A $481 bill for damage I didn’t do?

Question: I’m trying to resolve an issue with Alamo and have not been able to communicate directly with anyone at the claims department. Now they’re threatening collections and legal action. I’m in the process of buying a house and can’t afford a ding on my credit rating.
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No damage to rental car, but they called a collection agency anyway

Richard Hartman rented a car from Alamo in Montreal this summer. It’s a decision he regrets.

“When I returned their rental car on June 21st, the Alamo staff reported no damage after their inspection but,” he says. But a few weeks later, the car rental company changed its tune. It now claimed he owed $646 for damage to his car.
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The Travel Troubleshooter: The needle may be on “F” but I’m not done paying

Question: I recently rented a car from Alamo, and I encountered a questionable practice that I wanted to let you know about.

I’ve used Alamo many times in the past, always returning the car with a full tank. Last month, after bringing back my rental in Tucson, Ariz., an Alamo attendant verified the full tank and gave us a receipt.

After we left, apparently Alamo felt the need to try and squeeze more gas in the tank, even after their employee confirmed a full tank, and charged us the inflated rental-gas price for two gallons.

They didn’t even try to notify us by phone, email or letter. This seems very sneaky and underhanded. I wrote them two emails, but never got any reply or explanation.

It’s not a huge amount of money, but rather the principle and the deceitful tactics to make a few extra dollars. I thought you’d be interested in this episode, if you haven’t heard of this practice, and perhaps could warn others in your column. — Stephen Farr, Sacramento, Calif.

Answer: When the car rental agent checked your tank and offered you a receipt, you shouldn’t have been charged extra. But if Alamo decided you owed it money, the least it could have done was to let you know — not find out when you checked your credit card bill.
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Can this trip be saved? Enterprise blacklisted me for a cracked bumper

Mary Dampier’s rental from Alamo was problem-free until she returned the vehicle to San Francisco International Airport. That’s when she was drawn into what she says is a frivolous claim that has ended with Enterprise (which owns Alamo) threatening her with a collection agency, legal action and being blacklisted from renting with the company again.

The problem? The cracked bumper (above) which Dampier says was pre-existing. Alamo wants $481 for repairs, but Dampier insists she didn’t do it.

Will Alamo sue her for $481? Probably not. Will it report her to a collections agency? It could, but she has certain rights that could render the collection-agency route ineffective. And being blacklisted would be a problem, but Dampier has no intention of renting from Enterprise again.

So what’s the issue here? She’s worried about her credit score. But mostly, Dampier doesn’t like being accused of something she didn’t do, and wants me to step in to clear her name.
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Can this trip be saved? He didn’t inspect the car – now they want $700

Bogus car rental damages seem to be a recurring theme on this site. This week’s edition of “can this trip be saved” takes one of those cases in its crosshairs.

Meet Andrew Schultheis, who rented a car from Alamo in Washington earlier this year. When he picked up his vehicle, no one offered to walk around the car with him, which is pretty normal. (I rented a car twice this week, and not only did they not offer to inspect the car, they refused to when I asked them to go over the vehicle.)

Then again, Schultheis didn’t go over the car, either. And that’s where the problem begins.
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Why does one day less cost three times more?

alamobusQuestion: My car rental company has more than tripled the rate it charged me, and I don’t know what to do. I had prepaid $390 for the car through Alamo’s Web site. When my flight was canceled, I called Alamo to tell it I could not get the car until the next day. I was told that my reservation would be held for 24 hours.

I picked up the car the next day and returned it on time. When I dropped off the rental, a representative said the computer system was down. But when I got my bill the next month, there was an additional $1,116 charge because of the late pick up.

I believe this additional charge to be unfair and am requesting a refund. I believe Alamo should honor its promise of the prepaid amount as well as the representation that my reservation would be held for 24 hours. Can you help? — Alexandra Seldin, San Diego

Answer: So Alamo is charging you another $1,116 even though you rented one of its cars for one day less. Where’s the logic in that?

The answer: It’s airline logic. Air carriers have figured out a way to quadruple the price of a ticket depending on the time you bought it. So a “walk-up” fare purchased at the last minute can be hundreds, and even thousands, of dollars more expensive than an advance-purchase fare. But you’re getting the same seat.
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