Should John Call pay Alamo’s $260 bill?
Call rented a car in Orlando recently. When he returned the vehicle, a representative discovered damage to it — damage he’s not sure happened on his watch. Should he settle up?
In a word: yes.
I’ll explain my answer in a minute, but yes, John. Pay the bill.
Let’s have a look at the details.
Call rented his car a few months ago under less than ideal circumstances.
“It was raining, and no one took us to the car,” he recalls. “They just pointed to a group of cars and said ‘pick one.’”
In other words, no “before” photos, no walkaround — zero due diligence.
“When we returned the car, they found that the taillight was cracked and chipped,” he says. “We went to the theme parks – so it could have happened there – I honestly don’t know how it happened.”
Alamo presented him with a bill for a new taillight. It’s damage that “I don’t think happened on my rental,” he says.
“I want the damage charge waived,” he says.
So why should Call shell out the $260? A few reasons. First, he doesn’t have any evidence that the damage was preexisting. A photo of the car would have helped. A walk-around with an Alamo representative, noting the damage, would have also helped. Without any of these, he can’t prove anything.
Then there’s the Alamo terms and conditions, which he signed. Have a look at paragraph 6:
Damage to, Loss or Theft of, Vehicle, Optional Accessories and Related Costs. Renter accepts responsibility for damage to, loss or theft of, Vehicle, Optional Accessories or any part or accessory regardless of fault or negligence of Renter or any other person or act of God.
In other words, it doesn’t matter if someone else whacked his taillight. He’s on the hook for it.
Now, Alamo and I don’t always see eye to eye on customer service issues. For example, I believe its loss-of-use policies are not consumer-friendly. But on this point, we agree. When someone damages a car, they should pay.
That doesn’t mean pay anything. Alamo needs to show a repair bill. And if it sticks him with a loss-of-use charge, it ought to show him that the car would have been rented if it wasn’t in the repair shop. In other words, no blank checks.
But on this case, I’m with Alamo.