NMA Email Newsletter: Issue #13

Dealing With Rental Car Companies

Ever wonder why it is almost impossible to rent a car without a charge card? You can rest assured that it isn’t for your convenience.

If you read the fine print on the multi-page car rental contract (that’s OK, no one else does either) you will discover that you are granting the car rental company full authority to milk your card for anything short of their staff holiday party.

This issue comes to bear when you and the rental company have a difference of opinion regarding charges applied to your charge card. They say you damaged the car, you say you didn’t. They say you had the car six days, you say you had it five days. They send you a red light camera ticket, but you weren’t driving the car that day. They pay the ticket with your charge card. The list goes on.

Standard practice is for you to notify the charge card company to dispute the charges. The charge card company says it will investigate the charges. The charge card company denies your claim and refuses to withhold payment to the car rental company. You’re ripped off and feeling angry and helpless. Believe me, you are not alone, but you are not without recourse.

You can sue the car rental company in small claims court, but that contract you signed gives the rental company every advantage. Still, you could win, or they may agree to a refund to save on legal fees.

Another approach is to cancel the charge card and not pay the disputed charges. There will be threats and perhaps “collection” calls out of India, but unless there’s a financial advantage for sinking many thousands of dollars into litigation (seldom the case) the charge card company will revert to plan B; it will just charge the car rental company the disputed amount and content itself with trying to screw up your credit rating. This can be countered to some degree by you sending an explanatory letter to the credit agencies that must, by law, be included with your credit information. Such a letter will often nullify any attempt to seriously harm your credit rating.

Life isn’t fair, but you don’t have to just sit there and take it.

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