A Miami, Florida car rental agency licensed by Ace Rent A Car is being flooded with accusations that it scams customers, oftentimes costing users thousands of dollars without good reason.
CBS Chicago reported Tuesday on the saga of an Illinois couple that rented a Toyota from the Miami airport Ace Rent A Car, picking up the vehicle at night when no damage was visible. On returning the car at the end of their trip, the agency reportedly pointed out a dent in the car's right rear fender, which the couple denied causing or knowing thereof. They signed an incident report acknowledging responsibility, expecting a bill of around $1,000, but three months later, they instead received an invoice for $7,641.62. According to the bill, there was a rusty rear bumper, flaking paint, and damage to the roof, none of which the Mann couple remembers the car having at drop-off.
"I got the email and I was fuming," Daniel Mann told the news channel. "This is crazy. $7,600 for one little dent."
The couple found that Ace's fine print slaps the renter with all miscellaneous fees unrelated to the damage itself, such as towing, appraisal, "administrative" fees, and diminished value. Only the repairs themselves were covered by their private insurance, but the Mann couple is grateful their horror is limited to just over $3,000; they reportedly found reports from two other renters who claim to have received invoices for $14,000 apiece.
"I'm gonna use the word scam because I believe it was a scam," Mann added.
Mann isn't the only person to use the S-word in his comments on this Ace Rent A Car location. Reviews online make alarming use of the term, with two of the business's 20 Yelp reviews claiming such practices, and another accusing it of "classic bait and switch." Google reviewers commonly ding the location for poor customer service and leave one-star reviews at a far higher rate than any other. Of the location's 844 reviews, 27 cry "scam," and six report bait-and-switch activity.
In total, at least 30 scam accusations can be found on major review sites, where customers detail their grievances with this rental agency. Unreturned deposits, vehicles in bad shape, and rude employees are trivialities compared to some of the more extreme accusations, many of which involve fabricated excuses to fleece more money out of travelers. Multiple reviewers claim that employees caused or made up damage to vehicles before trying to bill the customer for the problem. One reviewer identified only as "Cindy" said an Ace employee bashed out her rental's rear window to tack thousands on to her bill.
"Employees deliberately smashed out the rear window and tried blaming me and charging me $3,500," said Cindy. "They had claimed the rear window was cracked which DOES NOT ever happen to rear windows. Rear windows shatter instantly when they are damaged. They also added on charges for damaged paint, damaged lettering on the car which you can clearly see the only thing wrong with it was the window."
When contacted, an Ace Rent A Car customer service representative told The Drive that its Miami location is owned independently. The Drive called this location for comment on the CBS Chicago story and the accusation that it sends out unreasonable bills to its customers, but a man claiming to be the manager said he was unaware of this situation, and promised to call back. We have yet to receive a follow-up call, but we will update when we do.
To prevent situations where rental companies may attempt to slap customers with large bills, travelers should always perform a quick walk-around of the vehicle they have rented. Photograph any damage to the vehicle departing, no matter how slight, and repeat the process before returning the car. If a rental company tries to pull a fast one by blaming you for damage that was already there when you got the car, photos will pull the rug out from under them. Travel safe.