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Sixt: alleged me with non existent damage

Sixt: alleged me with non existent damage

Old Aug 22, 2011, 2:43 am
  #1  
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Sixt: alleged me with non existent damage

I had a bad experience with Sixt in Erlangen (Germany) with my last rental. I had reserved a ECMR with them. They offered me a Mini Cooper with two doors. I asked them if they could give me another car preferably with Diesel and four doors as I had my family and baby with me. Both my requests were flatly denied saying no other car was available. No big deal. I got what I had booked.

Then I was handed over the rental contract and keys of the car. By chance, I had a brief look at the contract and saw the price mentioned on the rental contract was almost 50% more than the online price which I had booked on sixt.de. I pointed this out to the receptionist, who then changed the rental contract with the correct price. After so many good experiences with Sixt, the above small things made me feel a bit circumspect. But maybe it was just my sixth sense. I went to the garage and inspected the car for any possible damages. From an average person's eye I could not see any scratch or damage. The next three days I had a nice time. The car was in a good condition and a pleasure to drive.

Fast forward to today morning :

While returning the car, as usual, I asked the lady at the reception to check the car for damages and provide me with a no damage report. After waiting for about 10 minutes, another Sixt employee / driver went outside to have a look at the car (without me). He came back after about five minutes and said there is a damage on the car. I asked him to show it to me. We both went outside and he pointed me at the rear bumper. I could not see any damage or scratch. Then he pointed me to look at the plastic below this bumper. I still could not see scratch, crack or damage. The point to be noted is that this guy spoke very little English and I speak very little German. So, we went back to the station and I asked the lady (she spoke English) to please come out and have a look at the car and tell me what the damage is. She reluctantly came out and had a look at the car. She also could not see any damage and asked me to show where the damage is. I showed her the plastic below the bumper. Then the driver came and both spoke something in German. What I could understand after looking at the plastic for 10 minutes from all possible angles that maybe it was slightly twisted or bent. However, I am not sure about this. But since they insisted that there is a damage so this is the only possible damage I can think of. I am sure if any average person who does not work for a rental car company is asked to look at the car will also not find any damage. But yeah obviously the rental companies are expert at finding even non existent damages. I asked the lady and driver to please explain me how could I have caused this damage when there was no scratch or crack anywhere. They had no reply to this.

So, I told the lady that this damage has not been done by me. She replied that I will get a letter in next four weeks about this. Then I could claim that this damage is not from me. I asked her why you want me to wait for four weeks when I am telling you now this damage is not from me. She said she will have to check with the people who have rented this car in last four weeks. Then she took my signatures on some smart phone or similar device and gave me back a damage protocol (with my signatures on it) with mention about this damage. I then said to her when I did not accept the damage why did you take my signatures over there. She said that this does not mean I have done the damage. This is just routine procedure. The entire paperwork was in German. So. of course I did not agree to this. I asked her to mention this specifically on this report. Then she again reluctantly wrote something on this protocol in German, which as far as I could understand meant that I did not accept the damage.

My thoughts: Does Sixt really thinks that anyone who has rented the car in last four weeks will accept the damage ? Also, this clearly shows that Sixt does not check the car for damages after every rental. They do it randomly or only when are forced to do it by people like me. Then they blame it on the last person or the person who did not take insurance with them. In my opinion, they have no standard procedure for finding out who is responsible for the damage. Additionally how should I check the car for damages next time I rent ? Should I do a PhD in finding damages which are not visible to naked eye ? Or should I take photographs and then get them signed by the Sixt employees on the day of rental ?

Please note that I did not take any CDW / LDW with Sixt, so they might have found an easy scapegoat in me. I would here also like to mention that the lady at reception today morning tried to be helpful and friendly.

In general ,following has been my experience with Sixt before the above mentioned rental.


Positives:

1. I have rented multiple times in last five months from Sixt and did not have any problems.

2. Most of the Sixt employees till date I interacted with have been polite and helpful. Their customer service is also good.

3. Sixt has an amazing fleet of cars.

4. They gave me a Platinum card matching it to the status I had with an airline. Though, I don't really know if this card is of any real use.

Negatives:

1. Sixt has never been happy when I have asked them to have a look at the car and give me a no damage report after I return the car. I always have to insist them and then they have always made me wait for more than 15 minutes and most of the times their attitude was as if they are doing a favour to me.
oxymoron is offline  
Old Aug 22, 2011, 7:03 am
  #2  
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Sixt sends out letters to the last 5 renters claiming that there is a damage on the car and will ask for a clarification.
Wait for the letter and then tell them you did not cause the damage.

I get about 3-5 of these letters a year...
Rambuster is offline  
Old Aug 22, 2011, 10:07 am
  #3  
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Originally Posted by Rambuster
Sixt sends out letters to the last 5 renters claiming that there is a damage on the car and will ask for a clarification.
Wait for the letter and then tell them you did not cause the damage.

I get about 3-5 of these letters a year...
So, it means Sixt sends out letters randomly to find out the actual culprit ?? I am surprised that there is no standard procedure for this. Why can't they take pictures after every rental to determine when the damage was caused ?

Gary, it would be helpful if you can shed some light on this. This looks like a clear scam!!
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Old Aug 22, 2011, 10:19 am
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Originally Posted by oxymoron
So, it means Sixt sends out letters randomly to find out the actual culprit ?? I am surprised that there is no standard procedure for this....

That is their standard procedure ...
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Old Aug 22, 2011, 11:44 am
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Originally Posted by oxymoron
So, it means Sixt sends out letters randomly to find out the actual culprit ?? I am surprised that there is no standard procedure for this. Why can't they take pictures after every rental to determine when the damage was caused ?

Gary, it would be helpful if you can shed some light on this. This looks like a clear scam!!
Hi Oxymoron,

You should know already that we are not in business to scam anyone. Honestly, we never like to charge anybody for damage but you know we have to. In these cases I think the request is for a statement whether you are responsible for the damage when new damage has been noticed. Let me speak first with our damage Team to check the handling and I'll come back to all.

Can you e-mail the rental or reservation number to [email protected]

Thanks
Gary - Sixt Customer Service Team
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Old Aug 22, 2011, 11:55 am
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My general policy with every rental car is to check the car out when receiving it and take photos with my iPhone of all sides of the vehicle and the mileage and fuel indicator. When returing the vehicle I repeat the process and also take a picture of the refueling reciept. This way I have also documented all of the variable incase of a false claim. i have the license number on my phone when checking into a hotel.

Also when I wake up the next morning and can't remember what car I have rented I have a copy of the license plate number and a picture of what color the car is.
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Old Aug 22, 2011, 12:42 pm
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Originally Posted by Gary Coughlan
You should know already that we are not in business to scam anyone. Honestly, we never like to charge anybody for damage but you know we have to. In these cases I think the request is for a statement whether you are responsible for the damage when new damage has been noticed. Let me speak first with our damage Team to check the handling and I'll come back to all.
Gary, before this rental you know I was very satisfied with services from Sixt. You already know about this from our personal email conversations and also my previous posts here on flyertalk. However, today's incident really shocked / amazed me. Sixt sends out letters to previous renters to find out the real cause of damage. Does it gets more silly than this ? What do you do when all previous renters refuse to accept the damage ? Whom do you put the blame on? I know from my experience and reading on FT other car rental companies are no better. However, given the strong focus on customer satisfaction at Sixt, I would have expected some standardised procedure at Sixt to make sure that random people are not harassed by sending random letters.

I request you to please check with your damage Team and let us all know in detail what is the followed procedure @Sixt ?

By the way apologies if using the word scam was offensive, but if you keep yourself in the shoes of customer then maybe you can feel it.

Originally Posted by Gary Coughlan
Can you e-mail the rental or reservation number to [email protected]
You have an email from me. Of course I am interested in getting my case solved but in the interest of entire community please do provide the step by step process from your damage team which is followed at Sixt in case of any kind of accident. It would be helpful for all the Sixt customers if this information is made publicly available on your website as well. This will surely save some sleepless nights and harassment from these random letters and allegations.
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Old Aug 22, 2011, 7:58 pm
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I received a similar letter once, as well - for a car I never actually drove, as something else came in while I was waiting, and I never took delivery as I opted for the other car. I sent an email to this effect, and never heard back, but was not charged anything.


Originally Posted by Rambuster
Sixt sends out letters to the last 5 renters claiming that there is a damage on the car and will ask for a clarification.
Wait for the letter and then tell them you did not cause the damage.

I get about 3-5 of these letters a year...
ww88ww is offline  
Old Aug 23, 2011, 12:57 am
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Originally Posted by Rambuster
Sixt sends out letters to the last 5 renters claiming that there is a damage on the car and will ask for a clarification.
Wait for the letter and then tell them you did not cause the damage.

I get about 3-5 of these letters a year...
After claiming I wasn't responsible for any damage on that car I never had to pay (of course it was a true statement). Happened about 5 times to me.
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Old Aug 23, 2011, 3:21 am
  #10  
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@Oxymoron

Thanks for sending the detail. I have asked our Damage Team to check regarding your specific case and will let you know the conclusion as soon as I hear it.

Regarding the general handling, I have passed the feedback to our Damage Team.

Gary - Customer Service Team
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Old Aug 23, 2011, 12:47 pm
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Originally Posted by Gary Coughlan
@Oxymoron

Thanks for sending the detail. I have asked our Damage Team to check regarding your specific case and will let you know the conclusion as soon as I hear it.

Regarding the general handling, I have passed the feedback to our Damage Team.

Gary - Customer Service Team
Thanks Gary for passing our feedback to your damage team. However, we would also like to hear from your damage team about the general accident handling procedure, be it small or big.
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Old Aug 24, 2011, 5:15 am
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Dubious procedure...

Originally Posted by Rambuster
That is their standard procedure ...
In case this is true I would think this is a highly dubious business practice. I actually received a similar letter two weeks ago and given that I could not think of me having caused any damage, sent an e-mail to [email protected] with the same content.

So far haven't heard back. Nonetheless, the IIRC the letter insinuated that I caused the damage which obvioulsy left me a bit concerned regarding any further proceedings. I don't think it is a good idea to randomly lay such claims on your customers.

I never take the time to check a car and never wait for a damage report and so far never had any serious issues.
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Old Aug 30, 2011, 12:13 pm
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Just to update I got a personal letter from Sixt apologizing for the inconvenience caused and have closed the above damage case. I would like to really thank Gary for this swift resolution. The customer service at Sixt continues to amaze me (positively).

However, I was surprised to read in the letter that Sixt checks each rental car after every return and does not contacts the customers of last 4 weeks in order to assess the damage.

Given the response from other posters above who have received letters, I think it would be helpful if Gary can clarify this open point as well.
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Old Nov 21, 2011, 10:20 am
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Bad experience

Originally Posted by oxymoron
Just to update I got a personal letter from Sixt apologizing for the inconvenience caused and have closed the above damage case. I would like to really thank Gary for this swift resolution. The customer service at Sixt continues to amaze me (positively).

However, I was surprised to read in the letter that Sixt checks each rental car after every return and does not contacts the customers of last 4 weeks in order to assess the damage.

Given the response from other posters above who have received letters, I think it would be helpful if Gary can clarify this open point as well.
I am stuck with a case similar to that of the previous posters. Now that I have received photos of the alleged damage it shows that it is halfway at the bottom of the front bumper (this one is curved). Even if I would have checked the car when taking it over it is quite likely that it would have escaped me.

Over the 2 1/2 days of driving, my wife was continuously with me and the car was parked on private premises. I am confident that at least one of us would have noticed if indeed we had caused a damage.

Reading the above statements/experiences (I also found a similar statement of a former rental car employee on another forum) I am shocked that I have to scramble trying to prove something which I will not be able to provide evidence for.

This unfortunate incident comes after having mostly relied on Sixt (not least due to the Platinum card) on about 90% of my car rental needs within the last ten years. It somehow seems hard to believe that a company would sacrifice the NPV of all future rentals of a loyal customer only for the mere prospect of recovering €760 (which to my understanding is not a sure thing on itself).

I would much appreciate receiving feedback from a Sixt representative on this, either by PM or by posting a response. As oxymoron pointed out, a clarification around the process related to a discovery of a damage would be highly appreciated as well. Whilst I would not insinuate that Sixt is in the business of scamming people, it seems perfectly conceivable that the above mentioned procedure would have been introduced in order to avoid Sixt being stuck on damages that had been overseen before and would else have become a liability of the company.

Last edited by Felixberlin; Nov 21, 2011 at 10:41 am Reason: Submitted before done
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Old Nov 22, 2011, 3:29 am
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Originally Posted by Felixberlin
Even if I would have checked the car when taking it over it is quite likely that it would have escaped me.
This is my biggest worry when renting a car. No idea how this can be avoided.

anyways wish you a swift resolution to your case. Keep us updated
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