I guess all’s well that ends well, but there’s still a lesson to be learned here…
Always take pictures or videos of your rental car
There are many aspects to the rental car experience that I find frustrating. Most rental cars have some damage when you pick them up, and it can be hard to figure out what needs to be reported and marked, and what doesn’t.
While there are usually forms that can be marked to indicate damage, they are often not very accurate. The car diagram is probably an inch large, so it’s not really going to tell the full story of damage to a car.
To avoid problems upon your return, I always recommend taking pictures of your car when you pick it up, so you have proof of that condition. It also makes sense to take a quick video while the car is moving around. Also include a photo of the facility with the car, so you can prove that the photos were taken when you picked up the car.
It’s something I always do… well, almost always.
My Crete Car Rental Damage Disagreement
We rented a car for our week in Crete, picked up the car at Chania Airport, and returned it to Heraklion Airport. I rented through National (which I’ve loved), although it was actually an enterprise vehicle, as they seem to share inventory across Crete.
The rental car office was on location outside an airport, and the staff that helped us out was exceptionally professional and kind. He was thorough, and explained that he had photographed the car in broad daylight (before our pick-up), so there was no need for us to mark the damage. Personally I prefer the concept of having the car photographed rather than marking the damage, so I appreciated it.
Now, I almost always took my own pictures, but note that there was a time when I didn’t:
- It was a ridiculously long travel day, and it was approaching midnight (we took a flight from Tampa to Charlotte, from London to Athens to Chania, and even had a faux pas , so we were traveling for 30+ hours)
- I was with my mom and her partner, and as you can imagine, we were all tired by the time
- The car rental office was in a poorly lit area, making it difficult to take good pictures
Anyway, the car served us well for a week, and when I returned the car to the Heraklion location, the employee did a careful exterior inspection. He looked at every scratch, and then finally focused on the rear left bumper.
As you can see below, there were a few scratches and a small dent, and it also looked like there must have been more substantial bumper damage at some point, as the panels under the left tail light were not fully enclosed. way (I don’t know how best to describe it, but hopefully the picture explains the situation better than I do).
Based on the piece of paper he had, he suggested that I was responsible for the damage, and that the car had not suffered that damage before.
Let me point out that I am 100% sure it was there when I picked up the car. If I was responsible for this I would be the owner of my mistake. On top of that, I have car rental coverage with the credit card I paid for, so while some paperwork will be required, I won’t be out of pocket regardless of the loss.
Luckily I remembered that the person who rented the car to us in Chania had taken pictures of the car, so I reminded the employee at Heraklion’s place. He asked me to follow him to the office so he could take pictures.
Of course there were many pictures of the car that we looked at together. Yes, that would prove me right, wouldn’t it? Well not at all…
Go Figure None of the pictures showed conclusively whether it was bumper damage, the angle from which the pictures were taken, and because of the glare.
We both agreed that we couldn’t tell one way or another whether there was damage based on the pictures. His takeaway looked like I was responsible for the damage, whereas my takeaway was the opposite. 😉
I explained that:
- I was sure the damage was done when I picked up the car
- I was assured that any damage to the car was documented in the pictures
- The photos did not show that this part of the car was not damaged
She kept looking at the pictures and typing, and eventually told me I could leave, although she was clearly not happy. I guess that means I’m in the clear, because I haven’t got the bill, but who really knows…
And I just want to be completely clear, I don’t think there was any foul play on the part of the car rental company here – the employee who rented the car to us was a professional and actually took pictures of the car Of course, they didn’t end up capturing everything needed to be captured.
When you rent a car, always take pictures or videos of it and close-in shots of any damage. Stupidly I didn’t do this in Crete, being tired, having bad lighting, and generally relying on the rental car company to take pictures of the car. Go once I don’t take pictures it turns upside down.
Luckily the issue got resolved on its own in the end, but I’m not going to make this mistake again.
Have you ever (wrongfully) been accused of causing damage to a rental car?