PHOENIX - When you rent a car, how many of you look underneath to make sure there are no scratches or dents before taking off?
Probably not a lot of you.
Alan Robinson of Mesa never checked under his car either. But he will now.
Robinson said when he rented a car recently, he and a worker for the car rental company checked it out.
He said it was late at night and dark, and he and the worker didn't spot any damage.
So he took the car. When he later returned it, Robinson said a worker surprised him by getting down on his hands and knees and looking underneath.
There, under the front bumper, there were a series of scratches that the workers said were Robinson's fault.
But Robinson said he never created the damage and there was no proof he did, since the first worker didn't get under the car to check for scratches before he left.
While there were a couple of scratches on the front bumper, the majority were underneath where Robinson said most people would never look.
Robinson said Enterprise Rental Car sent him a $469 bill, which was just under his $500 insurance deductible.
Enterprise said no one had to look under the car to see the scratches.
Here was their statement:
"We always suggest that customers take time, if possible, to look over their rental vehicle. However, please keep in mind that cars are always inspected before and after every rental transaction to document the condition of each vehicle. Sometimes these inspections are done with customers present, but often customers must hurry off to catch a plane. Regardless, if damage is discovered - and a customer later expresses doubt or concern - then we go back and double-check previous paperwork to determine whether it's possible the damage was pre-existing. In short, there are built-in check-and-balances to ensure the damage-claims system is fair and accurate."
So to protect yourself, demand a worker examine the rental car with you before taking it out.
Write down all damage, no matter how small it appears. Take pictures with your cell phone as protection.
And make sure you look under the bumper and other accessible areas under the car as well.