Rental Car Horror Stories

Nickofthewoods

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Post them if you have one! Here's mine.

This past winter I went to Hawaii with the family and in-laws and rented a car from Budget. I rented a Sedan and did the video walk around of the vehicle. We arrived late and even though we were tired and it was dark, my wife followed me around the car with a flashlight to show the details of the vehicle. The car worked fine and the trip was uneventful as far as driving is concerned. Fast forward 5 months and last week I get a random charge on my credit card for $645.03. Thinking my card had been used fraudulently, I locked it and proceeded to call Budget Car Rental. After holding on the phone for over 25 minutes to get ahold of someone in billing, I was informed that I was being charged for a shattered windshield from my rental in Hawaii. I told the guy that it was cracked when I got it and that I had a video from before we even touched it. He then sent an email that I was supposed to respond to with an uploaded video or screenshot of the damage with a time stamp. I uploaded the video and photos of the cracks which I went into detail with in the video thankfully. It was a pain in the arse but I got the entire charge refunded. What a bunch of crooks.

Most of you know to do the video walk around of any rental car, but my advice is to make sure you NEVER delete that video. I'm sure this is the reason they waited 5 months to hit me with this charge, hoping that I had deleted any photos or videos.

As someone who travels fairly often to fish and hunt, I'd love to hear some other stories from people about their rental cars or other travel advice to help prepare and educate us all for the future.
 

Turkeygetpwnd38

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Florida
I have quite a few but this one was by far the worse. Rented a car out of Billings with a plan to return in Billings. Plans changed and through the app I looked at changing the reservation to dropping off in Bozeman. The app told me it would be $60 extra dollars to change drop off location. Gave the break down and everything. I dropped the car off in Bozeman, flew home, and two days later my card was charged for $4,000. The entire rental was $650. I called, they said because I changed the drop off airport, it changed the rate for the entire reservation and therefore that was the total. When I changed on the app, it gave me the breakdown but then once I changed it didn’t email it to me. Over the next two months I spent 12+ hrs on the phone, tried disputing with credit card company, got bounced around so much I lost track. Ended up getting returned $400. $4,000 was on top of the $650. My blood still boils thinking about it, shy of getting an attorney there was absolutely nothing I could do. Don’t use Avis and do not book/change on app. Do it on phone and get stuff in writing.
 
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Nickofthewoods

Nickofthewoods

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I have quite a few but this one was by far the worse. Rented a car out of Billings with a plan to return in Billings. Plans changed and through the app I looked at changing the reservation to dropping off in Bozeman. The app told me it would be $60 extra dollars to change drop off location. Gave the break down and everything. I dropped the car off in Bozeman, flew home, and two days later my card was charged for $4,000. The entire rental was $650. I called, they said because I changed the drop off airport, it changed the rate for the entire reservation and therefore that was the total. When I changed on the app, it gave me the breakdown but then once I changed it didn’t email it to me. Over the next two months I spent 12+ hrs on the phone, tried disputing with credit card company, got bounced around so much I lost track. Ended up getting returned $400. $4,000 was on top of the $650. My blood still boils thinking about it, shy of getting an attorney there was absolutely nothing I could do. Don’t use Avis and do not book/change on app. Do it on phone and get stuff in writing.
Your story makes my story seem like small potatoes. What a nightmare! Thanks for sharing.
 

Haggin

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Mar 10, 2020
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Nebraska
Rented a full size truck for a trip to Idaho last year. Wife needed the truck we own at home that week for horse stuff, so I did the rental. Was a plain Jane Silverado, but was at least 4x4.

During walk around noted all the dents and what not, the truck was well used. noted the right front was worn very unevenly on the outside edge of the tire. Only saw it because they baked the truck into a spot and left the wheels cocked. Rental agent didn’t appear concerned But noted it on the agreement at my insistence. I took the truck after checking the spare.

long story short, the tire blew on the way home, fortunately inside Bozeman off the interstate while driving to the hotel. Limped it to the hotel a few blocks away and got it changed. I’d been through some nasty stuff with that truck from Lincoln NE to Pierce ID, including a driving snow storm going over the divide.

Spare was new, and was well worn when I dropped the truck off a couple days later. They noted the spare when I dropped it off, said I needed to pay for a new tire. I said it was practically worn out when I picked it up, showing them the notation on the agreement And said it was their issue for not properly maintaining the vehicle. Never got charged.
 

jmez

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Piedmont, SD
Orlando, went with a cheap company. They were way cheaper than anything else. Said airport location. That actually meant they would pick you up in a shuttle at the airport. About a half hour bus ride I see the sign and notice there is a line, a really long line.

I get in line, a really long one, and proceed to wait. Close to two hours in line, most of it outside, and it's hot. By the time I actually make it inside everyone at the counters is arguing and having issues. I'm about 2 people away and a PT Cruiser pulls up and is parked in one of the rental stalls.

I get to the counter, guys taps away, looks around outside, says we don't have any of the cars you reserved left, well give you a free upgrade. Ok. I get everything filled out, am walking out the door, they announce over a speaker that they are sorry but they don't have any cars left!! The really long line is now longer than when I got there. Has to be 80-100 people waiting.

I get outside and I get the PT Cruiser I saw pull up when I was in line.

Worked out ok for me but not a lot of others. Never again!!! I'll pay the extra $10/day.

Sent from my moto g power (2021) using Tapatalk
 

TheGrayRider

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Aug 6, 2018
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IN
I have not had a bad experience with the rental car companies on 2 trips to Hawaii with my wife but I watched their damn employees like a hawk during the entire rental process. I read several horror stories before visiting.

Good post. Knowledge is power. Any changes lately to your rental car reservations will exponentially increase the rental price. Watch ‘em.
 

Wellsdw

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Jul 11, 2017
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Belews Creek NC
So long story short, I rented a “suv” (Kia Sorento). Ran a stop sign and hit this huge dip in the road. Rally car across the intersection ended up breaking the radiator, and some other not so important shit. Also we had literally just drive 400+ miles from Denver to Buffalo Wyoming. Limped it to the only service station for a estimate. We Researched all options, insurance, swap out, my insurance, or just repair it. 900 later we repaired it. Shop (which the folks were awesome) fixed everything except a transmission cooler. Picked up the car 8 days later hammered down to Denver, to catch a plane, tossed them the keys they said everything looked great. Never heard from them.

Funniest part of
The story was our cheapest way we kept the hunt going was to rent a 14’ uhaul. We looked like we were straight out of Breaking Bad, cooking meth with that thing standing tall in the middle of our public land area nothing else around
 

Yoder

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Jan 12, 2021
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I rented a car from Sixt in Dallas TX. I've rented a ton of cars traveling for business and I've never had an issue. I never took pictures or really checked out the cars very well. I returned the car and nobody was there to check it in. I got an email from Sixt a few weeks later telling me there was a scratch on the car I was responsible for and it would be a couple hundred dollars. They included pictures and it was complete nonsense. This is a scam to get extra money. They charge you and never repair the car. I replied back that nobody was there to inspect the car when I returned it and how could they possibly know it wasn't scratched after I dropped it off. I told them if they pursued the claim I would get an attorney. I never heard from them again. Last time I use Sixt.
 

Wvroach

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Nov 23, 2020
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I was the horror. State worker rear ended me while stopped turning left, so they gave me a rental. The state's insurance (charter was the name, I think) took 4+ months to pay out for my vehicle and footed the bill for the rental the entire time.

I put 15,000 hard miles with no oil changes or maintenance of any sort (I asked them a few times but enterprise said don't worry about it), Never buy a previous Rental car.

I left a few containers of livers and nightcrawlers in it when I bought my replacement vehicle and they sat in the trunk a few weeks. I removed them but the car smelled awful and was extremely dirty when I returned it. The rental company looked mortified when it came back in after spending a few months being driven on quarry and mine roads and being covered in lime scale inside and out.


Another time my company truck at the mine broke down so they got me a Rental truck. I popped 6 tires within a month driving my normal rounds on the haulage roads with normal use. Street treads aren't meant to be on haul roads, after the 6th one they sent back the ram 1500 and got me a f250 with some 10plys from the truck center to take the beating it was getting.

Enterprise corporate I'm sure loved us, as far as the local rental center that had to do the cleanup, they were less than pleased.
 

wind gypsy

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Over the past few years i've gotten 20-26 rentals a year, prior to that it was more like 15ish rentals for near a decade. I can't even think of any horror stories other than maybe one `bogus damage charge for a few hundred dollars. Maybe they don't mess with me because they see how much I rent from them?
 

M-Wig

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May 8, 2018
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91
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Texas
I used to work about 10 feet from a car rental desk. Company I worked for had multiple divisions with two housed in the same office. They would get more irate customers in one day than I've dealt with my entire life. Some of it justified, some not.

I couldn't believe how often they simply run out of cars. If one customer extended a rental it would cause a ripple effect that would derail the whole day.

Entertaining part for me was the employees at the counter leaving to get cars. They'd be gone for an hour with customers showing up with reservations and me over there looking bored. They would look at me to give them cars, take cars back, etc. I'd get threatened with corporate complaints weekly. One old man was just about ready to throw hands because I wouldn't inspect his car so he could drop it off. I finally told him he could sign the paperwork saying it's good, and it would have just as much pull as my signature.
 

ChrisA

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Apr 7, 2014
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Belle Plaine, IA
On a group coyote hunt in Arizona many years ago, one of the attendees put his loaded 222 into the back seat of his rental truck. The rifle was butt down and propped against the bench seat. His DIY trigger job must not have been safe as the rifle fired and blew a hole in the roof of the truck. He was asked to leave but we heard he had a helluva time with the rental company.

Chris
 

deltadukman

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Sep 16, 2021
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I am in the insurance business. I see them trying to scam people all the time after they turn them in. One is guy dropped the vehicle off, they took possession of it and tried to blame him for leaving the window down and rain getting inside and ruining the electronics on the door like a window switch. It didn't rain until several days after it was in their possession. Tried hard to make him pay for it. I had to get involved and let's just say Enterprise Corporate takes their time and is a pain in the ass to deal with. I always recommend taking your own walk around video before leaving the lot and date/time stamp it if possible. Also, if affordable, get their damage waiver insurance so you can bring it to them on a rollback and toss them the keys if needed. Another point is if you have an accident and rely on your personal insurance, their new thing is they charge you for the loss of use(rental it could be generating if operable) while its down. Most personal insurance policies don't cover loss of use from a 3rd party.
 
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Nickofthewoods

Nickofthewoods

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I am in the insurance business. I see them trying to scam people all the time after they turn them in. One is guy dropped the vehicle off, they took possession of it and tried to blame him for leaving the window down and rain getting inside and ruining the electronics on the door like a window switch. It didn't rain until several days after it was in their possession. Tried hard to make him pay for it. I had to get involved and let's just say Enterprise Corporate takes their time and is a pain in the ass to deal with. I always recommend taking your own walk around video before leaving the lot and date/time stamp it if possible. Also, if affordable, get their damage waiver insurance so you can bring it to them on a rollback and toss them the keys if needed. Another point is if you have an accident and rely on your personal insurance, their new thing is they charge you for the loss of use(rental it could be generating if operable) while its down. Most personal insurance policies don't cover loss of use from a 3rd party.
Thanks for that info! For the car I rented in Hawaii I used my credit card that has a rental car insurance benefit, and had to decline the rental car's insurance in order to use my card's policy. I read through my visa card's terms regarding rental cars and it stated that it covers down time for repairs if charged for that by the rental car company. In your opinion is that a good and legitimate alternative? It saved me money, but who knows, maybe people that do that get billed for some bogus repair months later...
 

deltadukman

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Thanks for that info! For the car I rented in Hawaii I used my credit card that has a rental car insurance benefit, and had to decline the rental car's insurance in order to use my card's policy. I read through my visa card's terms regarding rental cars and it stated that it covers down time for repairs if charged for that by the rental car company. In your opinion is that a good and legitimate alternative? It saved me money, but who knows, maybe people that do that get billed for some bogus repair months later...

Yes, the credit card rental coverage is about the best thing we have found for coverage. I was actually unaware of that benefit until one of my customers happened to find it. Not all have it, it usually the better bells and whistles credit cards, but that is the route I personally use and advise people if they don't want to use the rental car damage waiver.
 

mlgc20

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For many years my office was in San Francisco, but I lived in Dallas. I would fly to SFO 45 weeks out of the year. I started getting lazy when I would turn in my car. I would park the car in the return line and instead of waiting for the Budget person to come and check out the vehicle, I would just walk to the terminal. I usually had a receipt within 10 minutes. I had done this for years.

One week I turned in the vehicle on Thursday night, but I didn't get my receipt. I needed my receipt for my expense report, so I called them the next day. They had no record of the car being turned in. I explained to them what happened, and could tell they didn't believe me. They told me they would look into it, but I was on the hook for a missing $50K car. Eventually they found the car and it turned out to be no big deal. But it freaked me out. Will never do that again.
 
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Nickofthewoods

Nickofthewoods

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Yes, the credit card rental coverage is about the best thing we have found for coverage. I was actually unaware of that benefit until one of my customers happened to find it. Not all have it, it usually the better bells and whistles credit cards, but that is the route I personally use and advise people if they don't want to use the rental car damage waiver.
That's very good to know, I'll keep using it then. Mine is a Chase Freedom Visa if anyone is curious. Thank you again for this advice!
 

FLATHEAD

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They are a bunch of crooks for sure. Have to watch them like a Hawk and cover your A## from the git go.
Between them and TSA is the reason I try to drive everywhere now. And I dont do much of that lately.
And like the OP said, that video was the saving grace. I've even had house rentals try to gig me for previous
damage, until I showed them the video.
 
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