RENTAL

Hey VRBO, what happened to the security deposit on my vacation rental?

I’m a longtime admirer — and critic — of VRBO, the dominant vacation rental site. I like the way it consolidates a disorganized business like vacation rentals into a cohesive online marketplace and makes it easy for consumers and rental owners to find each other. But one thing I’ve never been able to understand is how it disingenuously feigns neutrality in disputes between managers and customers.
Continue reading…


The high cost of great customer service

Nikkytok/Shutterstock
Nikkytok/Shutterstock
The basics of good customer service, like courtesy and attentiveness, may be free. But great service? That’s expensive.

Consider what happened to Virginia Bibliowicz’ father, who rented a car from Budget recently. Shortly after he picked up the vehicle in Knoxville, Tenn., he suffered a heart attack and died.

“When my sister and her husband returned the car later, Budget refused to let them pay the charges,” she says. “I think Budget and this rep should be commended, and they will certainly always have our business.”
Continue reading…


Why won’t Airbnb let me review my ill-fated rental?

Leung/Shutterstock
Leung/Shutterstock
Mandy Fleming’s Airbnb rental couldn’t have happened at a worse place — or time.

Thousands of miles from home, on an extended visit to Hong Kong during the Christmas holidays, she showed up at her apartment with her husband and six-year-old son for an 18-night stay, only to discover the place fell dramatically short of its description.

Now, Fleming has a simple request: She wants to warn others about her substandard accommodations. And she wants my help.

I can’t invoke the British sitcom Fawlty Towers, since this happened at an apartment. But I would if I could. She contacted me a few days after trying, but failing, to fix the many problems in her rental.

And there were many.
Continue reading…


Is Advantage trying to scam me for damage to my rental car?

Photodiem/Shutterstock
Photodiem/Shutterstock
You know the ding-and-dent car rental scam? Sure you do.

Rent a car, and the agents tell you “not to worry” about the little scratches and bumps on the high-mileage vehicle. But when you return it, they give it a careful once-over and pressure you to sign an incident report, acknowledging you’ll pay whatever repair bill they send you — usually something suspiciously close to your car insurance deductible.

Well, Chelsey Johnson thinks she’s a ding-and-dent victim. Let’s hand the mike over to her to hear her story.

A few months ago, Johnson rented a car from Advantage in Minneapolis.
Continue reading…


Am I responsible for damage under my rental car?

Anton/Shutterstock
Anton/Shutterstock
Brad Joiner discovers a damaged underside to his Enterprise rental after he parks it in his driveway. He’s sure it isn’t his fault, but the car rental company begs to differ. It wants him to pay $826.

Question: I recently rented a Mazda 2 from Enterprise. When I picked up the car, a representative and I did a walk-around. I’m normally very careful when picking a car up. I noticed the fender well on the front driver’s side was popped out of place, and I noted that with the representative.

My mistake: I didn’t look under the front bumper to see what would have caused that to happen.

I drove the car home, where I parked it in my driveway, which is sloped. When coming out of my garage, I was able to see damage to the underside of the bumper cover. In an effort to do the right thing, I immediately called Enterprise and explained what had happened. I talked to the manager and told her I was on my way back.
Continue reading…


Yes, you can still fight a bogus car rental damage bill – here’s how

Photo of Kotzin's alleged damage to her bumper.
Photo of Kotzin’s alleged damage to her bumper.

Don’t mess with Barbara Kotzin.

Someone should have warned Enterprise before she rented a Toyota Corolla from the car rental company earlier this year. Maybe it wouldn’t have sent her the repair bill, which Kotzin claims was bogus.

Then again, maybe it would have. Hard to know.

Here’s what I do know: Kotzin’s tale of fighting what she believed to be a fraudulent damage bill, is an inspiration to anyone who thinks car rental companies are enriching themselves from frivolous damage claims.
Continue reading…


A rental car bill I don’t think I deserve

Zhu/Shutterstock
Zhu/Shutterstock
After a grill falls off her rental car, Alamo sends her a bill for $669. Does she have to pay?

Question: I’m hoping you can give me some advice about a damage claim that my car rental company states I am financially responsible for. I rented a car from Alamo in Reno, Nev., recently. The paperwork was signed and initialed as the person at the counter indicated. Then I was escorted to the garage where the cars were kept.

My husband walked around the car and didn’t notice any damage. I drove from the airport rental location directly to our hotel in Reno, where the car was parked for two days. Several days later, when we left Reno to drive to Las Vegas, I noticed that the plastic grill on the front of the car was uneven. My husband inspected and found that it was loose but still connected.
Continue reading…