When you’re traveling, a picture can be worth a thousand dollars

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You don’t have to be an expert on photographic evidence to take snapshots of your rental car before you drive off the lot, but it helps.

Just ask Steve Wolf, who happens to be an expert on photographic evidence. When he recently rented a car in Denver, he instinctively started videotaping his rental from every angle, pausing at each scratch and dent. “The pictures saved my bacon,” he says.

Shortly after he returned the vehicle, the company accused him of damaging it and promised to send him an invoice. Instead, Wolf e-mailed the agency the video of an already-damaged car. The agency backed off.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Generali Global Assistance. Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

It might not surprise you to learn that car rental companies are more vigilant than ever about collecting damages from their customers. But here’s a little fact that you might not know: Other companies, notably hotels, are getting in on the act, too, billing customers for everything from broken fixtures to torn furniture, whether they’re responsible or not.

Although stopping these claims is almost impossible — after all, they’ve turned into a huge moneymaker for some travel businesses — you don’t have to become a victim. The solution: Get in touch with your inner shutterbug when you’re on the road. Take pictures of everything that could turn into a damage claim, particularly your rental car and your hotel room. And store the photos in the cloud for at least a year, because that’s how long damage claims can sometimes take.

How to take the pictures? According to a dozen top photographers whom I interviewed, the camera on your phone will do just fine. But technique matters. Miss a detail, get the lighting wrong or capture a blurry image, and you could pay a price.

When it comes to car rental photos, for example, timing is important. Take a photo or video both when you pick up the car and when you return it, say the pros. If a car rental company finds damage to a car, it will assume that the last renter is responsible. If you find any preexisting damage, you’re better off asking for a different car.

Also, “I would advise against using flash, since there’s a risk that a compact camera flash will wash out bright areas and make it impossible to see any scratches or dents already there,” says Victoria Johansson, a wedding photographer from Orange County, Calif.

Tom Clarke, a food and architecture photographer in Philadelphia, suggests a lower vantage point for taking snapshots of a rental — somewhere around door level. If you notice a scratch, stop to take a closer photo. “Be aware of glare from the sun,” he adds. “If it’s distracting or not visible, adjust the height or stand in a way that blocks the sun.”

Not having enough light can be a problem, too. Too many complaints from car rental customers hit with unfair damage claims start in a dimly lit garage. If there isn’t enough light, drive the car to a place where you can photograph it clearly.

Often, car rental agents will conduct a walkaround inspection with you, and they’ll offer a form where you can note previous damage. Filling it out can be helpful as a backup, but it’s no substitute for photographic evidence.

If you’re taking pictures of a hotel room, says Michael Molinski, a wedding photographer based in Hudson, N.Y., turn on every light and open every drape. Then stand in a corner and shoot toward the next corner, making sure that you capture every detail. “Move to all four corners and shoot overlapping images,” he says. “The idea is to cover all the walls with overlapping photos.”

Focus on problem areas, advises Steve Thornton, an Atlanta fashion photographer. “Don’t forget to photograph the carpet, the bathroom, the closet, the doors, the inside of the mini bar, the fridge and the lamp fixtures,” he says.

If you see any preexisting damage, contact the front desk immediately and ask for a different room.

Don’t get too much extra in the shot, advises Michael Pliskin, who specializes in aviation and hotel photography and is based in Redondo Beach, Calif. Make any damages prominent so that the torn furniture or dented vehicle is clear to anyone. “Before taking the photo, compose it in the viewfinder so that you’re not showing too much,” he says. “Get closer to the details you want to photograph. If you encounter a broken lamp or chair when you first enter the room, photograph that lamp or chair as close as you can. You don’t need the walls, ceiling or bed in the shot if you’re only photographing a lamp or chair.”

If all this sounds silly to you, don’t worry. You’ll feel a little awkward taking snapshots of your car or hotel room, but not as awkward as the employee who’s trying to wrongfully collect damages from you.

Joe Fitzpatrick, a wildlife photographer in Fort Myers, Fla., remembers a car rental agent in St. Maarten who accused him of denting a car. “It had numerous small scrapes on the lower front and rear body panels,” he says. “When I returned the car, the person inspecting the car claimed that many of the scratches were new. He told me they would need to repaint the panels and started talking about what it was going to cost me.”

Fitzpatrick let him continue for a while. “Then I pulled out my camera, brought up the pictures and showed them to him,” he says. “The expression on his face was priceless.”

The agent immediately dropped the claim and handed Fitzpatrick a receipt.

Having a good insurance policy can help, but it’s not always enough to stop a damage claim. Hotels, for example, are notorious for simply charging a customer’s credit card for damage, often without even giving a reason.

Normal wear and tear should be built into the cost of doing business. It shouldn’t be a profit center. Until that changes, remember: When it comes to your next vacation, a picture can be worth a thousand dollars.

Should photos be necessary to prove you didn't damage something?

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81 thoughts on “When you’re traveling, a picture can be worth a thousand dollars

  1. I can see it now, hotels are going to start offering the hotel equivalent of CDW for their hotel rooms, maybe called a GDW “General Damage Waiver”. Then they will start adding it automatically to your hotel charges unless you somehow figure out the secret way of declining the GDW insurance. Then travel booking sites will start offering third party hotel damage insurance, or will offer travel policies that will include damage to your hotel room, or cruise cabin.

    It’s really coming to the point where we are all going to need to wear google glasses so that we a have running record of damage and what was said by an agent at all times.

    I have to wonder how the LW emailed the video to the car rental agency, maybe they emailed a link of the car inspection video. I can’t get anything less than a minute of video under most email sites attachment limits.

    1. Just got (as in 5 minutes ago) a 117 MB video emailed to me from my son. He put it onto Google Drive and then emailed me the link. That’s another good option for folks – take necessary video or pictures of rental cars, hotels, etc. and upload them when they get an opportunity, so that the files don’t get lost or overwritten during the course of travel.

  2. And don’t forget about the airlines. What if, when you complain about your broken tray table, instead of sending you an apology, they send you a bill. I bet Spirit is already working on it.

    But for only $20, each way, you can buy an SDW (Seat Damage Waiver).

  3. If you take photos or a video of damage, couldn’t the company just claim that you may have caused the damage and took photo/video afterwards? This is probably less of an issue with a rental car if the evidence shows you are still on the lot, but I don’t see a solution to this problem for a hotel room. Sure, there are time stamps, but would they trust them? (Couldn’t they be altered?)

    1. The data that’s embedded in photos taken by high end cameras cannot be easily changed. Yes, there are probably programs out there which will do it, but those programs probably cost more than the damage claim for a small scratch.

      A video would be much more conclusive. You go around the car and video every surface. Then, without stopping the recording, you go to the inside of the car and take a video shot of the odometer, which is better than a date stamp. Since the odometer will match the outgoing mileage on the rental contract, it conclusively establishes that you never drove the car off the lot before making the video.

      1. It’s very easy to change the camera time, take the picture, then change it back. And, there are free EXIF editors out there that can change the date/time on a picture.The odometer might be helpful, but suppose you only took the odometer picture? Then you take the pictures later of the damage and claim it was taken at the same time. And, of course, photos can be altered.

        1. Well, if you had actually READ my post you’d have seen I suggest a video, panning all the way around the car and then, WITHOUT STOPPING THE RECORDING, you pan into the car and take a video shot of the odometer. A video, done in this way, with a continuous recording, with no cuts or pauses, would be virtually impossible to fake.

          1. Not really, a lot of video editing software would let you do it, it would just take the know how and some higher end video editing software, but splicing 2 pieces of video together is actually pretty easy. Maybe 25 years ago you’d have needed a cray to do the analog processing, but now, once you get down to individual frames it’s pretty easy splicing two lengths of digital together, especially if you have access to the subjects, scene and can reshoot.

          2. And you know what’s going to happen when you do? Unless the camera was in EXACTLY the same position, and I’m talking about within a quarter of an inch, in all three axes, X, Y, and Z, when you splice the video together, there will be a shift in the video image which will stick out like a sore thumb. Do you REALLY believe you can eyeball the position of the camera that well? NO, you can’t.

          3. No, but I don’t have to, angle and vector of the sensor can be measured, and mathematically corrected for in the data stream. It’s actually a pretty simple task and render for software. Though the software that does that isn’t cheap.

          4. Depends on the person and the damage, and a variety of factors. If you had the software and hardware already, and the know how, and the video, and you were that type of person, and the damage was high enough, and the cost of of pocket close to 100%, then yeah I could see how it would be worth it.

          5. So you’re going to spend a few thousand dollars to turn aside a $482 damage claim? And I suppose you could go rent an identical car, drive it until the odometer matches the one on the damaged car and then take a video of the undamaged car. If you’re willing to spend enough you can always find a way to fake something, but is it worth it?

          6. No but the investment in the software doesn’t depreciate to zero for this one event. I’m pretty sure you could find other uses for it, for different events and spread out the cost over several events that had various values, until the software paid for itself.

            You wouldn’t need an identical car, just video of an identical odometer. Most car rental agencies use very common makes and models of cars for their fleet, it would be easy to find locate one.

          7. OK, but we’re talking about scratches. And small dents. You’re not going to be able to run a car into a tree and then fake a video to claim it was that way when you picked it up.

          8. Depends on the damage caused by the tree. All you would have to do is duplicate the original video data of the car at pickup and splice in the video data of the returned odometer reading. So you return the car with whatever damage you have preferably at self check in or after hours check in. You avoid the car rental company phone calls until they send a letter, then reply back to the letter with your “new” video and say, “nope was fine when I returned it, see heres the video, must have been one of your employees, another renter or someone else, look at the video”.

            I could total the car and not even return it, leave it where ever it happened and still produce a video of returning it, then claim the same thing, and when the car was found say “nope I have video of the returned car at the rental lot, someone else totaled the vehicle after I returned it, see I have video”

      2. Having part of the rental facility in the recording or series of photos will prove that you were still on the lot when the video was taken. No need to record an image of the odometer or to have an embedded date on still pictures.

        1. Guys,

          Can we stay a little more on topic please? It is an interesting discussion, but we would never condone altering video anyway.

          1. I think folks are still pretty much on-topic, since the argument is, “Record everything” and the counter-argument is “Recordings can be altered”. If that counter-argument is being raised here in the comments, it’s a sure bet that some rental car company’s loss recovery unit has had the same thought.

            So, legal ways to prove that the video has not been altered would still be on-topic. I see a number of those hints being offered in the course of discussion on proving the video’s legitimacy.

          2. And then, what’s the credibility of the argument that the video was faked? And the photos? And the guy who gives you the car in the video? And in the stills? And the guy who checks the car back in with you in the video? And in the stills? And the MACRO photos of the existing damage? The preponderance of evidence…….
            This is why I have a nice small $400 12800 ISO pocket camera on my belt ALWAYS! Never miss an opportunity to record something which should be documented…..

          3. So, if this was a court, it would be the obligation of the car rental company to show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the video was faked. The mere fact that it could be faked wouldn’t be important.

            If this were a large case, you have forensic analysis done to determine whether the video had been altered.

      3. While the argument can be made that EXIF info can be changed, most people wouldn’t change the info for every single photo they took with their camera phone or even DSLR for a given timespan.
        It would be fairly easy to establish a timeline by using photos taken before and after the pictures that would be in question. For example, you go on a trip to Disney World. You have photos of the airport and of your family getting on the plane, you have photos of the family getting off the plane and all happy in florida, and then you have the rental car and then actual photos of Disney. not only do you have plane tickets as proof of time to show those photos are real, but then the rental photos are in the next sequence, followed by photos of the actual vacation.

    2. Hmmm. A hotel room. Hotel rooms don’t come with odometers. Maybe use my rental car method below and turn the TV on to some news channel which might have a time and date in the bottom corner of the screen and video that, if you can.

    3. That was my first thought, too, then I remembered something I saw on an episode of The Rockford Files. Jim was making a recording of a noisy, late-night, neighborhood party. While recording, he called ‘Time’ on his house phone, and recorded the time as well. Pretty slick, I thought. Now, we have cellphones, so use your cell to take the video of the room, and the room phone to call ‘Time’ while you’re recording. Whataya think?

      1. The Rockford Files episodes were shot between 1974 and 1980. That was when there was only one telephone service provider in each market. Today, with the phone service market being so fragmented, few phone companies still provide that service. One that gives the caller the date, time and local temperature is Verizon in Boston. The number is 617-637-1234. The time will be correct only for locations in the eastern time zone.

        1. Yeah, we used to have “POPCORN” here in CA, but that went away a few years ago. You can still call the US Naval Observatory, though:
          1 (202) 762-1401 for Eastern time (subtract an hour for Central)
          1 (719) 567-6742 for Mountain time (subtract an hour for Pacific)

        1. Oh, come on Jeanne… according to jim6555, that show went off the air in 1980. You hadn’t even been BORN then. 🙂

      2. I have not had a landline since college, circa 1999. I read somewhere recently that each year, less ans less people do. I agree with your idea, just saying.

        1. Me neither (as far as having a landline, that is). I dumped my $30 a month AT&T landline years ago for a $3 a month Ooma box (WITH free long distance). I meant for my comment to be directed toward folks who are using a cellphone to video the condition of their hotel room when checking out… they can use the room’s landline to call “Time,” and record it with their cell. It’s a shame to have to say it, but these days… CYA! 🙂

  4. The Little Ding
    a Play in One Act (Instead of Two), (a true story)

    The scene: I am picking up a rental car.
    The players: Me and a rental agent with a form on a clipboard.

    Me: “There are some small scratches and a little ding over here.”
    Agent: “I can cover it with the palm of my hand, so it doesn’t count.” (smiles)
    Me: (silently pulls out camera phone and snaps area from several angles) (smiles)
    Agent: “I’ll mark it on the form anyway.” (does so) (does not smile)

    (End of story)

    1. I agree. Just make sure they see you taking photos or videos and you won’t have issues. Why would a company spend a lot of money and time fighting photo or video evidence when the next guy didn’t take the time to record damage. He’ll get stuck not you.

  5. So..you raised a good question; whatever DID happen to general wear-and-tear as a cost of doing business? At one time (meaning, any time in history before the 1% took over) cost of doing business was just that – the cost one had to bear as part of normal course of operation.

    It would be nice of the justice system (well, civil justice, anyway) and disallow these claims across the board to concentrate on actual losses caused by willful, egregious and intentional damage by customers. That should be the standard against which these claims are weighed by the business itselfd in its claims administration process.Was it willful and intentional (slap ’em hard!), an accident (turn it over to insurance – that’s what it’s for) or just minor wear-and-tear (shrug and bear it).

    1. A better question is what should be the allowed depreciation in value in an object over time/use. I’d expect rental car companies depreciate their fleet at a standard rate, one shouldn’t be responsible for those costs.

      That said, I decided to play with some car pricing sites. A Ford Focus (last rental) appears to depreciate at roughly $33 for every 1000 miles.

    2. I’m sorry, but at what time in recorded history had the “1%” not taken over? If anything, it was worse in the relatively recent past. If you disagreed with the king or spoke ill of him, his family, his policies or anything else somewhat closely related, you were accused of treason. The penalty for treason was execution. The Magna Carta (1215 and thats in England) only applied to the 1%, and even aristocracy was executed for treason with no real, just cause other than the kings pleasure plenty of times……

  6. Hotels needed more profit, just like every other industry. They looked at the unbundling by the airlines and how it added to the bottom line. The free newspaper and local calls and “access” to the little gym and business center became a “:resort fee” even though there was no resort. They looked at how car rental agencies paid for their upkeep and saw a way to refurbish their rooms at a profit. I am waiting for a “real estate tax recovery fee” to appear on the bill in analogy to my phone company’s “regulation recovery fee.”

    And so it goes. When buyers look only to the advertised base rate to choose a service, the unbundling will go on. After all, I hear there is a profitable airline that can sell tickets for a pound and earn a living on fees.

    1. Hotels don’t NEED more profits, they WANT more profits.

      Business has become a victim of its own success. With mega companies share price is everything. Yours didn’t go up fast enough then there will be a shareholder lawsuit in your future.

  7. How uncomfortable is it to do business with people who are out to screw you? (Transitive verb to get something out of somebody with great difficulty, or to cheat or swindle somebody)

    Isn’t there some governmental office who will prosecute vendors for fraud who pull this and then are caught by photographic/video evidence? Evidence of such fraudulent tactics when reported in the news makes for bad public relations. There is sufficient competition in the car rental field and the hotel/motel industry for those vendors to want to avoid averse publicity.

  8. I always take pics of our rental cars, but I do it when the agent is watching, just so they know I have taken them. They can also be in the shot, which proves when they were taken.

  9. Old proverb, “Trust but verify.” I won’t call a car rental clerk or employee a liar, but I always do take photos of my rentals. Never had to use them, but I have them. App for the phone cost me $2. Easy decision to buy it.

    1. Ward, what kind of app do you use for taking photos of the rental car that would be different from the freebie camera you get with the phone?

      1. It’s called Rental Pics. Benefit is that it helps to prevent overlooking taking photos of particular views. Photos are saved by rental event, which makes retrieving a bit easier. Is the app better than the in-phone camera and support software? No, but the convenience factor, to me, is worth $2.

        1. Cool, found it! Yes, I’m past only getting the free (or “free”, which as CE says is never free) apps, if I’m convinced the app is pretty good. Seems convenient too. Thanks!

  10. Bad question. SHOULD they be necessary? No. We should be able to trust rental companies. (first poll answer). ARE they necessary? You bet. “Smile for the camera”. (second poll answer).

  11. I’m still curious to know exactly how prevalent is this. I have been renting cars since 1990. I began renting cars frequently beginning in 1999. For much of that time, I rented with whomever was cheapest. I’ve even rented with Payless (Just say no). I’ve received exactly one letter… from Alamo. I told them that the car was returned unblemished and look elsewhere. That was the end of it.

    Admittedly, I do check the cars inside and outside and force the agent to mark any damage. I’ve never taken a picture and I’m not shy about refusing a tainted car.

    That’s why I have to wonder how common is this issue.

    1. I am just speculating here but I do believe that people who rent often (more than once a month) from the same rental car company are probably less likely to get hit with this than the occasional, once a year, vacation trip renter. Why? The rental companies do know the frequent renters provide a constant revenue flow. Also the frequent renters know to inspect the vehicle and either demand a different one if there are excessive dents and scratches or they know to fill out the damage form before leaving the lot so they are covered.

      For me, I think belonging to the Hertz 5 Star Gold Presidential (whatever it is called this month) and Avis First and most of the other frequent renter programs helps deflect a lot of these types of claims. Especially when the membership is through your employer. They really don’t want to lose a huge hunk of business by scamming those customers.

      1. I also think people on vacation tend to let their guard down. They’re in a hurry to get to the beach, so they let the agent skip the walk-around.

      2. Agree. I think my run of good fortune is because I always rent with the loyalty programs offered by my employer/insurance company. Come to think of it, being an auto insurance company employee probably never hoits.

    2. Based upon the various articles here and readers comments, it seems to me that infrequent renters who pay for economy or compact cars and decline the CDW are more likely to see damage claims.

      1. The problem is that what we have here is neither statistically significant nor representative. People don’t write to Chris when their rentals go well. It’s like a police officer having his perceptions skewed because he or she only deals with criminals and victims.

        Is it 1% of rentals that result in claims? 0.1%, 0.01%?

        Based on my own experience, ( a horrendous barometer) , I spend about 50 or so days a year in rental cars,which translates to about 25 rentals. I’ve been renting cars frequently for 15 years. That’s 750 rental days or 375 rentals.

        One bogus claim about 10 years ago that was resolved easily and one erroneous refueling charge in 2013 which was resolved with two phone calls. That’s the sum total of my rental car drama.

        That means 99.47% of my rentals were issue free. And I haven’t taken rental car insurance since I was an undergraduate.

        Is that number normative? I have no idea.

  12. “Hotels, for example, are notorious for simply charging a customer’s credit card for damage” And I just tell the Credit Union that they put an un-authorized charge on my CREDIT UNION card. POOF! Like the genie out of the bottle – it disappears!

    1. And then the hotel sends the bill to a collection agency which dings your credit report for failure to pay. 🙂

      1. Then I file a complaint with the credit agency, putting it on hold until resolution of the complaint. These actions could take a considerable length of time. The collection agency is enjoined from prosecuting further attempts at collection under pain of legal sanction.

        Then I subpoena the hotel to small claims court, requiring them to bring all their business records pertaining to this and all similar cases. Of course, since I made the reservation from Virginia, and PAID for the reservation in Virginia, they are subject to Virginia law and court system, and must appear in Virginia court to respond. They must show evidence to substantiate their claim that I am liable for whatever it is that they allege. Of course, as noted in other posts herein, I ALWAYS photograph and video EVERYTHING like cars, hotel rooms, etc. in case some scumbag tries a cutie-pie extortion. Should they fail present themselves, along with counsel, to the court of the Commonwealth, we move for, and obtain, decision in our favor, they are in default.

        Should they default, [which they likely might] we then proceed with a seizure action [or actions, as appropriate], and process such through the secretary of state to their resident state, should they not be within the Commonwealth. If we then discover anything which can be seized, we seize it.

        I’m so tremblingly scared of extortionists, can’t you discern?

        1. I remember reading somewhere about a case like that where the person who won a suit against an airline was not able to get the payment the court awarded. She and her lawyers were able to get the sheriff of the county where a major international airport is located to serve papers to slap a lean on a 747 leaving for Europe that prevented the plane from leaving the US. Amazing how fast the airline paid her, by wire transfer, everything owed to her from the court settlement.

          (Just wish I could remember where I read this so I could provide a link. And I’m not suggesting that someone owed less than the price of a 747 should attempt to do this.)

          1. I read that a lawyer sued, they defaulted, he went out to the airport the night before and took down the number of the a/c, and returned in the AM with the sheriff. Wouldn’t accept their check; insisted on cash. The airline hadda go to their competitors at o-dark-thirty to scrounge up the cash to pay him. He then told them that they must also pay his expenses for collecting his judgement, or he’d do it to ’em again. Dunno how much is true, but I like the story…..

          2. I think our own Joe Farrell did something like that at San Jose Airport. He can provide the details better than I can.

        2. Have you actually done any of that or is it all theory?

          I’m curious about what is your authority that you can force a cessation of collection activities by filing a complaint? And to whom is this complaint directed?

          If you want to subpoena records, you will have to file a lawsuit against the hotel. That lawsuit would have innumerable issues. Assuming you prevail at court, what are your damages such that you could begin seizing assets? Plus, if you subpoena the hotel’s representative, then you won’t get a default because they will show. Failure to show up when under a subpoena is a very serious matter.

          BTW. You don’t use the Secretary of State to enforce another state’s judgment, you use the local courts.

          There is a much simply way to resolve this. Tell the collections agency that the debt is disputed, that its not a financial institution and that they cannot report the debt, and don’t call you again. Of course, you may never be able to do business with that travel provider again, but do you really want to?

          1. “Have you actually done any of that or is it all theory?”

            It’s all BS, just like everything else appearing on this blog…..

    2. When the guest signs the room registration form, it means they are responsible for all charges incurred during their stay, even if the charges are discovered after check-out. You wouldn’t believe how many guests room-charge purchases at the concessions on the day of check-out, hoping it won’t make it onto their final bill (which isn’t final anyway.)

      Recently, a guest made some cigarette burns in the carpet of a freshly renovated room, and tried to cover it up with a red wine stain. Well, the Rainbow carpet cleaner does wonders and removed the wine stain, revealing the cigarette burns. The cost of replacing the carpet and the no-smoking-fee will both be charged to the guest’s credit card on file.

  13. One thing I just saw, is coverage through Allianz, TravelGuard, etc. for a flat $9 a day. That is FAR less than I’ve been quoted by the rental agencies, and may consider it in the future.

    1. Depending on the length of the rental, AMEX has an even better deal. A flat $24.95 covers the ENTIRE rental period up to something like 32 days and a combined benefit, which includes the car and any loss of use charges, of up to $100,000. It does not, however cover liability. You are required to provide your own liability coverage.

      But be prepared for rental agents to lie right to your face and tell the the coverage isn’t an good in whatever state you happen to be in.

  14. This situation is becoming more common. I now avoid car rentals if I can. Won’t there be backlash for the rental companies and hotels that pull these scams?

  15. Hey car rental companies, hint hint to win over customers. I will rent from you if you offer me the peace of mind of you recording the conditions of the vehicle in my precense and your agent I signing off on the video.

    We are in a day and age where tablets are pretty inexpensive and temporary cloud storage is not bad either so you can record the state of the vehicle with the rentee at the time of the pick up, store it online so both parties can access it for up to 30 days and both parties sign off on the video. Then it would be up to the rentee to make sure that all details are recorded in the video.

  16. someone caused the damage.
    Have seen people cover a rental car with mud (after ski trip) to try & hide minor damage.
    The damage will be picked up at some point, so someone has to wear it.

    1. One of the reasons to avoid vacationing in Colorado is their car rental agency friendly laws basically allowing the agencies to do whatever they please to the consumer: Someone goes out and dents/scratches a car and returns it and they, or a future renter, gets dinged for the damage + loss of use.

      And the rental company doesn’t have to actually fix it.

      Then another dupe, er, customer rents the same car and returns it and he gets hit with all the fees and… (you got it)

      The company doesn’t fix it.

      Again and again. It’s a scam.

      If this is important to the rental companies, then they should fix every car and make them perfect from the day they go into the fleet until they are retired.

      1. car rental companies do not have to repair minor damage eg. scratches. Car could be out of fleet for days.
        Many 2nd tier companies wouldn’t bother.
        In New Zealand 1000’s of Japanese used cars come in from Japan every year.
        These end up in 2nd tier car rental company fleets (ie not multinationals).
        They are far cheaper, but many have big mileages & few scratches.

  17. I stayed at Hotel Pennsylvania in NYC and had a wonderful time. The hotel was ancient and looked it. Parts of the room’s carpet had tears, the walls had cracks but…

    You could open the window (6 inches) from the 20th floor!

    When was the last time you did THAT in a building in the states?!?!

    Never got a suspicious damage waiver but walking around the hotel you could see lots of wear and tear from over 100 years or so. Some people wrote on Tripadvisor how awful it was but hey, for 100 bucks a night my wife and I stayed in front of Penn Station in a decent sized room and got a free breakfast.

    If the rest of the hotel looked immaculate I would have asked for a better room but it was obvious from the overall condition what the place is like. I wonder… if a hotel’s room looks like a crack house along with the rest of the place, wouldn’t that be useful to establish a legal case with the credit card company the property is probably barking up a tree to demand fixes for a room that are similar to the rest of the property?

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