Enterprise sent me a bill for “hidden” damage

When Frederick Dintzis returns his rental car to Enterprise, it tells him the car looks fine. But four hours later, all is not well. The underside of his car has been damaged, it claims. It wants him to pay for the repairs. Is that fair?

Question: I’m fighting with Enterprise about a damage claim, and I need your help. I recently rented a Hyundai Sonata. Both a manager and I inspected it and we both thought it looked OK.

When I returned the car a few days later, we did the same thing, and the manager considered the car to be in good shape and he accepted it.

About four hours later I received a phone call from the manager, claiming that there was “hidden” damage — specifically, several scratches to the underside of the car.

A few days later, I was notified by mail that a damage claim against me had been filed. My credit card was billed for $186 for paint scratches on the rocker molding, and that costs totaling $106 for “administrative” fees, loss of use and diminishment of value were waived. Included in the claim were two rather poor black-and-white photocopies of the claimed damage.

I’m confused. Enterprise policy appears to hold a renter responsible for all damage even if both the renter and the site manager have considered the vehicle to be free of damage prior to renting and upon return of the vehicle. If that’s true, then the company should clearly inform the customer that any damage to the vehicle is the sole responsibility of the renter even if the site manager also inspects the vehicle along with the renter.

Also, I wish you would tell your readers that customers should carefully inspect the underside of a rental both prior to accepting and return of a vehicle to verify there is no hidden damage and obtain a written release upon vehicle return. — Frederick Dintzis, Peoria, Ill.

Answer: I’m a big believer in photographing your car before and after you rent it, but I can’t bring myself to tell readers to get under their car for a shot of the undercarriage. Although, in your situation, you would have saved yourself from a big headache and possibly a frivolous damage claim.

Enterprise is one of the most aggressive car rental companies, when it comes to damage claims. It is also the largest car rental company in America. If damage is noted to your rental after you return it, and it isn’t noted on the previous rental, you’re assumed to be responsible and you’ll be charged the full price of a repair, plus assorted fees. (By the way, Enterprise claims its damage recovery isn’t a profit center, but some observers do not believe it.)

Why would a manager call you back after four hours and claim you damaged the Hyundai? I have a partial explanation for that. Damage isn’t always visible when someone returns a car, and before it’s washed. So the manager couldn’t have possibly given you the “all clear.”

But damage to the underside — I don’t know about that. Also, the fact that Enterprise was immediately willing to remove all the assorted fees didn’t exactly bolster its claim, at least in my opinion. The black-and-white photocopies didn’t help, either. Put together, I had enough reason to believe this bill wasn’t supported by all the facts.

By the way, if you ever have a problem with Enterprise in the future, try contacting one of its executives. I list them on my consumer advocacy website.

I contacted Enterprise on your behalf, and it dropped its claim.

Should rental companies charge customers for damage to their cars' undercarriage?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • naoma

    I think “BUYER BEWARE” should be on everyone’s mind when renting a car. So many scams; so little recourse. TAKE PICTURES and get the person who shows you the car to SIGN THEM.

  • Alan Gore

    Congratulations, Chris! We all need to add Enterprise to our “avoid under all circumstances” scammer list.

  • Kasiar001

    Seeing all the car rental scam stories I am almost afraid to rent a car. If they are going to claim underside damage, a ramp should be available at pick up and drop off to check.

  • Stereoknob

    I mean, I don’t think the poll question is very fair. Should a renter be charged with a rock kicking up and scratching a piece of equipment no one see’s and it’s operation is effected? No. But if you drive at 100mph, hit a ramp, and bottom out the car on landing.. yes. It isn’t a cut and dry question, theres always grey.

  • Stereoknob

    I’ve solely rented from Enterprise for the last 6 years for my regular business trips and they’ve been a fantastic company. I’ve never had an issue with service, I’ve always been well taken care of, and they are quick to get me in and out the door. I wouldn’t ever add them to a scammer list. This case is just possibly a poor manager or a misunderstanding, not a case of nefarious corporate policies.

  • Chris Johnson

    Hidden damage? You’ve got to be kidding me. How would he have caused this damage on the underside of the car, unless he’d been in an accident?

  • LeeAnneClark

    Sigh. Another day, another rental car fake damage scam.

    This one is particularly egregious – as obsessed as I am with taking pictures of the entire vehicle when I pick it up, even I don’t climb UNDER the freaking car!

    Looks like Enterprise figured out the answer to photo-takers like me…now they can get us too.

  • Sometime_flier

    It’s easy to scrape the underside of a bumper. Parking lot blocks (those long concrete stoppers at the inside end of a space) will do it. So will a high curb. It’s happened to me.

    But that doesn’t negate a bogus claim. And in the absence of proof that the renter did it, that’s what this is.

  • EdB

    Are you renting under a business account? From the stories we see here, they only pull this scam on personal rental. The once in a year or two types.

  • Nigel Appleby

    Are you paying for their insurance? I think that makes a big difference. They can save minor damage for a customer who declines their coverage and get the repair paid by that passenger instead of paying out their insurance income.

  • Lindabator

    It would depend on just what the damage was – little scratches no. More major damage, yes.

  • onegreatsmile

    They’ve been pulling this for years. 25 years ago I went with a non-native English speaking friend to Hawaii. The car was rented in his name. A WEEK after our return to California, he started being harassed by the company for ‘cracking the axle’ of the rental car!!! The joke was on them, as this gentleman owned a BMW repair shop and knew cars inside out, upside down, and backwards. We went so far as to hire an attorney and they actually took the time and money to have us deposed in L.A. They lost. I don’t think they expect personal renters to fight them so vehemently. I’m glad it cost them money to lose!!!!!

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Scratches to the undercarriage? No, they shouldn’t be able to charge for that. You drive over a curb and crack the oil pan? Yes, they obviously should be able to charge for that.

  • SoBeSparky

    Quiz: Of course they should charge a person responsible for damage to the undercarriage. Duh!

    You run over a curb, or rock, or a road hazard on the interstates (like I have unavoidably), then you must pay for the damage. Why should you get off not paying for your problem?

  • PolishKnightUSA

    Another option: FIND scratches on the undercarriage beforehand. Unless you have a car fresh from the factory, they are scratches on it. So find something. Look underneath a bumper and find the slightest scratch. Take a photo and make a broad, generalized note on the damage report: “slight scratches on doors and undercarriage.”

    10:1 Enterprise did NOT fix the horrid scratches they charged the customer for. They put it back into service (which is why they waived the fees) and will wait a month or so before scratching a new customer.

  • Stereoknob

    Yea, it’s always a business account. I didn’t think about that. It’s a really good point.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    Unless we plan to do a lot of driving, my wife and I prefer to leave the car at home. We take hotel shuttles and even the bus to get around. Sure, it takes a while longer and requires planning and you get, er, more down-to-earth people than you expect but it’s one less thing to worry about.

  • Stereoknob

    Nah, i never get the optional insurance. We have insurance with our business that covers us so we’ve been instructed to use that. I think EdB had a really good point though, that they probably only try this with personal renters and not business renters. Too much at stake w/ business renters I’d imagine.

  • polexia_rogue

    true. if you get their insurance you can total the car and it will still be ok.

    i always get their insurance. similar story- i drove through south Dakota and along the way i got a little lost. the GPS made me go down an unpaved road.

    i could hear the scraping of a million pebbles, i am sure the underside of my car looked like crap.

    but i guess, if we go by this article the person AFTER me would be the one charged.

  • Nigel Appleby

    I guess the same

  • VoR61

    Usually the insurance is $25/day, which is prohibitive. Otherwise we would do as you have said.

  • VoR61

    The issue isn’t paying for it, but the reasonableness of inspection/validation. Are we seriously expected now to crawl on our hands and knees to look for damage prior to rental? And what about oil leaks?

    What is fair game for damages should be exclude damage under the vehicle. Otherwise we become claims adjusters …

  • VoR61

    I agree with you, but then what? Checking under the hood? Looking under the front seats for carpet tears? Inspecting the inside walls of the tires? Dents in the oil pan?

    This has to stop somewhere with reason …

  • SoBeSparky

    Would you look under the car before you buy a used vehicle? Of course. If you don’t want to inspect everywhere either deal with a different company (which I do) or pay for the insurance. You have choices. But if you do the damage, you pay for the damage.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I must respectfully disagree. It seems to violate every principle of business ethics that you must purchase insurance, not for damage that you may cause, not for damage that may happen on your watch, but for damage that may be wholly unrelated to your renting the car; damage that may have occurred prior to your rental, and possibly after the car is returned.

    Besides, how far does that “inspect everywhere” go. Shall I check the fluids? Tire pressure? Perhaps inspect the repair records while I’m at it. It quickly becomes absurd.

  • SoBeSparky

    Of course, there is a difference between maintenance, the responsibility of the owner, and damages. Pretty clear cut.

    You buy insurance for the unexpected and unintended, no matter the cause. You do not HAVE to buy insurance. But if you do not care to inspect all aspects of the car’s body, including the rocker molding, then you should buy the insurance as a substitute for your lack of time, effort or interest.

    In this case, note the damage was not on the undercarriage, per se, but for paint scratches on the rocker molding, much more readily apparent to a careful eye, say squatting next to the car or bending over. You do not have to get on your back and slide under the car to see the rocker molding.

    And, yes, I said buy the insurance OR deal with a more reputable company. You have choices, and one of the them is to cover your butt when you deal with Enterprise. Forewarned.

  • VoR61

    Not the same. I’m not buying it – just want to rent for a few days. I stand by my questions. It is not reasonable to expect me to treat the vehicle as if I were purchasing. If that were the case, I’d pay a mechanic to inspect it.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    That doesn’t address the point. You buy insurance to address those items for which you are liable. You are not liable for what happens before or after the rental period. You should not be effectively required to purchase insurance to cover those time periods.

    I agree that anything that is apparent to the naked eye that a reasonable inspection would uncover can be presumed to be your responsibility because you didn’t discover it during the pre-rental inspection. However, if the damage exists outside of of what a reasonable inspection would uncover, then the car rental company should not be permitted to hold you liable without more evidence.

    This specific case notwithstanding, if the average person would have to get on his hands and knees, or climb on a ladder to see the damage, I maintain that it’s not a reasonable inspection and shouldn’t be automatically chargeable to the renter without some evidence that it occurred on the renters watch

  • Thoroughlyamused

    I agree with most of what you said, but what happens in a hailstorm which can cover the roof in tiny dings, which can easily be a $1,000+ repair job? I personally believe that only major damage on areas like the roof and undercarriage should be charged to the renter. To say that rental companies should just forgive any and all damage to the roof and undercarriage, however, isn’t fair to the rental companies.

  • SoBeSparky

    What we have here is the difference between theory and reality. Proven over and over is the reality that with Enterprise you should buy insurance to cover all damages past, present and future. That is reality, unless you wish to contest Enterprise which could be both expensive and fruitless.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I can’t speak for Enterprise, as I lack any recent first hand knowledge. I have to admit, if I were forced to ever rent again from Payless or their ilk, I’d probably buy insurance because quite frankly I don’t trust them.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I agree, if you cause damage you should pay for it. My issue as how do we determine if you caused the damage. Roof and undercarriages pose difficulties.

    In general, I think the Acts of God such as a hailstorm shouldn’t be chargeable to the renter. The car would have suffered the same damage if it were sitting on an open lot. That’s just a windfall for the car company

  • EdB

    Buying the Enterprise insurance isn’t the solution. Not renting from them is.

  • omgstfualready

    Duh? I don’t think so – there is wear and tear on vehicles that shouldn’t be charged. When they charge for needing new brakes due to poor driving will it still be ‘duh’?

  • Dane Carpenter

    I think there should be laws put into place where the rental companies have to show proof the damage was not there before the renter took possession of the vehicle instead of the renter having to show proof they didn’t damage the vehicle.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    You may hold that personal opinion, but the fact of the matter is that you explicitly agree to be held responsible for any and all damage, including Acts of God. If you rent from an airport where all cars are in a covered garage, your argument doesn’t hold any water.

    When I was a manager, I charged people for hail damage, and they frequently followed up with legal threats. I merely responded that they signed a legal document agreeing to pay for such damage, and that they consciously decided to not purchase coverage which would have protected them. To my knowledge, there has been no precedent setting legal case regarding damage caused by acts of god.

  • Joe Farrell

    Paint scratches on the UNDERSIDE of a bumper? Isn’t that normal wear and tear? You cannot control the height of the car, the height of a curb or ramp or the breakover angle of the vehicle. I’d bring a counter claim that they rented you a substandard vehicle that was easily damaged because of the above and failed to warn you.

    Ask to see the repair – because if they don’t fix it – they can’t get ANY loss of use no matter what the President of Enterprise Rent a Car might say.

    The court that ruled on loss of use still held that the vehicle needs to be out of service for loss of use to attach.

    Next- before you don’t charge back you need photos – lots and lots of photos, and was there anything inside the paint?

    It must be a pretty serious damage before I’d not fight it – basically because of normal wear and tear of operating a motor vehicle on the roads . . .

    The other piece of testimony I”d sure like to ask:

    “What made you look at the underside of the car?”

    “When was the last time you looked at the underside of this car?”

    “Do you make it a regular practice to look at the undersides of vehicles?”

    “Isn’t it true that you drove over a curb in this vehicle and damaged it yourself and are trying to pawm the damage off on a renter?”

  • Joe Farrell

    If you did it in California you should have asked for an award of your attorneys fees – the contract has an attorneys fee clause and it becomes mutual in a consumer contract of adhesion. . . . that would have salted the wound for the rental company good by forcing them to pay your costs and attorney fees

  • onegreatsmile

    I never got a bill or a request for money from my friend, so I am assuming that is what happened. I was a witness, not a defendant!

  • y_p_w

    I once rented a car with only 4 miles on the odometer. It already had a scratch on the trunk that looked like it was barely touched up. Even in the short distance/time it travels from the factory to the car carrier and to the rental location, there can be damage.

    The agent tried to reassure me that they really wouldn’t care about small scratches or tiny dings that would be considered normal wear and tear by anyone owning their own car – and that they would look for deep gouges or anything that would normally require the car be taken to a shop. I didn’t find any odd charges later, if that means anything. And yes it was an Enterprise location.

    Something I recall that was similar was our textbook policy at a public school. If there was any additional wear and tear on a textbook when we returned it, we would be charged a small fee for it. Something like tearing a cover would mean a bigger fee. The ones we really didn’t want to get were the brand new books. There was no way to get one to last an entire school year without some sort of noticeable wear. The administrators weren’t letting us off easy by not charging for “normal wear and tear”. I don’t recall even a brand new book that had been taken care of well that didn’t end up with maybe a $1 charge. I remember with a lot of the older book, when it was already messed up they didn’t even think of charging us for it even if we’d done things like scuff the cover.

  • y_p_w

    Scuffing of the underside is normal wear and tear on every vehicle provided running over a parking spot marker doesn’t tear off the the underspoiler. I wouldn’t be surprised if there weren’t a lot of rental cars that weren’t already damaged as such by their own employees. They’re not going to look underneath until they get it back.

  • Joe Farrell

    One thing that is totally missing here is the now us vs. them battle occurring in the travel industry.

    It is completely over the top. Back in the 1980’s if you rented a car and it broke down, the car rental company would dispatch an employee with another car and wait for their tow company after sending you off with a working car and an apology. In the 1990’s they would tell you to call the tow company and they’d meet you at the tow yard because they did not have any extra employees. In 2014 they blame you for causing the car to break down, send you a bill for the tow and try to charge you for what it costs to fix their car. This included flat tires.

    The airlines used to give you a cocktail, a glass of wine, a choice between chateaubriand or salmon, a dessert, take your bag at the curb and deliver it to you and promise to do it inside 15 minutes after arriving at the gate. The ‘stewardesses’ were young, polite, and enjoyed their jobs. Now its $50 for legroom, $35 for a bag, $7 for a drink, $8 for a carb loaded ‘snack,’ get in line, stop whining or I’ll have you arrested, no you can’t get a smile.

  • Joe Farrell

    that is as it exists today. It is called burden of proof. . . with the right questions you will call out the BS being offered by the company as facts . . make them sue you. First question: “When was the last time you looked at this part of the car?” uh, uh. Well. Uh. “So, isn’t it true you have no idea what that part of the car looked like when it was rented?”

    Then in final argument – “we have no idea what this part of the car looked like at the beginning of the rental, because it was not looked at until after the rental. So this damage could have occurred during my client’s rental, or, at any time since the vehicle was built?”

    End of case.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    Acts of God are 100% the renter’s responsibility, this does not differ from company to company. If you check the weather forecast beforehand and see that the forecast calls for hail, you have the option to either reduce your responsibility or accept full responsibility. If you want to save a few bucks a day, then you accept full responsibility. I’ve said it again and again: You are bound by the rental agreement and do not get to pick and choose which parts of the contract you want to have apply.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    You sign a legal document saying the car was damage free when you received it. The rental company produces the past 5 rental agreements on the vehicle saying the car was rented with no damage. There is damage on the car when you return it. What more proof is needed?

  • Justin

    I don’t trust rental car companies AT ALL. My mom had Enterprise try hitting her with a 2000 dollar bill claiming she caused the transmission to drop. She’d drove the car a whole 5 miles, parked the vehicle, and started it up. Drove a mile and the transmission went.

    Contacted the CEOS after they tried filing an insurance claim. Moral here: Take pictures, but even the best of vigilance can’t overcome their fraudulent attempts.
    I bet Carver can chime in. If the manager signed the paperwork acknowledging the car was returned without damage, tough luck to Enterprise. Just as the customer has to notate damage before signing, so does Enterprise.

  • Joe Farrell

    but you see, they are changing the deal when they come back, after you return the vehicle, claiming ‘hidden’ damage. At that point, the legal document is not relevant any longer. . . they made it so.

  • Carver Clark Farrow


  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Yes, its a personal opinion hence the terms “I think” and “shouldn’t” as far as the legal matter, I think Joe has summed that up nicely.

    The covered garage is a red herring. It could have been an earthquake, flood, tornado, etc. My first legal argument would be that the contract is unconscionable it create an unfair and unconscionable liability shift to the consumer. If it was an earthquake, the car would be just as totaled whether it sat in the Hertz lot or 2 miles away in my hotel’s parking lot.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    There are any number of ways to defend, defeat, shred a contract. Again, I defer to my esteemed colleague Joe’s analysis.

  • Tom_Blackwell

    If it’s “hidden” damage, it would be “hidden” at the time of the rental AND the time of the return. The whole thing is a scheme at misleading conduct against a consumer. (Some states cover that in consumer protection statutes, like the DTPA in Texas.)

  • http://www.way2college.com/ Colleges In India

    nice one

  • Justin


    If the manager signed the paperwork acknowledging the car was returned without damage, tough luck to Enterprise. Just as the customer has to notate damage before signing, so does Enterprise

    Am I Correct?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I suspect in both cases, the acknowledgement can be rebutted, but it would place the burden on proof on the party signing the paperwork.

    For example, I sign paperwork acknowledging that I received the car in good condition, but I miss a dent. Even though I signed the paper, I can still provide evidence that the dent was preexisting. The manager can do the same.

  • Justin

    Wouldn’t the burden require overwhelming proof to circumvent the paperwork? I mean scratches, dents, dings, etc are easily overlooked. However, a lot can happen within four hours.

    OP can argue an employee drove over a curb while parking the car, hit something, or a whole host of mitigating factors. I don’t see how the Management can argue away these possibilities sufficiently enough to win the case.

    I guess anything is possible.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    When I worked at an airport location, we sometimes had cars return that were covered in dust/dirt, to the point where a return inspection wasn’t possible until the car had been washed. In those situations, I explained to the renter that I would be unable to issue a receipt and close out the rental until the car had been washed. I would give them the option to wait until I washed it, or to wash it and then contact them when the rental was closed out. Also, most rental locations have multiple cameras in the return lane. If you return the car with a huge scratch and it’s caught on camera with you pulling it into the lot like that, and there is no history of the damage, you can still be held responsible. This is due to the fact that many renters are not honest (you yourself said that dishonesty is best when dealing with rental damage) and the pictures of you pulling onto the lot with the damage is proof.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    All I’m hearing is personal opinion, not legal analysis. YOU don’t believe rental companies should charge for hail damage. That doesn’t mean you can simply ignore the contract you signed.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    Not really. If a car was returned covered in dirt/dust/snow to the point where a return inspection isn’t possible, I gave the customer 2 options:

    1, Wait until we clean it.
    2. Leave, but understand the rental will remain open until a return inspection can be conducted.

    I believe that the damage claim was unwarranted in this case because scratches to the undercarriage would appear to fall under normal wear and tear. However, there are plenty of legitimate reasons why damage may not be discovered in an initial inspection. I was referring to the rental agreement in my past comment because many renters want to claim damage was pre-existing even after they signed a legal document claiming no damage existed, yet want total and complete immunity when the return agent signs a receipt. You can’t have it both ways.

  • Justin

    Your response fails to address my question. You highlight the fact customers can wait, but not what happens if the paperwork is signed.

    A lot of unanswered variables come into play.

    1) Did the manager sign off on the paperwork? If yes, then the Manager now has a huge hurdle to overcome.

    Cameras filming the cars being returned only capture so much activity, because the angle resolution. It is still very possible the car was damaged within the four hours by an employee.

    2) If the OP didn’t have completed paperwork, then we’re in a he said she said issue.

    Notwithsanding, checking the underside of a vehicle is unreasonable.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    Well, there is a reason why rental companies have such strict policies. People are dishonest. You even said yourself that the best way to handle rental damage is to be dishonest by saying nothing, hoping they don’t notice, then denying everything later. Many, many people will lie to get out of a damage claim. I truly do believe that customers lie and deceive to get out of paying for legitimate claims far more than the rental companies pursue illegitimate ones.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    1. I have no idea if the manager signed off on the paperwork. If a car comes back covered in dirt/snow/dust which could be concealing some deep scratches, I wouldn’t sign ANYTHING or even issue a receipt until I got a car prep to clean the car off. Customer doesn’t feel like waiting? They can leave and I’ll call them later if there’s an issue, they can get the receipt online. They want a statement saying that they returned the car damage free when I haven’t even had a decent chance to look at it? Tough S*&T. For all I know they could have intentionally gotten the car dirty to conceal damage.

    2. If there is a huge scratch breaking the paint on the front bumper, and video cameras have the customer, visible on the tape in the driver’s seat, pulling in to the return lane, that is evidence that the damage existed before the customer returned the car, which quickly negates any argument like, “An employee could have done it.” From there, it’s just a matter of looking at past rental agreements to see if it was there already or not.

    I believe that SCRATCHES on the underside are wear and tear, If you drive over the curb and cause serious damage to the underside, you should be held responsible.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    One note about LOU. In Colorado, the courts have ruled rental companies have every right to charge LOU. They also acknowledged that if a contract contains the phrase “regardless of fleet utilization”, this is also legally allowable. So, in Colorado, if the rental car goes into the shop to get fixed, you pay for that time it’s in the shop, even if the rental company has 17,000 other cars to rent. Also, in Purco v Koenig, the court just awarded Purco $247K in legal fees. Keep in mind this was over $378 in LOU charges that the renter was willing to pay, but didn’t under State Farm’s (good neighbor my a**) advisement. So, if you rent in Colorado, make sure your policy covers LOU regardless of fleet utilization.

  • Justin

    I have never damaged a rental car, but my family has had two instances where rental car companies WRONGFULLY claimed damage without merit.

    One above, and one against my brother for some frivilous crap. So my empathy towards these dishonest crooks is minimal.

    Honesty is a two way street. If rental car companies are out there to fleece customers, then don’t expect customers to come running if an accident happens.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    Don’t refer to rental agencies as “dishonest crooks.” For A lot of the employees, this is their first entry into the professional workforce, often straight out of college. I’m sorry you’ve had bad experiences, although given that you believe that lying is the best way to handle a damage claim, I don’t take 100% of what you say as fact. Even CE himself says that the vast majority of damage claims are handled by the book. You’re basing your opinion off of two family members experiences, I’m basing mine based on the thousands of rental agreements I wrote as a rental agent (straight out of undergrad). I never saw us deliberately try to stick someone with a repair bill that was undeserved, but I frequently saw customers lie and subsequently become very abusive to the front line employees. If damage happens while you have the car, you need to pay for it, no ifs, ands, or buts. If you believe that you are perfectly justified in lying to get out of damage you caused because a few family members had crappy experiences, that makes you a sleazy, dishonest crook. But hey, some people don’t care as long as it doesn’t affect their bottom line.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Possibilities are irrelevant, evidence rules the day. Short answer: it all comes down to who has the burden of proof. If the manager signs an acknowledgement that the car was returned in good working condition, then it’s on the management to provide evidence that the car was in fact, not returned in good working condition. For example, suppose the car is immediately washed after being returned and cheap touch up paint comes off showing scratches. That would be evidence that you tried to trick the rental company.

    Conversely, if you rent a car, sign off that its on good working order and return it with damage. If you subpeona the records and find that the previous renter reported the identical damage, you’ve shifted the burden to the rental car company to show that it fixed the damage in the interim rental period.

    Effectively, what the signed paperwork does is shift the burden of proof to the signer.

  • Thoroughlyamused

    Also, Justin, why rent cars at all? If I was so distrustful of a business and thought they were dishonest crooks, I would stop patronizing said business, no matter what the cost, or at the very least take precautions to make sure I was covered. Rental agents have to deal with difficult, demanding people all day long who treat them like dishonest crooks. Dealing with one less of them would be a good thing.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Then you do not understand legal analysis. I already explained that the legal argument is that elements of the contract are unconscionable. Unconscionability is a complete legal defense to enforceability of contract provisions The basis would be the force majeure clause, especially with regards to widespread disasters such as floods, impermissibly shifts the risk of loss to customers. This is particularly true for disasters which cannot be meaningfully protected against.

  • Justin

    Two wrongs don’t make a right, but the rental car industry’s track record is questionable.

    Two family members, my mother and brother. Both of which I had to get involved so they weren’t stiffed with HUGE BILLS.

    Tranmission blew on a car just rented, and immediately, enterprise rushed to file a 2000 dollar claim. CEO was contacted and the claim quickly vanished.

    Brother rented a car and had a tire blow. I think there was no tread on the tires. Poor Maintenance and not sure what damage if any happened.

    Both instances happened with Enterprise. Maybe other rental agencies are better. Complaints sent to Chris seem to stem a lot from Enterprise, putting into question their practices.

    If I genuinely damage a car, I’ll fess up to the fact. Luckily, I have never run into that scenario. However, I’d expect the same out of car rental agencies.

    Problem belies, these places claim damage multiple times, inflate repair costs, and shaft the claims onto multiple customers. Enough said here.

  • Justin

    You’re 100% right. I avoid renting a car unless there are no alternatives. I think the last rental car I got was in 2005 when someone hit my vehicle.

    When I travel, I rely upon public transportation, borrow a friend’s / family car if local, or use my own. Negates having to deal with rental agencies.

  • Fist000

    Budget did the same thing to me. I rented an SUV in California, used the vehicle, returned it and the person on site inspected it. Everything was fine until about a week later when someone from Budget called and sent a letter saying it was damaged to the tune of $400. I said then why did so and so (knew the girls name then but, have forgotten it since) inspect it saying it was fine? I haven’t heard from them since. I’m still waiting on a letter saying they are trying to seek compensation through court proceedings.