Always check your rental car receipts! (and check the car for damage)

So this is going to be a little bit of rant and a little bit of a cautionary tale.

Like many business travelers I rent cars all the time, typically at least twice per month if not more. I’ve been lucky–over my 13 years of regular rentals I’ve had very few issues with being charged incorrectly or having vehicle damage. (Although there was the time Hertz called me a week after I returned my rental at the Atlanta airport to see if I was bringing the car back, lol.)

Issue #1

Last week I took a quick trip to the midwest. The trip was very productive, with amazing people and beautiful scenery. Initially it seemed like it was going to be just another 24 hour work trip. My flight was a bit delayed so I got in after midnight which isn’t ideal, but not atypical. Also, as I was putting my suitcase in my rental car I noticed an enormous, golf ball sized dent in the roof, which made me check the rest of the car. I let the attendant know about the existing damage, drove to my hotel, and passed out. 

Work the next day was great, the drive to the airport was uneventful, and my flights home were on time. Everything seemed great! Until I checked my rental car receipt after dropping the car off and heading into the terminal.

Before I go on, let me give you a little background. I basically never check my rental car receipts. Oh, eventually I see them when I do expenses and if something looks majorly wrong I’ll look at the details. But over the years I’ve gotten complacent and just generally assume they’re correct, which is obviously not a great gameplan. 

So as I’m perusing the receipt, everything looks correct, until I get to the total–a whopping $400 more than it’s supposed to be. Looking at the details, the $400 is a cleaning fee for smoking in the car, and I did not smoke in the car. I call immediately and the service rep I talk to says they’ll take it off. (A few days later when I checked again, it had somehow been recategorized as a repair fee, but since I had let them know of the dents ahead of time that was taken off as well. Sigh.)

Aaaaand issue #2

That was the first issue I had with my rental receipts, but not the last. And unfortunately my smooth flights ended soon as well. My flight to DFW actually arrived a little early, but when I landed I was notified that my flight home to Austin wouldn’t be departing for another six hours, a four hour delay. This gave us a new ETA of 2am, which meant I wouldn’t get home until almost 3am. OMG.

I knew if I rented a car I could be home around midnight, so I set up the rental on my phone as I walked to the shuttle. The car was tiny, but it worked, and got me home at midnight instead of 3am, for which I was grateful. I returned it the next day, and because of the issues I’d had the day before I looked at the receipt as soon as it hit my inbox.

Another bit of background: my company has a deal with Hertz so that we pay a discounted rate on refueling, which is such a time saver since we don’t have to find a gas station on the way to the airport. 

The rate I was charged for fuel was a whopping $10.99/gallon, when it was supposed to be closer to $3.25 per gallon. Obviously paying $80 for half a tank of gas was NOT going to be approved by my boss (rightfully so) which meant I had to make yet another call to Hertz, along with a follow up to make sure the refund was processed. 

I am not trying to beat up on Hertz here–my receipts are almost always correct, and when I called them to make these corrections it required follow up but they didn’t fight me. Everything has now been resolved. But it was so strange to go so long without issue, then have multiple problems within 24 hours.

This is a good reminder for all of us to CHECK OUR RENTAL CAR RECEIPTS! Moving forward I will check every time, and I will be more proactive in looking at my cars for damage before driving off with them. 

Readers, have you had any issues with your rental car receipts lately?

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  1. The Enterprise Damage Recovery Unit is worse. I had a four day rental, and I never damaged the car. It was raining and dark when I took delivery so I didn’t see the damage on the bottom of the front bumper of the Explorer they gave me and neither did the employee. I returned the car, no damage was noted, I was given my receipt and all was fine. Except 6 weeks later I get a letter from the DRU asking for my insurance or credit card to pay for damages. They didn’t even give an amount or description of the damage. Well needless to say I didn’t give them any further info. I call the number on the letter, the agent assigned to my case NEVER picks up the phone, never answers my two voicemails, and didn’t respond to emails either. So after a week or so of trying to get a hold of this person, I finally get someone else on the DRU team on the phone and they agree to mail me proof of the damage (since at this point I had NO idea what the damage could have been) and the costs to repair the damage. A week later I get a letter with printed pictures and a body shop estimate dated before I ever rented the car. They were clearly renting the car until the part could come in for replacement. The date and mileage on the body shop estimate was not even close to the mileage when I had the car. Enterprise was clearly trying to stick me with the bill. I wasn’t having any of it. I call the DRU team, and with the proof THEY gave ME, my own Enterrise receipt with dates and mileage, I ask them how in the world can this damage that YOU said happened at this date and mileage be my fault if I rented the vehicle AFTER that date and over a thousand miles AFTER the body shop estimate? About an hour after that call, I get an email from the mystery person who never responded to me saying the case was closed. The DRU clearly didn’t care who they pinned the bill to, but I sure wasn’t paying it.

  2. This is such a good reminder! I rent a car a few times a month with National and usually just hop in the first car I like that I assume will have Apple CarPlay (which is a different story). I used to be so good about giving it a once over but I get so complacent over time. It’s a nice reminder to check my car when I get where I’m going on Monday morning.

  3. Good reminder. I can so relate to this because I too have gotten lazy about reviewing receipts. We also have the gas refuel thing with hertz- and I was charged $16 per gallon, rather than $3.75, in Hawaii because they missed it. Huge hassle.

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