Claim related to stolen Budget Truck

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Jun 30, 2020
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Hi everyone, first post, and I'm looking for some advice on how to handle an issue.

Last June, my boyfriend and I rented a Budget truck to move from NC to Georgia. We had no issue, returned the vehicle to a lot on a Sunday that was closed, and put all the relevant paperwork and keys in the drop-box on the premises, as we were instructed to do by Budget.

The next day, we received a call from the on-site attendant of the car lot that said the vehicle was not there. It had apparently been hot-wired and stolen out of the lot, as they keys and paperwork were still in the box. She put a call into the sheriff's office, and we received a call a few weeks later from the sheriff's office stating that they had found the thief and the truck. They were just confirming details.

We then received a notice and invoice this March that Budget was charging us for the damages related to the theft of the vehicle. The invoice essentially had documentation of the repair, no pictures, and no incident report. They're using a claims agency named Sedgewick, and I responded to the case worker with essentially what is written in this post: http://forum.elliott.org/threads/how-to-deal-with-a-car-rental-damage-claim.1514/. I had to adjust some things because this is a theft issue, but I haven't heard anything back from them. I asked for:

1. The copy of the original signed agreement (they provided a blank version in their claims paperwork)
2. Any image or video documentation of what was in the drop-box when the attendant came on site (to me, if this was present, it would indicate that the contract was fulfilled and any liability is not on our shoulders)
3. Time stamped and dated pictures of the damage listed in the invoice.
4. A picture of the mileage indicator showing mileage on the car when the damage was noted
5. A copy of the incident report filed with the police and any resolution of that incident
6. A copy of the license plate number on the truck in question

We received a call from Budget this morning saying we need to pay the claims charge. I got online and forwarded all correspondence to Joshua Yount, the primary contact that Elliott has listed for Avis/Budget.

The problem is, right now, I feel like I'm essentially calling their bluff. I don't have the paperwork that was placed in the dropbox, because it was in the dropbox. I failed to take pictures when we dropped it off. The only documentation I have is (3) witnesses who were on site with me when I dropped off the truck (I know, this was very stupid of me).

My question is, are we still liable? The theft occurred after we dropped off the vehicle, and Budget has to have the paperwork and keys from the dropbox, as the vehicle was hot-wired. My understanding is that the contract was fulfilled and we were no longer liable for what happened to the vehicle. Is there anything more I can do?

Happy to clarify/add any needed documents. Thanks so much for your help in advance.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
Unfortunately, until that truck is checked back in with an employee- you might be responsible for it. Check your terms and conditions on your rental to see what it says about returning after hours.

Did the place have any video cameras?
 
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Jun 30, 2020
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This is from the T&C they had in the claim invoice, but it was not signed (I turned in the signed agreement to the dropbox, so I asked for that in my emails):

"IF YOU RETURN A TRUCK WHEN A
LOCATION IS CLOSED YOU MUST UTILIZE THE DROP BOX FOR THE RETURN OF THE KEYS AND DEPOSIT OF THE RENTAL AGREEMENT. YOU REMAIN RESPONSIBLE FOR THE TRUCK AND ALL CHARGES, LOSSES AND DAMAGES TO THE TRUCK THAT OCCUR PRIOR TO THE LOCATION
OPENING AND THE LOCATION FINDING THE TRUCK ON THE PREMISES. IF THE KEYS ARE NOT FOUND IN THE DROP BOX AND THE TRUCK IS NOT FOUND ON THE PREMISES YOU WILL BE IN BREACH OF THIS AGREEMENT"

I'm not sure if the place had cameras...is there a way to find out?
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
22,903
22,851
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www.promalvacations.com
Call the place you returned it to and ask.

If you didn’t buy insurance for the rental, you should contact your car insurance company and see if they have any type of coverage for this or the credit card you used for the rental and ask thrm as well.
 
Feb 16, 2018
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The other thing you should do is to call the Sheriffs office and find out how to get a copy of the report. This will contain information that could be helpful to your case with Budget. For instance, if the employee who reported the truck stolen made statements that you had returned it, if there is any security camera footage that could help your case, and any admissions by he suspect as to how the truck was stolen.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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San Francisco
I'm with Dave, lean on the sheriff's department. Vehicle rental companies have been sending out phony damage claims and other bogus baloney for several years. It started with "Charlie's Personal Car Rental" run out of Charlie's home garage. Then the big guys got interested. They must be getting someone to pay up because they keep on doing it. This strikes me as a really greedy move on the part of the local Budget location, an entire truck.

I advise that you continue to deny responsibility, cease talking to anyone "from their side" by phone and keep it all in writing. Respond to everything they send you with a repeated denial. Be unfailingly polite. You followed their instructions, returned the truck, left the keys and that's the end of your involvement. It would be great if your car insurance would cover something like this, an insurance company would make short work of these people. Keeping the sheriff's department involved might make then decide not to pursue you. Have patience and fortitude and please keep us updated. As far as I know, a stolen rental truck is a first for this Forum.
 

smd

Mar 14, 2018
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My question is, are we still liable? The theft occurred after we dropped off the vehicle, and Budget has to have the paperwork and keys from the dropbox, as the vehicle was hot-wired. My understanding is that the contract was fulfilled and we were no longer liable for what happened to the vehicle..
You will need to look at your rental agreement to determine this. However, most companies do not end your liability when you drop the keys after hours. You continue to be responsible until the office opens and the vehicle is checked in by their personnel.

You definitely are entitled to a copy of the rental agreement and documentation of repair costs. But, given the police involvement, there's no reason to believe this is some sort of phony damage claim scam.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
22,903
22,851
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
You will need to look at your rental agreement to determine this. However, most companies do not end your liability when you drop the keys after hours. You continue to be responsible until the office opens and the vehicle is checked in by their personnel.

You definitely are entitled to a copy of the rental agreement and documentation of repair costs. But, given the police involvement, there's no reason to believe this is some sort of phony damage claim scam.
He posted a quote from the rental agreement in post 3 which stated the renter is liable.