National Car Rental - Rental Car Damage Not Visible in Plain Sight
Rental Location/DRU - Complaint
Resolution Update on 12/03/2013:
National car rental closed the claim
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA -- Two weeks ago, I returned the rental car (2013 Chevy Malibu) after a 4 day rental at National Car Rental at LAX. After a minute of wait, a representative walked towards me from the far side of the (vacant) lot came towards the car, walked around it and told me that there was a damage to the car. I asked her where the damage was. She said something like "front...". I couldn't get the second half of what she said. I walked to the front of the driver side and couldn't see any damage. She ducked down and showed me the damage to the bottom of (rather under) the side skirt below the driver side. Standing about 2 feet away from the car and looking down, I couldn't see it. I had to duck down to see it. My trip was a normal Monday thru Thursday normal rental which I do several times a year (I rent from national for at least 100 days a year for the last 3 years).
There was nothing unusual about this trip nor I hit any object on the road. I do walk around the car to look for any damages. But, this damage wouldn't be visible if you stand in-between cars parked in the emerald club aisle and walk around it. Yet, the representative claimed that it was my responsibility and started writing a pink ticket.
I subsequently called the Damage Recovery Unit (DRU) and spoke to a representative about this incident. I explained her how walking around the car wouldn't help finding this damage as it was in the bottom and one has to duck down or walk several feet away and look at the bottom to see the damage.
The DRU representative told me:
1. The damage was not reported during any previous rental (if the damage is not visible in plain sight, how anybody can find and report it?)
2. The branch manager at LAX location determined that it was my responsibility.(On what basis? Walk-around the car without ducking down will not reveal the damage. There is also no video/picture record of "before and after" condition of the car)
3. There is no way to override the manager's decision. She also told me that there is no further means to escalate or contest this. (Unbelievable!)
First they (themselves) determine that it is my responsibility without any proof that the car was damaged during my rental and then there is no way for me to contest this!
I'll update this post as things progress in this case.
Update: 11/22/2013 - Early this week, received a letter from National Car DRU an estimate of the damages. Also today, I've written to the email address provided by the National Car Rep.
Update: 11/22/2013 - After posting my first update for the day today, I noticed something in the picture of the damage in the claim report sent by DRU. (I'm unable to attach it to this review for some reason). There are 2 pictures showing the damage and they clearly show the reflection of the person (on the car door) taking the picture, ducking down to take the picture of the damage. This makes it evident that the damage wouldn't be visible if we walk-around standing next to it. I've sent an another email to the national car care email ID mentioned above with that picture
Update: 12/3/2013 - I got a call last week from the National Car rep. She was very professional and went through my case details with me. Based on the information I provided and that the damage was less (total of about $430), she would close the claim and not pursue me for any damages. I subsequently also received a letter from National DRU confirming this. I'm glad there is somebody to whom I could escalate and resolve the issue. Thanks National!
One lesson learnt is to take picture/video of the condition of the car before leaving the lot. Not just walking around but to duck down and check the fender etc! Also, to do it when returning the rental I've started doing it in more detail! I know the looks I get for doing it. But, I know what I've been through! So, I don't care!