Question: I recently rented a pickup truck through National in Berkeley, Calif., for a one-way move to Walla Walla, Wash. The two-day trip went smoothly, and we loaded and unloaded the truck without incident.
When I returned the vehicle to the rental agency, I did a thorough walkaround, and found not one iota of damage. I cleaned the interior, and opened and closed the back gate to check for any left-behind items, and found the truck bed in exactly the same condition I rented it in.
I brought the keys to the counter, and the agent accepted them, and told me they would send me my final invoice. No one was in the lot to check the condition of the truck with me and verify the condition of the truck.
A few months later, I got a call from a collection agent at Enterprise, which owns National He said there had been $750 worth of damage to the truck’s back gate and left rear side.
I was shocked. When they finally sent me the documents, they showed massive damage to the rear gate. There also appeared to be some sort of collision damage. The repairs were executed months after my rental.
I told him I couldn’t have done it. They refuse to hear from me or treat the case as anything but an opportunity for monetary gain, and I was dumb enough not to have photographed the truck or have them do a full inspection.
As of today they will be sending the bill to collections, so unless they hear reason I will be harassed and my credit possibly damaged. This is really a nightmare for me, in part because I find myself so helpless to the wolfish and questionable practices Enterprise Holdings and National Rent-a-Car has employed.
How is the allowable, legally? What are my options for pressing my case? — Dan Anthony, Eugene, Ore.
Answer: National’s efforts to collect damages from customers who damage its cars is completely legal. Coming after you, however, is another question.
Read more “The Travel Troubleshooter: Whose car rental bill is this, please?”