I have included the name of Vanessa Snell in this title to facilitate Web searches. However, I believe she is not the culprit, just somebody with an unpleasant job in a corrupt system.
The very short version of this is: Alamo tried to scam me for damage I
didnt cause, supplied documentation that all but disproved their
case, totally ignored my responses and apparently would not have
received a payment even if I had mailed one. As far as I can tell, this
is a scam that has been running a long time and that follows a pattern.
Heres the longer version, in chronological order to show how this scam can evolve.
July 30, 2010.
I rent a compact car from Alamo at the Cleveland OH airport, declining
the collision damage waiver fee of $15 or so per day, since I have never
needed it in more than 40 years of renting cars. Nothing happens that
could damage the car while I have it.
August 1, 2010
I turn in the car as agreed at Cleveland, ask the attendant to check for damage, he says it looks fine and I am good to go.
August 13, 2010
I receive a letter from Alamo, dated August 9 (note this date), not on
corporate letterhead and from a post office box in Dallas. The letter
cites a claim number and says Description of Damage: F bumper. The
letter says Thank you for your recent rental. Our Damage Recovery Unit
has received notification of the above noted damage to the vehicle you
rented. Our initial review of the loss report completed at the rental
location indicates further review is needed to determine responsibility
for the damage. In order to resolve this matter we need your assistance.
Please contact our office via phone, fax or email with a brief
statement regarding your rental and the damage noted above. The letter
was not signed by a person, and the sender was identified as Alamo Rent A
Car, Damage Recovery Unit.
August 13, 2010
I immediately send an email to the Damage Recovery Unit stating that no
damage was noted by Alamo when the car was returned. I say that while
the car was in my possession it did not come into contact with anything
that could have damaged the bumper, and if there was damage to that
vehicle I am certain that it did not occur while it was rented to me.
August 14, 2010
I print a copy of my email and send it to the post office box in Dallas.
**Alamo has never responded to my email or to this letter. Five months later ..
January 26, 2011
I receive a letter from Alamos s Damage Recovery Unit noting the Date of
Loss as August 1 (note the date) and a Balance Due of $225. Our review
indicates that you are responsible for the damages to our vehicle.
Enclosed please find documentation to support our claim. Please review
this information and remit payment in full to the address above
followed by detailed instructions on how to pay.
Alamos only documentation is a photocopy of a paid invoice indicating that
Enterprise Rent A Car (a sister company to Alamo) had paid $175 to Paint
Perfect Inc. of Northfield OH for F.Bumper. The invoice includes the
name and phone number of the owner of Paint Perfect. What the companys
review consists of is never explained.
January 29, 2011
I call the owner of Paint Perfect Inc., who tells me that while he does
not recall this specific incident, the repair would have been done at
the site of the rental car company on the date shown on the invoice. The
invoice is dated August 9, eight days after I returned the car to
February 2, 2011
I write my second letter Alamo, noting the date of the repair. This
indicates that from August 1 to August 9, the car was in Alamos
possession or rented to another customer or customers. In order to prove
the damage was my responsibility, you will need to show that there was
no possible way the damage could have occurred during those eight days. I
dont believe you can prove that, and I think you should drop this
claim. If you wish to pursue this claim, I will need to see
documentation showing the exact whereabouts of this vehicle between the
afternoon of Sunday August 1 and the time of the repair on August 9.
Also please send photos of the damage plus copies of the condition
reports for this vehicle for all rentals during July 2010. I give them
the name and address for my attorney.
**Alamo has never responded to this letter.
February 22, 2011
I receive a letter from Alamo, dated February 16 and signed by Vanessa
Snell, identified as a Recovery Specialist in the Damage Recovery Unit.
As of the above date, we have not received a response from you regarding
our claim as documented in our previous correspondence, her letter
states. If you have reported a claim to your insurance company, please
contact us immediately with your pertinent claim information. She tells
me once again how I can pay and says payment needs to be made to the
above address (the Dallas post office box where I have sent my two
letters so far) within 10 days. Failure to respond could result in
additional collection activity. We appreciate your cooperation.
I immediately send an email to Ms. Snell at the email address on the
letter. I also call her and leave a voice message. I listen carefully
to her greeting to make sure I have her email address correctly. I have.
February 23, 2011
First thing in the morning I find that my email message to her last evening
has bounced back to me as undeliverable. I call Ms. Snell and leave
another voice message with my contact information, including a phone
number at which she can reach me any time, telling her of the email and
of the fax I sent the day before.
I photocopy and bundle my previous two letters and the email I have just
sent to her, taking it to the post office. I send it by Certified Mail,
return receipt requested. My letter is addressed to Alamos Dallas post
office box, the same one to which I have sent previous letters. This is
the address to which they have instructed me to send them money.
**Alamo has never responded to this letter.
March 8, 2011
Having heard nothing back, I find a general office phone number for Alamos
Damage Recovery Unit and speak to somebody who takes my case number. She
says the computer shows no record of any communication from me at any
time. I tell her about the messages I have left for Vanessa Snell. She
puts me on hold, comes back on the line and says Vanessa has been
trying to call you at a phone number that is incorrect. I tell this
woman I will fax all the correspondence to their office.
March 9, 2011
I fax all the correspondence to Alamo. By now I have spent at least 20
hours on this over a period of about six months without even getting
anybody at Alamo to receive my communications. I start to wonder if this
Damage Recovery Unit really exists. Online, I do a Google search for
Alamo Vanessa Snell. Bingo! I find numerous references to her at
Ripoffreport.com. After finding descriptions of many cases that sound
similar to mine, I conclude that Alamo has a long-running scam going and
apparently is willing to devote whatever corporate resources are
necessary to bilk money from their customers.
After considering my options, I decide I have wasted enough time on this.
Against all my principles, I throw in the towel in order to get on with
my life. (Probably exactly what Alamo has in mind for me.) I go to the
Web site listed in Alamos letter and make a payment by credit card.
Immediately my blood pressure goes down.
I think about the fact that I have not received any notification from the
post office that Alamo received my certified letter mailed February 23.
Alamo supposedly has no record that Ive ever sent them anything. What
if I had mailed them a payment after their first letter? How would
Vanessa Snell ever know that? Do they even open their mail?
Two hours after I have sent everything by fax, and shortly after I have
made my online payment, I receive an email from Vanessa Snell: Hi
Richard, I have received your correspondence and I just left a voice
mail for you. Thank you. I listen to her voice message, then respond by
email: Vanessa: After looking at my correspondence, do you believe
Alamo can prove that damage was my responsibility? She replies: I did
file a dispute on your behalf. Please allow a 14 day period for a
response to be provided. I will let you know as soon as I hear
March 26, 2011
In my mailbox I find the post offices green certified mail stub
indicating someone picked up the letter I mailed to the Dallas post
office box on February 23. The signed receipt is dated March 20, a
Sunday and a day the post office was not likely to be open. This is
certainly odd, but no stranger than the fact that it took Alamo at least
a couple of weeks to bother to pick up the mail that might have
contained a check from me.
April 1, 2011
I have not heard anything more from Alamo. The companys advertising
portrays a friendly face. But this encounter with them has just left me feeling beaten up by the system, though I did nothing wrong at all.
Neither Alamo nor its sister companies Enterprise and National will get my
business again. One lesson I have learned is to accept the extra charge
for CDW for future vehicle rentals. Its a price I dont want to pay,
but its far preferable to what I went through with Alamo. And judging
from other reports on this site, the price I paid was below average.
I hope this story is helpful to somebody else.