You don’t have to read this site every day to know that fraudulent car rental damages are a big problem, at least as far as customers are concerned. If you’re a car rental agency, you might call it something different, ranging from “no problem” to “profit center.”
But at least one car rental company says it’s on our side. It’s Bandago, a San Francisco company that specializes in van rentals. After I wrote a story about the problem of fraudulent claims for Auto Rental News, a trade magazine, last year, I got an unexpected call from its CEO, Sharky Laguana.
Yes, he said, the industry could do a better job of letting customers know about damages. He also told me a few horror stories about vans that had been returned in various states of disrepair.
After that, I heard nothing from him. Until a few weeks ago.
“I have been giving this issue a lot of thought lately,” he said. “My company has started sending out the email below whenever we find damage on our rental vehicles. I was hoping to get your feedback. Does this look fair and reasonable to you? Any suggestions you might make?”
I’m sharing the form letter with you, with his permission.
This email is to let you know that damage was located on the vehicle you returned to Bandago. Right now our understanding is that the following new damage was located on your vehicle upon its return:
spare tire missing
We are currently investigating this damage, and will get an estimate from a body shop as soon as scheduling permits.
We find it helps if we explain our damage process upfront. Here’s a brief overview:
We are very careful with all damage claims, and every claim is reviewed multiple times at different points by different people. We will compare pictures taken at both the start and end of the rental, look at the rental agreement, review any accident report forms, and of course welcome any feedback or information you may have about this damage.
We get preferred customer rates from our body shop vendors, and every penny of those savings is passed on to our clients.
Damage is not a profit center for us (it is a significant expense!) and there is no point in the process where we experience a net gain. We value our relationship with our clients, and will be completely transparent with you at every step of the process, about what we are doing and why.
Our process in detail:
1. We are not remotely interested in charging any of our clients for damage that they did not cause.
2. We will thoroughly investigate any claim, and consider any information presented to us.
3. If we have doubt about liability, we will not bill our client.
4. We will get any body/mechanical estimate for repairs from a certified, fully licensed, and trusted shop as soon as possible.
5. Please note, in cases where the damage is purely cosmetic, we may have to delay getting an estimate in favor of honoring our existing reservations. Because we specialize in long term rentals, this can result in significant delays upon occasion. However, we will always thoroughly document the damage in question with photographs before the vehicle leaves our possession.