After Julie Thomason wrecked her rental car, she expected a repair bill. But she didn’t anticipate a $1,000 invoice for something called “loss of use.” No one ever does. “Car rental customers lose it over ‘loss of use’”
This is a story about a mysterious fee and how it mysteriously vanished from Merlyn Klaus’ bill.
“Budget’s ‘loss of use’ clause lands it on Mr. Klaus’ naughty list”
After Ben Harris dropped off his Mazda 3 rental at the airport in Maui last December, a Hertz agent pointed to some scuffed paint on the underside of the front bumper. Although the employee asked Harris to fill out an incident report, he assured Harris that it was just a formality and that he wouldn’t get a bill for the damage.
But six months later, Harris received a repair bill for $570. Among the charges was a $62 fee for “loss of use” – a fee that Harris, a physician from Chicago, considers “unreasonable.”
Some drivers agree. Rental companies used to write off the time a car spent in a garage as an expense. But shrinking profits forced them to add a loss-of-use charge to their repair bills, which allows them to recover the revenue they would have collected if the vehicle had been rented.
“Car rental companies were leaving tens of millions of dollars on the table by not collecting loss-of-use charges,” says Neil Abrams, a car rental consultant. “I think there’s a recognition that there’s a legitimate responsibility of the renter that extends beyond the rental of the vehicle.”
“Losing it over car rental “loss of use””
Since my last conversation with Roger Van Horn, the vice president for corporate loss control at Enterprise Holdings, a lot of questions have been raised about one of the most controversial damage-related fees: loss of use charges. I decided to put some of those questions to him in a telephone interview yesterday.
“Enterprise: “Misinterpretations” over loss of use fees are creating confusion”
Peggy Suvak’s car rental started routinely enough. When she picked up the car from an Enterprise location in Indianpolis, an associate walked around the vehicle to check for damage and seemed to have “no concerns.”
“We drove the car directly home and put it in the garage,” she says. “There was no possibility of any damage having occurred.”
But when her husband used the car the next day, he noticed damage to the right rear door area.