Case dismissed: “There was no possibility of any damage having occurred”

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.

Uh-oh.

He got out the paperwork to make sure it had been documented and there were scratches noted in the right quarter panel.

He considered the damage to be more than scratches and did not want to be held responsible for the damage.

He immediately called Enterprise to express his concern and drove to their office before his appointment to show them the damage.

The meeting didn’t go well. It escalated into an argument, with an Enterprise employee allegedly “waving the paperwork in his face” and saying, “You signed this, didn’t you?”

Suvak’s husband later spoke with a manager, who assured him he wasn’t responsible for the damage, and promised to write a revised condition report.

Unfortunately, he neglected to say what would be in the new report.

Suvak explains what happened next.

We received a letter from the damage recovery unit acknowledging notification of damage and asking for our insurance information, etc. I am now well versed on what we should have done, but is there any recourse on this dismal situation?

They are dunning me or my insurance company for $1,319, including loss of use.

I asked Enterprise about this situation. Here’s the response I received.

We checked previous records, and there are no indications of any vehicle damage prior to this transaction.

In addition, this customer’s insurance adjuster says that the customer’s story is slightly different – that is, the customer told the adjuster that he/she noticed the damage upfront and specifically pointed it out to the Enterprise employee.

The customer also is claiming that our employee said the damage wasn’t worth noting. However, as you can see from the attached photo, the damage is significant. (See photo, above.)

Obviously, such a scenario is not consistent with the “we had no concerns” statement in the email below, so we are confused. Could the customer please clarify?

We also are confused by the customer’s reference to a “revised condition report.” Is the customer able to provide more details? We are unfamiliar with such a document.

I asked Suvak about the Enterprise response. She asked what evidence Enterprise had that its car wasn’t damaged? How about some time-stamped photos?

Also, by “damage upfront” she and her insurance adjuster meant the morning after the delivery — not at the time the car was picked up.

The Enterprise employee did not tell us the damage wasn’t worth noting because we never mentioned it in the first place. We were not aware of it until the following morning.

The whole statement seems ludicrous, because if we had seen the damage at delivery and pointed it out to Enterprise and been told it wasn’t worth noting, then why would we have found it necessary to again contact Enterprise the following morning and waste our time returning to their office if we had already been told the damage wasn’t worth noting.

Enterprise’s answer remains unchanged. She’s responsible for the damage.

Unfortunately, I have to move this into the “case dismissed” file.

There’s no right side in this one. Enterprise needs to do better than say it has no record of damage prior to the rental. It needs credible evidence. I think it should be photographing its cars every time it rents them.

Also, I strongly disagree with any “loss of use” charge. Unless Enterprise can prove that all of its cars were being rented, and that it lost business as the result of not having this car in service, it should drop the charge. (And even then, I would find the charge problematic.)

At the same time, Suvak’s story had a few holes. If she’d only done the inspection herself and photographed the car pre-rental, then this could have been avoided.

But I’m afraid I’ve taken this one as far as I can.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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