The rate error story that got away — in a big way

Pavel IgnatovShutterstock
Pavel IgnatovShutterstock
Anyone who reads this site probably knows my position on rate errors, which is to say I think it’s wrong to take advantage of someone else’s mistake, even if it’s made by a big travel company.

So you can imagine how dismayed I was when I got a call from Howard Steinberg, who owns several Budget car rental franchises in the United States. Not only had one of his customers exploited a rate error, he says, but I had helped the traveler do it.

How’s that?

Well, to get up to speed on this story, here’s the Q&A column that started it all. It involved a reader named Brandon Chase who had received a mysterious phone call from Budget’s auditing department, notifying him of a billing error. Budget re-charged his credit card $85, apparently not giving him a discount it had promised.

I scolded Budget in the column for going back on its word. But it turns out I didn’t have the whole story. Even though I had contacted Budget, its only response was to offer the customer a refund. Otherwise, it had nothing to say. (I’ll have more on Budget’s silence and the meaning of it in a moment.)

The rest of the story

Steinberg called to fill in the gaps. As it turns out, Chase hadn’t negotiated any discount with the Budget Kansas City location when he rented his car, he told me.

“When Mr. Chase returned the vehicle, our rental agent erroneously entered the returning mileage of 8,727 into the discount field on the return rental agreement,” Steinberg says. “This error by our rental agent generated a total credit to Mr. Chase of $104.69 — $87.27 of time and mileage charges, $9.69 in airport concession fee, and $7.73 in sales tax. Mr. Chase was not entitled to this credit and he only received the credit because of our counter agent’s error.”

During a routine audit, the Kansas City location caught the mistake.

“Our staff in Kansas City contacted Mr. Chase and informed him that we had found the error and we were going to be charging him an additional $104.69 for this rental,” says Steinberg.

But that didn’t sit well with Chase, as we already know.

Mr. Chase contacted our Kansas City operation several times in February and March to complain about this charge.

On March 6th he contacted Budget Customer Service. On March 14th a letter was sent to Mr. Chase by Budget Customer Service. This letter reiterated what he had been told by our staff in Kansas City.

Even though it was quite evident to us that this was a discount that Mr. Chase was not entitled to, on March 15, 2012, we authorized a credit to Mr. Chase for $104.69.

In other words, that refund was the result of the back-and-forth between Budget corporate, the franchise, and the customer, and had nothing to do with me.

In our phone call, Steinberg made it clear that Chase knew he wasn’t entitled to the discount, but that he wanted it anyway. After all, a deal’s a deal.

Case dismissed?

I’m unhappy that Chase didn’t tell me the full story. The fact that he knew he wasn’t entitled to the discount, and that it was the result of an agent error (a “fat finger” rate) probably would have changed my coverage of this dispute.

I’m also unhappy with the way in which Budget corporate handled my mediation request. Because of the volume of cases I handle, I can’t follow up on each one and ask if there’s “anything else” a company wants to say once it’s fixed a problem. If they want to talk about a particular case they know where to find me, and they also know that my request for help puts them on notice that I may write something about the problem.

In Chase’s case, the real issue was the apparent breakdown in communication between the franchisee and Budget corporate. Even after the Q&A story appeared, the corporate PR department advised Steinberg to remain silent, because it would just bring more attention to this case.

I’m glad Steinberg ignored Budget’s advice. His side of the story does indeed change the dynamic of this case, and I am sorry I wasn’t able to tell it to begin with.

Should Brandon Chase pay Budget back?

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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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  • Cybrsk8r

    I’m kind of conflicted on this one. On the one hand is it right for the OP to profit from an honest mistake made by the agent? No, I don’t think it is. But on the other hand, if the situation were reversed, say he’d fat-fingered the date on a non-refundable reservation, would the company try to keep his money? You betcha! So I don’t think I can vote on this.

  • dourdan

    the original article says “since there was an advertised discount.”

    was that a lie from the OP?

  • Rebecca

    For about the past week or so at least, when I go to your site using my phone and click the link to open a post, using either the email link or off the home page, I am redirected to another site and the google play store opens to a game called candy crush saga wanting me to install it. Here is the address I was redirected to:

  • PsyGuy

    I hate that its become an “us” vs. “them” race to see who can make the biggest grab for the money, whether the form of that money is profit or a discount, BUT that’s what it is. Every airline, car rental agency, cruise line, hotel, would have kept the money if the mistake was on the consumers side whether it’s a misspelled name on a ticket, to being conned or scammed into a CDW on a car rental contract. This is why the right loses to the wrong, evil doesn’t play fair. Doing the right thing now just makes you sucker who pays more, then the person who cheated or took advantage of an error. We admire those people, we consider them “smart” and we even make it sound “good” by describing it as an “opportunity”. If I told you, you had an opportunity to save $100 on a car rental you were going to make anyway, wouldn’t you consider it smart to take that opportunity? Substitute “take” for “opportunity” and would it really make a difference to most people? your not taking food from your neigbors kitchen, or money from your friends pocket, its a faceless, souless company that would think of nothing taking ever last dollar it could from you, to do nothing more then make it’s shareholders happy with higher profits. So yes it’s us vs. them, because that’s the way it is.

    Whoever says crime doesn’t pay, isn’t doing it right.

  • Bill___A

    It is important to be fair in every case. We expect businesses to be fair with us and we should be fair with them. Mr. Chase should have known what the price was before he rented and he should pay the proper price. I see consumers complaining about how they are mistreated all the time in this column. Budget is entitled to be treated fairly too. Not only pay up – but apologize.

    As for those of you who think that the company would be “unfair” if the shoe were on the other foot…I think not. The companies I deal with are pretty much always fair when there is a reasonable discussion. And the companies I deal with are pretty mainstream.
    There is a lot to be said for fairness – Mr. Chase.

  • jmtabb

    I agree with this – I play fair (I return money to the cashier who gives me too much change, I double check that all items are on my restaurant bill etc.). And I expect that that the businesses I frequent will play fair too.

    But what I question a bit is the timing. How long after the rental was returned did the auditor find the error and announce they were going back and charging Mr. Chase? How long do we give a company the “right” to do that? A week? A month? 6 months, a year?

    In most cases, the transaction ends when we finish our business and pay the bill. But the rental companies have our credit cards and feel it’s right to go back and charge us after the fact when they find damage (I’m guessing it’s in our rental agreement that they can too, but I don’t have one in front of me right now).

    So perhaps at least part of the discussion should be how long after the rental is over do the rental companies have to find and charge damage, rectify billing etc. At some point there needs to be a hard line where it’s too late.

  • Bill___A

    It looks like this dispute has been going for some time, so I don’t know in this case. I photograph the cars before and after each time I rent. Twice in the last year, a car was returned with damage. It wasn’t my was a colleague and one was a hit in the parking lot – but in both cases, the charges were detailed when I returned the vehicle.

    Like you, I do double check restaurant items, I do return change, check supermarket bills and such. They do appreciate when that’s done. It happens a lot more than one thinks. Businesses must lose a lot due to this actually. On a trip to Atlanta a couple of months ago, there were in fact two restaurant issues where they would have been out money had something not been said.
    I am not in the rental car business. I don’t know how long the auditing process takes. Maybe that’s what we should know…is it every week, every month?
    There are definitely some things that take too long. A United Airlines onboard purchase took a month to get on my credit card recently.

  • jpp42

    I don’t think rental car companies are quite as strict as airlines on reservations – in fact some rental reservations still don’t require any sort of credit card to confirm. Rather than a confirmed reservation, they’re more like an advisory that you’re planning on coming that day so they have enough cars. So I don’t think saying that the rental car company would try to keep the money is totally fair.

    In this case, checking the original article, it seems that Budget’s original offer was a $50 voucher, as a way of apology for the error. That seems fair to me – the company is still getting some of their money, as they were indeed due it, but the renter is getting compensated for his confusion and extra time dealing with the matter.

  • jpp42

    It’s actually a pretty addicting game, worth a try! :)

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I see it differently. I don’t see these people are smart. I see them as folks whom I should never turn my back. Mr. Chase wanted his $100 so badly that he was willing to lie to Chris to get it. He didn’t care about the company that he was scamming. He didn’t care about the employee getting in trouble. And he certainly didn’t care about Chris’ professional reputation when he conned Chris into helping him.

    To answer your question, no, I would not take an opportunity to save $100 under these circumstances.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    One question. If the car rental company overcharges a customer. How long is reasonable for the customer to learn about it and request a correction.

  • SoBeSparky

    By the very nature of an ombudsman column, consumers understand Christopher is usually taking on corporate America in disputes. Thus, people who want “something for nothing” (a polite euphemism of the word, stealing) gravitate to someone who might, just might, take their side when a dispute appears on face value to favor the consumer.

    Is it any surprise the Brandon Chase’s of the world would be a disproportionate share of complaints to Christopher? No matter where I travel, someone is always on the “take.” Thieves should return ill-gotten gains.

  • EdB

    That was happening with me too for awhile. The problem is caused by the ad server and is not directly under control of Chris’ site. I have seen reports of this problem with several other sites. The ad server is crossing the line with doing this.

  • EdB

    While it looks like it might be, I refuse to patronize a product that is marketed in this way.

  • EdB

    “your not taking food from your neigbors kitchen, or money from your
    friends pocket, its a faceless, souless company that would think of
    nothing taking ever last dollar it could from you”

    So since it is a faceless, soulless company it is okay to steal from them? Do unto others before they do unto you? Based on your statement, it shouldn’t be illegal to embezzle from a company since it is a faceless, soulless entity.

  • Christopher Elliott

    It appears that was not the case.

  • Christopher Elliott

    I’m aware of the problem, and I apologize for it. We’re trying to figure out a way to block this app.

  • BillCCC

    I wish more companies would come forward with their side when something like this occurs. I think that he should pay the money but that time might have passed.

  • Veronica

    I think the young man should return the money. If the shoe were on the other foot, some would be very upset with a business not willing to honor a discount. However, in this case, there was no discount to begin with.

    Situations like this have the potential to make it difficult for people who are being honest with their situation to get help. I hope this is the exception rather than the rule.

  • James Orth

    Honesty is its own reward

  • Mel65

    I disagree with voting based on “well they’d do it if the situation was reversed.” We aren’t voting on their behavior; we’re voting on Mr. Chase’s which should be irrespective of what Budget would (allegedly) do if it were reversed. My personal ethics say that if it’s wrong for someone else to do something and it’s also wrong for me to do it, the fact that someone else would do it anyway doesn’t make it right for me to do it. That’s personal accountability, and I won’t let someone else’s perceived willingness to be unethical make me be unethical in anticipation that they might. (My apologies for the inordinate amount of pronouns in this convoluted post!)

  • MarkKelling

    Why didn’t the rental agency just say this to start with giving these details?

    Maybe they gave the refund because he is really spending the thousands of dollars renting their cars he claims and they thought it would be good business to refund the charge to keep him as a customer. That is between him and the company. Sometimes companies give their better customers something even when it is not really the right thing to do because they know that customer will make up for the cost with their continued business.

    I agree that using Mr Elliott the way he did is not right.

  • meimporta3

    Ok, I read both columns and the error lies within the agent at the counter who discounted the money ‘by mistake’ in the original transaction. We can all agree on that Right? The customer went with it, maybe he thought the discount was legitimate at the time, seeing he was a regular customer there. We are not sure the customer knew the discount was “illegal’ or a mistake. What I do not understand is how many people are pointing the finger at the customer o at corporate for something that in my experience in the travel industry as an employee, is that, if you make a mistake it comes out of your check. Simple. This got complicated because they should have not called the customer to charge him what was discounted ‘illegally’ in the first place and if I was him I would be furious. With that very first call they insinuated that the mistake was his for accepting the discount in the first place. I’m sorry but it still seems as very bad customer service to call weeks after the fact and charge him whatever the difference was. If this was done through a TA, the difference would have not been charged to the customer instead to the TA out of their pocket. You did the right thing Chris, the customer was a regular and it is BAD customer service to charge him for somebody else’s mistake. It is not about stealing from Budget or the franchisee, this person had been doing business with them weekly. So it is only fair to me that he should take his business elsewhere. End of story.

  • Joe Farrell

    Just yesterday I was checking out at a grocery. It was self check out. There was $8 in the change bin. Someone had forgotten to take it. I took it out and my son asked if I were going to keep Since there was no one there. I told him, absolutely not. He asked what what happened to the money, and I told him that was none of our concern, since it wasn’t ours. And we turned it in to the cashier who was in the front of the self-serve cash registers. We completed our check out and as we were leaving an elderly woman came up and looked at the machine. It was obvious she was looking for the money.

    I asked her if she was looking for some money at the register. She turned, looked at me confused, and said yes I think I left my change in the machine. I told her that we had turned in some cash to the cashier over there, if she can remember how much it was, I’m sure she give it right back to her. She told me she knew exactly how much it was, because she has so little money now she needs to account for every last dime. It’s true, honesty is it’s own reward.

  • EdB

    “in my experience in the travel industry as an employee, is that, if you make a mistake it comes out of your check.”

    That would depend on what state you are in. I know in both California and Oregon an employer cannot deduct till shortages from your pay. I wouldn’t be surprised if all states had such a restriction.

  • Sorab

    Unfortunately, rate disputes are way too common with car rentals, especially with the coupons &
    discounts thrown into the mix.

    There’s no dearth of sources on the internet “revealing a secret code” to their audience. More often than not, these are codes reserved for members of a group or an association and not for use by the general public, but this part is conveniently left out to promote mass hysteria. The ones who suffer the most and usually the unsuspecting, gullible & infrequent travelers.

    The car rental companies also share blame for this problem. Their online reservation systems allow anyone to plug in discount codes and “reserve” a discounted rate without making it obvious who is entitled to use the code. Also, the fact that a lot of people “sneak” by the reservation counter without being asked for proof of membership perpetuates this problem.

    One such incident came to light last month, with people booking weekend rentals from Avis literally for free –

  • Bob from Accountemps!

    As an Internal Auditor myself, my purpose in finding errors such as these is to help the company come up with ways to prevent them in the future. Normally, it is not in the company’s best interest or expectations that “corrections” be made by going back to the customer and imposing additional charges on them, particularly a small amount in the overall realm of things, and to a regular customer, as this one claims to be, and it certainly should not have been done based on a voice mail notification that a customer may or may not receive, or agree with. They should have bitten the bullet on this, and eventually did by offering the credit. I see no purpose or value of the franchise owner butting in here after the fact.

  • meimporta3

    I do not live in a State, Puerto Rico is a US Territory, so it is a standard in the industry here. I had an interview a few weeks ago and they stated the commissions would not pay after accumulating $1000in commissions as a “guarantee” for future mistakes so you can imagine I did not take the job, but you get my drift. They were counting on me making mistakes before the fact. And it depends on how the company pays, if they only have a base salary the mistake cannot be charged from their base salary in the full amount, but if they received some kind of commission or incentives it would come out of there. Some companies will not charge the employee but instead will absorb the mistake within for example revenues from the franchisee or some other way before calling the customer telling them the mistake had been even made. If the standard is to not charge the employee that leaves no other option to the franchisee and corporate to fire the employee to avoid risking other mistakes which would be very unkind also.

  • S363

    I hope the cashier did indeed give her the money! I’d have waited a minute to see.


    Taking something to which you are not entitled is wrong. Wrong for a company, wrong for an individual.

  • Cam

    Regardless of any less than truthfullness on the part of Chase, Budget should not have made a charge back to the customer after the case. The result of the internal audit should be a learning oportunity for the business.

    I would never chase up a customer of mine to recover a short payment that had been caused by an error on the part of my business.

  • y_p_w

    While most reservations are not secured with a credit card, there are an increasing number of prepaid and nonrefundable rates these days. Many are the opaque reservations from Priceline or Hotwire, but at least Avis offers a discount for prepayment.

  • DavidYoung2

    Speculation about what the other party might or might not have done if the ‘shoe was on the other foot’ is irrelevant to what is right, honest and just. Mr. Chase, pay what you owe and to what you agreed. Period. It’s really not complicated.

  • sirwired

    I think that he should not pay the money back. This was not an unreasonably huge discount. That said, it was wrong of him not to mention the “fat-finger” problem in the initial dispute.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Can you explain? This isn’t a case of the OP booking a erroneous fare in good faith. He books a fare, gets charged $100 less than expected, then tells what appears to be a bald faced lie to Chris in order to keep the $100.

    The OP is getting exactly the price he booked.

  • Rebecca

    No need to apologize, I know it’s not you! I did some googling about it. Apparently its a problem on lots of sites. Everything I read said to let the site know, so hence the comment.

  • mszabo

    I dunno actually. I run into mistakes constantly in retail stores where they are having some sale/promotion and never remarked the sale item. So seeing a discount line item on a receipt actually wouldn’t set off my radar. Especially in an industry where prices are very fluid.

    So I’d be a little annoyed if I just received a VM telling me they were going to add 100 to the bill. I’d be a lot happier in that case if they sent me a letter requesting payment with a clear explanation of what happened.

    Now if the receipt showed that he was charged for renting a subcompact when he really had a 17 passenger van, That is an a much more obvious mistake.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    Was the OP of the original story aware of the reason for the additional monies being requested weeks after his rental? If he was, then he took advantage and basically lied to you, Chris.

    If he did, indeed, lie to you, then this is a perfect example as to why it’s harder and harder to work with the general public on a forum like this.

    However, the OP did walk away from the counter following his rental after having agreed to a price and paying it – a meeting of the minds. Yes, the billing error was due to a “fat finger discount”, but I don’t believe that $105 was going to put Budget out of business. They should have just shrugged their shoulders, saw it as a training opportunity and left it alone. The amount of bad press they’ve gotten from this is worth FAR more than the original $105.

    While I can certainly understand their wanting their money, the way they handled it was highly unprofessional and Budget’s reluctance to “get involved” in their own process has them looking a little like the bad guy here. Just keep quiet? Not if you’re right. Though they were right in this situation, they sure acted like the bad guy with something to hide in this one, didn’t they?

  • cjr001

    And this is why people use AdBlock, Ghostery, NoScript, and other such browser add-ons.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Entirely untrue.

    First, as EDB correctly stated, many states (and especially California) prevent charging losses to an employee (as opposed to an independent contractor which many sales people are). It doesn’t matter whether its base salary or commission. Second, any business knows that there will be a certain amount of loss whether through employee error, theft, etc. Business generally build that into the pricing, not fire an employee every time a mistake is made.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Wow, that hit my soft spot hard. While honesty is its own reward, please know that I appreciate your actions and the lesson you passed on to your son and the self-serve cashier.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    maybe he thought the discount was legitimate at the time, seeing he was a regular customer there. We are not sure the customer knew the discount was “illegal’ or a mistake

    How does that work in real life.? The customer books a car for $400.00. He returns the car and only gets charged $300. What set of circumstances would make him think that its a discount. That the low level, non-manager, return agent just randomly decides to take $100 of his bill, without even mentioning it?

    I’m calling BS

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    The purpose was that the car rental company, who many of us, myself included, assumed was being dishonest, was actually the aggrieved party. Made me rethink my knee jerk reaction and upped Budget in my esteem.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Come on. You know better. Your analogy is about a product prior to purchase. Of course that happens all the time.

    But in travel, which has fluid prices, your price doesn’t automatically change after you’ve made the reservation. If you rent a car for a certain amount, you pay that amount regardless of what happens to the rate afterwards. Same with a hotel room, etc.

    A few travel providers are experimenting with alerts regarding rate lowering, but that in the nascent stage.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I was with you right up until that last sentence. Budget and that franchise location received negative publicity in that original column and the owner was entitled to offer an explanation as to what happened.

    The counter employee made an entry error. Mr. Chase should have corrected the error then and there, if he was aware of the error. When Budget discovered the error upon audit, they should have let it go, as you suggested.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Do you know if any of those is available for Android OS smart phones?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Bad Press.
    That’s the rub. Its SOP for a car rental company to charge cards later after an audit. The chances of any particular customer becoming a PR problem is slim. So perhaps Budget got negative press in this case, but the other 10000 customers who they also charged after the fact more than makes up for it.

  • Carver Clark Farrow


  • MeanMeosh

    There are two separate problems in this case: 1) Mr. Chase lied to solicit your help, and 2) the fact that Budget waited for an undisclosed period of time before attempting to collect the alleged additional amount due.

    Starting with issue #2 – it troubles me greatly that any company would wait weeks, perhaps months, for an “internal audit” to uncover an erroneous discount, and then sneakily just run through an additional charge on his credit card. The same day, I can understand, or even a day or two later, perhaps, but where do you draw the line on when a business can come back to you and say “oops”? I don’t know how much time elapsed here, but if it were more than a few days, then I think Budget should be taking responsibility for the mistake and eating it. Yes, I realize your position is that consumers must go through multiple levels of verification to determine that the price charged or quoted isn’t a mistake, and that even then, if the business later cries “fat finger!”, even weeks or months later, we’re obligated to pay what they tell us to because not doing so is “stealing”. I disagree with that position and won’t rehash my arguments here, but putting that aside, I don’t know that an $85 discount for a frequent renter would automatically jump out at me as some kind of mistake. That’s a high percentage, but not out of the ordinary for a car rental. I’ve occasionally had car rental agencies or hotels cut me a break and give me a lower price advertised special that is going on at the time of check in, even if I reserved a higher rate initially.

    Now to the other problem – I have zero sympathy for anyone who feels the need to lie to avail themselves of a discount. I’ve often said I am hesitant to offer anything in these “compassion” cases that come up on this website, simply because I have been burned multiple times in the past by people lying to try and get a break they aren’t entitled to. If he had simply said “Budget waited a month and a half and now wants more money”, that would have been enough for me right there to say he should be refunded his money. But the fact that he was apparently dishonest about the situation evaporates any sympathy I had, and makes me say Budget should throw the book at him, even if they were wrong about how they handled this in the first place!

  • $16635417

    I’ve rented quite a few cars and just about weekly for the past few months. I have always paid what my confirmation says I would pay. If I returned a car and was quoted a charge $100 less than what I expected…I would ask questions. It now sounds like that is what happened here? (Except the OP didn’t ask questions?)

    Also, the contract shows what I would expect to pay as well…and the rental car company authorizes that amount from my credit card. Again, if the amount doesn’t match the contract…I’d be asking questions as well.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    Maybe … as usual, corporate dufuss mentality. If Budget had actually made an effort … contacted the renter and talked with him on the phone, this whole thing probably would have blown over. But they probably just sent him a poorly-worded email or letter announcing the action with no room for discussion … that was guaranteed to get his back up. Nobody likes to be dictated to, especially when the dictator has made an error.

  • cjr001

    That I do not, as I still have a non-‘smartphone’.

  • meimporta3

    You are right, if you receive a discount after agreeing to pay more for something it should raise questions, both for the customer AND the counter agent. Again an employee mistake is just that, room for learning from the experience call it what you want but it is an ugly way of handling the issue. From both sides of the story.

  • meimporta3

    Yeah but that proves the point that the old way of getting what you can form the client once he or she books the reservation is disappearing, Why? Because it is a very competitive industry with fluctuating rates and the best deal always wins the customer back not the other way around. Hence the $50 dollar voucher. Chris MIGHT have been duped by this particular customer in this case but things are changing very quickly and bad press is still bad press hence the instruction for silence to the franchisee. Social media and blogs like these are very dangerous things most people don’t grasp yet. The power of social media and this type of bad press can do over a BRAND is the type of thing they did not want to get the word around. Especially for a difference of $100.

  • doctork

    If he claims to be charged too much and seeks a refund, surely he should be willing to cover the difference by initially paying too little. Can’t have it both ways

  • Alan Gore

    My vote would be based on how I have fared in the past with this particular company. Consider the poll as applied karma.

  • Joe Farrell

    Thanks. I’ve been there. Where $5 would make a difference for me from the 26th to end of the month when I got paid. The cashier was a older woman. I didn’t need to wait cause she said that she saw the woman and thanked us.

    And it’s rare when you get to reinforce that lesson even to yourself in such an immediate way. It felt good, and it shouldn’t have because that should simply be part of the golden rule. I have admit though that the story about the guy who turned in the iPhone and it ‘went missing’ passed through my head at that moment. Which is the only reason I posted the story here. Because it was relevant to the Elliott site.

  • Joe Farrell

    Like Carver knows, this story is why lawyers who litigate a) have a finely tuned bs detector, and b) need and want proof. This guy not only scammed Budget, but Chris, too.

  • flutiefan

    my company (an airline) would NEVER take a mistake out of my paycheck. i may get disciplinary action, up to and including termination. but they would not dare try to take physical monies from my earned hours. that said, an airline i recently became involved with would do exactly that. i asked their agents what happened when the agent accidentally took MORE money than they were supposed to. many said they would just take it home in order to avoid being reprimanded. that’s just sad. i’ve been informed that this particular airline no longer takes missing money out of the employees’ personal paycheck, and that if they are “over” on their reports, they go through a similar disciplinary process like i do.

    long story short… HELL NO on taking money out of my check.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    What does any of that have to do with the situation here and more specifically, the contention that it reasonably likely that the OP thought he was getting a unilateral discount?

  • Chris g

    And we wonder why rental companies have such strict policies. It’s evident that some consumers will lie and cheat just to save $100 on the rental. If the car had been legitimately damaged during the time Mr. Chase had it, based on his past actions, I think he would have lied about it and gotten Chris involved, saying Budget was “scamming” him.

  • Liz c

    So you think it is OK to cheat a customer, then lie to a consumer advocate, saying the business I scamming you, all because you’ve had a past negative experience with a company? CLASSY!

  • Meangirl654

    What room is there for discussion? The OP erroneously received a discount he shouldn’t have. The original story makes it clear that he knew how much he was expecting to pay. If a bank teller gve you miscounts a deposit and credits your account $100 too much, then upon realizing the mistake adjusts the proper amount, how is this wrong?

    Or is it OK, as some have said on this thread, to receive and lie about a discount which one is not entitled to, simply be Use in this case it’s with a rental car company?

  • BMG4ME

    Travel companies do from time to time offer ludicrous rates for real. In my opinion there is nothing wrong with taking advantage of ludicrous rates. On the other hand this was not a ludicrous rate, this was an error, the receipt was wrong and the company was perfectly entitled to claim back the money. If I had been the customer this would not have happened this way because I would have noticed the mistake and had it correctly on the spot.

  • BMG4ME

    BTW I voted “No” by mistake – I meant “Yes”.

  • emanon256

    I believe this to be based on the individual states statute of limitations for that type of transaction. Whether a customer was under charged, or over paid, in both cases the wronged party has their legal right to go back and correct.

  • emanon256

    If Mr. Chase put as much effort into doing legitimate working as he did perusing this by lying to Chris and fighting with budget, I think he would have made much more than $100.

  • pauletteb

    Brandon Chase should be ashamed of himself, but I’m sure he’s not. What a sleaze!

  • Meeksworth

    Budget made the first error. Yes, they made a mistake. That does not entitle them to charge a customers credit card for months or years after the mistake was made. The customer returned the car, and paid his bill in good faith. Even though Budget made the error, they aren’t entitled to that collect that money forever. If they had discovered it that day, or even in the next 48, I would say that they deserve their money. After a week, they forfeit their claim. When I use a service, I expect for my charges to be assessed and pay my bill. It’s just ridiculous for a company to call a customer up and say months after the fact “Oh, by the way, due to a mistake that was totally our fault and for which you were in no way aware and liable we will be charging your card.”. Not only is it ridiculous, it’s horrible customer service. What should have happened it this: Budget corporate realizes that there was a mistake. They advise the franchise that a mistake was made and as a result money was lost, please be more careful in future. End of story.

  • Marcin Jeske

    Rates can adjust depending on exactly when you take and return the car (whether that kicks you from daily to weekly rates, or kicks in a promotion that would not apply to your reserved times).

    I have seen rates on the contract be higher than my reservation if I pick my car up a few hours early… but as long as I return the car a few hours early, it jumps back down to my reserved rate. Some rental agencies, strangely, have discount codes that do not get reflected in the total until you return the car. A pick-up and return even a few hours off the reserved time could kick it into weekend rates or qualify for a promotion that was attached to your reservation or frequent renter account but hadn’t been valid based on your reserved times.

    That being said… I usually glance at my receipt after dropping off the car and make sure the total is roughly what I expect. If it is off by a little, I chalk that up to the vagaries of taxes and fees…

    If much higher, I try to figure out why and take it up to counter. I have seen pickup times in the contract being mistakenly entered 12 or 24 hours earlier, I have seen the wrong car class, and missing promised discounts.

    If much lower, I also try to understand… usually is the discount field… honestly, even at the 25% discount the OP had… I would have figured some code kicked in… the discount matching the mileage, the smoking gun here… would have probably missed my attention. So likely I would have appreciated that they gave me a lower price than expected… and gone home like the OP.

    However, if they contacted me afterwards, explained the error, it made sense, and I was not going to pay more than the rate I had originally agreed to… I would have no problem paying them back.

    I hope the OP’s intransigence in this case is based on the way they did it, with no explanation of the error (the mileage as discount only came to light here where the franchise owner contacted Chris), and charging the card as opposed to billing the customer and asking for payment. I can understand how a lack of information and control can upset someone.