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…

62 Comments


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…

65 Comments


My Hawaii vacation rental is infested with ants – can I get a partial refund?

Irin-K/Shutterstock
Irin-K/Shutterstock
Maybe David and Mary Sue Conner didn’t tell their rental homeowner they were in Oahu for a family vacation of a lifetime. But when you drop $25,000 for a one-month stay in Hawaii, and the whole ohana is there, that probably goes without saying: this is a special event, and everything needs to be perfect.

It wasn’t. The problems ranged from minor, such as a faulty air conditioning unit and a broken dryer on the owner-managed rental, to something many guests would consider a real deal-breaker: insects. Lot’s of ‘em.

“We noticed as we were unpacking that there were ant traps throughout the house,” remembers Mary Sue Conner. “We didn’t give it much notice since we were in the tropics and bugs come with the territory. But on the second morning my husband noticed that the window sills in the great room had piles of ant hills across the entire length. It’s almost 30 feet long. We found ants everywhere.”
Continue reading…

59 Comments


A shabby vacation rental and a missing refund

Ed/Shutterstock
Ed/Shutterstock
When Carol Swartz tries to check in to a condo in New Hampshire, she finds the unit in a state of disrepair. Now the site through which she booked the rental is refusing a refund, despite a written guarantee. Can it do that?

Question: We just had a frustrating experience with HomeAway and I need your help. I recently rented a condo in Laconia, New Hampshire, that we found through the site. It was advertised as a “luxury” condo, and we paid a total of $1,886, which included $49 for HomeAway’s “Carefree Guarantee Rental” program.

When we arrived at the condo, we found the exterior was in a sad state of disrepair. We did not even feel safe climbing the stairs to find our unit. The unit was clean but shabby and clearly not luxurious.
Continue reading…

22 Comments


What will your next rental car know about you? Everything

1-IMG_2918

I had a chance to see the car rental of the future yesterday, and it’s a smart set of wheels.

The preview, which was part of the unveiling of Hertz’ upgraded location at San Diego International Airport, was meant to show off the first of several new facilities designed to bring you a “completely new” car rental experience.

The changes are impressive. Hertz is streamlining the rental process to prevent long wait times for rental vehicles with “virtual” kiosks that videoconference you with a representative in an Oklahoma City call center. It released a new app that send you shuttle wait times and is installing recharging stations and printing facilities for business travelers.
Continue reading…

One Comment


“What should I have done in this situation?”

Patryk/Shutterstock
Patryk/Shutterstock
The car rental insurance scam is a fairly well-known “gotcha” for international renters, and it’s a trap Doreen Murphy believes she walked right into when she rented a car from Budget in Northern Ireland recently.

Murphy wants my help in sorting out a surprise upcharge from Budget, but I’m not sure if I can — or should — try to unravel this for her.

Northern Ireland has its own pecular car rental insurance requirements, and apparently only one brand of MasterCard coverage meets its strict criteria. In other words, if you’re not renting with a MasterCard, you have to buy extra insurance.
Continue reading…

86 Comments