This isn’t an easy problem to fix because you signed a form acknowledging your responsibility when you returned the vehicle.
Of course, there were a few things you could have done to prevent this from happening. A pre-rental inspection is always a good idea. Take pictures of the car from every angle and also inside, and if there’s any damage, fill out a pre-rental report before you leave the lot. Make sure you get an employee to sign off on the form. If you done any of those things, then you wouldn’t be faced with a $669 bill for random scratches and a loose grill.
By the way, you can appeal a bill by sending a brief, polite email to one of Alamo’s executives. I list them on my site: http://elliott.org/contacts/alamo-rent-a-car/.
The terms of your rental are clear. If you take the keys, you accept responsibility for the vehicle. But as it turns out, Alamo had the same problem you did – iffy paperwork. When it sent you the bill, the photocopied pictures of the damaged vehicle didn’t appear to be the one you rented. I thought that was enough reason to ask Alamo to give your case another review. Alamo offered to zero out the remaining balance on your bill, an offer you accepted.
Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.