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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71132
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I returned a hire car to the company today but the staff were

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I returned a hire car to the company today but the staff were not available to check it over at noon when I dropped it off even though I told them I would be returning the vehicle today. I handed the keys over to a key holder who works for an adjacent company, but is not n employee of the car rental form. The car was dirty but undamahed and I specifically checked it over before returning it.
I have been called 6 hours later, during which time the car was parked in a for court in a dodgy area to be advised that there is gross damage to the paintwork extending down the WHOLE drivers side of the car, the front panel/both doors and the rear panel and the built in satnav is missing, presumed stolen. I locked the car and handed the keys to the above person.
This is madness. There is no way that there was such massive damage to the car when I left it and the satnav was in the vehicle as I used it to drive to the drop off. I feel this is a fraud. They are claiming the full cost of the satnav and a restraining which will amount to over£1000 as I did not take out the additional excess reduction fee, so the excess stands at £1500! There is no way this is acceptable and I think the car has been vandalised after I dropped it off. There was a gang of very doubt looking boys standing outside the adjacent garage when I dropped the car off and it did cross my mind at the time that they were up to no good.
What can I do to resolve this?

Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this. Are they holding a deposit?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
No. I have paid in full for the hire of the car, but no deposit. They do hold my debit card details and have already taken payment from my card without any prior notification which is very concerning. My worry is that they will just take finds whenever they want, and clean my bank account out! I have looked at this issue in an Internet forum and it seems that there are numerous scams like this which seem designed to increase revenue - I don't think my complaint is an isolated one. Surely the onus is on the company to check the vehicle over in return? I can't see how I can be held rsponsivel for a car left on public property for over 6 hours?
Yes, they probably will do that. It depends what your contract says on the point but that is likely to be their action.
You have a variety of options. The first is to just move funds out of that account and stop using it.
The second is to pay and sue them in the small claims court for the sum in question.
Your point is essentially that the damage was caused subsequently. If that is accepted then you would not be liable. The matter turns upon whether it is accepted or not. That would come down to whether they can satisfy a court that their inspections were immediate and are reliable. May be able to, may not. Impossible to tell until you see their evidence really. If they accept it was held on a forecourt uninspected for six hours then probably you would succeed. The question really is whether they would deny that or whether they would accept that it was on the forecourt but say that it was inspected.
If they have genuinely made the whole thing up then they should be unable to produce evidence of it and you should succeed.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I'm still not clear about the legality of the situation. I have contacted my bank and I understand that they can still claim even if I set up a new debit card as they can get the details from VISA. What I need to understand is whether or not they need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the damage was caused whilst the vehicle was u dear my care? If they don't check it over when returned, how can they prove that? Surely the only objective and transparent way to handle cases like this is for both parties to be present and agree the damage, sign off the returned sheer, as happens when the vehicle is collected? Anyone could have come along the street in the 6 hours the car was sitting on the road after I dropped it off. How can I possible be legally liable for that period of time? As far as I am concerned, my contractual obligations ended at 12 noon when I handed the keys over and if they wanted to apportion any blame to me, that was when they needed to let me know.I know it was not inspected until 6pm tonight when they called me to say that someon pe from the company had turned up to collect the vehicle and check it over. That leaves a clear space of 6 hours when it was sitting idle. Anything could have happened.Do I need o out my views in writing and be pro-active or do I do nothing and let the comonay take the reins? I feel very unhappy about the uncertainty and changing my bank card will case mayhem to all my debits/regular payments etcThnks
Yes, they could but if there are no funds there then they cannot recover. They could sue but then you could defend it.
No, they need to prove on the balance of probabilities that the damage was caused whilst under your control.
It is quite unlikely they are going to accept without challenge that there was no inspection for six hours. If they do then you are home and dry.
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Okay - that seems to make sense to me. Should I formally write to them and clearly lay out my position, and refute any suggestion that the satnav was stolen or damage caused whilst the car was under my care, also stating that I do not authorise them to take any further funds from my account?Thanks
What does your contract say on the point of drawing funds?
I'm happy to continue with this but please rate my answer.