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When a Car Rental Goes Wrong: What You Should Do


by: Doresa Banning
01 Dec 2010

You arrive at the car rental agency you reserved a car with, only to find they don't have a vehicle for you. Or your rental car breaks down while you are on the road. Or the company charges you for damages that took place during someone else's rental. These and other problems can and do happen, so it is best to know what to do if you find yourself facing one.

Auto Rental Problems: How to Address Them

First, whether in person or on the phone, bring the problem to the attention of an agent at the branch of the vehicle rental company where you picked it up. If you're being charged for damages you didn't cause, ask for:

  • Evidence: Proof that the vehicle was damaged while it was in your possession.
  • Documentation: Evidence that the car could not be used.
  • Contact: A phone number for the repair shop so that you may communicate directly with it.
  • Acknowledgement: Any documents, signed by you, in which you admit to damaging the vehicle.

If you feel that the agent is not addressing your concerns, ask for a local manager or supervisor. Know that this may take some time, as the agent may have to reach them at another location. While you wait, do not revisit the issue with the agent. Instead, calm yourself and collect your thoughts.

Once you have their attention, explain the situation, calmly and precisely. Do not be confrontational, as that will make them less likely to help you. Let them control the situation, as they are trained to resolve problems and most often do.

If you are unable to resolve your problem with the manager, you may need to contact an area manager or corporate supervisor. Make sure to keep copies of all letters and emails exchanged in case you need to bring in a third party such as an attorney or state insurance commission.

A few precautions ahead of time can also help you avoid headaches later. Make sure the condition of your rental car is documented before you drive off the lot and any existing damage is noted and photographed. Carry copies of your rental agreement, and make sure to review your insurance policy carefully so you know what to do in case of accident or mechanical trouble.

Sources:
Bob Jones • Rental Car Tips - What To Do When You Have A Problem • http://www.cheapcarrentallinks.comhttp://www.cheapcarrentallinks.com/tips2.shtml • BootsnAll Travel NetworkChristopher Elliott • How to outfox your car rental company on a bogus damage claim • http://www.elliott.orghttp://www.elliott.org/blog/how-to-outfox-your-car-rental-company-on-a-bogus-damage-claim/ • Elliot.org