Apparently, I am only one of many who have been targeted by this scam, and something needs to be done about it. Here are the details:
On June 14, 2011, I had an appointment for my car to be serviced at Metro Volkswagen in Irving, Texas. They had promised a loaner vehicle, but due to a shortage of cars because of recent hailstorms, they arranged instead a rental vehicle from Enterprise Rent-a-Car.
At the Enterprise office (3910 W. Airport Freeway, Irving, Texas), the Enterprise counter agent, Joe, told me the only vehicle they had available for me was a pickup truck. They brought the truck around and Joe apologized for not having anything better but they were also short on inventory because of the recent hail activity in the area. In fact, this particular truck was from Houston, he said, and had quite a few hail dings, too.
We inspected the vehicle together and I noticed several hail dings all over the truck; Joe said"”at least twice"”that they weren't concerned about any dents that were smaller than the end of your thumb, and not to worry about the hail dings. He had been writing on a clipboard all this time, so I assumed he was noting the prior damage (but now looking at the contract, I suppose I assumed wrong as nothing is noted).
Around 5:00 p.m., I called Metro Volkswagen to check the status of my own vehicle and was told they would have to keep it overnight as they had not had a chance to look at it yet. Metro VW was sure I would be okay with that since they had arranged for me to have a vehicle to drive while mine was in the shop.
Since I was going out of town the next day with plans to be gone a week, I suggested that it was wasteful for me to keep a rental car parked in my garage for a week (since Metro VW was paying the bill), and asked if I could drive it to the airport the next morning and turn it in. My service writer agreed with the plan.
I dutifully turned the truck in at the DFW Airport early in the morning on June 15th. The woman who checked in the truck remarked on the hail ding on the hood; I said the guy who rented me the truck the day before said not to worry about that. She did a quick walk-around, and handed me back the contract, having made no notations of any damages.
When I returned from vacation, there was a letter from Enterprise which stated "our Damage Recovery Unit has received notification of damage or loss to the vehicle you rented." I called the phone number listed on the morning of June 23rd and spoke to Jenna. I asked what sort of damage was done, and she told me the front bumper was loose.
I told Jenna that I had only driven the truck approximately 100 miles in the 22 hours it was in my care, and that for the most part, it was parked in my garage. There was no way I had damaged the front bumper of the truck, I told her, and she said she would refer it to the Damage Recovery Unit for investigation.
I contacted my insurance company to alert them to this potential bogus claim by Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and asked them to contact me if Enterprise tried to file a claim against my policy.
On Friday, August 12th, I received a second letter from Enterprise stating that "Our review indicates that you are responsible for the damages to our vehicle. Enclosed please find documentation to support our claim." Included with the letter was an invoice in the amount of $1,012.28 for damages, administrative fees, loss of use and diminishment of value. They sent a form requesting either my insurance information or my credit card information for payment.
Also included with the letter was a copy of the estimate which I have carefully reviewed. I found it curious that on June 23rd, Jenna had told me the front bumper was loose, but the estimate is for replacing the hood and repairing the grille.
I also noticed another serious discrepancy . . . the VIN on my contract for the truck I drove is KMHCN4AC0BU615718 but the VIN listed on the estimate for the damaged truck is 1D7CE3GK2AS179421.
Contemplating what my next step should be, I went to the Internet and Googled "Enterprise rental car damage scam." I was not surprised to find pages and pages of complaints from people from all over the United States with stories similar to mine.
In fact, my husband has been victimized by this same scam in the past. In 2004 or thereabouts, another driver hit his company vehicle so their insurance company was responsible for paying for a rental vehicle for him while his SUV was being repaired. He requires a vehicle the size of a SUV for his work but the other driver's insurance company (Progressive) reneged on paying the cost for an SUV and only paid Enterprise Rent-a-Car for the cost of a smaller vehicle. Enterprise was persistent in billing us for the difference (which we never paid), and has subsequently has placed my husband's name on a "Do Not Rent" list.
As I stated in my opening paragraph, this scandalous practice by Enterprise Rent-a-Car is a shakedown of innocent people that comes very close, in my opinion, to insurance fraud. I'm sure Enterprise collects on several of these bogus claims because it is less expensive and certainly less time consuming to simply pay (or turn it over to the insurance company and let them pay) and move on. In the business, it's called a "nuisance claim." But it's fraudulent practices like this that drive up the cost of insurance for all of us and I think it is our duty as consumers to take a stand and do what we can to stop questionable practices such as this.
I am willing to become part of a class action suit and/or do whatever is needed to fix this problem.
I have no intention of paying for damages ($1,012) that I did not cause. I have sent a copy of the above letter to the Texas State Attorney General, the Texas Department of Insurance Consumer Protection Division, the Federal Trade Commission, the Better Business Bureaus in Fort Worth and Dallas, my insurance company (AMICA), my three major credit card companies (Capital One, CitiCard and American Express), the consumer advocates at all four major network television stations in my metro area (CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox) plus the two major newspapers (Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram) and the service manager at Metro Volkswagen since they were responsible for paying for the rental car.
This fraudulent activity on the part of businesses has GOT to stop. PLEASE contact me if there is some chance I can help end this practice. We as consumers must learn to stand up on our hind legs and FIGHT BACK. In the infamous words of Howard Beale ("Network") . . . "I'm as mad as *** and I'm not going to take this anymore!"
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