Answer: Wow, that’s two Dollar cases in two weeks. Are we going for a record here? This one was mishandled from start to finish.
Let’s start with Dollar. Sending a damaged car back out into the fleet, as you noted and as an employee verified, was an awful idea. Dollar should have fixed the car and then returned it to the lot to be rented again. The sticker was an interesting idea, but stickers have a way of coming unstuck and car rental companies are not the best at keeping repair records, as any reader of this column knows.
Dollar should have also offered the opportunity to inspect the car with an associate, or at the very least allowed you to document the results of your own inspection. Instead, an employee just waved you off with a verbal assurance that everything is fine. But everything was not fine.
But you could have also prevented this. First, why did you select a damaged car? If you’re ever given a vehicle in less than immaculate condition, don’t accept it. Second, you should have taken numerous photos of the vehicle, and carefully documented the damage. That’s pretty easy to do with your cellphone or digital camera.
And finally, you needed to make sure that any pre-existing damage was noted in writing. If for some reason no one is available for an inspection, then at least find a manager and let him or her know about the problem. Don’t leave unless the dent is documented on paper. Verbal assurances are useless, as you now know.
Dollar’s follow-up with you left something to be desired; waiting a few weeks before hitting you with a claim seemed suspicious. Why not ask you to fill out a damage claim when you’re still at the airport? And why not send documentation of the damage and repair, as opposed to just a bill.
I contacted Dollar and it dropped its claim.