Summer travel plans are getting closer. If you're planning on renting a car, you may not know how to protect yourself from having to pay for damage to the rental, especially damage you may not have caused.
On a recent trip to Colorado, Chuck Hampton recently rented a car, hit the slopes, and a few days later headed back to the Montrose Regional Airport. But he was surprised when he tried to return his rental car.
"There was no attendant where you return the car. There was no paved parking lot. You had to park it out in a field," Hampton said.
He thought it was odd, and something told him to get out his smartphone.
"I went around the car, taking photographs with my cellphone, just so I would have that evidence if needed that the car was in good condition," he said.
He returned the keys to the counter and boarded his flight back to Dallas-Fort Worth.
"When I got home to Dallas, there was a voicemail on my phone from the manager of the Montrose Airport Alamo Rent-a-Car saying, 'You returned this car with a cracked windshield, and we're going to have to charge you for that,'" Hampton said.
He called and asked to get a photo of the crack but was told the windshield was already being replaced and his credit card was charged $500.
Hampton insisted it had to be a mistake and he had photos to prove it. He was told to call Alamo's claims office. He did, and without even looking at his photos they promised a refund, saying he shouldn't have been charged in the first place. But weeks went by, and he never got the money back.
"I felt like I had done everything I could do, and that's when I called NBC 5," Hampton said.
We called Alamo and explained the situation.
A spokeswoman said, "We apologize for the miscommunication in getting the refund processed."
Soon after, Hampton received a call.
"I get a call from someone at the parent company's office apologizing profusely, saying he was taking care of the issue," Hampton said.
And Alamo did. He was issued a refund for the full amount.
Here's what you should know when renting a car:
- Take pictures of the car with your cellphone, just like Hampton did. It could help.
- Before you pick up your car ask about the return procedures with your specific rental car company.