Ugh: I Was Accused Of Damaging My Rental Car

Ugh: I Was Accused Of Damaging My Rental Car

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I suppose all’s well that ends well, but there’s still a lesson to be learned here…

Always take pictures or videos of your rental car

There are many aspects of the rental car experience that I find frustrating. Most rental cars have some damage when you pick them up, and it can be tough to figure out what needs to be reported and marked, and what doesn’t.

While there are usually forms that can be marked to indicate damage, they’re often not very exact. The diagram of the car is maybe an inch big, so it’s never really going to tell the full story of damage to a car.

To avoid issues on your return, I always recommend taking pictures of your car when you pick it up, so that you have proof of the condition it was in. It can even make sense to take a quick video while walking around the car. Also always include a picture of the facility with the car in it, so you can prove that the pictures were taken when you picked up the car.

This is something I always do… well, almost always.

Always take pictures of your rental car before leaving!

My Crete car rental damage disagreement

We rented a car for our week in Crete, picking up the car at Chania Airport, and returning it at Heraklion Airport. I rented through National (which I’ve grown to love), though in reality it was an Enterprise vehicle, since they seem to share inventory in Crete.

The rental car office was at an off-airport location, and the employee who helped us was exceptionally professional and kind. He was thorough, and explained that he had photographed the car in daylight (prior to our pick-up), so there was no need for us to mark damage. Personally I far prefer the concept of the car being photographed rather than damage being marked, so I appreciated that.

Now, I’d almost always take my own pictures, but go figure this was the one time that I didn’t:

  • It had been a ridiculously long travel day, and it was approaching midnight (we flew from Tampa to Charlotte to London to Athens to Chania, and even had a misconnect, so we had been traveling for 30+ hours)
  • I was with my mom and her partner, and as you can imagine, we were all exhausted at this point
  • The car rental office was in a poorly lit area, making it tougher to get good pictures

Anyway, the car served us well for a week, and when I returned the car at at Heraklion location, the employee carefully inspected the exterior. She looked at every scratch, and then eventually focused on the rear left bumper.

As you can see below, there were a couple of scratches and a small dent there, and it also seemed like there may have been more substantial bumper damage at some point, because the panels underneath the left tail light weren’t attached in a perfectly aligned manner (I don’t know how better to describe that, but hopefully the picture explains the situation better than I can).

The “damage” on my rental car

Based on the piece of paper she had, she suggested that I was responsible for the damage, and that the car didn’t previously have that damage.

Let me state that I’m 100% sure that was there when I picked up the car. If I were responsible for it I would own my mistake. On top of that, I have car rental coverage with the credit card I paid with, so while some paperwork would be required, I wouldn’t be out of pocket for the damage regardless.

Fortunately I remembered that the person who rented us the car in Chania had taken pictures of the car, so I reminded the employee at the Heraklion location of this. She asked me to follow her into the office, so that she could pull up the pictures.

Sure enough there were several pictures of the car, which we looked at together. Yay, this will vindicate me, right? Well, not quite…

Go figure none of the pictures definitively showed whether that bumper damage was there, due to the angles at which the pictures were taken, and the glare.

We both agreed we couldn’t tell one way or another whether the damage was there based on the pictures. Her takeaway seemed to be that I was therefore responsible for the damage, while my takeaway was the opposite. 😉

I explained that:

  • I was certain the damage was there when I picked up the car
  • I was assured that any damage to the car was documented in pictures
  • The pictures didn’t show that this part of the car wasn’t damaged

She kept looking at the pictures and typing, and eventually told me I could leave, though she clearly wasn’t happy. I assume that means I’m in the clear, because I haven’t received a bill, but who really knows…

And I just want to be totally clear, I don’t think there was any foul play here on the car rental company’s part — the employee who rented us the car was professional and did indeed take pictures of the car, they just didn’t end up capturing everything that needed to be captured.

Bottom line

Always take pictures or a video of your car rental when you pick it up, and take close-in shots of any damage. Stupidly I didn’t do that in Crete, due to a combination of being tired, the lighting being bad, and generally being trusting of the rental car company having taken pictures of the car. Go figure the one time I don’t take pictures it backfires.

Fortunately in the end the issue seemed to resolve itself, but I’m not going to make this mistake again.

Have you ever (incorrectly) been accused of damaging a rental car?

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  1. BadLuck Driver Guest

    I had to quickly swerve to avoid being hit by an oncoming car that suddenly crossed over the road. I hit a curb, a pothole or something.
    Didn't realize there was any issue until the following day when car overheated. Looks like damage to radiator, condenser, and oil line.
    It looks OK, hoping to drop it off with a clean bill. What do I do?

  2. snic Diamond

    They want to charge you for that tiny little ding on the bumper? That's normal wear-and-tear. So ridiculous. Do car rental companies not realize that there is NOTHING more infuriating to a customer than to be falsely accused of causing damage?

    Avis at SFO tried to pull this BS on me, charging me to clean the seat upholstery that was scuffed and dirty. Fortunately I noticed the filthy seats when I picked up the car...

    They want to charge you for that tiny little ding on the bumper? That's normal wear-and-tear. So ridiculous. Do car rental companies not realize that there is NOTHING more infuriating to a customer than to be falsely accused of causing damage?

    Avis at SFO tried to pull this BS on me, charging me to clean the seat upholstery that was scuffed and dirty. Fortunately I noticed the filthy seats when I picked up the car and took pictures, which I sent them along with a letter telling them to cancel my Avis Preferred membership as I refuse to ever rent again from a company that (a) rents dirty cars and (b) tries to defraud its customers.

    Of course, reading all these comments, we see that people report similar experiences with every rental company. I suspect it's often local franchises who are pulling this BS. They figure there's an inexhaustible supply of clueless new customers, so even if they piss some of them off, they don't care if they lose repeat business. They make more money from scamming a one-time visitor than from earning repeat business from someone who may never visit again.

  3. DRWflyer Guest

    The biggest scam is: if they are going to charge you for repairs, they should actually have to repair the car with that money. But they generally don’t. They rent it damaged to the next customer. They shouldn’t have it both ways. I once got charged $400 by Europcar for damage I didn’t do. This was at OOL airport in Australia, returned to BNE. I will never rent with Europcar again so they have lost...

    The biggest scam is: if they are going to charge you for repairs, they should actually have to repair the car with that money. But they generally don’t. They rent it damaged to the next customer. They shouldn’t have it both ways. I once got charged $400 by Europcar for damage I didn’t do. This was at OOL airport in Australia, returned to BNE. I will never rent with Europcar again so they have lost tens of thousands of dollars in business over my lifetime as I actively avoid them. All to scam me out of $400. I always rent with Hertz whenever I can. whenever there has been an issue, such as forgetting to refuel, they have always treated me fairly, and not overcharged. As a result I give them thousands of dollars of business every year.

  4. Samo Guest

    I always go for zero excess insurance when renting a car. It's usually relatively cheap and I don't need to deal with this nonsense.

  5. Always Flying Somewhere Guest

    Happened to us with Budget in YVR three years ago. Our fault for not reporting a windshield crack that had grown when we returned the vehicle. We were SO happy that we had Chase Sapphire helping us resolve this issue.

    Last May, we rented for a month with Car Hire Poland, which handles the Alamo/Enterprise/National franchise. The price was right and we were well taken care of by professional employees.

  6. They Guest

    Discount car company tried to ding me for prior damage but I had kept the little picture with the marks. When I showed them that they went away

  7. Joe Guest

    Sounds like rentals at MUC. Its really hard to take pictures of the car since the parking garage is dark and VERY narrow. Also, if one finds damage, there are no employees anywhere to tell and usually no one picks up the courtesy phones, so it is necessary to return to the rental counters and get in line again. Upon return, I have been accused of damaging my car several times now since pre-existing damage...

    Sounds like rentals at MUC. Its really hard to take pictures of the car since the parking garage is dark and VERY narrow. Also, if one finds damage, there are no employees anywhere to tell and usually no one picks up the courtesy phones, so it is necessary to return to the rental counters and get in line again. Upon return, I have been accused of damaging my car several times now since pre-existing damage was not noted (mini scratch, for example. Also, they will NOT accept photographs as proof. The return guy simply refused to look at my pictures last time. So, beware of rental cars in MUC.

    1. snic Diamond

      How are they going to extract the money from you? By charging your credit card? As soon as they do, dispute the charge and include the photos in the dispute. It's unlikely the bank will side with the rental company if you have solid proof you didn't cause the damage.

  8. MGW Guest

    FWIW, my experience renting cars in Europe is that the employees are much more thorough upon returning the car than they are in the US. I seldom see anyone inspect the car in the US for anything other than very obvious damage. However, in Europe, the employee processing the return typically examines every little area on the car. On a business trip, one of my colleagues got written up and charged $100 for a minor...

    FWIW, my experience renting cars in Europe is that the employees are much more thorough upon returning the car than they are in the US. I seldom see anyone inspect the car in the US for anything other than very obvious damage. However, in Europe, the employee processing the return typically examines every little area on the car. On a business trip, one of my colleagues got written up and charged $100 for a minor scratch on the edge of the rim. We never hit a curb while driving it, but didn't even think to inspect or photograph that area when picking up the car.

    That being said, the one time there was a close examination in the US was at Avis in Newark, when the employee reached under the car and pulled a black plastic part down and then told me I had damaged it somehow. I eventually resolved it without having to pay for it, but the experience made me resolve to never rent from Avis again.

  9. robbo Guest

    This is basic commonsense to be honest..... I never ever trust car rent rental companies, especially in the poorer countries ( eg; Crete ). And never trust them with their own photos. Take your own. You just travelled 30+ hours, whats the big deal spending another 10 minutes taking a few images of a car?

  10. Miguel Guest

    I rented a car with the Porsche experience in Frankfurt. They charged me €1600 for a damage that was already there. Eventually I had a reimbursement to my credit card, but not before a bad headache

  11. Grey New Member

    I am also curious how you are 100% sure all of the damage was existing, considering, by your own admission, you were tired and didn't have time to give it a thorough check and it was dark. Assuming that you were not staring at all angles of the car 24/7, there is surely some possibility that something happened when you were not there, no? 100% seems quite high...

  12. Nate nate Guest

    I wish you could do a post on the Chase claim process. I actually damaged a rental car in Croatia this past week. The agency just told me to forget about it so fortunately that worked out. But curious how the process would work.

    1. snic Diamond

      I think Ben did that a few years ago. He rented a car in Germany and it got damaged and he had to file a claim.

      There are also various reports in the Chase forum on Flyertalk.

  13. derek Guest

    Hertz Germany looks for damage carefully or more than that, according to some. I would take photos.

    Avis San Antonio called me to ask about damage but accepted my explanation that I did not and that the car was extremely muddy indicating the car wasn't inspected. The tires were covered in mud. All is good 5 years later. No charge. My experience is in the US, they are very consumer friendly.

  14. George Phemister Guest

    Perhaps the damage really wasn't there when you picked it up.

  15. HNR Guest

    I rented a car at the Phila airport a few years ago, and I actually hit a curb before I even exited the airport. I also had CC renters insurance-took me a few hours to fill out all the CC company forms for reimbursement.

  16. Laurence Guest

    The same thing happened to me at DEN with Sixt car rental in 2020. Several days after returning the car I received in the mail a packet with photos of alleged damage to underside of bumper. Bill for several hundred dollars for repair estimate. I disputed, and told my credit card company (insuring the car) that this was likely a scam and that they should also dispute or investigate. They chose to resolve the issue...

    The same thing happened to me at DEN with Sixt car rental in 2020. Several days after returning the car I received in the mail a packet with photos of alleged damage to underside of bumper. Bill for several hundred dollars for repair estimate. I disputed, and told my credit card company (insuring the car) that this was likely a scam and that they should also dispute or investigate. They chose to resolve the issue by paying, explaining that it was cheaper for them to handle it thusly. This scam is probably widespread and should be rooted out! Lots of wasted time, angst, and money…

  17. Chuck Sullivan Guest

    How do you know someone else didn't cause the damage to your bumper while you were in a parking lot or some such? That happened to me in S. Africa. That was fun.

  18. Miamiorbust Guest

    Unless you are traveling at super peak time, when on crete it may be easier and cheaper to just take a taxi to your hotel and deal with car later when you are ready. There are literally hundreds of rental companies that seem to get most of their business from hotel referrals. They’ll bring car to the hotel and you can drop at airport for basically same rate as picking up at airport. I’ve always...

    Unless you are traveling at super peak time, when on crete it may be easier and cheaper to just take a taxi to your hotel and deal with car later when you are ready. There are literally hundreds of rental companies that seem to get most of their business from hotel referrals. They’ll bring car to the hotel and you can drop at airport for basically same rate as picking up at airport. I’ve always good experiences. Given they rely on hotels for referrals, the odds of someone trying to scam you are probably lower. One of few places I’ve traveled where using a local company felt like a real option.

  19. eric Guest

    always use caution in southern europe. It's normal to "invent" damage when you return the car. Would probably mention it to national if you recieve a bill. I'm VERY happy with National and also with National service.

  20. Mark Guest

    I would think the paint mismatch between the two panels would be a dead giveaway that the bumper was previously repaired

  21. Gary Hofmann Guest

    A very common behavior of rental car companies, If you don’t take a full risk insurance( which gives them really profit, because this is an internal calculation mode) they are inspecting carefully the cars upon return( mostly, a while after you dropped the car and try to confront you with the scratches and damages.) if you take part risk you have the right to cross check with somebody from the rental company the in the...

    A very common behavior of rental car companies, If you don’t take a full risk insurance( which gives them really profit, because this is an internal calculation mode) they are inspecting carefully the cars upon return( mostly, a while after you dropped the car and try to confront you with the scratches and damages.) if you take part risk you have the right to cross check with somebody from the rental company the in the contract indicated damages, upon pick up, but this will be time consuming…
    I also experienced a habit, which shifts the risk to the next rental person , if you have a full insurance , upon return the subcontracted companies who handle the return, do not inspect the car ,’ “because it’s fully insured”, consequence: the next renting party will receive possibly a car with, also hidden damages, which the next rental party will be possibly blamed for!!!
    A very obscure behavior, which I experienced thru out France and German a couple of times.

  22. Andy Guest

    My only similar experience was in Punta Arenas (Chile), where I rented an about 4 year old car with about 80000 km with Avis ... and they wanted to charge me for a small scratch. On the protocol there were several scratches in the same area marked, but they insisted that this particular one was not marked. After some negotiating, they dropped the charge.

    More frequently I've had issues with speeding fines which "arrived during...

    My only similar experience was in Punta Arenas (Chile), where I rented an about 4 year old car with about 80000 km with Avis ... and they wanted to charge me for a small scratch. On the protocol there were several scratches in the same area marked, but they insisted that this particular one was not marked. After some negotiating, they dropped the charge.

    More frequently I've had issues with speeding fines which "arrived during your rental" (but actually have been incurred earlier) or toll charges (same, incurred earlier). I had such issues in all parts of the world (US, Latin America, Europe, South Africa, Asia) and that's one of the reasons I'm renting much less frequently than before.

  23. ROGER NORWICH Guest

    Renting a car is a jungle with these animals trying to tear open your wallet with false accusations of damage which have probably been paid for over and over again by unsuspecting dupes. NEVER EVER take a car without taking photos of every panel in close up and not forgetting the scoops below the front bumper(fender) and never forgetting the roof. Renting a car is like making a deal with the devil so no matter...

    Renting a car is a jungle with these animals trying to tear open your wallet with false accusations of damage which have probably been paid for over and over again by unsuspecting dupes. NEVER EVER take a car without taking photos of every panel in close up and not forgetting the scoops below the front bumper(fender) and never forgetting the roof. Renting a car is like making a deal with the devil so no matter how smiley they are when you collect there is always a shark waiting to eat you at the other end.

  24. Fifi Guest

    I always take photos but now I will start taking videos too.

  25. Chris Guest

    I am from from Europe and I have never had that problem in the US, but rentals tried already twice in the south of Europe.

  26. Vince Guest

    I never trust rental companies. Specially not in southern Europe (and London Heathrow!). So I always make a video. This saved me many times. I must say that with national/enterprise it doesnt happen much and this is the most reliable rental company. But I have been accused many times, but always had the video material to prove otherwise.

  27. Alan Gold

    I rented a car in Monterrey, Mexico several years ago and when I returned it, they indicated that there was damage to the side of the car. I could not see any and he told me to look closely down the side of the car. Again, I saw nothing, even in bright light. Like Lucky I have credit card insurance so had there been damage I would have just claimed it. I pointed this out...

    I rented a car in Monterrey, Mexico several years ago and when I returned it, they indicated that there was damage to the side of the car. I could not see any and he told me to look closely down the side of the car. Again, I saw nothing, even in bright light. Like Lucky I have credit card insurance so had there been damage I would have just claimed it. I pointed this out but I told them that I would need a photograph of the damage. Almost immediately they changed their tune and stopped trying to rip me off.

  28. Blaz Guest

    I'm going to hope that you charged it up on your Amex platinum charge card, which means they will resolve the issue one way or the other. They have clout with these agencies, where an individual does not. I have to say that once they know the charge card is Amex platinum, there never seems to be an issue.

  29. Victoria M. Guest

    This happened to me in Ireland….I definitely had had NO damage and they billed me 300 Pounds for damage they decided I had caused…and, like you, I had this one time not really inspected the car myself…Ugh!!!

  30. Indopithecus Guest

    Ben, I think you were scammed right from the start. The woman at Heraklion knew where to look to find 'damage' that would not show in the original images. What an unpleasant end to a great holiday.

  31. Keyser Soze Guest

    Just an FYI for U.S.-based OMAAT readers. I don’t think this is available outside the country. Amex offers a product they don’t heavily promote much any more: Premium Rental Protection. This is “Collision”/“LDW” insurance. It is definitely NOT “Liability” insurance. What makes it attractive is that it is charged per Rental, *not* per Day. The cost varies, but is either $25, if your billing address is in California, or less in other states. You simply...

    Just an FYI for U.S.-based OMAAT readers. I don’t think this is available outside the country. Amex offers a product they don’t heavily promote much any more: Premium Rental Protection. This is “Collision”/“LDW” insurance. It is definitely NOT “Liability” insurance. What makes it attractive is that it is charged per Rental, *not* per Day. The cost varies, but is either $25, if your billing address is in California, or less in other states. You simply call Amex once and enroll your card. There are no charges unless/until you actually rent a car. When you do, you’ll see the normal rental charge post to your card and the “PRP” charge will post 2 days later. If you have a problem like Ben’s post here, you’ll have Amex customer service backing you up. I’ve used this for years and explicitly do not rent cars with other cards (e.g. CSR) that offer “free” Collision/LDW. Rental agencies simply don’t want to argue with Amex because they don’t want to lose Amex-carrying “business” customers.

  32. Matt Guest

    Had the same problem with Enterprise in CDG. They accused me of breaking the little attachment that holds the rear tablet with strings. Needless to say I know I never broke that thing, I just didn't take a picture to prove it. I was charged €1000 that would then be reimbursed by the credit card insurance. I called the credit card telling them it was a scam and to make a complaint, but they just...

    Had the same problem with Enterprise in CDG. They accused me of breaking the little attachment that holds the rear tablet with strings. Needless to say I know I never broke that thing, I just didn't take a picture to prove it. I was charged €1000 that would then be reimbursed by the credit card insurance. I called the credit card telling them it was a scam and to make a complaint, but they just told me to let it go. I didn't, and asked Enterprise to prove that they fixed the problem and that it cost €1000 (I found the attachment for €4.50 online). After a couple of months of back and forth they gave up and gave the €1000 back.

    That was a total scam. Now I don't just take pictures, I take a full video of the car, inside out.

  33. Andrew Guest

    Up to close to ten times over the years.

    Typically always when the pick-up was in the evening in a garage with only 1 in 4 lights actually installed (1 car company in the UK does it as a 'environmentally friendly action').

    Heathrow drop offs typically where it happens as generally people underestimate how bad the traffic will be getting to Heathrow & so have little to no time to dispute.

    I've always taken photos...

    Up to close to ten times over the years.

    Typically always when the pick-up was in the evening in a garage with only 1 in 4 lights actually installed (1 car company in the UK does it as a 'environmentally friendly action').

    Heathrow drop offs typically where it happens as generally people underestimate how bad the traffic will be getting to Heathrow & so have little to no time to dispute.

    I've always taken photos (including pre-camera phone days). Normally 10 to 12 photos depending on vehicle type.

    One directly at each side, one taken from 45 degree angle so you get both sides going to the car corners. One of the car bonnet, roof, boot top and occasionally if a lot of marks on the bumper (front or rear) I take 2 instead of one - so they're much closer & easier to dispute even on a phone screen.

    Never had to pay but one operator at Heathrow had it down to a fine art in dragging out the time required. Start to finish was close to 40 minutes.

  34. John Guest

    It was probably the sister of the woman from the hotel in Mykonos

  35. AC Guest

    3 years ago I went to Iceland and rented a car for a 3 day weekend. From Avis and very small for around $500 (crazy I know). Even though I have coverage through personal insurance and credit cards I added the extra coverages (some are unique to Iceland).

    When I returned the car the agency pointed out damage (was there before I got it). However once they reviewed my rental and insurance they basically...

    3 years ago I went to Iceland and rented a car for a 3 day weekend. From Avis and very small for around $500 (crazy I know). Even though I have coverage through personal insurance and credit cards I added the extra coverages (some are unique to Iceland).

    When I returned the car the agency pointed out damage (was there before I got it). However once they reviewed my rental and insurance they basically said I was covered even if I totaled the car. Never get insurance in US but have found worthy the cost to avoid a hassle overseas.

  36. dotti c Guest

    We were in Marseille to drop a car off at enterprise.( We arrived a week before and got the car we then drove to Vaison La Romaine and parked it under the condo we had rented. It never moved from that spot till we left to go to return the car. )The rental agent looked at the car no damage but she got on the ground and put her head UNDER the front of the...

    We were in Marseille to drop a car off at enterprise.( We arrived a week before and got the car we then drove to Vaison La Romaine and parked it under the condo we had rented. It never moved from that spot till we left to go to return the car. )The rental agent looked at the car no damage but she got on the ground and put her head UNDER the front of the car and told us there was damage... It got very heated and I was told to leave the office or she would call the Police...... My husband stayed and continue to banter with her till we had to get our flight. It continued when we got the bill and fought it but in the end they had our CC number and charged us... Note to self check under the front and back of a rental car before leaving the lot!!!

  37. Napamel Guest

    I have rented cars for over 50 years and never had a problem with insurance. When I picked up the car from Europcar in Birmingham, UK I was asked for written proof from Chase that the card I was using covered my insurance. There is no mention on my confirmation that I had to have written proof of insurance. In checking my credit card charges I find that I was charged $596.27 for this insurance...

    I have rented cars for over 50 years and never had a problem with insurance. When I picked up the car from Europcar in Birmingham, UK I was asked for written proof from Chase that the card I was using covered my insurance. There is no mention on my confirmation that I had to have written proof of insurance. In checking my credit card charges I find that I was charged $596.27 for this insurance which is more than I paid for the rental. So, from now on I will take pictures of the car and carry written proof of insurance.

  38. Chris Guest

    Happened to me twice. First time with hertz in in Munich and took over 2 years to resolve. They tried to charge me 1600 Euro for a small scratch that was there when I rented the car. Second time it was Avis at LAX. Fortunately I was able to show them a not just photos, but a copy of my original bill that had an entirely different make, model car with a different license plate! Video is a good idea.

  39. matenai Guest

    I had a similar problem with Avis in Munich Airport. Luckily we took video of entire exterior when renting and noted all damage...every scratch. Things unnecessary in the US. Upon checkin there was no additional damage noted. Yet, it took 3 months to have them correct and get my refund of $1600. Again it was with help of Chase CSR and third party rental agency.

  40. TacomaGuy Guest

    I turned a car in after hours at GEG and was accused of damage two weeks later. That’s something I’ll never do again. Photos are a good tip too.

  41. Steven Guest

    A LOT of rental companies in Europe are third party vendors who make a commission on certain things…like “damage repair.” Looking at you, Dublin!

    They’ve tried to nail me for false damages so many times and have often gotten visibly irritated when I pointed out that I have full CDW.

  42. Fed UP Guest

    almost all international locations do this scam.... if they missed the damage on the prior rental , they try to pin it on you.... i would suggest just swallowing the insurance premium, and they can accuse you all they want..... remember the car that just showed up in Atlanta with gun shots ? Full insurance, so dont ask questions.

  43. Bako Guest

    Countries like Greece , Cyprus , Italy , Balkans , you always have to be careful with car rental...

  44. FlyerDon Guest

    I always feel rushed when I pick up a rental car at an airport. I have told myself to slow down, make sure I know how all the features work in the car and figure out how to get to where I am going but the urge to get away from the rental lot, and the airport, is powerful. Taking a video prior to accepting the car is a great idea. I'll just have to force myself to take the time to do it.

  45. philelltt Gold

    Ben, you have mentioned quite a number of bad issues happening during this holiday to Greece. You are middle aged and experienced at travel, even so the stress level has shown in your reports. It appears to be quite hard work.

    For us older readers, it would be interesting to get a review of the trip from your mother.

  46. Gordon Guest

    In my experience if there is damage to a vehicle the rental company claim funds from the hirer and the damage is Never often repaired ?

  47. REUBEN Guest

    They probably charged all the previous drivers the damage costs and it paid for the car. I always take pics but will now take video as well.

  48. Bruno Guest

    I may be mistaken, but I’m almost sure there are no “real” National locations outside the USA and Canada.
    All National locations abroad are either an Enterprise or Alamo location that also rent to National customers since they are in the end brands owned by the same company.
    In Brazil, you even end up renting with a totally different company called Unidas when you reserve through National.
    Don’t expect the same National...

    I may be mistaken, but I’m almost sure there are no “real” National locations outside the USA and Canada.
    All National locations abroad are either an Enterprise or Alamo location that also rent to National customers since they are in the end brands owned by the same company.
    In Brazil, you even end up renting with a totally different company called Unidas when you reserve through National.
    Don’t expect the same National customer service level in locations outside main airports in the US and Canada (the ones with Executive aisles) and abroad.

  49. Donna Diamond

    One word of caution about Zero Excess (no deductible) CDW coverage in Italy for most companies. Normally, it does NOT cover undercarriage, windows, windshields, mirrors, tires and roof.

  50. Anthony Parr Guest

    I’ve rented a car at Barcelona airport from several rental agencies. Every single time I’ve returned a car I’ve been accused of damaging it, even when I’ve taken photos. One time I said “Let me show you the photos” the agent said “did you take photos of underneath the car?”

    He accused me of damaging the undercarriage.

    When disputing it I’ve had to go to an office inside the main airport holding and stand in...

    I’ve rented a car at Barcelona airport from several rental agencies. Every single time I’ve returned a car I’ve been accused of damaging it, even when I’ve taken photos. One time I said “Let me show you the photos” the agent said “did you take photos of underneath the car?”

    He accused me of damaging the undercarriage.

    When disputing it I’ve had to go to an office inside the main airport holding and stand in line for a long time. Each time they let me leave without having to pay.

    I believe they accuse EVERYONE of causing damage and know that people will just pay the $300 rather than risk missing their flight.

    The times I have returned the car at Sants Station in the city and taken the train to the airport I’ve had no issues.

  51. DrewT New Member

    I think I've gotten spoiled by National in the US. I give cars a cursory glance before picking them on the aisle, and very few are damaged beyond some minor scratches. I never take photos/video of cars, and I've never had a problem returning (many times I just drop and go, although they usually get me checked in before I can get all my stuff out of the car).

    And I can't find it now,...

    I think I've gotten spoiled by National in the US. I give cars a cursory glance before picking them on the aisle, and very few are damaged beyond some minor scratches. I never take photos/video of cars, and I've never had a problem returning (many times I just drop and go, although they usually get me checked in before I can get all my stuff out of the car).

    And I can't find it now, but I think the official policy allows for reasonable size scratches and dents without being charged. Something like a 2" round dent or scratch smaller than a dollar bill is what I remember.

    The one time I've actually damaged a rental car (backed the side mirror into a piling in a parking garage), my contract had the LDW on it. Pointed it out to the guy on return, and didn't hear any more about it.

    All these stories of people getting charged over minor scratches - that would make me crazy!

  52. Kim Guest

    Enterprise said I damaged a rim and the windshield. I had a photo showing the ding in the windshield when I picked it up so I was okay there. A few weeks went by and I called to check on the status of the rim which I told them I did not damage. I was informed that they decided not to repair it. I wonder if they just keep accusing renters of the damage until they get one that agrees to pay.

  53. Amarillo by Morning Guest

    1. I have seen rental car companies (looking at you, Enterprise and National) find damage that was already there primarily on one-way rentals.

    2. Some of the parking garages are dimly lit at night - very annoying.

    3. Watch for scrapes on hubcaps. I've watched rental car company reps in the UK run their hands over the hubcaps to pick up minute scrapes.

    4. Check for the spare tire and equipment before leaving the...

    1. I have seen rental car companies (looking at you, Enterprise and National) find damage that was already there primarily on one-way rentals.

    2. Some of the parking garages are dimly lit at night - very annoying.

    3. Watch for scrapes on hubcaps. I've watched rental car company reps in the UK run their hands over the hubcaps to pick up minute scrapes.

    4. Check for the spare tire and equipment before leaving the garage.

    5. I've watched rental car company reps shine flashlights across the surface of doors, the roof (!), and hood looking for dents. (Minor dents, otherwise hard to notice, create shadows.)

    6. Lucky, this would be a good time to have an article on the different types of rental car coverage offered by the various credit cards.

  54. Despina Guest

    Greece! I can say that because I am Greek.

  55. AD Guest

    Just rented from multiple car companies in Greece, including Crete. A piece of advice I read a while back was to use the local companies, not the big names. Locals are much more flexible. I had no issues, and I was being overly picky at check in so they knew not to mess with me at drop off. No issues. Cars might not be as pristine as the name brands, but had a more local experience.

    1. snic Diamond

      I think this is generally good advice for certain geographic regions. Certainly in Mexico (e.g., Cancun), the big name car rental agencies seem to be quite dishonest with springing insurance fees on unsuspecting customers. Whereas the small local outfit I rented from explained everything in black and white on its website, so there was no surprise. They were off-airport, but pickup/dropoff was very efficient.

      In Greece I rented from a local company in Athens and...

      I think this is generally good advice for certain geographic regions. Certainly in Mexico (e.g., Cancun), the big name car rental agencies seem to be quite dishonest with springing insurance fees on unsuspecting customers. Whereas the small local outfit I rented from explained everything in black and white on its website, so there was no surprise. They were off-airport, but pickup/dropoff was very efficient.

      In Greece I rented from a local company in Athens and they also provided excellent service, and no false accusations of damage.

  56. Vito Guest

    Wonderful Greek service from door to door… LOL

  57. Hansen Guest

    It should have said Germany

  58. Hansen Guest

    The same thing happened to me in Gerytwo Years ago. I walked around the Car with the Car Rental Employee. Everything was deemed Fine. Two Weeks later I see that 1200 Dollar was taken out from My Credit Card. Calling I was told the Car had been Damaged. I got Pictures of the Damage. And if they were present when I return the Car. We would have seen it. Plus Nobody notified me. I turned...

    The same thing happened to me in Gerytwo Years ago. I walked around the Car with the Car Rental Employee. Everything was deemed Fine. Two Weeks later I see that 1200 Dollar was taken out from My Credit Card. Calling I was told the Car had been Damaged. I got Pictures of the Damage. And if they were present when I return the Car. We would have seen it. Plus Nobody notified me. I turned it over to My Credit Card. And received the Money Back. Then They got in contact with my Family they wanted that Money Returned. I even got aBill from a Lawyer in New York. They never contacted my Credit Card Company. Only me direct. I have learned a valuable Lesson. Film the Car and also the Employees who accept the Car

  59. Omar Guest

    My contrarian view on this is if you aggregate all the time wasted having to take photos/video over your lifetime it's not worth the hassle particularly with hertz gold/platinum where they rarely ever scrutinize the car.

    1. Matt Guest

      This works domestically. It will not serve you well in Southern Europe.

  60. Sven Guest

    Budget Rental Cars are notorious for these accusations. Three different times and locations, they tried to get money from me for body damage or stained interiors. Stay away from Budget.

  61. Bill Guest

    +1 on the video. A video can capture more angles of light etc and show more than a picture. A video saved me in the past from paying damages to Sixt in Orlando. The agent pointed out a scratch and said I was responsible. I showed her the video where the scratch was visible, and I was good to go.

    I use Hertz for business travel and I've never had a problem with them about scratches.

  62. Kevin Bookbinder Guest

    This seems to be a bigger issue internationally than domestically I had a similar issue with enterprise in Paris, I ended up having to pay for it.

  63. Santastico Guest

    Living and learning!!! That is typical practice in countries like Greece and Italy. I always rented cars that were severely damaged almost to the point I needed to do a 360 video to show all parts. They don’t care and they will always try to blame you on the return. It is well known. They know you have to catch a flight so they will argue with you up to a point you have to...

    Living and learning!!! That is typical practice in countries like Greece and Italy. I always rented cars that were severely damaged almost to the point I needed to do a 360 video to show all parts. They don’t care and they will always try to blame you on the return. It is well known. They know you have to catch a flight so they will argue with you up to a point you have to give up otherwise you will miss your flight. It is embarrassing for those countries but they don’t care since it is another way for them to make money. Also, in 20 years of living in the US I never got a traffic ticket. In one week while renting a car in Italy I got 6. Yes, and Avis charges me €65 per ticket to just send me those tickets (it is written in small letters in the contract) and on top of that I had to deal individually with each small town that was charging me for some stupid violations that I never understood. It is a scam!!

  64. LarryInNYC Guest

    Call me a New Yorker or whatever, but if someone tells me "I took pictures, don't look for damage" my immediate suspicion is that there's hidden damage they're planning to charge me for. The fact that the return agent focused on a section of the car that wasn't clear in the photographs doesn't allay my suspicion.

    You also don't state -- after the guy told you he took pictures and you decided to forego the...

    Call me a New Yorker or whatever, but if someone tells me "I took pictures, don't look for damage" my immediate suspicion is that there's hidden damage they're planning to charge me for. The fact that the return agent focused on a section of the car that wasn't clear in the photographs doesn't allay my suspicion.

    You also don't state -- after the guy told you he took pictures and you decided to forego the damage report, did you inspect the car thoroughly? If not, how are you sure that the damage really was there when you started? It could have happened in a parking lot, or when a valet was parking your car.

    Finally, I wonder if someone could make a go of a website on which people could report rental experiences in which they were charged for damage, along with the license or VIN of the car. That would help spot cases agencies which have a higher-than-average number of such reports and possibly even individual cases of damage in which several renters in a row get billed for the same item. It's possible that insurance companies already share this information among themselves, but it would be great if individual renters (who might settle up directly) could contribute as well.

  65. Mark Guest

    Definitely why I always use my CSR when renting a car. Even if they ding me, Chase will pay it. I've had 2 claims with them and they are flawless. Worth the $95 annual fee just for car rental insurance!

  66. Euro Driver Guest

    This happens to a lot of American tourists in Europe. Many a time, the car rental company intentionally made its foreign customers pay for the damage they did not make. I too was an Enterprise fan and an elite member from my work account. I returned my car to the Zurich airport and the rep said he was too busy to go through the damages with me and that he would do the inspection alone...

    This happens to a lot of American tourists in Europe. Many a time, the car rental company intentionally made its foreign customers pay for the damage they did not make. I too was an Enterprise fan and an elite member from my work account. I returned my car to the Zurich airport and the rep said he was too busy to go through the damages with me and that he would do the inspection alone after I left. I immediately smelled a rat and knew he was going to pull a trick on me. Enterprise is very good in the US, but their EU locations are all franchises and therefore don't follow the same American standards. Also, I heard that Sixt often makes foreign customers pay for damage that they never make.

    Anyway, back to my anecdote, ... I insisted on going through the damages with the rep and on photographing every single ding and scratch. After this, guess what? He tried to pull another trick me on me. He said he couldn't print me the receipt because "the printer broke." I couldn't believe this BS and stood in their office, claiming that I wouldn't leave till the printer got fixed. Magically, the printer was "repaired" within minutes and I got my receipt. Fortunately, I returned my car the night before my flight and therefore I had time to spare. If I had to rush for my flight, the rep would have got away with it.

  67. michael Guest

    I have been renting more cars lately for work - often arriving late at night when hard to take pictures. Fortunately, this has not been an issue - however, I find that at least half the time the cars smell of smoking. I have never smoked in my life (nor plan too) and make that clear to the agent when dropping off...so far, not an issue....but I am sensing (thank you COVID) that we are...

    I have been renting more cars lately for work - often arriving late at night when hard to take pictures. Fortunately, this has not been an issue - however, I find that at least half the time the cars smell of smoking. I have never smoked in my life (nor plan too) and make that clear to the agent when dropping off...so far, not an issue....but I am sensing (thank you COVID) that we are going to see more and more scams....especially as companies cut back any way they can. I just rented from National in SEA and I think I have rented more cars this year myself than they have rented out total - they were clueless......

  68. Doug Guest

    This is the most frustrating part of international rentals. I don't understand why not a single company has been able to bring the seamless US rental process (for elite members) to their international locations. The massive time wasting paperwork and tedious damage checks are such a pain.

  69. Alex_77W Guest

    Renting a car in Europe (especially Southern Europe) in summer and not taking pictures? What you were thinking about? About 3 years ago I was renting a car from Hertz in VCE in the morning. As a Presidents Circle, I went straight to the Hertz booth on the parking lot and was given already prepared contract while told that the car had no damage. Examination of the contract revealed that I was charged about 150...

    Renting a car in Europe (especially Southern Europe) in summer and not taking pictures? What you were thinking about? About 3 years ago I was renting a car from Hertz in VCE in the morning. As a Presidents Circle, I went straight to the Hertz booth on the parking lot and was given already prepared contract while told that the car had no damage. Examination of the contract revealed that I was charged about 150 Euros for a prepaid tank of gas that I was not planning to use. The agent told me that she cannot remove that charge because it was in my profile (it was not). After 10 min arguing am me producing a printout of the original reservation she was still insisting on the charge. However, after me offering to call Hertz, the charge was removed as one time exception. The upgraded car I got was beaten up from each and every side. The agent was very unhappy marking the damage while I was taking pictures. Once I put the luggage in, I have noticed more damage including inside. At this point the agent simply marked the file without even walking to the car.
    We happily drove that beaten up Volvo to Trieste and back while spending a few days in Porto Piccolo and surrounding areas. Before leaving for US, we were staying in VCE Garden Inn for 2 nights with plans to spend an entire day in Venice before taking an early morning flight from VCE. (This is why Garden Inn was convenient). When we returned from Trieste to VCE in the evening, there was only one guy in Hertz booth watching TV. He told me to park the car so it would be inspected in the morning because he cannot leave his post and a football game he was watching. The parking lot was very dark and that complicated picture taking I simply asked if it would be better if I return car in the morning and he said Yes. This was what we did. We met the same Hertz crew in the morning and they did not even try to examine the car once they saw me back...
    It is reasonable to suggest that the Hertz VCE operation simply knows how to take an advantage of American tourists arriving in the morning (they are likely to rent from Hertz) when they are rather tired. (We arrived from Padua where we spent a week and were out of jet lag and fully alert). Such tourists do no check the cars and are in a hurry to catch the flight in the morning.

  70. Adam Guest

    Ben,

    I was always confused a bit on the picture thing. For instance, suppose I take pictures upon receiving the car as you suggest which sounds completely logical, how do you prove that those shots were taken prior to ever driving. Can't they accuse the following happened- I rent a car then I drive off the lot, while leaving the airport (or any time during my rental) I swipe someones else car. I then pull...

    Ben,

    I was always confused a bit on the picture thing. For instance, suppose I take pictures upon receiving the car as you suggest which sounds completely logical, how do you prove that those shots were taken prior to ever driving. Can't they accuse the following happened- I rent a car then I drive off the lot, while leaving the airport (or any time during my rental) I swipe someones else car. I then pull over and immediately snap some shots of the new scratches all the while contesting that those pictures were taking before I actually drove off the car rental lot. ??? I guess, how do you suggest I prove that any scratches, dents and/or marks were present prior to me ever driving the car???

    1. Anastasia Guest

      If you take photos with anything digital (cell phone, camera) they will have a date and time stamp on them.

    2. Luke Guest

      Which can be easily modified through the file properties.

  71. Chris S. Guest

    We picked up a car in Santorini from a tiny little rental operation. The owner sat behind a desk chain smoking cigarettes and joking with his employees. When it came time to hand off the keys, I started taking pictures of the car and he said, “Friend, I make my money on renting you the car, not on making you pay for fake damages.” He was telling the truth; he didn’t even look at the car when we returned it. It was refreshing.

  72. Billy Bob Guest

    GSO airport runs a scam hitting up unsuspecting renters' credit cards to get repairs done on personal automobiles. Be wary of that place. They'll rent out a car at night where it is parked under no lights (and no pictures) and then try to charge you for the substantial damage you didn't see. I found out that the car I had isn't even owned by Hertz! I told them I was on to their scam...

    GSO airport runs a scam hitting up unsuspecting renters' credit cards to get repairs done on personal automobiles. Be wary of that place. They'll rent out a car at night where it is parked under no lights (and no pictures) and then try to charge you for the substantial damage you didn't see. I found out that the car I had isn't even owned by Hertz! I told them I was on to their scam and threatened to call the cops and/or file a lawsuit and they backed off. I can imagine this scam runs at other places too.

  73. Matt Guest

    I agree with others who say car rental in Europe is a different animal. I had a rental car in Italy for 2 months+. There were two fairly significant pieces of damage to it when I picked it up. One, the keyhole to the passenger-side door had been punched into the door panel and so was unusable. Two, the left rear quarter panel was damaged—in a weird way, too, almost like it was warped rather...

    I agree with others who say car rental in Europe is a different animal. I had a rental car in Italy for 2 months+. There were two fairly significant pieces of damage to it when I picked it up. One, the keyhole to the passenger-side door had been punched into the door panel and so was unusable. Two, the left rear quarter panel was damaged—in a weird way, too, almost like it was warped rather than dented. I of course noted both of these issues (along with several minor scrapes, scratches and dents) on the little car diagram on the rental contract and even discussed it with the rental agent at pick up. The only reason I didn’t insist on a new car is that this was the last FIAT Punto on the lot and anything else was really too big for what I needed, and big is bad in Italy for parking and maneuvering through historic city centers that have narrow lanes often with walls on both sides (I had taken the side mirrors off a Volvo on an earlier trip in a town in Tuscany, so I was particularly sensitive to the dangers of a bigger car). Plus they offered that I could exchange the car for a different Punto, once available, by coming back to the rental office. I never did take them up on that, though.

    When I returned the car two months+ later, I had numerous issues. First, there was a big brouhaha over the car’s mileage. I had done A LOT of driving. I don’t remember how many kilometers I had put on the car, but it was definitely at least several thousand. That in and of itself seemed to cause an issue but inexplicably so because I had an unlimited mileage rental. They still seemed to be suggesting that there was some sort of clause or concept that meant that what I did was unreasonable even with an unlimited mileage rental. The second issue, and related to the mileage, was that they were insistent that I must have taken the car outside of Italy. I had not, but they were convinced that there was no way I put so many KMs on the car without doing so, and I had an Italy-only contract so they were trying to figure out how to prove I had violated it. But the biggest issue for them was the pre-existing damage. They had somehow “lost” the original rental contract with the damage marked on the car diagram. Luckily, I still had my carbon copy. But they actually accused me of presenting a forged or doctored copy and even suggested I was somehow responsible for the missing original in their file.

    We went back and forth on this for over an hour. A lot of that time was just me sitting and waiting in a chair near the rental counter while various employees at the rental agency discussed issues amongst themselves and made concerned phone calls, presumably to their superiors. I do not speak fluent Italian but I had taken several courses and had just spent two months+ alone in the country, so I picked up most of what they were saying, although I am not sure they appreciated that because other than pleasantries at the outset, we had been speaking English to each other. Most of their conversations seemed to be focused on how to get me to take responsibility voluntarily because they didn’t have their copy of the rental agreement, couldn’t prove my carbon copy was fraudulent, and couldn’t prove that I had left Italy.

    In the end, they simply let me leave, although all had sour and suspicious looks on their faces. I think the only reasons they dropped it when they did was, one, a significant customer line was forming as multiple agents were tied up in conversations or calls about what to do with me, and a few English speaking customers who were waiting and watching the scene started asking me what was going on and I was more than happy to tell them. And, two, about an hour in a couple of the agents were discussing how to force me to take responsibility, and I heard one suggest that they maybe should call the Carabinieri (police) to I guess intimidate me. At this point, I interjected in my very best Italian with something like, “Yes, I think involving the police at this point would be advisable because I feel like I am being detained against my will.” When it dawned on them that I had heard and understood most of what they had said about me, that seemed to shift the mood and I was told I was free to go shortly thereafter.

    1. Luke Guest

      Wow Matt I'll bet a thousand bucks the agency still had the original rental agreement diagram and was just trying to scam you, great thing you held your ground through all that!

  74. Justin Guest

    I got a Hertz car at the ORD airport at midnight. It stunk like weed but I was exhausted and only had the car for 24 hours… When I returned it they charged me $250 for a cleaning fee… I should have never accepted the car and lesson learned but it took almost 5 weeks to get ahold of someone and even then I still had to pay the fee…

  75. Pogonation Guest

    This is why I always take a video of all sections of the car.. photos are never great at showing small marks that they could find fault over.

  76. Ken Guest

    What I hate is when the rental cars are in a dark garage, which makes it really easy to miss subtle damages. One time I rented a car, looked it over in the garage, and deciding it looked OK, headed out on the road. As soon as I got into sunlight, it was apparent there were a couple rock chips in the windshield!

  77. Chris Guest

    I have been renting cars for decades, and a couple of times I have had damage issues.

    The first time was in Cape Town. I arrived quite late, and it was dark, but I was still able to check the car for damages, and could not find anything. When I returned the car, the rental car company employee said there was a small thin crack in the windshield, and that I was responsible for it....

    I have been renting cars for decades, and a couple of times I have had damage issues.

    The first time was in Cape Town. I arrived quite late, and it was dark, but I was still able to check the car for damages, and could not find anything. When I returned the car, the rental car company employee said there was a small thin crack in the windshield, and that I was responsible for it. The funny thing is that you would only see the crack when the light came from a specific direction. I did not notice it when I picked up the car, or during the whole week I was using the car. I (well, my employer) ended up having to pay for it.

    The second time was in Nice. The hotel valet guy damaged my car when he picked it up from the garage. I talked to the hotel manager, who said they will call the rental company etc, and that I don't have to worry about it. But, when I gave the car back they had no record of the damage, and I (well, again, my employer) ended up having to pay for it. In addition they blamed me for some minor damages that had been there when I picked up the car. My employer tried to fix things afterwards, but I don't think they ever managed to get the hotel to pay for the damage.

    Nowadays I am very careful when picking up rental cars, carefully checking everything, taking photos of damages etc.

  78. Alejandro Bermúdez Guest

    Something similar happy to me with Avis at MIA. We rented a car with almost a full tank. Before returning it I took a picture of the dashboard on purpose, as I always do. 1 week later I receive an email from Avis stating that I had left the tank not full and were charging me $40. Fortunately I had the photo. So far Avis is reviewing the case.

  79. Sean M. Guest

    I had a similar experience with Sixt in Mauritius. Accused of a scratch that I was quite sure was noted on the pickup damage sheet but the agent insisted there were two scratches now at return and one was new. I logged everything and the Chase Sapphire Reserve insurance settled my claim (EUR 100 or so) within a few weeks.

  80. Don Guest

    My gf and I Amalso rented from national at heraklion airport on our trip to Crete 2 weeks. I was hit with a 744 euro bill for “damages.” I also took photos and sent them to Chase. Bunch of crooks at that agency

  81. Truptravels Guest

    Foreign Car rentals are horrible. I got charged like $2k for a door ding in Iceland. AMEX paid for all but like a $200 processing fee. I played with the car rentals outsourced billing department for like 2 years and i haven't heard form them in the past 6 months.

    In the US, i have returned cars back to AVIS with panels missing, and the agent has said, dont worry about it!

  82. Sean Guest

    Watch out for a bill in the mail. Happened for me at ATL with Hertz. I responded with pictures and they responded with a collections agency. Escalated to Chase (CSR) who ultimately resolved everything.

    That was the last time I rented with Hertz (was President Circle). Moved my business to National and haven’t looked back.

    IME though, those combined National / Enterprise stations are def a step below the standard National locations. Good luck!

  83. Alex Guest

    This is good advice.

    I always take a 30 second video around the car, and at the end of the video, I specifically pan the camera up towards the rental facility's logo or storefront signage, to prove the video is the original pickup point. Alex - @inclined2travel

  84. Bob Guest

    Ben, did you purchase additional insurance when you got the car? I know this is a complete rip off, especially when using CSR, but considering the hassle if dealing with this. I always buy LDW when renting in EU

  85. Stuart Guest

    I think it's important to mention that this is not typically an issue in the U.S. Few check anything when you return and I never photograph cars here before leaving. It seems they come to expect in the U.S. that there will be simple wear and tear of minor scratches etc. But overseas, Europe especially, wow, it's truly insane how they check things. Brazil as well (try driving for a month in Brazil and NOT...

    I think it's important to mention that this is not typically an issue in the U.S. Few check anything when you return and I never photograph cars here before leaving. It seems they come to expect in the U.S. that there will be simple wear and tear of minor scratches etc. But overseas, Europe especially, wow, it's truly insane how they check things. Brazil as well (try driving for a month in Brazil and NOT getting a small scratch along the way). In some places I have even had them use a mirror under the car to check for damage to the under carriage. I would say that 30% of the time they try to accuse me of damage. I always have photos though. If they refuse to believe them I just walk away and tell them good luck trying to get it on my credit card as I will refuse the charge with the proof I have. It always works as no one has ever tried after this. As "Ben" said in comments I think they honestly keep trying until they find someone naive enough to take responsibility.

    1. pstm91 Platinum

      While I do agree with you about "but overseas, Europe especially, wow..." - it absolutely happens in the US. Luckily I always take photos, but my last 2 rentals in the US they both tried to pull this BS (one Hertz, one Avis). I have the same reaction as you and have never had an issue, but it definitely occurs in the US as well.

    2. Shangster11 Guest

      Stuart is absolutely on point. Europe is particularly anal about this, and doesn’t even compare to US. Hertz Barcelona even tried to charge me for wiper blade that flew off due to improper installation, and that’s not the only drama I had with European rentals.

  86. Andy Guest

    About 5 years ago rented a car from Hertz at an off airport location in Rome. Car was picked up near my hotel in a poorly lit underground parking garage. Drive the car up the coast to Pisa, through the Tuscan hills and returned late that evening at the Florence airport. This is where all the fun ensued. On the front bumper, under the license plate area we’re some areas of chipped paint. Something that...

    About 5 years ago rented a car from Hertz at an off airport location in Rome. Car was picked up near my hotel in a poorly lit underground parking garage. Drive the car up the coast to Pisa, through the Tuscan hills and returned late that evening at the Florence airport. This is where all the fun ensued. On the front bumper, under the license plate area we’re some areas of chipped paint. Something that would happen on any car from regular usage and my own vehicle has this as well. Hertz was adamant that I pay for the damage immediately, and I objected saying that they have my information and that we will dispute any claim as 1) I don’t think this damage was caused in a single day (you could tell some chips were not new) and 2) I’m fully covered through rental insurance with credit card. They told me that I couldn’t leave and to wait for the bill. Nearly 90 minutes later they came in with a bill of €30. At that point I nearly lost it. It was almost midnight and all this wasted time over €30! So annoyed. I rent cars almost weekly when biz-travel is normal and never have an issue. Stick with National as they are so easy to book, take a car, and return.

  87. EC2 Guest

    If you rent in NZ, Australia or Fiji they unfortunately combine liability with traditional CDW. Since you have to purchase liability since no credit card covers that then then issue of returning is no big deal. You already have coverage and don’t have to worry about making a claim with credit card. Just watch driving driving on unsealed roads. No coverage if damaged on unsealed roads. Exception is Fiji if you rent a 4WD.

  88. EC2 Guest

    I have worked insurance claims. Pictures are good and I take them, but they won’t always show minor damage and you don’t know how picky they will be. I never ever rent a car without noting ANY damage on a car panel door dings (like from shopping carts) will not show up in photos, wheel (even minor curbing to wheels), any pitting or chips to windshields (windscreens for our readers outside North America), etc. The...

    I have worked insurance claims. Pictures are good and I take them, but they won’t always show minor damage and you don’t know how picky they will be. I never ever rent a car without noting ANY damage on a car panel door dings (like from shopping carts) will not show up in photos, wheel (even minor curbing to wheels), any pitting or chips to windshields (windscreens for our readers outside North America), etc. The more you can find and document the better because the newer the car the closer they will look. Always nice to rent that brand new car, but they like to see them come back new and know to look.

    If they take photos before pickup and claim damage upon return similar photos should taken upon return. Can’t take general photos that will only show a certain level of damage then personally inspect for damage upon return that will show everything. Trust me wheel curbing, some scratching and some dents will NOT show up in photos.

  89. Phillip Guest

    This is my biggest bug bear with car rental! I have found that taking a really good video works better than photos, especially capturing the underside etc etc.

    1. Joey Diamond

      I agree. I used to take photos 10 years ago but nowadays I take a video walkaround and I would take close shots of damage that I can clearly see. Always helped!

  90. Allen Gold

    A few months before the Covid shutdown, I rented a cheap economy car (Hyundai Accent, I believe, with nearly 50k miles on it) at OKC airport via Hertz. I mainly drove it from airport to hotel and back, and maybe another hour at most. When I returned the car, they pointed to a few tiny places on the roof that they claimed was hail damage. I truly don't know if those places were there when...

    A few months before the Covid shutdown, I rented a cheap economy car (Hyundai Accent, I believe, with nearly 50k miles on it) at OKC airport via Hertz. I mainly drove it from airport to hotel and back, and maybe another hour at most. When I returned the car, they pointed to a few tiny places on the roof that they claimed was hail damage. I truly don't know if those places were there when I rented because they were so small I easily may have overlooked it. I left, thinking they would not do anything about it since the so-called damage was so tiny--so small that you had to look at a certain angle in a certain light to see anything--or that they might send me a bill for $100 or something like that, as a pop-out kit could have easily fixed. Given that it was a very used entry-level Hyundai, I wasn't too concerned. A few days later, I received a repair bill for $1,700! (Keep in mind the entire resale value of the car at that time was probably around $9k if that.)

    I had prepaid the rental with the CSR specially because of of the rental car coverage. I submitted the claim to the insurer, and they requested various kinds of documentation. I supplied what I could but had to request some documents from Hertz. Over the course of around 6 weeks, I had to make around 8 requests for the documentation because the Hertz location repeatedly ignored my requests. In the meantime, I paid the $1,700 out of my own pocket so that Hertz would get off my back. Eventually, Chase's insurer did reimburse me, but it was an enormous hassle and waste of time. I don't know if Hertz ever supplied any documentation to Chase's insurer because they never supplied me anything and never replied to my multiple request with even a single word.

    I am confident Hertz rented the car immediately after taking possession and never repaired it, probably assessing the next renter for exactly the same "damage." No telling how many times future renters got stuck with the same $1,700 bill for the same tiny marks. Given the age of the car, I assume it was ready to be sold out of Hertz's inventory soon anyway, and I'm sure the sale price was negligibly affected if at all even with the so-called damage. So that $1,7000 (collected probably many times over) was likely pure profit for Hertz.

    Lesson learned: even with the most insignificant blip of a mark on any rental car, document extensively before driving off the lot. As much of a pain as it was getting documentation for reimbursement from this Oklahoma renter, I can't imagine it would be any easier from a site overseas, especially Crete.

    Needless to say, when Hertz was on the brink of collapse soon after Covid started, I enjoyed a tiny bit of Schadenfreude....$1,700 worth.

  91. Endre Guest

    One question: If you book a car with a zero-liability insurance as an add-on, you could have just walked away, correct?

    1. Donna Diamond

      That’s a good question. I rent zero deductible in France and always undergo a thorough inspection at turn in. I’ve never had a dispute or actual new damage but one wonders if there isn’t something hidden away in the fine print where they can stick you.

    2. EC2 Guest

      Yes, if you essentially get the equivalent of CDW where there is no deductible you can essentially walk away. The exception is if there is undercarriage damage and they stipulate it cannot be driven on unsealed roads and there is damage from doing that you would be responsible for it. Years ago did that when Icelandair was flying in to Luxembourg. Hit a parked semi on side of road and damaged quarter panel and it...

      Yes, if you essentially get the equivalent of CDW where there is no deductible you can essentially walk away. The exception is if there is undercarriage damage and they stipulate it cannot be driven on unsealed roads and there is damage from doing that you would be responsible for it. Years ago did that when Icelandair was flying in to Luxembourg. Hit a parked semi on side of road and damaged quarter panel and it popped rear cover off. Came back with cover in back of car, gave them the keys and proceeded to the terminal. No damage to semi, but gave them card with insurance info. Rental people seemed stunned, but we purchased the full insurance.

  92. Jeffrey Hardacre Guest

    We had similar situation with budget rental company, Buchbinder, when turning in the car at Frankfurt. It seemed more purposeful and a money maker. Despite assurances, a bill showed up a month later. A big hassle to resolve. Videoing is now my standard.

  93. Steven M Guest

    Greek friend warned years ago: take photos photos photos photos photos of EVERYTHING before renting a car in Greece and Cyprus and IGNORE the staff if they tell you scratches don't matter, etc. This is good advice ANYWHERE. Four years ago in Edinburgh rented from Enterprise and the hubcap on one wheel showed visible damage. The female staffer who showed me the vehicle said it didn't matter. I had a friendly chat with her and...

    Greek friend warned years ago: take photos photos photos photos photos of EVERYTHING before renting a car in Greece and Cyprus and IGNORE the staff if they tell you scratches don't matter, etc. This is good advice ANYWHERE. Four years ago in Edinburgh rented from Enterprise and the hubcap on one wheel showed visible damage. The female staffer who showed me the vehicle said it didn't matter. I had a friendly chat with her and said blah blah well I always take photos anyhow so I will take one, please forgive my being so ridiculous etc. One week later when I returned the car the same clerk quizzed me as to what happened to the vehicle. I reminded her of our conversation and showed her the photo — case closed. What if I hadn't taken that photo, you might wonder? Always always always no matter how much of a hurry you are in TAKE THE PHOTOS

  94. Mike Guest

    Ben, just to be safe, file a claim with your credit card car rental coverage.

    It won’t cost you anything or have any downsides, and that way you have now filed the claim within the required (typically) 60 days. I think the claim “documents” would just need to be submitted within (I believe) 180 days.

    That way if you get a letter in the mail out of the blue after 61 days, you’re covered. Otherwise,...

    Ben, just to be safe, file a claim with your credit card car rental coverage.

    It won’t cost you anything or have any downsides, and that way you have now filed the claim within the required (typically) 60 days. I think the claim “documents” would just need to be submitted within (I believe) 180 days.

    That way if you get a letter in the mail out of the blue after 61 days, you’re covered. Otherwise, with you not having opened the claim prior, you’d be out of luck.

    It will literally take like 5 minutes to open the claim online. You don’t even need to send any documents now if it’s with Eclaimsline, for example. Please do it. If they hadn’t said anything, I’d say don’t bother. But there’s a decent chance (30-40%?) that you’ll get a demand letter later this year. You don’t want to be uncovered.

  95. Ben Guest

    Such a coincidence that particular part wasn't photographed. Sad... In reality they probable already billed the last 50 clients for the "repair"

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Mike Guest

Ben, just to be safe, file a claim with your credit card car rental coverage. It won’t cost you anything or have any downsides, and that way you have now filed the claim within the required (typically) 60 days. I think the claim “documents” would just need to be submitted within (I believe) 180 days. That way if you get a letter in the mail out of the blue after 61 days, you’re covered. Otherwise, with you not having opened the claim prior, you’d be out of luck. It will literally take like 5 minutes to open the claim online. You don’t even need to send any documents now if it’s with Eclaimsline, for example. Please do it. If they hadn’t said anything, I’d say don’t bother. But there’s a decent chance (30-40%?) that you’ll get a demand letter later this year. You don’t want to be uncovered.

4
Ben Guest

Such a coincidence that particular part wasn't photographed. Sad... In reality they probable already billed the last 50 clients for the "repair"

3
Chris S. Guest

We picked up a car in Santorini from a tiny little rental operation. The owner sat behind a desk chain smoking cigarettes and joking with his employees. When it came time to hand off the keys, I started taking pictures of the car and he said, “Friend, I make my money on renting you the car, not on making you pay for fake damages.” He was telling the truth; he didn’t even look at the car when we returned it. It was refreshing.

2
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