On Sunday at 1:20 PM I returned a KIA Model Forte EX back to the rental company (U-Save rental RA#*****). The company representative, whos name is ***** took the keys from me and said she would have to look at the car to check for the fuel level and a look over of the vehicle. She looked it over and came back a few moments later. She said that everything was fine except that she found evidence of ashes. She pointed out to me on the contract that it was to be a non-smoking vehicle. I agree it does say this and I did initial the contract. The rep. ***** said that she saw ashes on the floor. She said that she could fine me a charge of $250 but would give me a break and only charge me $100. I shook my head at that point. I had forgotten that it was a non-smoking car. My wife and I do not smoke. My daughter does smoke and had been in the car several times. So I just shook my head and thought that possibly my daughter had smoked in the car and the fine was appropriate. I pay the invoice including the $100 fine and leave the establishment to my truck. My daughter was waiting for me there and I explained to her my disappointment with her smoking in the car without my knowledge. My daughter *** immediately denied that accusation. She said that she knew it was a non-smoking car with no ash tray or cigarette lighter installed. She said that if she wanted to smoke that it was done outside of the vehicle. I thought about this for a moment and it made since to me, because I saw no ashes and there never was a smokey smell in the interior of the car. I immediately went back to talk the the rep. ***** and told her that my daughter only smoked outside of the car. She said that she saw ashes on the floor. I said that she must be mistaken. She was still adament that she saw ashes on the floor. I had my daughter come over and my daughter denied ever smoking in the car. I told the rep. ***** that I wanted to see the ashes and she agreed to open the car for me to show me the ashes with my daughter looking over my shoulder. The rep. ***** opened the doors and moved the front seats as far forward as they will go to expose the carpet under the seats. She said that people don't vacuum that there. While examing the carpet I found a small rock and other tiny objects that hadn't been vacuumed up but ABSOLUTELY not ashes or any evidence of smoking in the car.I rubbed the carpet with my hand to see if there was any material that would smear, like ashes. There was NOTHING! My daughter agreed with me that there were no ashes.The rep. ***** still insisted that she sees ashes on the carpet.It was one of the situations one might get into that you say black and the other person says white, even thought everyone else sees black. This is when I started getting irritated. I told her that she was wrong and she said that she was right. I wanted my $100 fine fee returned but she would not do that. The conversation got heated and she walked away from me and went to her office, leaving me frustrated. I am swaring to you on a bible that there was no ash in that car. I feel like I was scammed and want my $100 fine reimbursed. What recourse do I have. It seems like it is her word against mine and that it is a great scam.
Only that they refund my $100 fine charge and stop these type of procedures to others in the future.
Business' Initial Response
I was informed of this situation on Monday following the rental return. ***** informed me that she had a customer who had disagreed with her regarding the smell of smoke in one of the vehicles (#3108). She stated that she could "smell smoke" when she entered the vehicle. She then looked next to and under the driver seat and found cigarette ashes. The customer admitted that they had vacuumed the vehicle before returning. Now, I'm not pointing the finger at Mr. ********; however, this practice is very common when customers are attempting to cover up smoking in a vehicle. Mr. ******** initially denied that anyone had smoked in the vehicle but agreed to pay the reduced rate as mentioned in his complaint. After parking the vehicle ***** was approached by Mr. ******** who asked to see the ashes. Upon being shown the ashes (which ***** picked up off the floor and rubbed between her fingers to show that they were actually ashes), Mr. ******** became more agitated and continued to claim that it was simply "dirt", that he was unaware that the vehicle was a non-smoking vehicle and that his daughter was never unattended in the vehicle; thereby making it impossible for her to have smoked in the vehicle. ***** countered with the fact that the vehicle smelled of smoke and that the ashes were, in fact, ashes. Mr. ******** then became more agitated and told ***** she could "go **** yourself (herself)" and walked away from the conversation, to his vehicle and left (all of which is verifiable on our video surveillance cameras at the lot). ***** then re-parked the vehicle and went back into the office.
The inconsistencies in Mr. ********'s story indicate to me that the vehicle was probably smoked in and that, most likely, everyone was aware of this fact. That being said, smoking charges are always problematic as the smokers feel as if they're being persecuted and the non-smokers, or in our case, the business attempting to protect itself from future lost revenue due to dissatisfied customers complaining of cigarette smoke, are always left complaining about "invisible" evidence. Regardless, our time is better spent trying to maintain our business during today's difficult economic climate. I'll translate that as: we have better things to do than fight with a customer over a $100 smoking charge.
A note to Mr. ******** regarding the "scam" we are currently running: our cost to have the vehicle "bombed" (chemically cleaned in an attempt to quell the smell of smoke for the future, non-smoking renter) is between $100 and $250 depending on the veracity of the smell/cleaning required. We regularly lose money and collect far less cleaning charges than we incur, not including the fact that, forever, that vehicle will smell like smoke to most non-smoking customers. We run a reputable business with an unblemished history with the BBB. Our goal is to serve you to the best of our ability in an effort to create positive cash flow for our business, employees and families. We'll refund your $100 plus an additional $50 for your perceived "hardships" while dealing with this problem. But keep this in mind next time you choose to handle an adult situation in a less than adult manner.
Refunded customer $150.00 on 3/22/2013 at 2:30PM - Auth #******
**** *** - LLC Manager Springs Rent a Car LLC - DBA U-Save Car and Truck Rental (719) 634-1914
Consumer's Final Response
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
I can see where this is going? It is her work against mine. Her supervisor is going to believe her over me and my daughter. As far as vacuuming the car out before returning it was a courtesy to the rental company. It is the way that I was raised, you return something borrowed the way you got it. As far as there being smoke smell in the car is totally not true. The cars interior smelled fresh. No one had smoked in the car and there were no ashed in the car. I did have a heated argument with her when we were looking at the same piece of carpet where there were no ashes and she said there was. I told her this is a bunch of ******* and never said to her what she said I said. She is way wrong and I believe trying to get the pressure off of her by saying these things. I don't know any other reason why she would be saying these things, because they are not true and didn't go that way. I find it appauling to see that a business can get away with these practices. I'm definitely sticking to my guns on this one because I am telling the truth and it is wrong what they are doing. There is no coverup hear and the manager is so wrong with their accessment of the situation and how it went down. ***** needs to come clean.
Business' Final Response
Received copy of customer response on 4/9/13. Ashes were verified by one employee and one manager. Smoke smell verified by two employees and one manager. The customer's assertions that the employee (*****) is concocting this story for her own well-being are unfounded. Customer was refunded entire amount for smoking charge ($100.00) plus an additional $50.00 for the trouble. The only "solution" presented by the customer is that the employee needs to "come clean". While I can provide monetary remuneration, I cannot ask an employee to change the facts in order to satiate an unhappy customer. However, in an effort to prevent this situation from occurring in the future, we now require two separate employee verifications of any and all vehicle condition and damage concerns/findings before any charges are made to the customer's rental agreement.
Manager SRAC LLC/U-Save CATR
(719) or (800) 634-1914