We were on vacation in Hawaii and rented a car from Budget on June 25th for eleven days. On June 26th, we returned the brand new Pontiac Grand Am because of a gravel guard/oil pan under the car that wasn't properly fastened. A stiff headwind that day caused the guard to bend down to the pavement or something, causing a weird, loud, abnormal sound. We discovered the problem upon inspection of the vehicle. We noticed that when we drove slowly, the noise would go away. The car was fully operational otherwise. We were told by Budget to drive slowly back to the airport--where we picked up the vehicle in the first place.
Upon arrival at the airport, Budget staff was very apologetic and promptly issued us another car. An Incident Report was filed.
The car that we left was spotless. The only thing wrong with it was a gravel guard/oil pan that was improperly fastened. (Two or three bolts were missing from the front end that would have otherwise adequately secured the guard to the car.)
In September, we received a bill from Budget for $4,518.27 for damage to their car. The damage that Budget claims that we did was substantial: damage to the radiator, front bumper, sub-frame, rocker molding, air conditioner condenser, insulators, paint, front wheel, front fender, etc. Numerous pictures were submitted to us that documented the damage. A picture showed a deep gash in the left, front wheel and fender.
There are some glaring inconsistencies with Budget's own information. Although the picture of the VIN matches the paperwork on our contract, the picture of the license number doesn't match the car that we rented. The damage estimate is for the right car.
The odometer reading of the car at the time that we dropped it off is different from the date of the accident.
According to Budget, the date of the accident was June 27, 2007. Elsewhere in their own paperwork states that the "Date of Loss" was July 3, 2007. Either way, we did not have possession of the car at the time.
We surmise that the car must have been in an accident after we dropped it off. Perhaps one of Budget's own employees hit a curb on the way back to the shop and is not admitting to their mistake.
Budget has since turned the matter over to their collection agency (United Collection Corp. of Oakland, CA) hoping to squeeze more money out of a former customer of theirs. We think this is fraud and dishonest business practice on the part of Budget/Avis to go after former customers who didn't do anything. Buyer beware! Do not patronize either Budget or Avis--they are two of the same. They "try harder" to extort more money out of the unsuspecting patrons of their business. What a rip off!
Santa Cruz, California