22 Juni 2012

Rental automotive firms nitpick scratches, dents, travelers say

Rental automotive firms became increasingly vigilant concerning harm to their vehicles, several frequent renters say.
The firms, they say, are noting scratches and minor harm which will are overlooked within the past and are a lot of readily assessing charges for harm.

"Most agents look over the automotive currently when came and question each very little scratch," says frequent business traveler Neil Van Walbeck of Toledo, Ohio.


The rental firms say their policies have remained consistent which vehicles are broken in precisely alittle proportion of rental transactions. However, the businesses say, that little proportion will total 1,000,000 or a lot of broken vehicles annually.

Enterprise Holdings, the nation's largest auto rental company, says its 3 brands — Enterprise, National and Alamo — build over fifty million rental transactions a year and up to one million involve a broken vehicle.

Avis Budget says it makes over twenty five million rental transactions every year, and "tens of thousands" of its vehicles are broken.

Dollar Thrifty would not answer questions on broken vehicles.

"Damages vary from dents to missing equipment and from windshield cracks to total losses and unrecovered thefts," says Enterprise Holdings spokeswoman Laura Bryant.

The most common damages are "minor dents, scratches, and glass and bumper harm, with the overwhelming majority of those claims underneath $1,000," she says.

Renters who get an auto rental company's collision-damage waiver — or have it provided by a mastercard issuer — sometimes will not be billed for loss or harm to a vehicle, the businesses say. they might be billed if they drove recklessly or violated terms of the rental agreement or mastercard policy.

Bryant says that in additional than two-thirds of Enterprise rentals that are broken, repair prices are coated by insurance firms, employers or different third parties.

A contract could be a contract

If harm wasn't caused by a renter, the renter continues to be accountable if the harm happens whereas he or she is renting a vehicle, auto rental firms say.

"In signing the rental contract, customers comply with be to blame for any harm that happens throughout the rental amount, despite whether or not they or a 3rd party caused the harm, simply as would be the case with their own vehicle," Bryant says.

Many frequent renters, though, say they have been billed for harm that did not occur whereas they'd the automotive.

Frequent renter Bobby Keenom of Meeker, Okla., says a National employee climbed onto the roof when he came an SUV to National at Phoenix's airport in April. there have been scratches, alittle dent and cord burn marks.

"I was in city on business and had no reason to place something on the roof," Keenom says. "He did not care and said it had been policy. i'm still fighting this claim."

Another National renter, Matthew Hutchings, says he came an undamaged automotive to the airport in Wichita last year, and 3 weeks later received an invoice for windshield harm.

"I drove the automotive with a business colleague across the automobile parking space from the airport to the Wichita Hilton and never went over fifteen miles an hour," says Hutchings, a medical sales director from St. George, Utah. "I am assured after I came it back to the airport — once more driving across a automobile parking space to the airport — there was no windshield harm."

Hutchings says he disputed the charge "many times," however "they charged my mastercard anyway." His company's insurance company paid concerning $200 to settle the matter, he says.

Avis Budget spokesman John Barrows says that, if any company employee knowingly makes a false accusation of a client damaging a vehicle, it "would represent a violation of our employee code of conduct and be treated terribly seriously."

Such an employee may be fired, he says.

Who ought to check?

Besides complaints concerning increased harm vigilance and invalid harm claims, some frequent renters complain that it should not be customers' responsibility to notice each scratch or dent on a vehicle.

Van Walbeck says rental firms ought to examine their vehicles and supply a sheet listing damages.

Renters can also do inspections, and take photos with their smartphones to guard themselves.

Washington-based business traveler Anne Seymour says inspecting a vehicle is "a total pain" and "time suck." throughout many rentals, she documented minor scratches in automotive rental heaps and had to come to an airport terminal rental desk.

"Ugh," she says. "If they were customer-centric, they'd have employees accompany you to the automotive and be with you as you are doing a automotive review."

Hertz spokeswoman Paula Rivera says inspections before a automotive leaves and when it returns are "designed to assist Hertz guarantee customers are not held in charge of pre-existing harm" and "to establish damage that occurred throughout the rental."

Enterprise's Bryant says several renters — except road warriors hurrying at the airport — "seem to appreciate" the method of inspecting a automotive before they drive away.

"We encourage customers to illustrate any considerations they could have before leaving the ton, therefore we've a mutual understanding of the vehicle condition before the rental begins," she says.

usatoday.com