Answer: Your suspicions are understandable. Why would one employee waive you off, while another one goes over the car with a fine-tooth comb? And why deduct the $500 from your credit card immediately when the full repair costs aren’t known yet? Whatever happened to the damage estimate? Weren’t you entitled to receive a repair bill, detailing the work that had been done on your rental?
Unfortunately, your case is becoming all too common. Car rental companies don’t even wait for the paperwork. If there’s damage to your car, they charge you right away. Never mind procedure.
But there are three things about your story that I find troubling, and that Enterprise had nothing to do with. First, you found scratches on the car. Why didn’t you note them on your rental agreement? Talk is cheap. You can almost be guaranteed that the person checking you in won’t be handling your return. So what if the second employee doesn’t know about the four-inch rule?
Take pictures of your rental car and note all damage, no matter how small the dings, chips and scratches.
Second, did you say you’d gone off-roading in your rental? Most car rental agreements forbid drivers from taking their cars on an unpaved road. Even if they don’t, it’s a good idea to stay away from dirt roads in a rental car. The most common kind of car rental damage — the chipped window — can happen too easily when a car or truck in front of you kicks a pebble at you.
Finally, and perhaps most problematic, is that you agree that damage happened to your car while it was in your possession, though not by your usage. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter. If the car was dented when you had it, you’re responsible.
I think both parties made mistakes, but I wanted Enterprise to take another look at this damage claim. It did, and notified you that it had dropped the claim and refunded the $500.
(Photo: Cha zz Layne/Flickr)