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Old Nov 21, 08, 5:31 pm   #1
 
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Angry Thrifty refuses to work with Amex Ins on fees

I just wanted to warn people who rely on the Amex Insurance (I have the Premium Car Rental protection) that rent with Thrifty.

This summer I had a rental with Thrifty for 1 month (the first of two 1 month rentals with them) in Denver and on the day before I returned the vehicle a rock flew-up and cracked the windshield while driving down the highway. I immediately reported the crack to Thrifty and Amex Insurance.

Well, Thrifty first sends me a bill for the new windshield ($150), loss of use ($12.25) and administration fee ($50) to my Chicago address when I am still listed as renting a vehicle with them in Denver (2nd 1 month rental). In the letter they ask me to pay for the windshield within 5 days, so I can avoid the loss of use and admin fees. Two problems: 1. I wasn't in Chicago to receive the letter and 2. it was already submitted to insurance, so Thrifty would get a double payment if I sent them money.

Over the course of the next few months Thrifty called me to tell me that Amex refuses to pay for anything beyond the windshield replacement specifically. I call Amex, who tells me that they will pay the fees, as long as Thrifty provides documentation of their validity. I call Thrifty back to inform them of this and never hear of it again for over a month. Just yesterday I got a letter and a call from a collections agency stating that I owe them for the two fees that Amex won't pay. I immediately leave a voicemail for my contact at Thrifty who returned my call today to say that Thrifty has tried in the past to offer Amex proper documentation, but Amex never pays them. She said that Thrifty will no longer attempt to provide documentation because Amex just refuses to pay anyway.

So now I have to deal with a collections agency at a time when it would be really terrible to get a bad mark on my credit report. All because Thrifty gave up on cooperating with Amex Insurance. I just don't feel that that's a very customer-friendly way to handle this situation and left my Thrifty contact a voicemail stating as such. Now I know it's not a large amount of money, but I'm a grad student and every little bit counts. I also know I'm a small fish because I'm a student right now, but I'm graduating and hope to be a big shot business traveler sometime soon!

I don't know if the other agencies are as bad at handling damage, but I'm sure not going to try my luck with Thrifty again.

P.S. I hope I explained the situation well, but I welcome all questions and comments!
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Old Nov 21, 08, 5:47 pm   #2
 
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Wow that is bizarre.

As someone long associated with Thrifty, I've never heard of the company refusing to deal with Amex. I have Mastercard insurance which I've never used to I have no personal experience on that end.

Loss of use and admin fees are standard in the industry. That's why credit card companies deliberately list them as covered or not covered. For Amex to refuse Thrifty's claims in the past would signal to me that Thrifty hasn't documented them properly in the past. It sounds like you need to bridge the gap and put an Amex rep on the phone with your Thrifty rep so they can hammer everything out.

Did Thrifty have your Denver address? I'm presuming your license shows the address in Chicago and you're on assignment in Denver? If the latter is true, not much you can do about receiving the letter at the wrong address unfortunately. I'm in much the same boat as you: I'm a student studying in Alberta but my permanent address is my parents' home in B.C.

However, for a long rental like that most rental companies ask for a local contact address. Did you provide an address where you were staying in Denver? If so, they should have sent it to that address. They gave you 5 days you never had to remit payment; so them forcing you to pay could be grounds for a BBB claim. Even threatening it might be enough for them to back off and either pursue reimbursement through Amex, or if they know that route will fail they'll abandon the remaining $62.25. That or you can ask them, is it really worth it to collect on $62 when it means losing your business as a monthly renter?

Off-topic, but I'm in a similar fight with Primus up here. I signed up for a long distance service with them and never received instructions on how to use it. Then when I called to ask I was told that the service wasn't even available on my number. I asked the guy to cancel it, and then find out they were continuing to charge my credit card. I ended up cancelling the card hoping they would go away, and now they've sent me a collections notice saying I owe $89 -- all for a service I never used. Soon enough you and I will be making $90-150 before lunchtime, but for now it's a crunch we don't need.

Keep fighting the good fight brother! Hope I've helped and keep us posted.
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Old Nov 22, 08, 12:21 am   #3
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I always tell people not to rely on their credit cards to cover them for rentals. I have seen too many people get hosed by their card company, which denied the claim over some extremely minor infraction or something (submitting the claim 48.5 hours after the damage happened instead of 48, not driving under the speed limit, driving too big of a car, etc.). Plus, they always take absolutely forever to pay.

I also have the American Express Premium Car Rental Protection plan, and I've had to use it twice (I only rely on it on longer rentals, when the cost of purchasing LDW becomes excessive, and I always treat it as a fallback to my own insurance, which does provide coverage for rental cars--I'd never carry only the card's coverage). The first time, they did not cover loss of use or administrative fees. I complained about that so furiously (and told them that I thought their product was crappy, because Visa and MasterCard both [at least claimed to] cover those items) that I like to think I was responsible for their policy change (they claim to cover both now, and in fact, they did the second time I used it for a windshield chip, though it was like pulling teeth).

Still, I think that Thrifty's response was a bit strict, even considering that they really do have to be strict because there are so many delinquent !d!0t5 who rent cars and don't pay for their damages. Also, it wasn't right of them to demand payment within 5 days when you weren't even home, although the way the computer systems are set up, it wouldn't really be easy for the claims department to realize you were on a second rental and still in DEN (the least they could have done is called you on your cell to notify you that they were mailing a demand letter). Too, since loss-of-use and administrative fees are standard across the board, I think American Express should simply cover them and not require you or the rental company to jump through a dozen hoops to provide documentation (trust me, the claims process is expensive on the company's end, and the amount they lose every year due to non-payment, time spent dealing with non-cooperative insurance companies, and paperwork requirements would boggle your mind--that's the reason there are administrative fees in the first place--and so adding even more requirements would jack up the cost of the administrative fees even more, which would make credit card companies even more reluctant to pay for it). Refusing to pay for loss-of-use even though the fleet wasn't at 100% utilization is silly to me--rental companies don't waive your rental fee just because they had 10 extra cars sitting on the lot, and in effect, you've (I'm speaking generally, not the OP specifically) caused that car to still be on rent and unavailable for other renters for however long it takes to get it fixed.

In the future, what I would do is go ahead and pay what is demanded yourself, unless you can get a statement from Thrifty's claims department that they will wait for payment from American Express, and then proceed with American Express's claims process. If American Express does pay, you will get your money back in some form--either from Thrifty issuing you a reimbursement check or American Express paying you directly (or removing the charge from your credit card). NEVER simply not pay, as contractually, you are bound to pay for whatever your insurance company/companies don't cover. The charges don't get waived simply because your insurance won't pay them--that's how you end up with collections agencies after you. American Express just wants to do anything they can to get out of paying for things (hardly sounds like a premium. You'll still be left with the bill.

Last edited by jackal; Nov 22, 08 at 12:38 am.
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Old Nov 22, 08, 12:26 am   #4
 
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Personally, I always rely on my Amex "insurance" when I rent.

I had a rental car totaled once, years ago, and Amex covered everything without any problems--except the need for lots of documentation. I was satisfied. I suspect if you keep on it and follow Tuneman1984's advice, you will be too.

Let us know what happens.
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Old Nov 22, 08, 1:05 am   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WChiCC View Post
I just wanted to warn people who rely on the Amex Insurance (I have the Premium Car Rental protection) that rent with Thrifty.

This summer I had a rental with Thrifty for 1 month (the first of two 1 month rentals with them) in Denver and on the day before I returned the vehicle a rock flew-up and cracked the windshield while driving down the highway. I immediately reported the crack to Thrifty and Amex Insurance.

Well, Thrifty first sends me a bill for the new windshield ($150), loss of use ($12.25) and administration fee ($50) to my Chicago address when I am still listed as renting a vehicle with them in Denver (2nd 1 month rental). In the letter they ask me to pay for the windshield within 5 days, so I can avoid the loss of use and admin fees. Two problems: 1. I wasn't in Chicago to receive the letter and 2. it was already submitted to insurance, so Thrifty would get a double payment if I sent them money.

Over the course of the next few months Thrifty called me to tell me that Amex refuses to pay for anything beyond the windshield replacement specifically. I call Amex, who tells me that they will pay the fees, as long as Thrifty provides documentation of their validity. I call Thrifty back to inform them of this and never hear of it again for over a month. Just yesterday I got a letter and a call from a collections agency stating that I owe them for the two fees that Amex won't pay. I immediately leave a voicemail for my contact at Thrifty who returned my call today to say that Thrifty has tried in the past to offer Amex proper documentation, but Amex never pays them. She said that Thrifty will no longer attempt to provide documentation because Amex just refuses to pay anyway.

So now I have to deal with a collections agency at a time when it would be really terrible to get a bad mark on my credit report. All because Thrifty gave up on cooperating with Amex Insurance. I just don't feel that that's a very customer-friendly way to handle this situation and left my Thrifty contact a voicemail stating as such. Now I know it's not a large amount of money, but I'm a grad student and every little bit counts. I also know I'm a small fish because I'm a student right now, but I'm graduating and hope to be a big shot business traveler sometime soon!

I don't know if the other agencies are as bad at handling damage, but I'm sure not going to try my luck with Thrifty again.

P.S. I hope I explained the situation well, but I welcome all questions and comments!
The simple solution here for you is to ask AMEX all the paperwork they need and then call Thrifty and ask them to fax it to you. You will have to play the Liasion role, but that will solve the matter once and for all for you. I have used AMEX for the last 8 yrs and have used many of their benefits (Extended Warranty, Purchase Protection etc) and never had an issue even once. I have not used the Rental Car Protection and I hope I never have to use the same, but with my past experience with AMEX, I am sure if that ever happens, it will be a breeze to deal with them. And to the other posters, AMEX is 1000 times better than Citi and Mastercard for such benefits. I had a 30$ phone that got accidentally damaged and when I tried to claim the Purchase Protection from Citi Mastercard, they sent me a bunch of documents to fill plus they wanted tonne of notarized documents. They won't even take my claim on the phone. I had to wait for snail mail (2 weeks) to get the claim forms. It would have cost me abt 3 - 4 hours to get those together and then god knows what else they would have asked. As for AMEX, one phone call and everything is taken care of by the 3rd business day. That is what I call Service !!!! Simply Amazing.
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Old Nov 22, 08, 12:21 pm   #6
 
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Sorta had a related experience...

Few months ago was renting a car from Thrifty, my windshield for whatever reason cracked, from one end to the other. Reported it to Thrifty and MasterCard that provides insurance similar to AMEX. I completed all the necessary paperwork, MasterCard paid the cost of the windshield, about $150, and was quite willing to pay Thrifty's loss of use and administrative fee, but despite repeated attempts on my part and MasterCard's, Thrifty NEVER sent documentation for either to MasterCard. As a result, MasterCard never paid those amounts, although it was quite willing to do so. Then of course I got a nasty letter from Thrifty regarding non-payment.

I finally "gave up" and just paid it. Sounds similar to your situation.

I might mention MasterCard was absolutely great, they even had a website where I could go and check on documentation received. It was Thrifty that was the problem. They seem to have no problem providing documentation for the windshield itself, its the other charges that although they claim them, they won't provide any documentation for...
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Old Nov 22, 08, 12:40 pm   #7
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I don't know what documentation would be needed for the Admin fee. If it was stated in the contract, a copy of the contract should be enough. If not, then how do they document and admin fee? They are the ones charging it. How would you "document" it, other than sending a bill for it. The "loss of use" fee is a bit different. I thought I remember seeing somewhere that indicated, at least in some places, where they could not collect it unless they could show the car would have been rented during the time period. A windshield replacement doesn't take very long. In this situation, I think it's a rip off, even at only $12.50. However, given the choice of a bad credit mark or $62.50, I would pay the $62.50, and then pursue the issue if I felt it was worth it. If the CC issuer asked for proof of charges, and the car company didn't provide it, then that mihgt be the last time I used that car agency, depending on how customer service later handled my complaint.

From the OP's story, I do NOT feel this is AMEX's fault, but Thrify's.

It should be noted, that no matter what credit card coverage you have, the responsibility for payment of damages is still your's, as far as the rental companies are concerned. However, they do have to assist you in getting reimbursed, and Thrify did not.

Consider this as part of the cost of getting the lower price or other benefit you got by choosing Thrifty. My last Thrifty rental was at SNA. The online price was quite a bit lower. I went to the rental lot, where 2 employees were doing absolutely nothing business related. Because I am not a member of the frequent renter club, I was sent back to the baggage claim area desk, where there was a nice long slow line. The other companies had either few or no customers in line.
National gave me a rate as a walkup that was only $2 more per day (2 day) than the Thrify rate. I had no wait in line at National. It will be a long time before I consider Thrifty again.
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Old Nov 22, 08, 4:49 pm   #8
 
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Thanks for all the responses

Hi everyone,

I appreciate all of the responses. I would have to say that I put more of the blame on Thrifty in this situation rather than AMEX, since they seemed to be willing to pay upon receipt of some documentation. I think at this point I'm just going to have to pay the $62.50, so that I don't get a blotch on my credit report from the collections agency.

I think in the future, I would report any damage to the rental agency and ask how they bill before I talk to AMEX.

Unfortunately, I have to continue to rely on the AMEX insurance because I don't have a car and thus no car insurance to rely on for primary protection. That's why I pay the extra $19.95 per rental to AMEX for the Premium Protection since it then becomes your primary insurance.

I'll live and learn, I guess.
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