Several days ago my granddaughter had to make a fast trip to Arizona to see her ailing father. She is leaving for Australia in a few days to be with her children and wanted to see Jimmy before she left. Unfortunately she does not have a credit card and “DOLLAR RENT A CAR” would not accept her debit card as payment for the one-way rental. She called her mother and asked if she would sign the rental agreement but her mother – my daughter Michele – was suffering the ill effects of a nasty case of Shingles and could not get out of bed.
Guess who was next on Kyla’s list. Grandma.
Although reluctant to do so, I felt sorry for her and didn’t want to have the guilt if something happened to Jimmy and she did not get to say “good-bye” so I agreed to do so.
Kyla and I went together to the DOLLAR RENT A CAR on Pacific Coast Highway where the first indication there might be a problem developed when they had two reservations for her. After clarifying the correct reservation, the following conversation was held between Kyla, the reservationist and me:
Kyla: I am renting this car one way. That should be what the reservation indicates.
Clerk: That is correct. We will put a $250 hold on the credit card but IF the car is returned before 10:00pm tomorrow, that charge will not appear on your statement.
Judi: Let me see if I understand this. You are holding $250 on my credit card but it will be waived if Kyla returns the car by 10:00pm tomorrow, the 18th of February. Is that correct?
Clerk: That is correct.
Reluctantly I signed the credit card for Kyla and she was given a DOLLAR RENT A CAR automobile for her one way trip to Arizona.
Two days later I looked at my statement and found that there was a $250 charge to my account. I immediately called Kyla, because she told me she returned the car before 6:00pm. In fact, I have a copy of the receipt verifying that fact. I called DOLLAR and this conversation ensued:
Judi: My granddaughter and I were told that if she returned the car before 10:00pm there would not be a $250 charge. According to the receipt I have in my hand she returned the car at 5:44pm. Why is there a $250 charge?
Clerk: Because she was supposed to return it to the DOLLAR RENT A CAR in Phoenix and she returned it to the Scottsdale DOLLAR RENT A CAR. Phoenix needed cars in their fleet; Scottsdale did not. Therefore there is a drop-off fee.
Judi: My granddaughter called DOLLAR RENT A CAR and asked them if she could drop the car off anywhere and was told “yes”. She was not told that if she dropped it off at Scottsdale – only 15 miles from the Phoenix drop off – there would be a fee.
Clerk: Sorry. That is our policy.
Today I had Kyla fax me a copy of the original agreement. It does say that the car would be dropped off Sky Harbor , Phoenix DOLLAR location. But in reading the contract, no where can I find where it says that if it is not dropped off there I would be charged the $250 fee.
I called DOLLAR again this morning, and, basically I was told the same thing. DOLLAR will NOT enter into any negotiation about refunding this fee; that I can dispute it all I want and it will not change the outcome. I owe the $250. Period. Their policy – must be an unwritten one since I can’t find it in my contract – is that if the car is not dropped off where it is supposed to be dropped off there is a fee. In spite of an employee of DOLLAR telling Kyla it was all right for her to drop off the car at any location, I am out the $250.
I have been involved in disputes before. I have gone to small claims before. I have encountered hard-nosed employees that stick to the party line but have to back down when their supervisors tell them a compromise is necessary. I may lose this fight, but I will do my damnest to make sure that all of you reading this know about the problem I encountered and think twice about renting from DOLLAR. This whole thing is so ironic because I have encouraged all of my students, all of my friends, to rent from DOLLAR because they have been so easy to work with and their prices were the best in San Diego. I might just have to file in Small Claims Court to have their “policy” made more public. And I certainly will let my Credit Card Holder know that I am disputing the bill. Stay tuned for the next chapter. (By the way – Jimmy will be ok.)