re obviously the 1% who voted that Enterprise wasn’t trying to scam the OP). But you have far less “proof” to back up your assertions than the OP does.

          2. Proof that the OP declines to share, for some reason, either with Chris or publicly. Yeah, reeeeeeeeal credible.

            DISCLAIMER: My views and posts are mine alone and do not reflect those of EHI, Enterprise, Alamo, National, or any of their partners or subsidiaries.

          3. Loving these disclaimers. They are meaningless. You are speaking for Enterprise, and that’s how we’re taking it. Thanks again for showing us the type of customer-hating employee Enterprise hires. It seals the deal on whether or not any of us reading this blog will ever use Enterprise again.

          4. Chris contacted Enterprise and they could have given their side of the story at that time. They chose not to. Therefore we are left to believe that the Op’s story is accurate.

      2. Gorman wasn’t some person who just wandered in off the street and started snapping pictures. Since the location were about to accuse him of damage to the car, he had every right to take pictures of the rental, which every travel writer today recommends as standard procedure.

        Their trying to stop him is, in fact, the best evidence that a scam is taking place.

        1. Yup, I have issues with a story which is completely one sided and believing everything at face value.

          But hey, rush to conclusions all you want. I prefer to think over issue more critically.

          1. So you think it’s fine for an employee to threaten someone with damage and then when said person wants to take photos to threaten to call the police? What agency do you work for so I can be sure to never to rent from you.

          2. “But hey, rush to conclusions all you want. I prefer to think over issue more critically.”

            Okay, let’s look at it critically. Let’s assume the calling the cops thing is totally bogus and the OP was horrid to the employees. Still doesn’t explain why they got billed for non-existent hail damage. Or why Enterprise would claim that black lights are perfectly acceptable for detecting such damage. (Because invisible damage on a rental car needs to be repaired?) The fact the OP’s insurance declined payment says a lot.

          3. What exactly is the point of a black light. I mean, are they accusing him of relieving himself on the car?

          4. I have no problem with a rental agency using black lights to detect damage as long as I have access to those same black lights to document said damage BEFORE I roll the car off the lot.

            The inspection methods have to be the same, or they are meaningless….

        2. I might have misread but I think Mr. Miller once said (in this site) that he works for a car rental company. Hence his unique insight on this case 🙂

          At my car rental company, if a customer brings back a car damaged and CDW was purchased, we file an internal accident report, but it goes no further. Insurance companies use CLUE to share info; if nothing goes to an insurance company, nothing will appear On a clue report. The fact that CDW is not insurance but rather an agreement between the rental company and renter to not hold the renter responsible for damage is integral to this argument…

      3. LOL it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a comment that will be so universally reviled by the participants on this blog.

        We are all perplexed as to what story you are actually commenting on. Because this one mentions nothing about Mr. Gorman “behaving abusively” to anyone, or treating anyone “like dirt”. THIS one, in fact, mentions Enterprise employees behaving abusively to a customer whom they were clearly trying to scam, while he quite reasonably attempted to protect himself.

        But thanks for the entertainment! I do hope you figure out what’s wrong with your computer, as I can think of no other explanation as to why you are seeing things in this article that none of the rest of us see. (Either that, or perhaps you need get your meds dialed in a little better…)

        1. I have had to call the police on customers who were screaming at me within an inch of my face over a gas charge. It’s not something we like to do, and never something we do as a first resort. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I do not believe, FOR ONE SECOND, that the threat to call police came because of the pictures. Here is what I believe the sequence of events was:

          1. ERAC employee pointed out damage to Mr. Gorman.

          2. Mr. Gorman became angry and belligerent.

          3. Employees asked Mr. Gorman to leave, which they have every right to do, as it is a private business on private property.

          4. Mr. Gorman refused to do so and started taking pictures of the car.

          Sorry that I don’t accept what the OP says as 100% fact without questioning anything, like you do apparently.

          DISCLAIMER: My views are mine alone and do not reflect the views of EHI, Enterprise, Alamo, National, or any of its affiliates or subsidiaries.

          1. For what it’s worth, your version of what happened is very plausible. Those of us who have ever worked retail have probably encountered at least one enraged customer.
            Your defense of your company is admirable. It’s nice to know that some people stick up for their employers. I’ve never had a bad experience with Enterprise, but I’ve also never had an agent go around the car with me for a pre-inspection nor for a post-inspection.
            I have had employees with other rental car companies get genuinely cranky with me for taking pictures before I would accept a car and before I would leave after returning a car. Customers aren’t the only people that become irrational.
            I’d also like to point out that Mr. Gorman’s original damage claim (per Enterprise) was for hail damage, but the current damage under dispute was for interior damage. You point out that we don’t have both sides of the story, but this change in claimed damages sure puts Enterprise in a bad light and discredits all of their statements.

          2. My actual experience at Enterprise the last time I rented there, and it was the last time for this very reason.

            1. I rented the car, and waived insurance as I had $0 deductible coverage through my credit card. I did not see any apparent damage on the car. The car was wet from just being washed.

            2. I returned to the parking lot to see paint on the side of the car as if someone sideswiped it. No dent, just a paint line. So I called the credit card and was faxed the insurance forms and a letter to give to enterprise explaining how the claims process works. The credit card agent told me not to pay any deductable to enterpirse, and warned me they would try to collect a deductible.

            3. I returned the car and told enterprise about the damage, gave them the claims forms, and asked if they needed me to fill out any paperwork.

            4. Enterprise employee demanded I pay $500 on the spot as that is the standard deductible.

            5. I pointed out that the policy is a zero deductible, and that they need to file the paperwork with the credit card company. I was very calm and polite.

            6. Enterprise employee said they would call the police unless I paid $500 immediately.

            7. I stated I had to leave to catch my flight, and that I gave them the paperwork and that I would not pay the $500 as its a zero deductible policy. Again, I was calm and polite.

            8. Agent became belligerent yelling that he is calling the police and I will be arrested for theft, etc.

            9. I told them to call the police if they much, but that I needed to leave. I left, and later learned from the adjuster that the claim was denied as the documentation showed that they claim had been reported multiple times, and was noted on multiple return documents from the same car. According to the adjuster it was the type of scrape that you cant see when the car is wet, but it appears again once its dry.

            So I would say based on my experience, others experiences, and the OPs experience, that its SOP for Enterprise to threaten to call the police. That is just the way they do business.

          3. He went incognito now. Changed his name to Guest.
            I hope Enterprise does not fire him for speaking his mind.

          4. I strongly suspect it was Enterprise that made him delete his profiles and stop speaking as an Enterprise employee in here. Most corporations don’t take too kindly to employees using social media to speak on their behalf without permission. And given the severely anti-customer slant of his posts, I highly doubt Aaron Miller was approved to represent Enterprise on social media. Just take a quick look at the Enterprise Facebook page – the staff who run that page take a completely opposite, customer-oriented approach, far more in line with the way most corporations want to be represented on social media.

            As for whether or not he got fired…if he was, then he should have considered that risk before he came in here and basically called Mr. Gorman a liar, and spoke to us Enterprise customers as if we were nothing more than annoyances to him and his company. What happens when you tell a customer that they are nothing more than annoyance? They stop being your customer.

          5. Checked the name out with a friend of mine who works at an Enterprise office. Aaron Miller is a management trainee at Reagan Intl.

          6. Yeah, I had a feeling he was young. Anybody who’s been in business for any length of time knows you don’t go blasting your real name all over the internet speaking for your employer…especially not in such an obnoxious, belligerent fashion. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if his training is now officially over.

          7. Christopher I’m sure you feel some empathy for the trouble he is in, and I suspect you know more than you’re telling about it. But please understand that those of us who’ve been victimized by predatory car rental agencies did not appreciate this man defending these criminal practices, telling us that WE were in the wrong, and that rental agencies have every right to scam money out of us.

            Perhaps he should have given some thought to the consequences of publicly posting on behalf of his employer in such an obnoxious manner before he did so. I’m sure he’s giving it some thought now. If he really is a trainee, well then it’s a good lesson for him. And I hope he learns that pissing off customers is not the best business strategy.

            I almost feel bad for him…but then I go back and re-read what he posted, and I don’t.

      4. @Aaron Miller: Are you perchance a rental car company employee/franchisee? That would be the only possible excuse for your ridiculous post.

      5. Just a note to the Enterprise management staff whom I know are now reading this blog: all of the comments in here that say they are from “Guest” originally were attributed to “Aaron Miller”. It appears he has deactivated one of his profiles, so the name now says “Guest”. But be assured that the name that was there earlier today wherever you see “Guest” in this thread was “Aaron Miller”.

        There are also posts now attributed to “Colgan102001” that were previously attributed to Aaron Miller, but it appears the name of that profile has been changed. But earlier today all “Colgan102001” comments were from Aaron Miller.

        1. Yesterday morning I clicked on his picture which linked to Facebook to see if he worked at Enterprise, this was before he disclosed he worked there. It brought me to his Facebook page, which showed his name as Aaron Miller and his username as Colgan102001. I just had a crazy idea, the page is still in my history, so I can see if he updated it and no longer works at Enterprise. Well I went through my history and back to his Facebook page and it says the account can not be found. Not only did he delete his Disqus account, But FaceBook too.

          Why would he complete delete all of his on-line accounts? I wonder if he did get in trouble and Enterprise asked him to remove everything, though I do think he severely overstepped his bounds.

          1. I have no doubt whatsoever that Enterprise demanded that he delete his accounts. I also wouldn’t be a bit surprised if he lost his job. Someone else just posted that they know someone at Enterprise who learned that he is (or was) a management trainee at Reagan Intl. That confirms my suspicion that he was young and new in the business world, as anyone who’s been around for a while knows better than to blast their real name all over social media speaking on behalf of your employer in such an obnoxious, belligerent, anti-customer manner.

            The most interesting part of this entire comment thread has been the revelation of Mr. Miller’s views on customers, rental car contracts, and Enterprise’s approach to dealing with perceived damage. The fact that he’s a management trainee is even more illuminating – obviously he’s getting his views from the training he’s receiving. This seals the deal for me that I will never ever ever use Enterprise or any of its affiliates again. Like, ever.

            So I guess I should THANK him for exposing the true underbelly of Enterprise’s customer service philosophy!

          2. OK. It’s probably a common enough name. Strangely enough, I found a LinkedIn profile for an “Aaron Miller” who was a former (until 2010) asst sales manager at Enterprise. I don’t think this was the same guy though.

    2. The best defense against this is to have a big, vicious dog on your side. We use the Amex insurance (in California it’s like $18.00 per rental) and it’s PRIMARY. So two years ago Thrifty tried this with us (uh, oh, those scratches weren’t there when you rented it), I said, “Go ahead and fight with Amex, I really don’t care.”

      Guess what — nothing ever came of it. They might intimidate Joe Renter into paying for a bogus claim. That ain’t gonna work with Amex.

  2. If the damage isn’t noted at return, I don’t see how it can stick. And the “hail” damage will be easy to refute, given the utter lack of a hailstorm.

    I’m guessing they bet most people won’t bother since they’ll only be on the hook for their deductible. If he has the time/inclination, it sounds like it is small claims time. He can sue for the full amount and subrogate the overpayment back to his insurance company.

    I’d also let his insurance company know that this reeks strongly of insurance fraud; they may end up pursuing it themselves, which will almost certainly lead to near-instant satisfaction. A complaint to the AG office of the state involved will also not be out of line.

    1. “When he returned it, he says an Enterprise representative told him he needed to fill out a damage claim form since there had been a hail storm in the area. ”

      I generally agree that pursuing damage claims weeks/months after the fact is not the best business practice. However, this was pointed out immediately upon vehicle return.

      1. The actual claim that was filed with the insurance company had utterly nothing to do with hail; if it was hail most of the damage would have been to the roof and hood. Instead the claim was for INTERIOR parts.

      2. “…told him he needed to fill out a damage claim form since there had been a hail storm in the area. ”
        It doesn’t say he had to fill out the damage claim form because of apparent hail damage; but strictly based on their vague claim of there having been a hail storm “in the area”. Kind of like “wind cause some tree branches to fall somewhere in the area, so we’re going to have you fill out this damage claim form now just in case we in some hundred driven miles later decide that a branch fell on THIS car under your watch.” Not that much different, just bigger falling objects, but to point out the ridiculousness of it.
        And then it seems as though they have tried to charge him for every single bit of wear and tear and damage the car has received throughout its entire rental history.

        Both my vehicles received hail damage recently. One dark blue, the a very shiny silver. The dents, both tiny and larger, are pretty obvious at various angles, and I don’t even need black light to find them all, though I respect their right to inspect their vehicles with it. And none of the damage appeared in the inside of the vehicle.

        And isn’t it a little odd that the company wouldn’t even respond to Mr. Elliott, but rather give the OP another supposed threatening call instead? If they had actual proof, it would seem that they would make a reasoned statement of this in response to Mr. Elliot, as most other companies do that he writes about?
        As he said, the behaviour described sounds odd for Enterprise as a company, so I have a feeling it is more that there is something going on at this particular location. I agree with you that the OP likely said a lot of things that he shouldn’t have and that he’s leaving out of the story, but this Enterprise location’s actions in regards to just the claim itself seem a bit bizarre that unless corporate Enterprise gets involved and investigates, the OP should probably bring it legal attention.

        (Personally, I’ve never had any issues renting from Enterprise, most of the times though it’s been because they’ve got ties with my car dealer and I’ve taken my car in for repair. Only a couple of the times have there been any damage on the rental, once just a couple of scratches that I had them note ahead of time, and the other vehicle had so many things that the poor guy ran out of space to note all the dents, scratches, and various damages when I pointed them out. But it was obvious he would’ve just glossed over the damage during the pre-inspection if I hadn’t forced him to stay while I made the inspection and pointed everything out.)

  3. A rental car company is trying to collect for damage done to a vehicle! Surely any attempt to do so must be a scam!

    This story is completely one sided. I find it interesting that the dialogue described does not include anything about what Mr. Gorman actually said. He has no problem quoting/paraphrasing what the agent said, yet is completely silent about what he said. I happen to work for Enterprise, and in my dealings with damage claims on a daily basis, customers are rarely calm and rational about it. I of course was not there but I somehow doubt that the agent threatened to call the police solely because Mr. Gorman was taking pictures. It seems more Likely that Mr. Gorman was causing a scene, was subsequently asked to leave, then when he started taking pictures, the police were brought up since the request to leave was ignored. I’m just not buying the story “I was minding my own business taking picture of the vehicle, and they threatened to call the cops.”

    With regards to the actual damage, hail damage is weather damage which the renter is held responsible for. You agree to this in the contract. Enterprise does full pre-rental inspections with the customer present-it’s not like Mr. Gorman did not have opportunity to point out the damage if it was pre-existing. If Enterprise has a signed statement from Mr. Gorman saying the vehicle left the lot with no damage and Mr. Gorman returned the car with damage, he is contractually obligated to pay for it. How the damage got there is irrelevant. End of story.

    1. I challenge your claim that “Enterprise does full pre-rental inspections with the customer
      present-it’s not like Mr. Gorman did not have opportunity to point out
      the damage if it was pre-existing.” In all the years I’ve rented cars from Enterprise, I have yet to have one agent do a pre-rental inspection with me. Instead, they ask me to sign a form saying the car has no damage, get mad when I refuse to sign until after I have viewed the car for myself and then get even more mad when I come back with photos showing that the car does indeed have damage and requesting the fill out a new form. They say they can’t do inspections with me because they don’t have enough people (the agent is often the only one working).
      And did you really say that it doesn’t matter how the damage got there, Mr. Gorman has to pay it anyways? Do you realize that you basically stated that Enterprise has the right to have employees purposefully damage the rental car and force whomever they want to pay for it? Even if it’s easy to see that the car was driven hundreds of miles after the renter returned?
      Your ‘defense’ of the company is only making it worse. You may want to stop while you’re ahead.

        1. I second this. I’ve never been shown the car before the rental. I’ve requested it many times. I’m normally shown great hostility when I do.

        2. Me neither. I rented a car from Enterprise just a few months ago. NOBODY inspected the car – nobody was even anywhere NEAR the car, which was in a parking garage far away from the rental desk in the airport terminal. Not only did nobody inspect it, but it was nightime and the lighting was poor in that garage. I used a flashlight that I carry in my purse to do my own inspection, and took photos.

        3. Actually, I just rented last weekend with Enterprise and got a thorough walk around with the agent at pickup. There were some scuff marks on the back bumper, I pointed them out and he said “Don’t worry about that.”, so I asked if it was OK if I took a picture and he said “By all means, please do!”….so I did.

          Upon return I also had a walk around and pointed the scuff marks out to the agent and again was told not to worry about it. (I didn’t even say it was there when i picked it up, she was genuinely not concerned with it.) She marked the car as returned with no damage and I was on my way.

          I usually don’t rent much with them. This was a direct bill account with another company and they arranged it.

          Of course….as we can see from the story…a big YMMV with Enterprise!

          1. It all depends. I’ve rented from Enterprise at SNA and MIA. I actually had a pretty good experience, although I wasn’t renting or returning at a peak time. I didn’t quite get the car I wanted (I wanted something with a trunk in Miami) but nobody broke into it.

            Of course I had no damages. I remember when “no problem” was the key phrase, especially since most rental agencies were operating on reasonable margins with hefty fleet discounts. I understand the discounts are still there, but not as great as they used to be with the Big 3 trying to turn a profit.

      1. Once my husband and I rented a U-Haul truck for the day, and while I was snapping photos of dents and scratches, the surly rental guy informed us that my documentation means nothing — if there isn’t a sticker placed by him on the damaged areas, then we did it.

        His bad attitude ensured that he had to place 37 stickers on the vehicle. It took about half an hour. He was fuming, but we had no damage charges in the end.

      2. Yes, I’m saying that if the damage is on the car when they return and wasn’t on the car when they picked up the car, they are responsible. How the damage got there is irrelevant, since when you decline CDW, you agree to pay for any and all dAmage, regardless of fault.

        This is standard of all rental companies, not just Enterprise.

        1. Your nonsensical defenses of this scam are becoming comical. But thanks for the entertainment! And thanks for letting us know the type of people who work at Enterprise. They are now permanently off my list as a company with whom I will ever do business.

    2. The “hail damage” story might be slightly credible if the actual damage claim that was filed with the insurance company has something to do with hail, as opposed to a laundry list of interior parts.

    3. After reading your posts, you clearly have a personal vested company interest in this case. You are not referring to the same story I have read, so either you know information you’re not presenting or are assuming a lot of things that are not in the original story. Your arguments are without substance and present nothing but conjecture and opinion, and are not in any way legally-based. Shame on you.

      1. My claims are not legally based? If you sign a piece of paper stating there is no damage on the car when you picked up the car and there is damage on the car when you return it, how are you not legally responsible?

        1. You don’t seem to get it.

          Mr. Gorman claims that there was no damage when he returned the car and that he was threatened with the police if he continued to take pictures at the time of return. When the bill came, the mileage on the damage report was several hundred miles higher than when he returned it.

          What to make of this? Probably that the damage occurred while in the care of another renter or Enterprise itself. That’s what any reasonable person would gather.

    4. Aaron, I hope you are using a pseudonym. If not, Enterprise will soon be aware that you are costing them business. I can assure you that I am not the only reader here who will NEVER NEVER NEVER rent with Enterprise again…mainly because of your obnoxious, belligerent and dishonest comments.

      Actually, let me restate that: I hope you are NOT using a pseudonym. Good luck keeping your job, dude.

    5. And you just proved what most of us think: You’re either an Enterprise employee or, more likely, a franchisee/corporate honcho. As such, your comments have no merit. THAT’S the end of the story.

    6. I have never, not even once, been taken on a pre-rental inspection of a car. I’m always just handed the keys and told where to find my car – and sometimes not even that is correct.

      1. I’m guessing the account has either been deleted or that a moderator has banned Mr. Miller from any further participation. In my experience many message board and comment systems display participants as “guest” when one of those two things happen.

        As for the comments by Mr Miller, I would note that he didn’t merely state that perhaps we’re only hearing from one side of the story. He was seemingly adamant that if Enterprise as claiming damage, it must have been the fault of Mr. Gorman and not some scam to pin the blame or get some sort of revenue. In the past many car rental agencies would have considered small things to be the cost of doing business. These days I realize they’re running on razor thin margins and are looking for ways to recoup their investment even if it alienates potential future customers.

        1. My guess is that Enterprise made Mr. Miller delete his account. This was being discussed on the Enterprise facebook page, so management is well aware that Aaron Miller was posting on their behalf in here.

          And I agree with you about the tenor of Mr. Miller’s comments, which is why I found them so egregious.

  4. I guess I should add: my views are mine And mine alone. They do not reflect the views held by Enterprise Holdings, Enterprise, Alamo, National, or any of its affiliates or subsidiaries.

    1. All this case does for me is to make me wary of ever again renting from Enterprise. Even if there was hail damage – which seems doubtful, given what I’ve read – I’d argue, through the credit card that presumably protects me from such car rental problems, that the damage is the result of normal wear and tear. In short, hailstorms happen, like tires that poop out on trash-strewn roads, and such is life nowadays. Car rental firms can’t expect every returned car to be in the same pristine condition it was when first purchased. Some franchisees are making it difficult for others within the same company, and the franchise needs to protect the good name of the company by bringing the renegades to heel.

      1. It’s nice that you think so. However, rental car contracts state otherwise. There are clearly defined measurements of damAge, and hail damage is not normal wear and tear.

        I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: whether its regarding damage, authorized drivers, loss of use charges, etc.: you do not get to pick and choose which parts of the contract you want to follow.

        DISCLAIMER: My views are mine and mine alone and do not reflect the views of Enterprise Holdings, Enterprise, Alamo, National, or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates.

        1. DISCLAIMER: Your disclaimer is useless. You are speaking for Enterprise. You have cost them business. Face it, accept responsibility for your actions. And good luck on the job market.

        2. Car rental companies shouldn’t get to choose what parts of the contract they want to follow either, but they try to do it all the time. Hey, tomorrow’s Friday; you can swing by Enterprise and pick up your paycheck.

        3. The contract? You are referring, I take it, to that impenetrable document that would take any ordinary mortal an hour or two to read, absorb and digest, let alone understand, but who is pressed to sign immediately. Clearly defined. you say. Yeah, right. Those roiling phrases, when taken to court, have been proven again and again to be vague, unfair and hilariously unreasonable, and the rental company’s case thrown out forthwith – no matter what the contract purports to say. Though the rental company often backs down before a wronged, but knowledgeable, customer can make his/her case. I’ll say it again: rogue franchisees are ruining the rental trade for solid, responsible franchisees, and the franchises must rein in the rogues to protect the reputation of their names. If they don’t want government to do it for them.

    2. Too late, Aaron Miller. You spoke up for Enterprise. You can offer all the disclaimers you want, but the damage is done. You have shown us the type of employee Enterprise has working for them – someone who is clearly anti-customer, considers customers to be pains-in-the-arse that you detest and will fight with every chance you get, rather than the reason your company exists. You support a clearly illegal scam being perpetrated against your customers. And you speak rudely and belligerently to potential customers.

      I will be sending a letter to Enterprise Corporate thanking them for the years of business, but letting them know that due to their recent practice of attempting to scam customers for false damage claims, I will no longer use them. And I will be sure to mention your name as a contributing factor in my decision.

  5. One does not need black lights or any other method to see hail damage. A huge hail storm went through my area and all the cars looked like they had been hit all over with a ball peen hammer. From the list of damaged areas, it must have been quite a storm and the marks would have been visible. If the storm caused that much damage to one car, it also caused it to many others and it will be well reported in the local news. Gorman and his insurance company should ask for an insurance investigation since they can find no record of a storm.
    To Aaron Miller – I have been addressed rudely by rental agents for photographing the car before I left the lot and also on return. One agent on check out, insisted on leaving the engine run for what would have been 20 minutes while he berated me for not taking the extra insurance – he was very rude when I suggested the waste of gas and pollution for the idling time and even worse when I photographed the car. So agents do try to bluster and threaten to get their way. Only because another agent called him off and apologized to me did I leave the lot with the car instead of without it.

    1. I agree, hail damage is VERY easy to spot and very identifiable. One of our cars was outside in a hail storm once, it looked like a golf ball afterward with dimples everywhere.

  6. I am not sure that a scam is involved but there has to be a lot more to this story. Filling out a damage claim because there had been a storm in the area to suddenly talking about interior damage just seems off to me. What was the customer doing that a black light was needed to see damage? Does Enterprise also use electron microscopes for paint chip damage?
    I hope to hear more about what is going on since both sides seem to be behaving strangely.

  7. I think Enterprise must be the KING of rental damage claims. Here is my experience JUST LAST WEEK. My car is being repaired from a minor accident so my insurance sends me to Enterprise for a rental. I arrive and they pull the car out backing it in very close to a wall on one side. I proceed to video the car before renting as I always do but that side is difficult to see. I drive the car off and head to work. I purposely park it away from everything else at work and go on my way. I come out at lunch and there are two huge scratches on the rear driver side door. HOW THE HECK? I review my video tape and sure enough they’re there, barely visible but there on the side of the car backed up near the wall.
    I drive immediately back to the Enterprise yard and talk to the person who helped me. He doesn’t want to see the video, he takes my paperwork marks where the damage is sends me on my way. I’m actually surprised at how easy that was but then I notice, I don’t see any of the other cars in the lot backed in, just my car.

    Was I set-up to fail here? Did the agent know about this damage (very hard to miss when you approach the car) which is why he backed it into the spot making it hard to spot? If they didn’t know about the damage why were they so eager to clear it off my rental agreement. I don’t want to accuse them of anything but the whole situation left a very bad taste in my mouth.

    Moral of the story here is take photos and video of your rental before you rent it will save your but just like it did mine

    1. According to the story he’s gone beyond that – he’s contacted the FBI. Good for him! These illegal scams need to be stopped.

  8. Chris, how many columns about Enterprise this year? Why not just create a “Wall of Shame” in your scam file, and place Enterprise on it as the first award recipient? It deserves every bit of the bad reputation it has.

    Second award recipient should be opaque reservation sites for the generous ratings of their products, such as hotel “stars.” I am sure these opaque sites also rate a Honda Accord from Enterprise as a luxury car (just kidding)!

    1. If he does this, then he should also have a place to praise the good guys. It is not enough that consumers should stay away from the bad guys, they also have to know who to do business with.

      1. While that sounds fair and the “right thing to do,” in fact it would be an impossible task, other than perhaps polls such as his recent best airlines consumer poll.

        Polls, also are notoriously inaccurate, as only the methodology of a J.D. Power or the reach of a Consumer Reports can give us a sample we have confidence with. Otherwise, it is always qualified with, “According to the readers of Christopher Elliott,…” And then people wonder, “Well, who are they?”

        The exception is what makes the news, not the ordinary. Thus, you do not read, “adulterer not shot by wife” or “car rental company gives honest bill.” Really, who cares?

        A merchant should be honest, forthright, charging a fair, fully disclosed price. Give honors for that? That would be like giving gold stars to students who do not cheat. The norm does not rate the attention the out-of-norm does.

        Chris had problems marketing his book on scams. Imagine how worse it would have been if the title were, “Non-scammed.” Zzzzzzz.

        1. Is it really that hard to have a “Good Housekeeping Seal” for Rental Cars or travel products? I got to believe there are still a lot of old fashioned folks who want to buy only from decent vendors.

  9. Wow! All that damage and the bill only comes to $2575 + deductible? Enterprise is letting him off easy!

    Actually, we stopped renting from Enterprise after they tried, unsuccessfully, to scam us. They did do a walk-around before we drove away and it was my husband who noticed the door dent, not the agent. When we returned the car, a different agent asked to see our contract. He hadn’t even seen our car yet. I asked him, “Why? To see if the door dent was on there?” He said, “Yes.” I asked him how he knew it was there, but he didn’t answer. This happened in the days before scamming became rampant.

  10. Wow, this is over the top, even for Enterprise! Black lights? A passenger is responsible for damage that was not visible at the time of rental, to me that reads the renter is responsible for pre-existign damage? And hail damage to the head liner? Isn’t that inside the car? This is just insane! Its eems liek someoen at Enterprise has a personal vendetta out for the OP.

    I think that since the car drove 700 miles between when the OP turned it in, and Enterprise got an estimate, that Enterprise would not have a snowballs chance in hell of collecting 1 red cent.

  11. My American Express card and I would be all over this one. With my pictures of the car when I arrived and when I turned it in, with threats being made, and $500.00 charged to my card, we would attack! 1) Dispute the charge and refuse the new bill. B) Let the car company take me to court. C) Counter sue for my time, legal fees, intimidation, whatever my $1000.00 per hour lawyer suggests. Enterprise is acting quite foolishly. I only question why Gorman’s insurance is not stepping up a bit stronger.

  12. Sorry for the bluntness, but Enterprise just sucks. As someone who rents 25+ cars a year for travel I hate dealing with all of them, but Enterprise is the worst by far. My second worst experience has been with Alamo, which (surprise), is part of the same company as Enterprise. I always, always take pictures and am starting to go to video now as well. Thank goodness our company has moved away from them because of all the problems and we now deal with Avis. They still aren’t perfect, but I have had far fewer headaches so far.

    Until people begin to take their business elsewhere, nothing will change.

    1. I am in the same boat, usually 50 or so rentals a year for me. I feel like enterprise used to be good, and then went down hill. I used to have a ton of problems with Avis, but after my company signed a long term contract with Avis they seemed to do much better. Its sad that they would treat people differently if they have a corporate contract or not, I feel they should treat everyone the same. We also have a contract with Hertz, and they were hit or miss before and after the contract.

      What I have noticed with Avis, is that they are good in corporate locations, and really bad in franchise locations. The managers at the corporate locations seem to know which ones are franchises and which are not. The corporate managers know their stuff. It seems to be the small airports that have franchises, and the major airports that have corporate locations.

  13. I have seen a lot of Philly desk agents in rental companies and at the airport copping an attitude, even if asked a simple question without any implications. It’s as if they are just there to collect a paycheck and not to help the client. This doesn’t surprise me and I would take it all the way to the top if I was in this situation. The City of Brotherly Love sure ain’t that friendly…

    1. I’m planning to fly into Philly and rent a car for a week sometime in the spring. Thanks for the heads up. I’ll have to research car rental companies very carefully – any of them NOT give you an attitude?

  14. By my own experience with the insurer of my car. Hail damage is cover, because it consider a “collision” between the hail and the car, even the car is not moving. So if you have a collision cover with the car-rental insurance or your own car insurance, it must be cover. Of course we are not cover by the bad purpose intention from the car-renters.

  15. I hope you do a follow-up piece on this, would LOVE to hear how the FBI investigation goes (and/or how quickly Enterprise backs down once they’re involved)

  16. Thanks for sharing Chris. I’d be really interested to find out if this is a corporate level issue for Enterprise, or if it’s just one location running a scam. In any case, I’ll be avoiding them for now.

  17. This is why we don’t rent with Enterprise; we’ve heard so many stories like this. They charged our daughter-in-law’ credit card months after the fact for “damage” she hadn’t caused and which they couldn’t explain. She said that she wasn’t paying, and they said that if she couldn’t pay, she could never rent a car again… so she paid.

  18. Scam, pure and simple. The threat of the cops should have been the first clue this was going to get nasty. I take pictures before and after at AVIS all the time and they are ALWAYS polite and accommodating. It seems most of the damage scams you report come from Enterprise, Dollar and National. I will never rent from any of them. Go after them, Chris!

  19. I have overregulation as much as anyone, but I think it’s time for a clear law spelling out the rights and responsibilities in alleged damage cases. This one is very clearly a scam (to the point that I wish the police would show up and arrest the individual employees for criminal fraud).

    I’d suggest:

    1) Damage must be clearly substantiated by the one alleging it, with dated photographs at rental and return time clearly showing the difference. Yes, we should still take our own photos, but that doesn’t absolve the company of proving their claim. Many companies do this already with multiple cameras at the exit station, so there’s no technological bar to this; if they’re prevented from claiming damage otherwise they will install them.

    2) Damage must be “real”, not wear and tear. Minor scratches and dings are simply part of owning and using a car, especially in a city. I’d suggest it has to be obvious from, say, 10 feet away. This would mean that most “hail damage” doesn’t really need to be repared; nobody cares if there are some minor dents on the roof of the car that they don’t look at anyway. It would have to break through the paint to matter, IMHO.

    3) Costs must be in line with the incremental damage and need to fix. Unless the company never rents out a car with a scratch (or offers a substantial discount for taking such a car), they simply don’t need to spend $800 to fix it right then and there (and they usually don’t anyway). Costs should be discounted by the fact that normal people would be fixing a handful of issues at once before selling the (now 3-4 year old) car.

    4) Damage from “acts of god” has to be a result of the actions of the renter, and something that wouldn’t have happened to the car otherwise. Parking a car outside is a normal activity. If a city has a hailstorm, or a flood, and all of the other cars the agency chose to leave on the lot are “damaged”, then perhaps the renter isn’t responsible. I’m open on this one, but again, while a flooded out car does need to be totaled and replaced, one with a few pockmarks on the roof doesn’t.

    If the agencies aren’t willing to police themselves and be fair to their customers, then unfortunately a law like this is going to be necessary.

    1. Totally disagree with you that hail damage is “Minor dings and scratches”. Google images of hail damage to a car, and tell me if you’d consider that ‘minor’ to your own vehicle.. It’s not normally one hail ball that hits.. It’s hundreds. So, while you might have a ‘little ding’.. It’s hundreds of ‘little dings’.

      Your point 4.. Is very good.. Something I was thinking of myself.. So.. Let me expand on that a bit, and I’d be curious to others’ thoughts on it..

      I hate to have talked myself into siding with a rental company here, but, I think I have.. Let’s stick with the hail damage here.. Take rental car out of the equation. Let’s say you were driving your car, were at a hotel, and a hail storm hit. If you have collision.. Your insurance is paying for it. It doesn’t matter that it’s not your fault. If you don’t have collision then you are paying for it out of pocket. When you rent a car, you accept that you’re responsible for it. So, while it’s not your fault, someone has to pay for it. God’s insurance company is really good.. It doesn’t pay out on any claims even when he’s liable for the damage. He’s probably got really low premiums, too.

      I think we have to look at it like this.. If it were YOUR car.. Who would pay for it? If the answer is your insurance company, then either your insurance company pays the damage or, if they don’t cover you in a rental.. You do. That.. Just reading it, i’m sitting here going “That sucks”, however.. Life sucks sometimes. Minor dings.. I agree.. That should be looked at as ‘cost of doing business’.. However.. Who rules what is ‘minor’? You’re calling hail damage minor, and pending on the type of hailstorm, it’s anything but minor.

      Let me clarify that i’m not siding with them in THIS case.. Something smells about this whole thing, but.. Generically siding with them when it comes to actual ‘act of God’ events.

      1. Fair feedback; I kind of threw those out there to see how far is really reasonable.

        My only experience with hail damage was a Neon I bought in 1995, at a discount because it had been hail-damaged on the lot; under the right light you could see some dimples if you put your eye right on the same plane. I agree that if there’s real pockmarked damage visible from afar, that isn’t minor. I’m still torn on the “who’s responsible”, but can see both sides of that.

        Either way, an employee making up a story about possible hailstorms is bogus — only clear photographs showing the damage (and none before the rental) should even trigger the start of the paperwork.

  20. Wow, scary stuff. I like the ‘go ahead call the cops’ approach. I hear about these scams a lot, but have never had trouble with rentals. I even had one that did have damage (just some rubber stuff torn), I showed the guy right away and he could tell it wasn’t my fault…no worries. My on-the-road scam came from driving for ‘Hit the Road’ car delivery last year, sketchy operations there, worse than rental companies.

  21. Here we go with the car rental stuff again. I’ve photographed cars upon pick up and drop off each time, no one ever seems to have a problem with it. They let me click away. I’ve had two instances of minor damage to a car in my possession this year. One was the additional driver crunched a fender. Hertz looked up the charge and billed it to my credit card. In this case, I had feared it would be more but was pleasantly surprised it was not. The second case was someone scratched the car’s bumper in a corner while it was in a parking lot. This time, the charge was more than I had expected. I would have reasonably anticipated it to be about half as much. In any case, it was again processed through my credit card immediately. The claims process through my credit card’s insurance company is being processed, they purposefully are slow which is an issue to consider when renting in the future. However, not really any problem with Hertz. I might add that I brought Hertz’s attention to the damage both times and did not see if they happened to notice it.

  22. I’ve just read through all of these comments. While at first glance this customer’s treatment seems quite bad, I would think there is more to this story than meets the eye, and I am concerned we have not heard the other side to this story. Chris Elliot you should stick to your role as a mediator and fill us in a little on what the whole story is! I have read through the post attributed to the Enterprise employee, and while he may be a little defensive in places, I think his comments are perfectly reasonable in saying that he has only heard one side to the story and in his experience situations like this tend to have the customer behaving a little more erratically than they make out. I also find LeeAnnClarks comments to be very dismissive, obnoxious and grudging. It’s like she has some personal mission to trash everything this person says and hopes they get fired for taking what to me seems a pretty reasonable position. While the OP’s story may well be true, I don’t think the defenses offered by Mr Miler are particularly offensive in the light of no direct response from the other side of the original story, whereas this LeaAnnClark person clearly is quite offensive and has made up her mind that Enterprise is completely, 100% guilty as charged simply based on the single story of one witness.

    I have absolutely nothing to do with Enterprise. I have rented cars from them occasionally in the past and that’s it. While I hate to see people become victims of scams, I reserve execution judgement until I have the story from all angles

  23. Needs to be a class action lawsuit against the rental car companies for claiming hail damage and other acts of God PERIOD, unless you say, knowingly take a vehicle down to a New Orleans right before something like Katrina is going to hit! A local hail storm is not my problem (which by the way would have hit all the vehicles in their uncovered lot around 8 miles away anyway), and I refuse to pay for it. They’ve only been doing/getting away with this since around 2006. It’s far from etched in stone as far as I’m concerned. Needless to say companies in general still use the act of God clause to protect themselves.

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