Is this car rental damage claim for real?


Brendon Taketa is broadsided by a damage claim two months after he returns his rental. Is the bill legit?

Question: Last March, I rented a vehicle from Hertz in Los Angeles. When I picked up the car, I noticed that the car had seen better days and had some minor damage, like scratches and small dents.

As I left the Hertz facility, I asked the attendant to mark all damages on that little yellow slip they give you. She blew me off and said, “If it’s cosmetic, don’t worry about it!” She had this look on her face that told me she wasn’t in the mood to deal with it.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Global Rescue -- Global Rescue is the world’s leading provider of medical, security, evacuation and travel risk management services. Founded in 2004, Global Rescue has exclusive relationships with the Johns Hopkins Emergency Medicine Division of Special Operations and Elite Medical Group. Global Rescue provides best-in-class services that identify, monitor and respond to client medical and security crises. Learn more about Global Rescue.

Anyway, upon returning the vehicle, an attendant came up, did a quick walk-around and printed my receipt. Off I went, not even thinking twice about it.

Well, today I got a call from Hertz informing me of “damages” to the vehicle I had rented. Apparently, there’s a chunk missing from the wheel. I know for a fact that this is bogus, since I looked over the vehicle before returning it.

Of course, I have no pictures or even my rental agreement or receipt to dispute this. Isn’t it a little too late for Hertz to accuse me of this now, after the fact? I mean, once I return the car and no longer have possession, doesn’t my responsibility of said vehicle end at that point?

How can Hertz prove that it was me who damaged the vehicle? How does the company know it wasn’t one of its employees who damaged it while moving it within the parking lot? — Brendon Taketa, Ewa Beach, Hawaii

Answer: Hertz sure took its time with your damage claim, didn’t it? Most car rental companies will notify you of damage to one of its vehicles immediately, when you return the rental, or at least within a week or two.

This easily could have been avoided if you’d learned to use your cellphone camera and the word “no.” By now, you know that “before” and “after” shots of your rental are mandatory, no matter what an employee says. If you don’t have photographic evidence that you didn’t rough up your rental, you’re guilty until proven innocent, unfortunately.

And a few polite “nos” along the way could have put the brakes on this claim. For example: “No” to the banged-up rental. Hertz should have given you the keys to a vehicle that wasn’t dinged and dented.

Also, “no” to the employee’s claim that “if it’s cosmetic, don’t worry about it.” No, you should worry about it. Fill out that checklist that’s part of your rental agreement. Get everything in writing.

Even if you’d taken all of those precautions, Hertz still might have filed a claim. If the photos and forms weren’t enough, you could have appealed in writing to one of the company’s executive contacts. I list them on my consumer-advocacy site.

In the end, even if this bill was legit, the company should have furnished you with a repair bill and photos that substantiated the claim. I contacted Hertz on your behalf to find out if it could send you that information. The company responded directly to you, and it apologized for the “inconvenience” you encountered.

“The agent should have looked over the vehicle with you when the vehicle was returned,” a representative told you in an email. “I can assure you I have forwarded your concerns to the appropriate management responsible for this location, who will personally address the matter with all staff involved to prevent this from happening in the future.”

Hertz dropped its claim against you.

Should Hertz have dropped its claim?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

117 thoughts on “Is this car rental damage claim for real?

  1. If that’s the LAX hertz, they use cameras to photograph the car at the guard station. Also, if you are a gold member, you’re not supposed to be charged for minor stuff. That being said, I made the guard notate and sign the damage form on my last rental.

  2. I rent frequently but never leave the lot without photographs and an attendant noting all the damage on a car, no matter how minor. The last time I rented in Europe the attendant even noted that I took photographs of the car along with the damage indications. I thought that was a bit peculiar…

      1. You’re right, Mark. I think they just blast out these letters asking for money and hope some people will just send them a check. It’s really a ludicrous situation. I put all my rentals on American Express and I think the rental companies are scared of them, because I never get any bogus damage claims after I return the car. On occation I have damaged a rental car and stepped up to pay for the damage when I returned it.

      1. IF someone told me “don’t worry about it”, I will say “Can you repeat it as I record it on my iPhone as well as please state your name, employee id #, the date, the time, etc.”

        1. LOL I actually did that! I rented a car in Danbury, CT last year. That car had so many scratches and dings I couldn’t count them all. But it was the only one left, so I was stuck with it. The agent pulled the “oh don’t worry about the scratches” line. I pulled out my iPhone and asked her to repeat that for the video, and began videoing the car as I walked around it. (There were so many dings that it seemed more efficient to just do a video rather than dozens of photos!)

          She walked away, clearly pissed, unwilling to star in my dent-a-wreck production. But at least I felt protected.

          1. I always take a video with my phone, even on a newer car. It sometimes takes a few minutes, but it’s worth it to me. I start with showing the pick-up area and the employee if possible, a quick short of my paperwork that shows the date, the car’s clock, odometer, the fuel gauge, and then I move to the exterior of the car, slowly all the way around. I do the same thing when I return the vehicle. Sometimes it annoys the heck out of the agency but I don’t care. And sometimes other customers laugh at me but I don’t care. I’ve had my own friends roll their eyes at me but I. Don’t. Care. I will not be caught unawares. I’ve been reading Chris’ stuff for so many years and have heard enough horror stories that I’m willing to get to the airport early enough to make sure there is time for this and to suffer the anal-retentive (wo)man comments.

  3. These scenarios cry out for regulation:

    1. Statute of limitations Renter should be notified in writing no more than 30 days after the date the car was turned in.
    2. Detailed inspection requirements No crawling on the ground or climbing a ladder to look at the roof.
    3. Cleanliness If vehicle is covered with snow (photos required) upon checkout/in, agency must either clear and clean vehicle or wave future damage claims.
    4. Documentation Agency must document ALL damage at checkout (or waive future claims).

    1. A 20 day statute of limitation is exceptionally short. Few are less than a full year. The shortest one I can think of is 6 months for government claims.

      1. If the location has the car longer than ten days without renting it or inspecting it, they have too many cars.

        The 20-day limit is for discovery and notification of damage. To my thinking, it’s too long. If it isn’t noted at check-in, it’s not possible to definitely ascribe the damage to the renter, since the vehicle has been driven by others since then.

        1. Well, not really.

          What the rental location would need to do is make a notation of the damage prior to renting it to someone else. That would be an admissible business record.

          As long as a proper recording of the damage is made, the notification to the renter need not be made in any particularly expeditious time frame.

          1. If they want to attribute the damage to the renter, how can they wait two months? Would a reasonable person assume the car had not been moved from the check-in lane in all that time?

          2. If they first discover damage two months later, then that’s on them. But if they notate it appropriately then it’s fine

          3. I realize this is a criminal law term, Carver, but isn’t “chain of custody” the central issue here? Agency would have to provide evidence of where the vehicle went and ASSURE that there was no damage between my check-in and their more detailed inspection.

          4. You are correct. So,, the closer the discovery of damage is to the time that it was returned, the better for the car rental agency. Of course, the type of damage also matters. For example, I would argue that a huge dent on the driver’s side would be easily noticed by the return agent and thus unlikely to have exited prior to the car being returned.

          5. Agreed. But if they sign off (i.e., no damage) at check-in with such an obvious dent, isn’t that “too bad” for them?

          6. @carverclarkfarrow:disqus Here’s my issue with your version… While the car is in my possession, I’m liable for any damage that occurs even if its a third party (door ding, drive off etc).
            As soon as the rental car company accepts the vehicle, why shouldn’t they be held to the same standard? If they opt to leave it in the return queue and another returner opens a door into it, why should they have the option of charging me? If one of their drivers bumps a post, why should they be able to claim “found damage”?

            That’s my issue in all of this. I have to find any damage before I leave the gate. Why should they be allowed extra time to find damage while the car is in their possession and they could damage it.

          7. I think what Carver is saying is as long as they note the damage, they can take their time to get it appraised, get records together etc. before they notify the renter. Also, they may not know all of the damage right away, they may see a big dent and pull the car, then in two weeks when they are less busy they get the damage appraised and find additional damage under the dent, then get the estimate together and then notify the renter. As long as they note the damage right away, I see no problem with this. Of course, this is assuming the renter actually damaged the car and it wasn’t a pre-existing dent. And also assuming the rental company didn’t damage the car themselves after the renter returned it. Big IFs, I know.

            Here is another example of why we have a long statue of limitations, not using rental cars. Driver A hits Driver B. Driver B goes to the hospital and has knee damage. Driver B’s car is towed away, and repaired by Driver A’s insurance. Driver B goes through several surgeries, and since driver A had the minimum liability coverage, it is exceeded. Driver B’s under insurance motorist insurance kicks in and starts paying the bills. Driver B completes physical therapy and finally after 2 years is medically released. Only then, once all the costs are known, does Driver B’s insurance turn around and sue Driver A.

          8. I agree that’s what she’s saying; however I’m if the opinion the renter should get notice of damage immediately with specifics to follow.

          9. That is contrary to all law. I can’t think of any legal situation where failure to immediately notify the defendant jurisdictionally affects your ability to pursue a claim, government claims notwithstanding.

          10. I’ll tell ya what: In MY legal world, the splitting of an infinitive [to immediately notify] will merit an immediate application of fifty lashes with a wet noodle!

          11. If you’ve honed in on the word “immediately” you’re likely correct, however I’m sure you’re aware of (or can easily find) numerous examples of situations where some sort of notice/prerequisite steps are necessary prior to filing suit. In my opinion, given the totality of the circumstances relating to a car rental transaction, there should be such notice requirement here, and the company should be held to the standard of providing that bare bones notice immediately upon their constructive discovery, i.e. When they retake possession of the vehicle.

          12. Those exist, but they are the exception. most notably

            Government claims
            Claims for which there is an administrative remedy available

            And even in those cases, the smallest notice period that I am personally aware of is 6 months.

          13. That is the shortest period I am aware of as well, which is why I say “should be” when talking about my proposed notice requirement.

            Given that a consumer is given but a brief window to inspect a car for damage when picking the car up, or else forever barred from claiming otherwise, it seems fair that the rental agency should have an equivalent timeframe to do the same upon return, especially on light of the fact that they could easily put processes and procedures in place as part of their business to do so.

          14. But, Carver, once I turn it over to them, their ability to prove it was me is gone, is it not? Else, how could I ever prove I didn’t do it? Pictures are fine, but not foolproof.

            Given the probability of quick turnaround, the onus should be theirs to prove at check-in that there is damage.

          15. Except that we, the customer, are complicit, especially at airport locations. Are you prepared to wait an hour while the agents do a detailed search of each car? I know I’m not, especially when I have a flight to catch a

          16. An hour? Highly doubtful. Last fall we rented a car at SEA and the checkout person didn’t want to document the small dings and scratches we found. Upon insisting, he did so – took about 5 minutes. They just don’t want to do it. And 5-10 minutes is worth it for the piece of mind.

            That said, if they can’t do it right, don’t do it at all …

          17. Its not just the 5-10 minutes it takes to go over your car, but the 5-10 extra minutes to go over the car in front of you and the car in front of that one, etc.

          18. Understood. Then my suggestion to write on the ticket “Agent declined to document damages” stands. Problem solved (I think, as I cross my fingers)

          19. My opinion is if they rent the car again, their ability to prove it was me is gone. If they tried this on me, I’d be asking for internal, time stamped notes showing the damage was clearly notated. I think that’s what you were saying above. I agree, if so. But if they can’t prove WHEN they made the notation, they’re gonna have issues. And it sounds like you agree with that, too (as you said, it starts getting more difficult for them). Unfortunately, most people don’t have the ability or necessary knowledge to fight these things.

          20. Under the FRE yes it’s a business record, but ultimately it’s valueless. That they happened to find damage between Renter 1 and Renter 2 is hardly proof of causation, and barely even evidence given how many things could happen between the two. It may contribute to the preponderance of the evidence, but the presumption should be in favor of the renter, as the company is in the better position to develop systems to monitor this type of damage.

          21. The presumption is in favor of the renter as the agency of the plaintiff, but it’s procedures, plus it’s records, plus the renter’s signature that the car was damage free at the time of the rental will be enough to shift the burden back to the renter, especially if the damage is not easily ascertained at check in.

            For example, damage to the running board is discovered ten minutes after check in and notated on a time stamped computer system.

          22. Except that employees have driven the car, even before it’s rented. And you don’t REALLY believe of them is doing to admit scraping a fence post?

          23. How is that important

            1. You rent a damage free vehicle
            2. You return it damage free
            3. You take a picture upon return. Who cares if the employee damages the car afterwards. You have your pictures

      2. I think you’re getting hung up on the SoL term…I think the poster meant more of a notice period to let the renter know damage had been discovered, the general nature if the damage, and that more info would be forthcoming. Which quite frankly is reasonable…how difficult would it really be to make the system generate a (mostly) form letter when the car is inspected in the next day or two to provide that limited information?

      3. Perhaps a preliminary notification to the renter within 20 days is what should be required. The notice would just inform the renter that the vehicle was returned with damage and that further information would be sent within a reasonable amount of time.

        1. Whether the renter is notified within 20 days or 200 days if they damaged the car it shouldn’t matter. What’s important is that the car rental company is able to substantiate that within a reasonable time, they discovered the damage.

    2. Sounds nice, but implementing it would be tough. Rental agencies wouldn’t want to hire the additional staff required and renters don’t want to wait around longer than absolutely necessary.

      2 & 4 are contradictory. If the rental company must quickly determine if any damage occurred upon the return of the car, how can you limit the scope of their inspection?

      1. Agreed. When I’m at the rental lot waiting to leave to catch a flight, I don’t want to be in a long queue

      2. I don’t see the contradiction. There have been cases detailed here elliott(.)org) about returns in which the agent crawls on the ground to look upwards at the auto body and then state there is damage. Same for higher vehicles where a person would need a ladder (or perhaps stand on a running board) in order to see the roof. I consider that an undue burden to place on a renter, and should be prohibited. Item 4 in my list would include those exceptions.

        There have also been cases sited here (by commenters) where the vehicle was covered with snow at checkout and thus could not be examined (without clearing the snow, which the agent would not do).

        Finally, if the agency doesn’t want to hire the staff needed, then they wave their right to claim damage later on. Because once you take possession and rent to someone else, your ability to prove I did it is gone …

        1. So are you saying agencies should only be able inspect the roof and undercarriage both BEFORE and AFTER the rental? Or that they cannot inspect it at all? The former would require more people and time while the latter would allow renters to damage vehicles for free.

          I’m fine with a waiver if the car is covered in mud and/or snow. That also could lead to renters damaging a car with no consequences, but that’s the agency’s fault for not providing a clean car in the first place.

          1. In my opinion, agencies should only be permitted to inspect the car form a standing or seated position. If they choose to crawl on the floor to look up (not the undercarriage, but looking for damage only seen by light reflecting off the body), then they should do that at check-in as well (instead of the customer) as document such (with corresponding liability on their part). Same for roofs that cannot be seen without steeping on a ladder or the running boards. I consider both an undue burden on renters (think elderly).

    3. We should also add, “If it’s been rented for any length of time, that waives all damage claims by prior renters.”

  4. I remain baffled as to why they think noting damage after they’ve handed you the receipt will stick. It could be damaged at any point after that, and there’s no way to prove who did what.

    1. Sure there are. Their records would should exactly who discovered that damage and when. Then it’s a matter of cross-examination.

      1. And my rebuttal would be exactly what? I claim my pictures were taken “at return”, but they claim the damage was found “right away”. And that means? After they bumped into something while moving it? The reasonableness of proof once they take possession would be tough, would it not?

        The word I’m searching for in all this is “unconscionable”

        1. I watched a Hertz employee move a car forward in line, after it had been checked in, allowing the driver’s side door to bang into the car next to it that had also already been checked in. There was no doubt that the force of the door hitting that other car did leave a ding. Damage does happen after you check in. I now always fill out the prior damage form, placing x’s all over it, including the roof, as a CYA…a Hertz gate agent suggested doing that so I am just following their idea!

          1. I once had a rental where the car was to be picked up at a nearby parking structure. When i asked about noting damages, the rental agent took the form and marked damages to every section. I was somewhat astonished, but then I got to the car and found she had been accurate!!!!

          2. Yes, the condition of some cars that rental car agencies give us are awful. On our last rental in May, I did the same thing with the form. I just put x’s all over, handed it to the agent who accepted it.

        2. 1080p videos from a nice modern low-light pocket camera. Sight along the longitudinal axes at fender height, along doors, etc. What? No dents / waves? Oh, me.

          1. Yeah? Maybe so, but 20 – 30 snapshots plus video including the guy who gives you the car, and they guy who takes it back, and you include shooting the paperwork in your hand while the video is recording? I don’t know anyone who works for No Such Agency, so faking that might be a bit beyond the capabilities of most people. They could easily be challenged, but that doesn’t mean that the challenge will be lent credulity.

          2. Not exactly. If you present pictures, it will require the other side to provide evidence that that pictures/date stamped/etc. are faked. Otherwise the trier of fact has no reason to disbelieve them.

          3. I respectfully (serious about that) disagree. Being a “techy” I know how easy it is to alter time/date stamps before and after. My objection to all this remains the same: it’s too litigious.

          4. The ease of altering a date stamp is minor. Consider

            If you returned the car damaged, where would you get a picture of the undamaged car? Say you took a picture of the car upon rental and are now trying to present that picture with the altered date stamp. You’d get tripped up on numerous ways. First, the rental return is often at a different part of the rental lot than the pickup. The time of day might be different. Just two things that could be used to impeach you.

            It’s all about the art of impeachment.

          5. Easily answered. At the nearest convenient stop after check-out I take a new set of pics sans the new time/date. Drive for xx days, damage the car, and the check-in agent misses it.

          6. My pictures are uploaded to a backup drive online. I expect that if it were pushed about the time/date being fake, the logs of the sync could be used. I am honest and also document, I haven’t encountered a problem. I always take time to take the pictures. When I turn the car in, I park behind other cars. They aren’t whisking them away. If they were, I would simply hold the keys until I got the pictures. Just pull in, take the keys out, give them the keys back when you’ve taken your pictures. If they give you grief, ignore them. And rent somewhere else next time.

        3. If you take pictures upon return, and these pictures substantiate that the car was returned undamaged, the rental agency’s claim that the car was damaged will fail. That is one possible rebuttal.

          1. And they could counter that the time/date stamp was “fake” (i.e., I set my camera to a later time, took another set of pictures, then damaged the car afterwards). They could also claim it happened after the final pics but before check-in (as in, renter took those pics at the gas station 5 miles from our site. Maybe he hit something on the way). Regulation (sigh) is needed …

          2. And when you produce these fake pictures, you are lacking a picture of the undamaged car at the check-in portion of rental lot, assuming its different from the pickup section as it is at Hertz LAX. How do you intend to get one?

          3. Then there is no practical solution. I am sunk – all day, every day. Because I’ve yet to see a check-in setup that facilitates taking pictures. You’re channeled into a narrow lane and really have no way to stop, park, and snap. And once in the structure, they’re all over the car and again, no time for pics.

            You’d jam up traffic, and they’d never stand for that.

          4. Why can’t you take pictures? Take picture with them in it. That would actually be best because you are substantiating that you’re at the check-in area.

          5. Is that what you do? because I don’t believe they’d ever permit that given the crowded nature of check-in.

          6. If I needed to. I haven’t. My magic legal stationary makes makes sketchy claims vanish.


            But seriously, the check-in at Hertz LAX is fairly unrushed.

          7. Really laughing on that one. Carver. So, everyone, the answer is to get legal stationery and business cards made up. Problem solved!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          8. I have never returned a car that didn’t allow me space to take a photo if needed. You are Hertz Gold, as I am, have you ever had any issues after you returned the car?

          9. Who do you normally rent with? Are you a member of any expedited program with a rental car company?

          10. Just a regular renter. We choose the best value for our travel plans. Never had a problem, but we take a lot of pictures and insist they document. Now it seems we need to take “after” pictures in the line at check-in. We don’t travel as much anymore, but it is a concern and a point of stress (a little).

            EDITED: At one time or another, all the major players except Hertz, plus Advantage.

            A lot of work just to cover our bases …

          11. If you take the picts at the gas station, the judge will not believe you. He or she will want to know why did you take a picture at the gas station instead of the car rental lot. Sounds fishy.

          12. I don’t get that. Perhaps I’m more aggressive. I would tell them to wait while I take pictures. They have to wait while you unload the car, check to make sure that you’ve gotten your cell phone and other small items. How long does it take to shoot a few pictures?

            Edited. Or take it outside of the lot with the newspaper on the windshield.

          13. Our last rental we had about a dozen “documented” ding, scratches, etc. And again, every lot I’ve been to has no other place to stop.

            But the larger question remains unanswered: “Why should I have to take after pictures anyway?”. Isn’t the burden of proof on the plaintiff (i.e., agency) to prove I damaged it. And if I have the before pics (without damage) and they don’t (which they likely won’t), I should be fine anyway.

          14. I assume you mean pictures of the undamaged car at pickup? Those are irrelevant. As far as check-in, you signed away your rights with the contract, i.e. if you return the car with previously undisclosed damage, liability is presumed

          15. Have you even tried to do this? I take pictures each and every time. Never, ever had a problem doing that. Not even once. I don’t understand your comment.

          16. My pictures show the return area of the car, other cars, etc…if I can, the agent checking it in. I take not only pictures of the car but wider range ones of the area, where it was taken, etc.

  5. I have often said … You own any damage that isn’t noted on the rental agreement when you accept the vehicle and they own any damage not found at turn it…

    Seems that one story had both. If its there when you get the vehicle write it down no matter what an employee tells you verbally. Likewise, I’m not paying for any damage found after they accept control of the vehicle. I’d like to see them prove that one of their employees or another renter didn’t do the damage after I gave it back to them.

  6. Two months is way too long before the damage is billed to the renter. Can any rental car company expect us to believed that a car was not rented to someone else during that time? And if it has been rented and driven, how can any new damage found be blamed on a previous renter? Also, if “there’s a chunk missing from the wheel”, it would be very noticeable in how the car handled. It is amazing how quickly Hertz (and most other rental companies) drop these claims when questioned.

    I rent from Hertz almost exclusively. Have not had a late appearing damage claim. Yet.

    The lot person who checks you out always seems grumpy these days. But that doesn’t mater when I feel I need to fill out a scratch and dent form. I am not going to end up paying for existing vehicle damage because the employee is having a bad day.

    1. The notification to the renter may be delayed. But the internal records should reflect a discovery that is contemporaneous.

          1. You seem to think that this would make it to court. It rarely, if ever, does. Court costs are significantly more than just paying the damage claim, and the rental company usually just hands the bill off to a bill collector who hounds you forever. For reasons of costs, it’s in neither party’s interest to go to court.

          2. As a litigator I am familiar with court costs. That’s why they have small claims. In many places, no attorneys, a passing acknowledgement of the rules of evidence, and a cheap filing fee. $75 last time I checked.

          3. plus loss of income while having to deal with it. For me, about $500 a day. If I spend one day wrangling with the claim, It has now cost me more than just paying it (most damage claims are mysteriously right around the $500 mark). As a litigator, you have all sorts of advantages in the legal arena. Most of us are just basically terrified of the whole process, and the rental companies know this.

  7. When I find damage on a car during my inspection, I will write it down on the rental agreement and/or the slip. I will either walk back to the counter for them to acknowledge and record the damage or tell the ‘guard’ when exiting to acknowledge and record the damage depending upon the rental location.

    Over the years, there have been a few times that I have been told “the damage has already been recorded’ but I asked them to acknowledge my paperwork so that there are no misunderstandings and they did without any hesitations.

  8. In addition to the tips that Chris wrote about in his article, here is another tip: Ask for another car if the ‘car has seen its better day’; has pre-existing damage; don’t like the brand or model; etc.

    Over Memorial Day weekend, I rented a SUV for our camping trip. Hertz upgraded me to an Infiniti SUV but I asked to be downgraded because the Infiniti model had less cargo space than the Chevy SUV that we ended up with.

    I have asked for another cars because the cars had an odor (non-smoking); smoking odors; was a hybrid (the trunk space was smaller and couldn’t handle our luggage); etc.

    1. These car rental stories always get my blood to boiling – and I’ve never even had a problem myself. I merely get the company to note, on the rental agreement, every teensy little bit of damage. I don’t even take pictures – my cell phone is so old that it doesn’t have a camera. (I suppose I’ll be forced into a new one eventually.) But I’ve seen other renters, touchingly naive, who blithely accept whatever rental they’re offered, no matter how suspect the vehicle, and assume the goodwill of the company. Should a company ever charge me for damage I don’t believe I’ve caused, I’d simply ask them to prove it (or get my card company to ask them for satisfactory documented proof).

      I’m surprised it was Hertz who tried this, though. It’s usually the most reasonable company to deal with in such instances. It’s a plague, these car rental charges that are issued months after the fact. If ever the rules of the game need changing, this is the time.

    2. The way I read it.. It was rented in March 2014, bill for damages received in May 2014. Time between then and now is likely the time that they looked into it, contacted Chris, he looked into it, a resolution was made, and the story was written. Not like they rented it in March 2013 and got a bill in July 2014, though, I wouldn’t be totally surprised at that, either..

  9. Blowing you off with “don’t worry ’bout it” is a lame excuse. Whenever that happens to me, I calmly shut the car off and sit with the contract copy extended to them. They always end up signing it.

  10. We had a problem with Hertz in California. First we made the mistake of picking up in SFO and dropping off at LAX which adds a whopping amount of money on to the rental. The car was also a piece of junk – biscuit tin on wheels. The agent added on all the insurances without asking and we clearly had it on our profile NO insurance – we have more than adequate insurance on our credit card. We had been waiting in line for 90 mins and wanted to get going and didn’t notice the insurance until after the trip. I disputed the charges with the credit card co and they took them off. We have received no end of letters from Hertz asking for payment. The letter I sent stated we would not be held responsible for unwarranted insurance charges and if those charges were legit, the card company would have put them back on our account.

  11. It seems to me that this could all be eliminated with eight video cameras – four at the exit station of the rental facility, and four at the check-in. If you have video of all four sides of the car when I drive it off your lot, you can see my face and you can see the condition of the vehicle. The same applies when it’s returned. Is there damage present when I drive back onto your lot that wasn’t there when I drove it off? Send me a bill, along with the relevant video clips as proof, and I really have nothing to say about it. Video cameras are cheap, and so is storage. And there’s likely already a surveillance system in place at most rental lots, anyway, so it’s just a matter of adding a few cameras to the existing system.
    The fact that this isn’t already universal practice tells me that the rental agencies aren’t all that interested in billing the guilty party. They just hope whomever they bill will pay up, and who’s to say they aren’t billing multiple renters?

    1. Sadly, no, Nathan. Often the damage is small enough that you have to be within 2-3 ft to see it. Our last rental we saw damage to the hood only because we looked at an angle to allow their low ambient light to reflect off it. Had we not done that (thanks to what we learned here), they could have claimed we caused the damage.

  12. This says it all: “This easily could have been avoided if you’d learned to use your cellphone camera and the word “no.””
    I believe this applies: “There’s always some SOB who doesn’t get the word.” -JFK, Cuban Missile Crisis when a U2 from Alaska inadvertently strayed into Soviet air space, and they launched MIGS in freak-out mode…..

  13. Perhaps instead of insisting, we could write on the ticket that the agent declined to document the damages. Wonder how that would go over …

  14. If you look at the alternative coverage documentation from your credit card or the rental clause of your vehicle insurance carrier, you will find that tire damage is not covered…at all! And its easy for a damaged tire to cost $400 or more! And they don’t have to deal with the insurance company lawyers.

  15. Is there any way to find out the odometer reading on the date Hertz sent its notice of damage (two months later)? The odometer reading when the renter returned the car should appear on his receipt. Would be interesting to see how many additional miles we’re added during that time….

  16. Chris, I returned a rental car in Florida in April 2014 that had been previously damaged. The rental damage claims department sent me a letter 87 days after I turned in the car asking me for details of the accident I had been in with their car. I responded by e-mail with the truth: that I had been in no accident, that I had not damaged the car in any way whatsoever, and that I had shot several minutes of high-definition video of the car’s existing damage before departing the rental facility when I picked up the car. Nine hours after I sent that e-mail, just after 8:00 AM the next day, I received an e-mail reply from a “clerk” stating that, based on the information I provided, she closed the claim. I think this fishing-for-a-defendant practice is highly unethical and shameful. My friend’s wife is a consumer protection attorney with the Federal Trafe Commission; I’ll be providing her with a copy of the letter.

  17. I’m not sure if this was the LAX airport location of Hertz or not. I rent from Hertz a lot, and although the treatment is usually excellent, the last time I rented from the LAX location left a bad taste in my mouth. The employees I saw there were not what I would like to deal with.

    That said, I have run into this “don’t worry about the minor stuff” before, and actually maybe this holds true because the renter was charged for a tire chunk (safety issue) rather than a scratch on the car. I was told that once they check it in with you and if they don’t catch it the, it is too late for them (not sure if I believe that).
    In any case, I take pictures before and after, and have them note the rental form before I leave.

    Everybody should be doing that, and everybody should realize that if you damage the tire, it is going to cost you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: