12 On Your Side: Rental Car Warning - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

12 On Your Side: Rental Car Warning

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CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) -

A Chesterfield woman called NBC12 for help after being slapped with a bill for more than $1,000 for hail damage to a rental car.

Lauren Theobald spent months fighting an invoice from Enterprise Rent-A-Car claiming there was hail damage to a vehicle she'd rented between October 6, 2013 and November 1, 2013. However, according to the National Weather Service web site, there's no official record of hail in Central Virginia during that timeframe.

"It has been a long exhausting process," Theobald said. "I'm thinking there is no way I can be held accountable for this because it has not hailed. I got the blame for something that was totally not my fault."

Local mechanic, George Ambrose, explained what you should look for prior to renting a car.

"Anything with paint peeling, dents, scratches," said Ambrose.

Theobald admitted she rented the car on a dreary day.

"It was dusk. It was raining. We took one lap around it, and the car was mine," Theobald said.

Theobald says she reached out to Enterprise after receiving the higher than expected bill. She says she was asked a series of questions.

"Such as, ‘did you sign the forms? Did you check the box? Yes? No? Well, then you're responsible,'" Theobald said.

NBC12 contacted Enterprise and received the following statement:

Our policy, which is clearly stated on the rental contract, is that the customer is responsible for any damage to the vehicle while they are renting it. Before renting, customers should check with their insurance or credit card company to see if they are covered for such damage or, alternatively, purchase one of our optional protection products. In terms of this particular case, the claim has been referred to, and paid by, the customer's insurance company. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. We are sorry for any inconvenience this has caused the Theobalds.

"It could happen to anybody and I would just hate for it to happen to somebody who didn't have the means to pay for it at this time," Theobald said.

Theobald noted the car had plates from out of state. She told NBC12 she is convinced the damage happened somewhere else.

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