How can you be sure I damaged my rental car?

Question: My husband and I rented a car from Hertz in Munich last summer. The rental process was incredibly time-consuming and after 45 minutes at the rental desk, a five-minute walk to the garage and then another 30-minute wait in the garage, we finally received our vehicle.

It was parked in the travel lane, so we hurried to load our luggage and ourselves into it and get out of the way. We were not offered the opportunity to examine the car. It was also dark in the garage and the car was black.

When we returned the car an attendant took a flashlight and examined the underside of the car bending down so her eyes were about six inches off the ground. She stated that there were “scratches.” She also pointed out a depression near the right side of the back window.
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Do I have to pay for that ding on my rental car?

Question: We recently rented a car through Avis in Frankfurt, Germany, via AutoEurope. We declined the insurance, since our credit card covers us.

When we picked up the car, we were asked to check for any damage, but the car hadn’t been cleaned, so it was difficult to do a thorough inspection. We looked over the car and didn’t notice anything.

When we returned the car, the lady at the rental location went around the car a few times looking very closely and she finally pointed out a tiny chip on the edge of the driver’s door. We had to look extremely closely to see it, and we actually thought she was joking at first.

When we realized she was serious, we took a few photos but knew that it must have been there before. The tiny chip had to have happened when the door was open, and we had never touched anything with the car. She said there wasn’t anything noted from the previous renter on the papers she had so she told us to go to the Avis counter upstairs to see if it was noted on the computer. When we checked, a representative told us everything was “OK.”

A week or so after we came home we received a letter from Avis, with an estimated cost for the car damage of 800 euros. This is very hard to accept, since we know for a fact we didn’t damage this car. Also, I believe the repair cost has been exponentially exaggerated for such a tiny chip or scratch; this is extortion.

We contacted AutoEurope but they said we have to deal with Avis. We have been given the runaround for months. Could you please contact Avis and ask them to drop the 800-euro charge? — Lidia Conte, Brooklyn, Mich.

Answer: If you aren’t responsible for that tiny ding in your car, then Avis shouldn’t charge you for it. Either way, 800 euros is way too much for a chip that can’t be seen under a layer of filth. I can certainly understand why you’d think this is a scam.
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