Rental Car Company Files False Police Report, Blames Customers When They’re Arrested [Roundup]

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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. jns,

    Malicious prosecution can indeed lead to a company having to pay up good money for wrongfully supporting bad actions against the company’s users/consumers. Hope there are lots of punitive damages awarded.

  2. Wow. Hertz appears to be the uncontested King of this outrageous practice, although now we see that both Alamo and Payless have each done it at least once. In addition to any civil litigation (I get that the victims can be incredibly traumatized), I’d be in favor of a Federal Law that requires the guilty company to pay a fine of not less than $ 10,000,000 USD per incident. My guess is that it would stop instantly and permanently.

  3. Hi Gary,

    Though it wasn’t Hertz this time, the heavy use of yellow in the AI image was still a nice touch that long time followers of that saga will appreciate.

  4. If I were in the couples’ situation where the rental company was negligent in reporting a rental recovery, I’d be looking at a little more than a “You should have had the rental agreement available” apology. Not looking to be a million or more richer, but something to make up for the ongoing stress.

    Before you all say it was really nothing, have you ever had guns pointed at you by people with qualified immunity and threatened with imprisonment? I’d say most of you the answer is “No”. Even if they had the printed rental agreement, it wouldn’t have changed anything other than a few minutes off their detainment.

  5. Today, when turning in a rental, you don’t get a paper receipt as in the past. Attendants have a tendency to just wave you off as if they don’t want to be bothered!!
    Therefore, I press the attendant to quote me the total billing which I have an idea of what it should be. Then I stand there till I get an e-mail or text confirmation of the amount.

    A bit awkward, but better than having the “Policía” come knocking on your door.

  6. “They could have cleared everything up quickly”??? After being stopped by the police with drawn guns and being handcuffed? No Payless, that is not OK. You are not OK. I think about $500K would be a suitable penalty for this company. Hertz paid $167 million. The Buries deserve something similar on a per-case basis. Why do police even listen to rental car companies?

  7. @Truing: Stopping the driver of a stolen car is a felony stop. The person (if actually guilty) is facing years of prison time. People facing years of prison time do crazy stuff to avoid it. It’s not a traffic ticket stop.

    Of course, whenever guns are drawn you have the potential for something to go wrong and someone to get hurt. No rental agreement treats gunshot wounds, and an apology for putting their customers in that situation is absolutely not sufficient.

    Payless needs to pay compensation that is significant enough that they think it is worthwhile to invest in making sure such errors enver happen.

  8. I am curious why someone at Hertz or Payless hasn’t been prosecuted for their companies filing false police reports or perhaps for illegal imprisonment.

  9. I rent on and from Turo specifically to avoid the garbage of rental car companies. They dont know how to keep your reservations, they hit you with garbage fees, pressure you into upcharges, and report you to the police.

  10. Seems like rental companies need the same type of government oversite the airlines are subject to. They seem to be able to get away with all of this crazy BS and the only recourse is left to the consumer to further upend their lives in a legal battle all while being smeared by the company.

  11. As a Avis Preferred customer I never am given a copy of the rental agreement. And do you think the police are going to take the handcuffs off me so I can try and retrieve it on my cellphone? And I’m also upset that Avis- and I’m sure others- do not give you a receipt showing you returned the car. In many cases the rental is not closed out and a receipt e-mail for a couple of day. Does it make any sense to leave a $40,000 car at a rental facility and have nothing showing you returned it? People don’t even leave a pair of trousers at a dry cleaner without getting a receipt.

  12. At Avis, I am increasingly not even given any physical paperwork for even the car inspection report before going off the lots even when not using an Avis membership. Instead Avis increasingly wants the report done electronically and only does it that way. The result is less easily turned over proof of having been the renter of the car. For my last rental, the proof I mainly had of being bonafide renters of the vehicle was mainly electronic stuff on the phone and the physical proof was some cardboard stock small birthday card sized thing that looked like it could be produced and printed by a ten year old on a home printer.

    The police in the US seem to tend to be too eager pull out guns even when a car stops over immediately and indicates cooperation that way. Seems largely a consequence of the fear that police have of being shot during police stops in the US that just doesn’t seem to be as widespread a fear of police in most other high income countries.

  13. George S,

    Knowingly filing a false police report can be prosecuted in a way that a person relying upon a misunderstanding of the facts when filing a police report can’t be. Seems like intent in the reporting matters more than the actions at times.

    About illegal imprisonment for such car rental situations, that would be an act of wrongdoing by government actors rather than directly by the car rental company and qualified immunity means they can get away with it.

    Police departments aren’t always very inclined to doubt filed reporting party, “witness” and police reports as much as they should, and so we get lots of situations where the police go through the motions on a “crime” only for the the prosecutors to realize the whole thing is dead in the water due to the facts and can lead to consequences arising from a finding of malicious prosecution.

  14. GUWonder- absolutely correct. And this needs to stop. At Avis in DEN there is never anyone at the booth in the return area. IF you can get someone to even come and supposedly check-in the car they will tell you that you have to go to the rental counter to get a receipt- a rental counter in a building a fair distance away and which always has 8-10 people in a slowly moving line serviced with at most 2 agents.

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