Erroneous rental car charges and what you can do about them

We just came back from a great trip out west. Because we weren’t in a major city the whole time, we had to get a rental car. Normally, this is no big deal. Step 1 – Find Lowest Price, Step 2 – Get Car, Step 3 – Return Car and complete the transaction. But, sometimes things are not that easy. Tonight, I noticed a letter from Big Rental Company that said I owed a cleaning fee from my recent rental – $75. No!!!

Recalling our experience, I cannot for the life of me think what might have caused a stain in the front floor carpet area, as they claimed. We do not recall spilling anything in the car and the front floor carpet is basically the floor mat, no? I will get to the bottom of this.

We have been falsely accused of rental car damage

rental car

Not our fault!

In the letter, the Big Rental Car Company says it will charge our credit card $75 as part of the required cleaning to remove the stain. When I checked my credit card statement, they have not charged my card yet. So, maybe they won’t. But, here’s why I am still frustrated – they already charged my card the normal rental rate, which is fine and I expected it. I sat there with the guy who I handed my keys to and watched as he ran the charges as usual. There were no questions. I considered the transaction to be satisfied.

So, when did they find this stain and decide that I was now on the hook for $75 more? I turned the car in on May 1 and received the letter two weeks later. Something tells me that they either misidentified who was responsible for whatever damage they found or are trying to see what they might get away with sticking customers with extra charges. We’ll see who wins this.

I am going to keep monitoring my credit card in the next day or two and see if the charge actually materializes. It’s possible that it’s a glitch and the letter was sent erroneously. Nevertheless, you can bet I will fight this one if the charge appears. First, with Big Rental Company and next with my credit card company. They do have consumer protections built in. If I cannot fight this, I will try to avoid this rental car company as much as possible in the future. And, be it a lesson for us all, take pictures before and after your rental to dispute any issues that might arise.

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