The smarter consumer: When to sue a company — and when to shame it

Don’t have a tantrum.

You might feel like it after a company says “no” to your polite email asking for a refund, product replacement or an extension on your warranty. But you should understand that “no” is often a default answer, a kneejerk response to a customer question.

Yes, even on the third or fourth try. Even after you’ve filed a credit-card dispute – and lost.
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Help! My car rental company is taking me to court

tireQuestion: We recently rented a car through Hertz in Scotland. When we returned the vehicle, we asked a representative if he wanted to inspect it. He declined.

To our surprise, we later found a $250 charge on our American Express for a damaged tire. But that didn’t make sense. If it had been damaged we wouldn’t have been able to drive the car back to the airport.

We disputed the charges, and American Express sided with us, noting that Hertz had not sent enough information as requested to validate their claim.

We thought all was said and done. But now we have received two letters from Hertz claiming that they are starting legal proceedings against us.

I called Hertz and they claimed they did not receive anything from American Express regarding the dispute. Our credit is perfect and I am very, very worried about this. Do we just need to pay and move on down the road? — Tracey Brown Osborne, Dallas

Answer: The lawsuit threat is probably a bluff. I’ve talked to enough car rental claims specialists to know that in all likelihood, the letter from Hertz was a form response to losing its dispute with American Express.
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