Help in regards to damage claim?

Old Apr 20, 19, 6:40 pm
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Question Help in regards to damage claim?

Hi Flyertalk,
Long time fan of the Car Rental forums, and sorry that this has to be my first post.

Anyways, I had a National rental out back in February. Seeing that it was my first time with a car of the caliber, I was sure to be exceptionally careful with driving, but noticed a small scatter of paint chips above a front wheel arch. Trying to be a good samaritan, I pointed it out to the person in charge of check-out and tried to emphasize that I had no knowledge of the cause nor was in anyway responsible for the damage. To my best assumption the scratches were a result of debris that fell off of trucks on the highway ride back to the rental location.

Have I screwed myself over by pointing out the damages or is there any way of have the charges dropped? It seems to me that this is simply result of wear and tear as there was no way for me to control the damages. Also the amounts seem oddly high, are there ways of contesting that?

Thanks!
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Old Apr 21, 19, 7:28 am
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Have you had a repair bill?
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Old Apr 21, 19, 7:58 am
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Damages that happen during your rental period are your responsibility. It is up to the rental agency to determine whether they charge you or not.
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Old Apr 21, 19, 9:36 am
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This was at check out? If you noted it then, the “damage” was already there. Why would you be responsible. Plus it happened in February. That car might already be gone to auction.
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Old Apr 21, 19, 10:41 am
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Any damage that is discovered when you return the car and was not noted on the condition sheet when you picked up the car is your responsibility. This is true even if the car was legally parked and you were somewhere else when it happened unless someone else admits to it. Unfortunately it is up to you to check before you take the car out, even though the light may be poor and you are in a rush. The charge will probably be based on some standard price list that assumes a complete repair even if the agency does not actually repair it.
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Old Apr 21, 19, 12:07 pm
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Years ago, a frequent renter friend of mine said never to point out any damage upon return. I rented a car in Philadelphia once. At some point, somebody banged into the car and severely dented the front fender. (Didn't happen while I was driving it--must have been when it was parked.) I wondered what to do--my friend's husband (the frequent traveler) said, "Under no circumstances say anything when you return!" So at the rental center I pulled up as close as I could to the car in front of me to make it hard to see. Never heard anything about it (which surprised me).
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Old Apr 21, 19, 1:38 pm
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Locations vary and they are particularly keen in Europe. I think that there are more cases of people getting a surprise bill later than of people not hearing about damage they know about. On the other hand, I had a recent rental where, after picking it up on a dark wet night, I noticed more and more small bits of damage as the week went on though I also noticed lots of small marks on the carbon of the damage report. When I took it back the guy just laughed and said "I know this car well. It has lots of damage, don't worry about it".
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Old Apr 21, 19, 4:46 pm
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It sounds as though OP means "check in" rather than "check out" given the context of his statement. If that is the case, it is entirely up to National whether it pursue you for the damage. But, if it does, you are responsible for it, unless there are records showing that it was already there when you picked up the vehicle.

Check your insurance carefully. Many policies have notice deadlines. If you receive an invoice months from now and have missed the deadline, you could wind up paying cash out of pocket.
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Old Apr 21, 19, 5:00 pm
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Originally Posted by hotturnip View Post
Years ago, a frequent renter friend of mine said never to point out any damage upon return. I rented a car in Philadelphia once. At some point, somebody banged into the car and severely dented the front fender. (Didn't happen while I was driving it--must have been when it was parked.) I wondered what to do--my friend's husband (the frequent traveler) said, "Under no circumstances say anything when you return!" So at the rental center I pulled up as close as I could to the car in front of me to make it hard to see. Never heard anything about it (which surprised me).
If anyone wonders why some locations pull out the magnifying glass and won't let you leave until they question you about every single mark on the vehicle, this is is the reason. Knowing that you brought it back damaged, trying to hide it, and not saying anything is just as bad as the person who did the initial hit-and-run, in my opinion.

For the OP, I think you did the right thing, if that's any consolation. Regardless of fault, if it happened while you had the vehicle, and it meets National's threshold for damage beyond wear-and-tear, it's your responsibility. Stuff happens, that's why we have insurance. In addition to your own insurance, as others pointed out, if you used a credit card that provides coverage (usually secondary), be sure to also follow the terms and conditions for notification.

Also, you mentioned that this was your first time of "a car of the caliber." What kind of car was it? Some credit cards do not provide their coverage for certain types of vehicles, particularly those they consider luxury or exotic. For example, I know one of my cards excludes cars with an MSRP above $50K or any full-size pickup truck.

Last edited by qs933; Apr 21, 19 at 5:06 pm
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Old Apr 23, 19, 1:23 pm
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Originally Posted by qs933 View Post
If anyone wonders why some locations pull out the magnifying glass and won't let you leave until they question you about every single mark on the vehicle, this is is the reason. Knowing that you brought it back damaged, trying to hide it, and not saying anything is just as bad as the person who did the initial hit-and-run, in my opinion.

For the OP, I think you did the right thing, if that's any consolation. Regardless of fault, if it happened while you had the vehicle, and it meets National's threshold for damage beyond wear-and-tear, it's your responsibility. Stuff happens, that's why we have insurance. In addition to your own insurance, as others pointed out, if you used a credit card that provides coverage (usually secondary), be sure to also follow the terms and conditions for notification.

Also, you mentioned that this was your first time of "a car of the caliber." What kind of car was it? Some credit cards do not provide their coverage for certain types of vehicles, particularly those they consider luxury or exotic. For example, I know one of my cards excludes cars with an MSRP above $50K or any full-size pickup truck.
Hi there and thanks for the reply.
I was upgraded to a MB GLA 250 for the rental, which I thought was nice at first, but I guess I got burned with that. They're asking for around $1300...
Also I did rent under AMEX, but like you said, it is only secondary.
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Old Apr 23, 19, 1:39 pm
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Originally Posted by Sneeaky View Post
Hi there and thanks for the reply.
I was upgraded to a MB GLA 250 for the rental, which I thought was nice at first, but I guess I got burned with that. They're asking for around $1300...
Also I did rent under AMEX, but like you said, it is only secondary.
"Secondary" insurance will cover the deductible -- if any -- on your personal auto-insurance policy for this claim. So yes, you will have to file a claim with your personal auto-insurance carrier, but you aren't "screwed" -- unless the Amex coverage does not apply to the particular Mercedes model you rented.
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Old Apr 26, 19, 2:23 pm
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Originally Posted by qs933 View Post
If anyone wonders why some locations pull out the magnifying glass and won't let you leave until they question you about every single mark on the vehicle, this is is the reason.
Had this happen once on a return to PVD. The guy even checked the roof of the SUV I had, before he closed the rental and gave me the receipt.
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Old Apr 26, 19, 2:41 pm
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Originally Posted by Sneeaky View Post
Have I screwed myself over by pointing out the damages or is there any way of have the charges dropped?
The first part of the question is yes, as you brought the issue at the wrong time.

Giving you all the benefits of the doubt, it is unknown if you really caused the damage (Note - careful driving is not equivalent to no damage. And interestingly, careless driving is not equivalent to damages). But when you brought the issue during return, the return agent will ASSUME you caused the damage if you were not.

So yes - you are screwed, big time, by yourself.

The second part of the question is it depends on your honesty.

Why your honesty matters? As a renter, you are supposed to inspect (may be even photo) the rental car as well. If you had done so, you should probably know if you really caused the damage.

National carries the burden of proof that you caused the damage. So on the basis, National, as a matter of law, will have to provide relevant evidence to show that this damage did not exist before your rental. It is unknown what National has, other than the "X this and X that" inspection report. But unless this car was subject to prior damage before, it is unlikely that National would have anything other than the "X this and X that" inspection report. If you insist on that, National would force to drop the charge.

But it does not preclude National DNR you.

Originally Posted by Sneeaky View Post
Also the amounts seem oddly high, are there ways of contesting that?
Yes - ask them for the repair quote. Not how much they believe it will cost, but how much the car rental actually will pay or had paid.

While the car rental has no control on parts, car rental companies work with local autobody shops with a pre-negotiated rate, like insurance. So the labor is significantly low, maybe even lower than insurance rate. That's why sometimes even shops hate car rental repairs due to limited margins.

Personally, I believe that in some cases, car rental companies may inflate the repair and profit from the differences. But I have no evidence to support, as I was never involved in a rental car related incident. I would say asking them for the repair quote will be the first thing to start.

Last edited by garykung; Apr 26, 19 at 2:49 pm
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Old Apr 29, 19, 9:50 pm
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You can ask them to go back and review previous car condition reports and see if those were marked previously on the sheets. This happened to me once when I returned the car and the person literally slipped under the rear end and noticed a crack underneath and said it was me who caused the damage. I couldn't have because I never hit anything during the rental. I also never got on my knees and inspected underneath the trunk either. I asked them to look at previous reports and as predicted that damage was marked in a report once about a month before but never in any subsequent reports. It goes to show you the same damage can be mistakenly put on different renters multiple times.
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