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Getting Dinged by the Car Rental Company

At the Car Rental Desk - Copyright: Songquan Deng

Car Rentals with No Surprises

While renting a car often is a smooth process with no surprises, it seems that more and more consumers are getting dinged by car renter’s damage or fuel schemes. Since this recently happened to our group when renting a car from Budget Rent a Car in Miami, we have learned this the hard way.

It is, of course, only fair to acknowledge the car rental company’s side of this. When a car is not returned with a full tank, the company has every right to charge you with a fee (which is usually $9.99 per gallon). If the car is returned with damages, you or your insurance company need to pay for repairs.

The Car Rental Company is NOT on Your Side

Will a Car Rental company like Budget Rent a Car try to take advantage of any of these situations? Well, it sure seems so. At least independent renters connected to Avis/Budget may.

The horrific side of this is that you will have very little luck with customer service if you dispute their claim. They will give a standard answer where your dispute is denied and the claim uphold. Then you will hear no more from them, no matter how much you try to convince them that you are right.

Scratches and Damages on Your Rental Car

Most of the time a rented car has a few scratches, this is normal wear and tear. They should, however, be documented when you rent the car. Make sure they are!

Walk around the car before you drive off and return to the counter even when there are small and undocumented damages or if the tank is not full. Make sure your paperwork shows correct mileage, gas, and condition.

Use your cell phone to take a video or snapshots from all sides of the car. It might sound like overkill, but trust me, when you get an unjustified claim, you wish you had. You should also take a snapshot of the odometer and gas reading. Just in case.

Then, do the same thing when the car is returned. Get a snapshot of how many mils you have driven and that the tank is full. Walk around the car again to document that there are no new scratches or damages.

Remember, even tiny chips, dents or scratches may result in a hefty bill from car rental companies like Budget.

Fill up the Tank!

When you fill up the tank, save your receipt. For some strange reason Budget Rent a Car will not accept a credit card statement that show your gas purchase, only the receipt from the gas station. If you don’t get one from the pump, walk inside.

You should also fill up the tank at a gas station that is within five miles from the drop-off location.

At Budget Rent a Car, the notes by the representative at the independent drop-off location carries more weight than any credit card statement showing a gas purchase. Human error is something unheard of within Budget Rent a Car. Budget representatives simply do not make mistakes.

If you have no luck with Budget and are sure your tank was full and you paid with a credit card, let your credit card company take the fight. For some reason they are usually more successful in presenting the facts.

Other Consumers Experiences with Budget Car Rental

Comments by other drivers who have had bad luck with Budget Rent a Car (from

Delaine of Burlington, NJ: This company sneaks in fees where they can and takes advantage of customers by using fine print and disclaimers instead of honestly advertising their prices.

Tama of North Las Vegas, NV: I brought an economy sized car back with half a tank of gas.. The most to have it full would have been 15 maybe. Maybe 20. They charged me 9 per gallon for 90 dollars. That’s very unfair!

Brandi of Dallas, TX: A week later I get a charge of a total $114 on my card. I called to find out where the extra charge a week later came from and they claim it didn’t have gas in it. I filled the car up at the gas station by the location before I took it back which was only $15. They claim since I no longer had the original receipt it stands as it is.

Damaris of Middletown, NY: …When I called about it the first person I spoke with said “fax us proof that you put gas in the car and we will reimburse your money back.” I sent them my bank statement showing the two times I purchased gas for the car the day before I took it back. The second person I spoke with said the bank statement was not accepted for proof of purchase, I needed the receipts from the gas station.

Candi of Chino Hills, CA: …When I returned the car, the employee handling returns tried to say I damaged a tire because there was a weakness in the sidewall.

Brian of Eagle Mountain, UT: …They are incredibly unprofessional and a TOTAL rip off!!

Go with a Company with Better Reputation

Should you pay more and go with a Car Rental with better reputation? Yes. But, whatever you choose to do, make sure that you cover your bases. Budget Car Rental is NOT on your side. They will try to squeeze out some extra dollars from you, if they can.

Photo credit: Songquan Deng

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