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Rental Car Question

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hi Bears,

Just returned from Whistler and we had a great time. Trip ended on a bummer though and I thought I would ask/alert you about a problem I experienced.

Rented a SUV from Budget at the Vancouver airport. Drove to Whistler, parked it in the underground parking and then drove it back. At check-in the kid working there points out a stone chip on the front of the hood. Smaller than a pea (maybe half the size). So he sends me into the office where some kid tells me I'm responsible for the "damage". At first I think it's a joke. It is SO small. I ask to speak to the manager. "Sorry, he won't be here until Monday".

So finally the kid hands me the final bill, which he has already charged to my Visa. Damage = $670 cdn !!! I was stunned! The "young man" behind the counter claims nothing he can do. He actually tells me they have to repaint the hood! I had to leave before I put hands on the guy. I was pissed to say the least.

I have coverage through my insurance and the platnium visa will cover anything they don't (although I have never had to use this feature before), but I still feel like I was ripped off in a huge way. In my opinion, this is insurance fraud. Other than writing a letter to everyone I can think of, what do you think I should do. I took pictures and put a dime next to the "damage" so you could see just how small this is.

My warning to all of you is to make sure you find something wrong on EVERY surface of your rental car so when you check in there is some documentation of damage EVERYWHERE. THere is no question this guy knew I had a international flight out and there was nothing I could do about it right there. I will NEVER use Budget again. I cannot express to you how angry I am right now.
post #2 of 22
I used Budget for a SUV in Salt Lake City and we did that walkaround thing before I left the garage, and we filled that damn sheet! I think you got ripped off, dude. I'd fight it, whatever that may mean... that sounds ultra-shady!

Can't say I wouldn't use Budget again though, but I'll remember to continue taking the walk-around before I leave seriously! POINT OUT EVERYTHING, people! :
post #3 of 22
Sounds like a scam.

Call several people at Budget, start with the manager of the Budget facility at the Vancouver airport. If he gives you the run around, find out who his district manager is (at Budget, not at the place that might own the Budget franchise), and call him, or call the DM's superiors. Be very business like, no getting mad, state the obvious very clearly (such as "I can't believe this is normal for renting a car from you...I took a picture of the damage, and it's smaller than a ..."), but be insistent.

Might search through these forums also, specific to Budget Car rentals: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=421

Edit: Note this very interesting post similar to your experience: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showt...ight=Vancouver

And report back here on what happened!
post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the post Elk. It appears this an ongoing problem with this location. I have emailed the claims manager but based on the posts you sent me, I don't expect much help there.

I will send a letter with pics to the corporate office in Toronto and make as much noise as I can. It really kills me to get ripped off like this. I have used them for both business and liesure and have never had a problem at any other location. It's to bad that jerks like this outfit ruin it for all the others. I really doubt I will EVER use Budget again if they don't do the right thing here.

They actually had two guys go over every surface of the truck. There is no way you could drive the vehicle and not find "something" to report. Highway 99 is full of gravel and rock. It can not be avoided.

I would warn anyone going to Whistler to use any other company but Budget. It is not worth the hassle or aggravation.
post #5 of 22
Smaller than a pea?? I would not even point that out if I saw it during the walkaround. And he just happens to have a bill alll ready for a ridiculous low price of $670?? Quick, get the K-Y.
post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 
Well, I started making calls today to see what to do. So far, since it was a International claim, VISA is the insurer rather than my State Farm car policy. This is a good thing since I do not need to show a claim on my car policy. Visa emailed me a claim form and I will go from there. It is still my hope to make this go away. I'll keep you posted.

I just hate unethical people!!!!
post #7 of 22
Deny the charge to your Visa card and let them fight it?
post #8 of 22
I second NE1's suggestion, however, if you're peeved...

Go for the top - Budget is a Cendant Company. There's a section on their webside http://cendant.com/contact/index.cfm for complaints on rentals. Cendant has a new initiative around rental cars as they are aiming to be competitive with Enterprise in the replacement market. Their working diligently on improving customer satisfaction for both the Budget and Avis chains, so personally I would push there if Budget customer support isn't helping you. If you just keep pushing, somebody will make the problem go away - quite frankly it will be cheaper than dealing with you

Coincidentally, I work in the auto industry and have a meeting in 3 weeks with Cendant to discuss a rental partnership, so I'll be interested in hearing how you make out. Claims processing and damage liability are key concerns when negotiating rental contracts - we never want our customers to be unhappy!
post #9 of 22
When you are assessed damage for a rental vehicle it is based on an estimate that includes loss of use (rental income). Any damage to the hood probably starts at that price. A windshield will also cost that much, due to loss of use. Of course this is their way of reinforcing the value of the damage waiver insurance. These assessments are not uncommon at all.
post #10 of 22
I think all rental car companies are out to scam you. When I was in Colorado a few weeks ago we rented a car that was shown on line as a 4 door (2 seats in front 3 in the back) or similar. When I got there they gave me keys to a two seater sports car.

Needless to say that wasn't going to handel three people w/ ski equipment. I was also lied to on the phone about how they can put a ski rack on the car.

My solution: Went back inside and started yelling until finally the manager came over to the kid behind the counter and said and I quote "give them what they want". It's amazing what you can get by calling the company liers in front of a long line of customers.

Fu*k Dollar Rental Car

Some tips I learned about renting:
1) Said above, find flaws on every surface before you leave
2) Always call the location ahead of time and see what model care you are going to get. If you need a ski rack ask them. The main 800 numbers you call are useless. I was told several lies by them.
post #11 of 22
DPJ, File a written demand with Budget to see their file history for that vehicle. You want to determine from their records whether the same claim has been made for the same claimed damage with prior renters. Also you want to determine the average down time for that vehicle. They will probably tell you that "privacy" prevents them from disclosing the other contracts to you because they contain customers' names. BS. Tell them to redact (black out ) the names. Lest us not forget some years ago when Sears Auto Centers, were company wide, performing a lot of "extra" ( unnecessary ) repairs. It does happen. You are making me think that next time I rent I will video the car with their rep in the picture before taking the car. This of course could be dangerous as sometimes ambiguity works to our advantage. Just my 2 cents. Good Luck.
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider
When you are assessed damage for a rental vehicle it is based on an estimate that includes loss of use (rental income). Any damage to the hood probably starts at that price. A windshield will also cost that much, due to loss of use. Of course this is their way of reinforcing the value of the damage waiver insurance. These assessments are not uncommon at all.
I don't think a pea sized paint chip will necessitate pulling the car from the fleet for repair. If they did that every car would be in the shop.
post #13 of 22
NE, I agree completely. The car will not be repaired until it is put up for resale, or larger damage occurs. The assessment seems excessive, but can probably be justified as the real retail cost of refinishing and color matching the hood, and lost rental income, which the renter agrees to pay, and which the rental company agrees to waive IF you buy their damage waiver at $15/day or so. I don't see where the consumer can negotiate from a compelling position on a claim this size. It barely exceeds deductible. Also, if you have ever had a door ding or other small damage requiring painting, estimated for insurance, the quoted cost is not far out of line.
post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by xrisi421
I second NE1's suggestion, however, if you're peeved...

Go for the top - Budget is a Cendant Company. There's a section on their webside http://cendant.com/contact/index.cfm for complaints on rentals. Cendant has a new initiative around rental cars as they are aiming to be competitive with Enterprise in the replacement market. Their working diligently on improving customer satisfaction for both the Budget and Avis chains, so personally I would push there if Budget customer support isn't helping you. If you just keep pushing, somebody will make the problem go away - quite frankly it will be cheaper than dealing with you

Coincidentally, I work in the auto industry and have a meeting in 3 weeks with Cendant to discuss a rental partnership, so I'll be interested in hearing how you make out. Claims processing and damage liability are key concerns when negotiating rental contracts - we never want our customers to be unhappy!
I would be very careful dealing with these guys. When I spoke with the claims manager, he informed me that the vehicle must be returned in the exact same condition as when it left. I asked him that if the car was brand new and in showroom condition, you would expect it to come back that way? He said yes. When I explained that that is just not reasonable as driving a vehicle on any road surface will create some level of wear and tear, he said that would be my responsibility. Madness.

When I returned the vehicle, two attendants decended on the truck and performed a inspection unlike any I have ever seen. There was simply NO WAY they could not have found damage to the vehicle. I inspected the truck first. There were tiny marks that I never would have marked down on the inspection sheet. They found them.

From this day forward, I will make sure that I check something off on EVERY surface of the car or truck. At inspection, the guy climbed up the seats to closely inspect the roof!!

While I am sure it is legal, in my opinion it amounts to insurance fraud. Four days later and I'm still angry. Thanks for the website info. I did see that. I have typed up a letter that I will send to both Budget Canada and to Cendant US. I doubt it will do much good , but it will make me feel better.
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by DJP
When I explained that that is just not reasonable as driving a vehicle on any road surface will create some level of wear and tear, he said that would be my responsibility. Madness.

When I returned the vehicle, two attendants decended on the truck and performed a inspection unlike any I have ever seen. There was simply NO WAY they could not have found damage to the vehicle. I inspected the truck first. There were tiny marks that I never would have marked down on the inspection sheet. They found them.
This is particularly hilarious (in a non-funny way) in Canada, where they use GRAVEL (and I mean GRAVEL, not sand) on the roads in the winter. We lived in Calgary for two winters and drove frequently to the mountains. Basically even if you were just driving around town and not to the ski hill you counted on at least one new windshield during the winter, possibly more if you were on the road to Sunshine or Louise every week. Not to mention all the little dings and pocks on the surface of the car (some of them rather big, due to the abnormally large size of the gravel nuggest used to *sand* the road). That's just normal wear and tear for the Canadian Rockies. Normal wear and tear.

I thought normal wear and tear was cost of doing business for car rental companies? I mean their main product is a constantly depreciating wheeled entropy machine anyway. It will get damaged. And on Canadian highways in the winter? Damaged real fast.

I say hit 'em for all they're worth. I have also heard that Cendant is trying to get better with their customer service and car rental policies, so it'll be interesting to hear what they do. I'm sure they'd love to know, btw, that we're all bashing them online!

Mollmeister
post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
Mollmeister,

Thanks for the words. That was what I have always thought. Normal wear and tear. You rent a vehicle in an area where they use sand (and rocks) to cover the roads. You advertise in magazines offering skiers package deals to drive to the mountains!

The claims guy actually told me that they cannot be held responsible if I choose to drive to the mountains! What the hell are you talking about. You offered me a ski package!!!

I call that a cost of doing business. I have vacation property rental. If the wall gets scratched, eventually I will have to re-paint it. Things happen. I'm not going after the renter. It's a cost of doing business. It is a risk I accept letting someone else use my property.

I intend to write to everyone I can. I sent a note via email and have called the regional office and filed a claim. Sent a note to headquarters in NJ and if I have to will send notes to the chamber of commerce, the condo rental firm (warn future guests) and anyone else I can think of. I told them there is simply no way our ski club could ever use them again based on this policy.

I will keep you posted. Thanks for all the input guys. We all rent cars to visit all of these great resorts. I don't want to let them push us all around or make me re-consider future trips due to the hassle. There are plenty of companies that treat their customers with respect. We owe it to ourselves to do business with them while pointing our the less "ethical" operations out there.
post #17 of 22
Something's wrong. First they can take a deductible, $500, $1000, then it is accessed for damage by the rental company's crew, not some jerky kid, than your credit card company can approve or disapprove of it, especially since you have photos. The credit card pays for it and you get your deductible back. Takes a couple of weeks, but it works. Your credit card company should back you up on this.

Tips up
post #18 of 22
This is just awful ... unfortunately, they screw everyone this way, and no one really stands up to it which is why they keep doing it. Frankly, since it is a Cendant company ... they have very very expensive lawyers ... so if you'd like to take the lead for all of us and "fight the man" just keep pushing (use your credit card company do to the pushing) and it will eventually get to legal, at which point it's more expensive for them to pay someone else to take care of it than what they'd actually be getting from you ... that's just my two cents ... sorry man, and good luck
post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by imataxman
This is just awful ... unfortunately, they screw everyone this way, and no one really stands up to it which is why they keep doing it. Frankly, since it is a Cendant company ... they have very very expensive lawyers ... so if you'd like to take the lead for all of us and "fight the man" just keep pushing (use your credit card company do to the pushing) and it will eventually get to legal, at which point it's more expensive for them to pay someone else to take care of it than what they'd actually be getting from you ... that's just my two cents ... sorry man, and good luck
That about sums it up. I have already contacted my credit card company and I'm sure they will take care of it. What really gets me mad is that the jerks who are ripping me off (in my opinion) know this and count on it. But I will do everything I can to warn others. It is a hassle. In the grand scheme of things, it's a rounding error when you add up what we spent on the trip. But it's still wrong.

So I guess I'll just keep venting until the pain goes away :-) Hertz has earned a customer for life.

Thanks for the support everyone.
post #20 of 22
This is why I only rent from Hertz or National. Usually their rates are almost as good, and their service is much better. Since they both deal with a lot of business travelers, they don't do this kind of nonsense.
post #21 of 22
You know, you could always approach the Ombudsman in Conde Nast's Traveler magazine, as well. Don't know if they'd take your case on, but it would be really entertaining to see it in print!

Mollmeister
post #22 of 22
Thread Starter 
Well, I thought I would update and warn all of you about my problems with the YVR Budget location. I sent a pic of the "damage" to the Cendant customer care office in New York. I received in return a lovely form letter stating that they do not handle claims. Thats it from there. I also sent a email via their website but received no response.

After my lovely discussion with the local claims manager, I filed a claim with the regional office. This was by phone. When I requested a name and address to forward the pictures I took, I was told there was no such office or location and the phone was the only option. Huh?

Needless to say I received a letter over the weekend stating that my claim was denied. The best part. The letter came from the YVR office itself. They left it up to the location I had the dispute with! What a joke. The letter came back with no name or title. No address. Just the phone # and a copy of the bill for my insurance. Nobody was responsible for anything.

This location does not deserve our business. I have discoverd simular complaints on other websites in regards to this location. While their actions may be legal, in my opinion they are highly unethical at best. The idea that there is no such thing as wear and tear during the use of a vehicle is ridiculous. The agent actually told me that is the risk you take if you choose to take the vehicle to a mountain resort. Never mind that they advertise this as an acceptable use of the vehicle.

Beware. Never will I use Budget again. The most frustrating part of all of this is they simply don't care.
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