Q: I recently rented a Ford Fusion from Enterprise at a car dealership body shop in Boyertown, Pa. The vehicle had buckled trim pieces, bumper covers and scuffs. Most of these were noted, but a large portion of the damage was not, because the representative said they seemed “surface only” or “buffable.” I kept pointing them out, but they were not noted. No photographs of the car were taken.
I drove the rental about a mile to my office and parked it there. The car then was driven approximately one mile back to the car-rental location seven hours later. I asked a person at the desk what to do, and she said she’d check in the car for me. There was no damage noted by me, and no negative incidents occurred while the car was in my possession.
The car then sat on the lot for more than a day, until it was driven by an Enterprise employee to Pottstown, Pa. According to a manager, Enterprise noted damage to the vehicle I rented a day after my rental, and after it had been driven more than 10 miles by someone else. I was not contacted regarding the alleged damage until three business days later.
I believe I am being wrongfully accused by Enterprise for damaging its vehicle. You seem to be the authority on this. What should I do?
David Bressler, Boyertown, Pa.
A: Enterprise needs to send you an invoice with a repair bill, indicating the vehicle, license number and mileage on the car. Those records should match the receipt you received from the company when you returned the car.
But let’s push the ”rewind” button for a minute. If that Fusion was beat up, you should have turned it down. But if you said “yes,” you need to record every single ding, dent, scuff and scratch.
Why? Because Enterprise’s employees are trained to record every single ding, dent, scuff and scratch when you return your car. Questions about recording damage on a rental car are among our most frequently asked (http://elliott.org/frequently-asked-questions-about-car-rentals/). Basically, you need to take pictures of your car from every angle and keep the photos, just in case the car-rental company pursues you for a frivolous damage claim.
You didn’t bother waiting for a bill. Instead, you sent an email to one of Enterprise’s executives. That’s an interesting strategy, but given the fact that you tried to note the damage, only had the car a few hours, and that there was a missing 24 hours and 10 miles between your return and the time the damage was noted, I can see why you’d do that.
By the way, I list the names and numbers of Enterprise’s executives on my site: http://elliott.org/company-contacts/enterprise/.
This is an odd case, no two ways about it. I decided to ask Enterprise about it, and in response, the company dropped its claim. Next time, just say ”no” to a dented rental car.
Email Christopher Elliott at email@example.com.