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Advice - Car Rental Damage Claim (not another one!!!)

Advice - Car Rental Damage Claim (not another one!!!)

Old Sep 12, 18, 10:26 am
  #1  
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Advice - Car Rental Damage Claim (not another one!!!)

I'll try and keep this short / summarise the succinct points:

- Returned rental car with a dent in the door. It was extremely minor, and I had to squint really hard to notice the damage when I returned it (immediately spotted by the rental agent of course)
- I did not notice it when I first rented, so it was either existing damage that went unnoticed or it was caused in the time that I had it - 2 weeks, but I most definitely did not get into any sort of accident during that time (yes I know I should've inspected car with a fine tooth comb before I drove it out the lot. Famous last words).
- Assuming it was not existing damage, it must have happened somewhere along the way when the car was parked, by someone/something bumping into it.
- Where I come from credit cards etc do not provide car rental insurance, so I had a LDW from the car rental agency (unnamed at this point in time because I'm not pointing fingers, just yet) with an excess of EUR750
- Few days after returning, I filled out a rental report. Most salient point - I did not report damage to the police as up until the point of returning the car I had absolutely no knowledge that it was damaged.
- I am now hit with a bill of EUR7,800 or so for the repair (!!!). Car rental company is claiming that since I did not make a police report insurance does not cover the damage and I am on the hook for the entire amount.
- Correspondence from car rental company has been entirely via PDF documents attached to email. Each time an email comes in I reply denying damage, etc. I get an auto-response saying we have received your email, but then no other response for a few weeks, then another email comes through requesting payment.

Its quite clear to me they are not interested in having any sort of constructive discussion about his. My initial reaction was to deny all claims but right now I am prepared to pay EUR750 (the excess on my LDW), if it will make them go away. I'd like some advice on how should I proceed? Keep trying to communicate via email though it seems fruitless, try to reach out on twitter, send a snail mail?

If it helps, car rental took place entirely in Switzerland while I am from, and live in, Singapore.
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Old Sep 12, 18, 1:04 pm
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Have you contacted police in Switzerland to ask if you can file a police report with them by fax, email, or postal mail from your country of residence?
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Old Sep 12, 18, 6:48 pm
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It would be after the fact though? And fundamentally I have nothing to report because I have no idea how the damage was sustained.
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Old Sep 12, 18, 8:22 pm
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Originally Posted by elleana View Post
It would be after the fact though? And fundamentally I have nothing to report because I have no idea how the damage was sustained.
Your situation is no different than reporting a hit-and-run accident which you did not witness. Those are always reported after the fact, by someone who has no idea how, or when the damage occurred.

You have nothing to lose -- except your time and the cost of a phone call -- in reaching out to the police in the area where you returned the car to see if they will permit you to file a report from Singapore.
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Old Sep 12, 18, 8:33 pm
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Interesting, I thought the whole point of the rental agency LDW was to not to have to worry about small nuances like that.
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Old Sep 12, 18, 8:44 pm
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Originally Posted by Yellowjj View Post
Interesting, I thought the whole point of the rental agency LDW was to not to have to worry about small nuances like that.
There are circumstances that can void the LDW coverage. In this case, the car-rental company is (apparently) claiming that failing to file a police report voids the coverage.
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Old Sep 18, 18, 5:37 am
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There is no point with checking with the police as the damage was only slight, you don't have to report such a small item to the police!

Unfortunately this is a big problem in Europe where the hire car companies appear to be opportunistic with charging for damage, people even advise that you photograph the 4 sides of the car but some of the damage that a rental car reviewer will pick up on are so small they would not show up on a smart phone picture. (I was "done" €750 at Munich airport for a windscreen chip a month later which I am sure was not there, fortunately AMEX sorted that for me). The hire was with one of the lesser companies and the rental was handled by a local agent and the damage allegedly repaired by a 3rd party. I only picked it up by seeing a charge on my AMEX card some 2 months later, no communication was given from the rental company.

It is also thought that some companies charge successive customers for the same damage!

You would have thought I would be safe at Munich Airport but the airport uses echo lighting (as in dark) when you pick up the car so its very difficult to establish any damage, when you return the car it is so bright you have to wear sunglasses, plus the returning agent have eyes that a microscope would want.

I even have one agent crawl under the front bumper of the car to gleefully announce that there was a scratch on the valence right underneath the bumper that you had to get on your hands and knees to see, I was most proud when I got my handkerchief out and wiped the scratch off!

I decided from then on I would only rent from the big boys (Hertz, Avis etc) when I pick the car up I go over it like a forensic scientist, anything marks etc I make the agent put on the report, sometimes there isn't an agent in the parking bay and you have to walk back to the rental point to get them to add the damage, again at Munich I picked up a car that she told me had no damage, when I got to the car park and looked at the passenger side the whole sill was pushed in, it was so bad structurally I refused to drive the car, they even told me there were no other available cars, I still refused and insisted on a replacement.

I always use AMEX Platinum, hire from a major company and check the car in detail.

My advise is pay up the €750 and mark it down to experience? I don't think you can win from what I see, sorry.
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Old Sep 18, 18, 6:11 am
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Until OP provides better information, it is impossible to provide truly useful information. Because there are many people who have rented cars from many companies in Switzerland and may have had related experiences, knowing the specific name of the company involved is critical. This has nothing to do with "pointing fingers" it has to do with either wanting or not wanting useful information.

As a general matter:
1. You are responsible for damage to the vehicle during the rental period. Whether you caused it, noticed it, or did anything negligent, is irrelevant (although that may affect your ability to recover from someone else).
2. Unless you noted the damage on the appropriate form at pickup, it can be presumed to have occurred on your rental. Not to berate you, but you have already recognized this.
3. Depending on the rental contract --- hence the need for the name of the company --- it may be that LDW or any other ancillary services are voided if you did not comply with local law which may have required a report as soon as you became aware of the damage. Thus, if such a provision is in the contract, it became your duty to report as soon as you were advised by the rental company.

The advice to report this now may well be solid, but is all dependent on what is in your contract and a good deal of what you need to know may come from others on this board if you provide the details.

Don't get into an email battle with the company. It is useless. Focus on whether there is any way to determine that this was pre-existing damage, whether the EUR 7,800 is the reasonable repair cost (seems a bit high even if the entire door is replaced), and the terms of the LDW.
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Old Sep 18, 18, 6:46 am
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Its in switzerland, just ignore it?
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Old Sep 19, 18, 8:23 am
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BCN, BLQ, LHR, LGW, ORY, MUC (by far the worst), TSR and many others provided me with plenty of horrible stories.
I have resorted not to leave the check in desk at the car hire counter if the car is not fully insured (Super CDW and all the likes including windscreen protection) and to stick to a couple of suppliers only.

Ulxima
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Old Sep 19, 18, 3:03 pm
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Cancelling the credit card and ignoring any collection letters from them is probably a good idea if everything else fails. Cross border collections is nearly impossible and in instances where it isn't, it's still very expensive to do for the collector.
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Old Sep 25, 18, 7:21 pm
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Cancel the card on file (report it lost or stolen to get a new number if you really want to keep the card).

Then ignore all emails, and never again rent in Switzerland (in case your name is on some list now).
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Old Sep 26, 18, 7:23 am
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I was able to file a police report from the UK for an issue in France similar to this about 6 months. So, it's doable.
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Old Sep 26, 18, 7:49 am
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Originally Posted by nomiiiii View Post
Cancel the card on file (report it lost or stolen to get a new number if you really want to keep the card).

Then ignore all emails, and never again rent in Switzerland (in case your name is on some list now).
This does no good. A new card is not a new account. Additionally, the downsides may be quite significant.

Charges coming from legitimate suppliers are simply transferred to the new number, the same as is done with expired cards.

This is a good way to wind up on the rental company's DNR list and when it becomes apparent to the card issuer (bank) what you have done, to have your card flagged for potentially fraudulent behavior.
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Old Sep 26, 18, 12:23 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
This does no good. A new card is not a new account. Additionally, the downsides may be quite significant.

Charges coming from legitimate suppliers are simply transferred to the new number, the same as is done with expired cards.

This is a good way to wind up on the rental company's DNR list and when it becomes apparent to the card issuer (bank) what you have done, to have your card flagged for potentially fraudulent behavior.
Ok if transfer doesn't work simply cancel the card.

Ending up on a random Swiss company's DNR list isn't that bad (I'm assuming its a local swiss company, not a hertz/avis that OP expects to use in the future).
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