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Rental car customer fights ‘bogus’ hail damage claim

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WEST WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) – When Bob Busch turned in a rental car after a family reunion in South Dakota, he asked an agent at the Hertz location to inspect the vehicle with him.

“We went around,” Busch recalled. “He said, ‘You’re good to go. Have a good flight,’ and away we went.”

Busch says he received a call a week later about hail damage that was discovered on the vehicle. Busch says the car was never in a hail storm, so he demanded proof. He received several photos from PurCo Fleet Services Inc., the company handling the claim for the Hertz franchise.

“They’re only showing these little dots,” Busch said as he flipped through the images. “When it hails, it hails. There aren’t just three or four stones coming down.”

According to notices from PurCo, Busch owes more than $1,800 for repairs and fees.

“It’s just bogus,” Busch said.

PurCo president, David Purinton, told Call 12 for Action that a Hertz inspector flagged the damage 30 minutes after Busch returned the car.

Purinton sent additional photos of the vehicle, dotted in orange markings. Purinton said many of the markings represent nickel-sized dents.

Source: PurCo Fleet Services Inc.

Consumer attorney John Longo said cases like Busch’s illustrate why it’s important for consumers to take photos and videos of a rental vehicle before pulling off the lot and when it is returned.

“Pictures are your best friend,” Longo told Call 12 for Action. “When there is a problem it can get very expensive very fast, so that extra three or four minutes you spent renting the car, going around taking pictures of it and the same thing when you turn it in, going around take pictures of it, that can be very beneficial.”

Source: PurCo Fleet Services Inc.

Consumers who are faced with disputed damage claims should request a new credit or debit card number to avoid charges, according to Longo.

“If you are going to argue with the rental car company, at least you’re arguing while the money is in your pocket,” he said.

In an emailed statement regarding Busch’s concerns, Hertz spokesperson Krista Sinclair said, “We understand and regret the frustration that this situation has caused Mr. Busch and we have reviewed the information including with our partners who assist us in these cases.”

“We have a thorough process for assessing damage claims, and after careful review of the situation we feel confident that the proper procedures were followed regarding the assessment of damage to Mr. Busch’s rental,” Sinclair added.

Susan Campbell (scampbell@wpri.com) is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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