“It’s amazing to me that Enterprise can get away with this”

roibu / Shutterstock.com

You’ve probably heard Karen Moyer’s story before.

There’s the VW Passat, rented from Enterprise after an ice storm in Greensboro, NC. There’s the claim, sent by its legendary Damage Recovery Unit, weeks after she returned her car, noting her roof was scratched. And there was the bill for $442, suspiciously similar in amount to her insurance deductible.

Moyer fought the good fight, disputing the claim. More on that in a minute.

But unlike most consumers who contact me, and who want to fight a charge, she’s made her peace with this incident.

“I accept the responsibility and will pay the damages,” she told me. “But I’m not a happy customer.”

Moyer wants me to raise another question: Has she been, in her own words, “scammed” by Enterprise?

To find out, let’s hit “rewind” on her rental. Moyer rented the vehicle back on March 10, and used it to drive to and from work.

The car was covered in salt from top to bottom; I could not even tell the true color of the car.

An employee walked me around the car in a hurry and asked me to check for damage. I did so, looking at the sides of the car for major dents.

He even made the following comment to me, after I stated that the car was so dirty that it was hard to see, that it’s, “not a problem unless I bring the car back with the bumper falling off.”

I mentioned to him that I thought Enterprise would have cleaned the car prior to rental. I also noted that the car’s engine light was on, which was a concern. He once again told me not to worry, that the car had been serviced.

I never looked at the roof of the car.

The car also smelled strongly of cigarette smoke, to the point it burned my eyes.

Well, at this point, I would have told Enterprise to find a different car. But maybe I’m just being picky.

Moyer claims she babied the Passat.

“It was parked in an open parking lot and then at home, parked in a garage,” she says.

She returned the vehicle after a rainstorm, which rinsed the salt from the vehicle.

I returned the car in the same condition as rented, with the exception of its odor. I had sprayed air freshener.

I was totally shocked when the same employee took me out to see scratches on the roof of the car.

I told him I did not check the roof on Monday. The scratches must have been present before I drove the car from their lot.

Moyer filled out an incident report and was contacted April 1 by Enterprise’s Damage Recovery Unit. Several efforts to resolve the claim in writing and by phone failed.

Here’s the thing: Even if Moyer had taken “before” photos of her vehicle, she’d still get the bill. That’s because no one could see the pre-existing scratches — if indeed they pre-existed — through the layer of salt.

In fact, the photos might have proven Enterprise’s claim was legitimate.

But my consumer advocate instincts tell me there’s more going on here. Certainly, it’s difficult to call this particular claim a scam unless you can show me another driver with the same repair bill.

Are they giving Moyer the benefit of the doubt? No. Are they collecting every claim they can, and trying to keep the insurance companies out of the process? Probably.

Here is what is a scam: If Moyer’s account is correct, then Enterprise tried to rent her a dirty, smoke-saturated vehicle. That’s no way to run a car rental company, and indeed, some might consider a car in that condition a scam, at any price.

And who would I be to disagree?

Car rental customers have a right to a clean, salt-free, smoke-free vehicle. And when the car rental companies don’t provide one, they shouldn’t be surprised when their customers claim they’ve been scammed.

Is Enterprise trying to scam Karen Moyer?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

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.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Google Plus

  • innchfromnj

    Ok…Here’s the problem the customer has. She accepted the vehicle in the condition it was in even though she could not properly inspect the vehicle properly.
    Because she did not do her due diligence to protect herself, she has only herself to blame.

  • innchfromnj

    You stole my thunder.

  • innchfromnj

    unlikely. That would be a fraud committed by the car rental company.
    And a violation of Due Process.

  • innchfromnj

    See, your attitude is just what these compnaies want. “Don’t fight them. It will cost you big”….
    No way. The LAW is on the side of the consumer.
    In order to prevail, the company has the burden of proof. Not the customer. And in the absence of any evidence that impeaches the video or photos taken by the customer, the company is liable for damages if the customer’s credit card is charged for damage to the car they did not do.

  • innchfromnj

    Are you implying that it is ‘useless’ to make a photographic record of the pick up/drop off of a rental car simply because the rental company can in the view of some, “anything it wants”?

  • innchfromnj

    Umm. If you deny the customer the taking of photos to protect himself, you are not a reputable business. Word of mouth can destroy you rather quickly.
    Why would you want to chase the business of a savvy customer away? Got something to hide.
    BTW, when you are out in public you have no expectation of privacy.
    Your only ‘right’ is you can demand your photo not be published for public use.

  • innchfromnj

    I have news for you. You’re wrong.

  • innchfromnj

    You must live in Denmark

  • innchfromnj

    …..Take your PC nonsense to another place.
    Sick and tired of you hypersensitive PC types who go through you day looking for things with which to bother yourself.

  • innchfromnj

    and this has what to do with rental car companies?

  • innchfromnj

    when it comes to me and my bank account, I will throw a business employee under the bus faster than he can say “bus”….Non one is going to get anything by me. Trust no one

  • innchfromnj

    ef sparky

  • innchfromnj

    Enterprise core business is insurance claim type rentals.
    I used to rent from them but the manager I knew at an enterprise store left and I lost the perks he gave me.
    Enterprise does do unlimited mileage rentals. Two things. These are no charge from airport locations. But from a neighborhood location, there is a $10 day surcharge for unlimited miles outside a predetermined geographical area.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I’m dying to know how you drew that conclusion from my post.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    If you ignore bills from a collection agency, they can presume the debt is valid and ding your credit in 30 days. Your remedy is to dispute the debt within the 30 days. If the debt is not from a financial institution, then they should not ding your credit. As the previous poster stated he would ignore the demands, then his lack of diligence would be his.her undoing.

    As to the fraud, are you using fraud in the legal sense of the word. It doesn’t appear so.

  • The Original Joe S

    What are Priceline and Hotwire? :-Þ

  • The Original Joe S

    ¡No me diga!

  • The Original Joe S

    There’s always some toad who will see a racist under every rock.

  • The Original Joe S

    Yeah! Them poor Norwegians shouldn’t be castigated like that!

  • The Original Joe S

    How is it that you are the only one who equates “bad part of town” with “ethnic?”

  • The Original Joe S

    Yeah! Some of my best friends ARE Norwegian!

  • The Original Joe S

    Norway!

  • The Original Joe S

    “You have to sign this!” Well, if I have to sign it, then it’s a foregone conclusion, and therefore my signature is unnecessary, so I won’t sign it. Bless you very much!

    And, I wouldn’t sigh over the form; I’d probably sneeze over it.

  • bodega3

    They also have territory driving restrictions. For example, if I rent from one of their locations here, I can’t drive into Nevada. I have found similar restrictions at JFK.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Lol. I agree 100%

  • The Original Joe S

    Where I worked, bosso said “You have to sign this.” “I don’t have to do nothing except pay taxes and DIE.” “Everybody else signed it.” “Everybody else is a spineless idiot. You signed it, did you?”

  • Thoroughlyamused

    Which part? The Colorado law is there. Go read it.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    “And a violation of due process.”

    Go look up due process before throwing out legal terminology that is completely irrelevant.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    I love when people pretend to know about things they are really clueless about.

    Your honor, Exhibit A is a signed statement from the consumer when they picked up the vehicle saying the car was absolutely free of damage. Exhibit B is a damage report signed by the customer stating the car was returned with damage on it. Exhibit C is the prior rental agreements showing all the past rental agreements stating no damage.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    I never said the customer couldn’t take photos. They can photograph the car to their heart’s content. What I wouldn’t let them do is photograph me or my staff. And in the few instances where I turned a renter away because they were too much of a douchebag to get a camera out of my face, my corporate office backed me on it.

    I didn’t want people taking pics of me because I didn’t know where those pics would end up. In one case they ended up online because the customer was angry they had to pay for damage. Then I started getting hate messages on Facebook. You probably think that any and all damage claims are scams, but the reality is that a LOT of customers will have damage happen and then try to lie about it. But we rarely hear about those cases here.

    I may not have an expectation of privacy. But renting a car is a privilege, not a right. So while it’s not illegal for you to film a rental agent, it’s also not illegal for them to ask you to stop, and if you refuse, to refuse to rent you a car. Filling out a 60 second online reservation form which you generally don’t even put any money down for, does NOT give you the right to shove a camera in someone’s face if they don’t want it.