Sixt Clutch Damage Claim

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AJM

Aug 10, 2017
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Sixt claimed 1629 clutch damage to a vehicle when I undoubtedly know how to drive stick shift. Followed the steps on this forum about how to dispute a claim but Sixt still insists that clutch damage is not cumulative and I caused all the damage to the clutch. Here's the email I sent them:

Writing to dispute a damage claim (Ref #deleted by mod). Here are the facts:
1) We did not damage your vehicle and do not authorize the damage charges.
2) We 100% know how to drive a manual stick shift.
3) I only received a response from Sixt's US office after attempting to contact the Ireland office several times in regards to customer service issues that we encountered after the vehicle malfunction. The Ireland office only responded saying we must wait to hear however we never received a follow up.
4) The Ireland office never informed us of the damage claim, I had to find out by checking my credit card statement.
5) To automatically charge the renter who is unlucky enough to get stranded on the side of the road for 2.5 hours after a car breaks down is horrible customer service.
6) When roadside assistance showed up they told me upfront that the damage obviously was not my fault. Your mechanic's claim that the car wouldn't function at all is false as we witnessed roadside assistance rev the engine and force the clutch into gear in order to back it onto the tow truck.
7) It's far more likely that the clutch malfunctioning was due to cumulative damage from prior renter(s) in addition to the visible damage to the mirrors, fender, and other areas that was already on the passenger side of the car.
8) There is no way to prove who caused the damage to the clutch but what I can tell you is that we have over 15 years experience driving manual cars - even though your desk agents at the Dublin airport found it funny to say that most Americans can't drive clutch.
9) After consulting third party mechanics, they said quote "It broke on you(us) because the last driver got it so hot that the metal in the clutch was flaking away and failed when you(us) were driving normally." He also added "Clutches are always engaged so there's always heat and friction on them. Someone else heated it up extremely hot and Sixt did not do a proper safety check when the vehicle was originally returned."
10) The car probably did not have time to go through a proper safety check since when we showed up at the Dublin airport the desk agent stated that it had just been turned in and your team was hurrying to wash it.
11) The date on the incident report is incorrect.
12) The date on the "engineers report" is a full 18 days after the car broke down on the side of the road in between Dingle, Ireland and Tralee, Ireland. The car could have been driven by any of Sixt's service providers and the car bumped into gear in order to get it on and off the tow trucks so "the distinctive smell of burning clutch" could have been caused by anyone who touched the car in those 18 days. In addition to the roadside mechanic revving the engine to drive the car onto the tow truck.
13) We almost missed our flight after waiting to speak to a manager at the Dublin Airport office for at least 45 minutes and being promised that we would be helped shortly. A supervisor also told us he'd get a resolution the following week after we returned the car and we never heard from anyone at the Ireland office.
Since the Sixt branch we rented from (Dublin Airport) did not give us the courtesy of even informing us of the damage claim before charging us we request the following:
-Your (Sixt's) copy of the original agreement and the receipt given to us when we returned the replacement vehicle
-Time stamped and dated pictures of the damage
-A picture of the mileage indicator showing the mileage on the car when the damage was noted
-Your (Sixt's) internal copy of the incident report
-The recording of the conversation when the tow truck provider called in to confirm the car was inoperable.
-A dated picture of the license plate number of the car
Thank you for your time, I look forward to a quick resolution and refund of the charges to my credit card.

Their response was that they checked the clutch before handing us our rental and that "any pre-existing damage to the clutch would have been noticeable while you were driving."
 
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Feb 9, 2016
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First of all, dispute those credit card charges!! At the very least, find out your window to dispute them so you don't go beyond that window if Sixt drags their feet.

This really boils down to them being able to show you service records that prove the clutch had been inspected prior to your rental period, and showed no wear and tear. But it has to be a literal service notation made before your rental period, and then you need the same sort of inspection record right after your rental period. not just an employee driving it before and saying 'worked great for me"

Then, as a consumer, you can fall back on how old the clutch was. How old was it? Was it original to the car? What was it's life expectancy? How many renters had utilized this clutch? There are all sorts of ways to break down your personal cost obligation.

Also, if the vehicle still in the factory warranty period? if it is, you have minimal obligation. you certainly are not obligated to pay for the clutch!

So let's say that clutch was serviced properly. I would contend that you are responsible for...
original cost of the clutch + installation, divided by total number of renters to the vehicle (because all of them contributed t wear and tear) divided by number of years clutch has been in service

I think your best bet to end this nightmare is to invite them to settle it in small claims court. There's just no way they will. they will attempt to extort the renter before you instead.
 
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AJM

Aug 10, 2017
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your letter is too long, btw, initially I did not read it all.
shave it down to facts
Thanks for all your help sas80. Yeah, I pasted the letter and thought the same thing.

Sixt can't show service records but sent over a Quality Assurance form where an employee checked off that they checked the clutch pressure by pressing the clutch pedal while car was turned off and a clutch purchase test with the car turned on.

Good point about inviting them to settle - but just curious, how would the small claims court work since the branch is based in Ireland and only EU citizens can use the European Small Claims court procedure?
 
Feb 9, 2016
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Thanks for all your help sas80. Yeah, I pasted the letter and thought the same thing.

Sixt can't show service records but sent over a Quality Assurance form where an employee checked off that they checked the clutch pressure by pressing the clutch pedal while car was turned off and a clutch purchase test with the car turned on.

Good point about inviting them to settle - but just curious, how would the small claims court work since the branch is based in Ireland and only EU citizens can use the European Small Claims court procedure?
I have no idea how small claims would work since the branch is based in Europe. perhaps google or a lawyer can help you with that info.

Sixt CAN show the service records, they are just choosing not to. EVERY item (including service records) becomes relevant and open for inspection if you are going to small claims court.

Review your rental agreement. If you don't have your rental agreement, ask for it and/or google for it. Does it say that both parties agree to mediate any dispute? if so, dispute the charge and tell Sixt you want to go to mediation in order to settle the issue. THEN ask for all the relevant pieces of information.

First place to start is that letter writing campaign. make that letter smaller and start with customer service. When they rject you, move on to the next person. Give it one week. If response is a no, or no response received, move on to the next person. Keep records so that, if you do go to mediation, it appears as if you were willing to work this out all along, just wanted documentation proving you ARE at fault.
 

AJM

Aug 10, 2017
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Update: received this 12 days ago from Sixt Ireland and replied restating the fact that we did not damage the vehicle, no response so have moved on to writing Konstantin on the executive's contact list.

From Sixt:
"Prior to your rental taking place, as with every rental, a number of checks were done on the vehicle. This includes checking the clutch purchase and pressure. Attached is the form completed having carried out these checks and our staff member has indicated that there were no issues with the clutch. Also attached is the description as to how these checks are performed.

From your own perspective, any pre-existing damage to the clutch would have been noticeable while you were driving."

This also attached: "a recording has been made displaying the damaged clutch being repaired on the vehicle...Subsequently an engineer’s report was compiled detailing the findings...

With respect to the amount charged a damage estimate has been provided.

As per the terms of your agreement you did not take our local coverage, this was done with your credit card insurance, as such you remain responsible for all repair costs up to and including the full value of the vehicle. We have made clear our position on this case and cannot offer further comment, however if you require further documentation with which to make a claim from your credit card insurance provider they can contact our fleet department"
 
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Even New Cars Need Some Clutch Love
Just because your manual-transmission car has only 10 or 20 thousand miles on it doesn't mean that the clutch is still perfect. Driving style is the number one factor which determines clutch longevity (or lack of it!). And remember that almost all car manufacturers consider the clutch assembly a "wear" item, like tires and brakes. If you wear out your clutch and your vehicle is still within its New Car Warranty Period, it is very unlikely that the replacement would be considered a warranty job. more details on - https://www.carid.com/articles/advantages-of-purchasing-a-clutch-kit-versus-a-clutch-disc.html
 
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Now is the time to educate yourself on what it means to check the clutch purchase and pressure. Google it. Do you know any mechanics? Can you ask them if checking the clutch purchase and pressure would indicate that a failure was imminent? You need to figure that out. Also, what were the reading/summary of the clutch purchase and pressure check? Take that info to the dealer or a mechanic and ask what it reveals. There mey be some wisdom there.

As noted above, even if your manual transmission vehicle only has 10-20k miles on it, there is STILL some wear and tear on the vehicle. Then you have to factor in that this was a rental car so the clutch experience multiple types of manual transmission drivers.

What's the life expectancy of a clutch on a rental car vehicle? Figure that out to determined depreciation of the clutch and what it should cost you if you decide to pay.

Ask them to provide a picture or video of the 'bad' clutch ON the vehicle. With this they need to demonstrate proof that the clutch picture they give you was taken from the actual vehicle in question - i.e. license plates IN the pic.

ANY pictures they give you, throw them into google image search just to make sure these pictures were not used anywhere else.

Keep posting and I will keep brainstorming.
 

ADM

Apr 10, 2017
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My husband and I have always driven cars with a manual transmission. The SUV he got 5 years ago is the first and only automatic transmission vehicle either of us has ever driven. We drive our cars into the dirt and only replace them when it's necessary. That being said neither of us has ever had to replace a clutch. My previous car had 170K miles on it and his had 180K. Just about everything else had gone bad at some point except the clutch and transmission. For a clutch to fail after so few miles (assuming no manufacturer defect) tells me there are a lot of people driving these cars who have no idea how to drive them. I really hope you can get this resolved in your favor as Sixt is trying to charge you for something that isn't your fault.
 
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you also need to request all service records for the vehicle from the moment the owned the car. This is in an effort to ensure that the vehicle was properly inspected and maintained and that there were no prior repairs made to that clutch. prior repairs mean something was already wrong with the clutch and the repair possibly wasnt done correctly.
 

AJM

Aug 10, 2017
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They say you have credit card insurance. Did you put a claim in?

I see their point though - if the clutch was bad did you feel anything different when you picked up the car?
Credit Card insurance doesn't cover any mechanical malfunctions on the car

As for Sixt claiming a customer should have noticed any clutch issues while driving, I've driven manual all my life and rented several and a lot of clutches feel different - for example, some cars have super tight clutches or high pedals from the factory. We asked a mechanic and he agreed on this and that the pressure test is insufficient to truly diagnose a clutch problem
 

AJM

Aug 10, 2017
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Now is the time to educate yourself on what it means to check the clutch purchase and pressure. Google it. Do you know any mechanics? Can you ask them if checking the clutch purchase and pressure would indicate that a failure was imminent? You need to figure that out. Also, what were the reading/summary of the clutch purchase and pressure check? Take that info to the dealer or a mechanic and ask what it reveals. There mey be some wisdom there.

As noted above, even if your manual transmission vehicle only has 10-20k miles on it, there is STILL some wear and tear on the vehicle. Then you have to factor in that this was a rental car so the clutch experience multiple types of manual transmission drivers.

What's the life expectancy of a clutch on a rental car vehicle? Figure that out to determined depreciation of the clutch and what it should cost you if you decide to pay.

Ask them to provide a picture or video of the 'bad' clutch ON the vehicle. With this they need to demonstrate proof that the clutch picture they give you was taken from the actual vehicle in question - i.e. license plates IN the pic.

ANY pictures they give you, throw them into google image search just to make sure these pictures were not used anywhere else.

Keep posting and I will keep brainstorming.
Thank you for all the helpful advice @sas80, yes talked to a mechanic and sent over the clutch purchase and pressure tests - attached them here, they're checklist items, next to the standard car cleanliness and tire pressure checks they do to every car. Mechanic said the only true way to diagnose a clutch problem and wear is to service the car with a licensed tech, not just an employee saying it felt fine.
 

Attachments

Feb 9, 2016
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Thank you for all the helpful advice @sas80, yes talked to a mechanic and sent over the clutch purchase and pressure tests - attached them here, they're checklist items, next to the standard car cleanliness and tire pressure checks they do to every car. Mechanic said the only true way to diagnose a clutch problem and wear is to service the car with a licensed tech, not just an employee saying it felt fine.
Will your mechanic put that into a statement? If you can get that onto a document and get it notarized, you will have a pretty good weapon in your arsenal to send back to the company.

At some point you may want to push their hand on this.

Respond that you have requested X, Y, Z documentation and have yet to receive it, or understand when it will be forthcoming. That you have reviewed the incident with an independent mechanic, and have come to understand that a purchase and pressure test, by a random employee, will, in no way, reveal a well worn clutch, and neither will a random employee stating that the "clutch felt fine".

Invite them to involve a mediator in the situation, or take you to court to finally resolve the matter, and remind them that mediation and court will require that they turn over all the documents that they have not provided you.

Then go on to say that you have been dealing with this situation in good faith for X days/weeks/months) yet they refuse to send over documents X, Y and Z. Let them know that you refuse to engage them in further contact until you receive the requested documents and, if such documents are not sent within 10 days you will assume they have closed this matter.
 
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here are some words our once resident lawyer contributor suggested another person use, hopefully they help give shape to any letter you might write.

Dear Damage Company:

We deny we damaged your principal's property, or to the value demanded.

We have repeatedly asked for a list of items to properly evaluate the damage. The following has not been provided:

list items not provided.

These items are required to evaluate and respond to your client's demand. Until such time as all requested documents and proof is provided, your claim shall remain denied on the basis of insufficient evidence to pay, process or determine the validity of the claim and the elements thereof.

I can appreciate your threats of litigation and further proceedings, but if you or your principal sue, you will be required to turn this information over in discovery. Be advised that your agreement has an arbitration clause and we shall insist on that as the basis of dispute resolution. As you are no doubt aware, all of these provisions, along with the attorneys fee clause, are mutual by operation of consumer protection statute.

If you do not provide the requested information by January 15, 2017, we shall assume you are abandoning your claim.

Very truly yours ..."

There is no reason to 'try,' they are going to provide this information or they are going to lose based on a discovery sanctions. . .

make sure you add surveillance video of the pick up and return to the list if it was not already on the list . ..
 
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AJM

Aug 10, 2017
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Thanks @sas80 and @Neil, will send the above letter today. Sent a follow up to Konstantin (Sixt Executive) last week and haven't heard back, haven't heard back from the first executive on the list or the Ireland Sixt office either.

Quick question - when writing up the chain do you suggest CC'ing everyone that was written to before?

Also, the Sixt in Ireland is a franchisee, not sure if that makes a difference since they're not responding anyways
 
Feb 9, 2016
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Thanks @sas80 and @Neil, will send the above letter today. Sent a follow up to Konstantin (Sixt Executive) last week and haven't heard back, haven't heard back from the first executive on the list or the Ireland Sixt office either.

Quick question - when writing up the chain do you suggest CC'ing everyone that was written to before?

Also, the Sixt in Ireland is a franchisee, not sure if that makes a difference since they're not responding anyways
In my opinion, no, don't CC everyone. It's best to isolate one person with the issue. I would assume the executives will talk between themselves. If they don't you may catch one on a good day. if you CC everyone then they will talk and the one person who is in a bad mood will shut it down.

Now you do nothing. You sit tight and wait another week and then send the email to the next person on the exec ladder. You have written your email and have been forthcoming in the fact that you didn't cause the damage and are trying to help them solve exactly what might have happened. If you make it all the way up the food chain and no one gets back to you, you still sit tight. Doing nothing is anxiety provoking, but you have clearly established that you ARE paying attention to this matter and attempting to solve it in good faith so, if anyone comes back at you, you have that proof. If they threaten collections, etc, you resume showing them that you are trying to work with them to solve this issue but you need more information. if they come back at you and tell you they cant/wont provide more information, then you either tell them you cant pay a damage claim you know you didn't cause, and they wont help you figure out what did happen, so you don't know what else to do, maybe they should sue you so they will have to turn over all the information and you can finally resolve it?

It's definitely a push of force but they shouldn't be trying to get you to pay for damage you didn't cause.

also, be sure to work into your emails asking them to drop the claim, maybe as some sort of sign off

"Once again, I did not cause the damage indicated. As you can see, I am working in good faith to attempt to establish when this damage might have occurred, however I am not receiving the same good faith in return from your company. I am investing a good amount of time trying to resolve this and am not being accommodated. because of all of this, at this time, I am asking that you drop this claim."
 

AJM

Aug 10, 2017
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New Update: got a reply from Marja-Liisa Obst, the assistant of Konstantin Sixt.

They said they talked to Sixt Ireland but can't provide actual service records because the car hasn't been serviced, can't provide fleet record because "We are not sure what this refers to, do you mean the rental history? This would be private information." Don't have a picture of the mileage indicator and don't have a recording of the conversation between the tow company and Sixt because calls aren't recorded.