This is William Cameron’s rental car when he returned it to Enterprise a few weeks ago in Denver. Looks fine, doesn’t it?
Not according to Enterprise.
“They’re telling me that the number of miles I drove indicate that I drove through a hail storm,” he says. “Which I did not.”
As you can tell from this post’s category, my efforts to mediate this case for Cameron fell flat, and it presented him with a non-negotiable bill for $1,800. Not exactly the outcome he — or I — had hoped for. But this failure is filled with teachable moments.
Enterprise made him wait several hours when he returned the vehicle.
“Their fleet had been damaged by hail,” he explains. “The manager walked us around the vehicle, which had already had some damage — minor dents, and the front bumper was damaged — and I took a photo of the front bumper. We pointed out some dents, but she said that it was OK because they were smaller than a golf ball.”
Now, that’s a standard line. Any damage “smaller than a golf ball” is said to be acceptable when you’re given the keys to a rental car. When you return it? Not so much.
Cameron’s case fell into the “not so much” category.
A few weeks later, he received a surprise bill.
“They are saying that I’m liable for the damages because I drove 500 miles, and that because there were hail storms within a 500-mile radius of Denver, I drove into a hail storm,” he says. “I have printouts of my GPS searches when I was in Denver which should be decent evidence that I was nowhere near those hail storms.”
Denver is a hotbed of hail damage claims for rental cars. And this isn’t just an Enterprise problem. The rental companies tend to bill first, ask questions later.
It’s such a big problem that it made our frequently asked questions on rental cars.
Enterprise doesn’t publish its contract online or on its Denver location page, but I can well imagine that Cameron signed a contract that said he’d be personally responsible for anything that happened to the vehicle, including hail, random dings and alien abductions.
The problem he’s having (and I am, too) is that one representative told him not to worry and gave him that old chestnut about the golf ball-size damage and “no worries,” and then he gets slammed with an $1,800 bill. That really chaps my hide.
So does this: I contacted Enterprise, asking if it could explain the discrepancy between what one of its employees told Cameron and what the company then did, and it simply sent him another bill.
Look, if someone signs a contract agreeing to cover any damage to a car, they should be held responsible. But don’t tell them one thing and then do another. That’s not good customer service. And you don’t need me to tell you that. You should know.