Author Topic: Budget car rental fiasco and advice on a collection notice  (Read 8546 times)

jeromedawg

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Budget car rental fiasco and advice on a collection notice
« on: October 01, 2014, 12:39:44 PM »
Hey all,

So earlier this year I rented a car from Budget at the Orlando aiport and went through this whole ordeal with them cause they lied and said "SLI is mandatory" even when I questioned them on this and tacked it onto my rental agreement. Ultimately, I signed the agreement under false pretenses. Yea I should've known, up front, that SLI definitely is not required but at least confirmed it afterwards and ended up filing a complaint with BBB against them as well as initiated a dispute with my credit card company Discover. Apparently, I'm not the only victim of this scam as many others have been reporting being lied to or having additional bogus fees tacked on.

Anyway, Budget eventually credited me back for the SLI in full (it took a couple of calls plus me filing the dispute with Discover for them to lighten up). I noticed, as well, that Discover put a temporary credit of the full amount Budget originally charged me. Of course, a month later this temporary credit was reversed. But then after that, for who knows what reason (maybe Budget didn't update the dispute or close it out properly?), Discover ended up re-adjusting and giving me back the full credit. Here are snippets of the final email Discover sent to me at the end of April regarding this issue:

"We've finished our initial investigation regarding your disputed transaction of $XX.XX from BUDGET RENT A CAR. During our investigation, we notified the merchant of your request and asked them to respond. At this time we have either not received a response from the merchant, or the response we received did not validate the charge. Accordingly, we are resolving the dispute in your favor. We have adjusted the temporary credit we previously applied to your account to reflect that it came from BUDGET RENT A CAR and have sent the merchant a second notice. You'll see this on your statement reflected as two transactions:"

"The merchant is now allowed 45 days to challenge this decision. If within this time, the merchant responds and provides us with information indicating the transaction is valid, the credit adjustment may be reversed. If this occurs, we'll notify you in writing about the information we received. You will then have the opportunity to provide additional information if you wish to continue the dispute."

A couple days ago, obviously well outside of this 45 day window for Budget to challenge Discover, I received a collections notice directly from Budget asking me to pay the amount from my original reservation.

My question is this: am I legally obligated to pay at this point in time? I'm assuming yes but just wanted to see what others have to say.


TIA!

ginklord

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Re: Budget car rental fiasco and advice on a collection notice
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2014, 01:04:39 PM »
"Anyway, Budget eventually credited me back for the SLI in full"

Did you receive written notification from Budget about this? If so, send that to them and ask why they're now asking for the money.

Lis

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Re: Budget car rental fiasco and advice on a collection notice
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2014, 01:07:20 PM »
Meh, this is a gray area. They could have fought it well within the 45 day limit that Discover gave them when they would have definitely been entitled to the money. It's within a year, so they could still be entitled, but they may not be, since they didn't fight it in Discover's timeline...

If you want to dispute this, I foresee a legal headache in your future. You may be entitled to keep the money, but I'm sure after calls from debt collectors, threats of a lawsuit, etc. It's up to you how much you want to deal with. If I were you, I'd just pay the original money owed (minus the SLI of course). You did use their services, and it must have been adequate (other than the whole charging you for SLI crap). It sounds like Discover made an error that's affecting you.

DoubleDown

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Re: Budget car rental fiasco and advice on a collection notice
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2014, 01:11:01 PM »
Good for you on not just giving up and caving into their tactics. Too bad they continue to make it difficult for you.

No, you are not obligated to pay anything. However, that doesn't mean they couldn't continue to make life difficult for you. I'm assuming the "collection notice" you got is from Budget, and not actually a collection agency. Unless they take you to court and successfully obtain a judgment against you, you are free to disregard any notices from them.

Since I wouldn't want this hanging out there, here's what I would do (and it always works for me): I'd call the corporate office, either the head of the company or the legal department. You won't get to actually talk to the CEO, of course, they'll have someone else talk to you instead. Tell them politely but firmly that they need to cancel this bill and stop sending you bills or notices. If you don't get satisfaction from whomever you talk to, demand to speak to the next person up in the hierarchy. Keep going until you find the person who makes it go away.

Whenever I've had situations like this, I find that it usually takes around 20-60 minutes on the phone to finally make it go away. Try real hard to enlist everyone you talk to as your friend and ally, and resist the urge to start yelling at the new person even though it's frustrating. What works much better is to say cheerfully, "Hi, I'm hoping you can help me with a problem I'm having." They'll always say, "Okay, what can I do?" or "I'll do whatever I can." This immediately makes it their problem, they are now on the hook, so to speak, to solve it. It's a weird tactic I learned a long time ago, and it works really well.

If they really stonewall you, which is rare, ask to speak to the legal department. When you talk to the legal department, ask them for the address to serve a Small Claims summons against them. They'll ask, "What for?" Then you explain the problem, and they will definitely fix it for you.

jeromedawg

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Re: Budget car rental fiasco and advice on a collection notice
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2014, 01:11:33 PM »
Meh, this is a gray area. They could have fought it well within the 45 day limit that Discover gave them when they would have definitely been entitled to the money. It's within a year, so they could still be entitled, but they may not be, since they didn't fight it in Discover's timeline...

If you want to dispute this, I foresee a legal headache in your future. You may be entitled to keep the money, but I'm sure after calls from debt collectors, threats of a lawsuit, etc. It's up to you how much you want to deal with. If I were you, I'd just pay the original money owed (minus the SLI of course). You did use their services, and it must have been adequate (other than the whole charging you for SLI crap). It sounds like Discover made an error that's affecting you.

Yea, it's kind of one of those types of things for sure... the services were actually less than adequate IMHO and we were left to waiting in line for long periods of time. The car itself was fine. It's the service (both during pick-up and return) that was ridiculous. For all the hours wasted waiting in line, Budget should technically be paying me!

The interesting thing is, they've already credited me back for the SLI (back in March) but are now asking me to pay the original amount I agreed to. Even if I pay it though, I'll have essentially gotten the rental for about 40% off what I agreed to because of that SLI credit lol. Otherwise, as of now, I essentially got the full credit back per Discover PLUS the additional credit for SLI from Budget.

But to avoid any headaches it might be best to pay off, although I am tempted just to wait it out and see how far they go before deciding it's not worth it and paying it off hahaha.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2014, 01:18:33 PM by jplee3 »

Lis

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Re: Budget car rental fiasco and advice on a collection notice
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2014, 01:15:19 PM »
DoubleDown's method might work... call around and politely ask if anyone can help you. If it isn't fixed in a reasonable amount of time (I'd give it 30 days) I'd just pay it. Someone working for Budget may actually want to help you (you might be a repeat customer! But probably not... don't let them know that!). Once it goes to debt collectors (as it probably will eventually), they don't care what it's for or why you didn't pay, their goal is to get the money back.

Have you worked with Discover at all and ask why they put a claim against the whole transaction?

Eric

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Re: Budget car rental fiasco and advice on a collection notice
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2014, 01:16:33 PM »
Did you end up paying anything for the rental?  Or was the total amount refunded by Discover and you ended up paying $0.00 to Budget?

jeromedawg

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Re: Budget car rental fiasco and advice on a collection notice
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2014, 01:19:51 PM »
Did you end up paying anything for the rental?  Or was the total amount refunded by Discover and you ended up paying $0.00 to Budget?

The total original amount was refunded by Discover. This in addition to Budget crediting me back for the SLI. So technically they're in the negative on this... hahaha maybe that's why they're sending the collection notice now.

GizmoTX

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Re: Budget car rental fiasco and advice on a collection notice
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2014, 02:18:16 PM »
Since you are now at 0.00, this would not be justifiable in small claims court, so you need to pay Budget something. I'd call Budget & get them to put in writing that paying the collection amount they are now asking ends the problem & that they will guarantee that nothing in this episode will end up in credit reports.

BrianT

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Re: Budget car rental fiasco and advice on a collection notice
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2014, 03:25:44 PM »
Pay back what is fairly owed to Budget. I'm a big believer in karma :-) But like what others said, get it in writing from them that after the fair payment this issue is settled.

ginklord

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Re: Budget car rental fiasco and advice on a collection notice
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2014, 08:51:55 AM »
I think you should pay the original amount, especially if they actually directly credited you the SLI fee. Get this in writing from them, of course, but you should pay for services you received.

jeromedawg

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Re: Budget car rental fiasco and advice on a collection notice
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2014, 09:25:37 AM »
I think you should pay the original amount, especially if they actually directly credited you the SLI fee. Get this in writing from them, of course, but you should pay for services you received.

I tend to agree. The invoice I received from them indicates the original amount I agreed to before picking the car up (and them charging the additonal SLI). This amount is associated with my original rental agreement number and contains the information of the car rented and miles driven. They also have a "credit ID" which I think is a unique identifier for my original credit card payment perhaps.

Are you saying I should still call this and request, in writing, that the amount owed in full is what is already determined on the invoice? Or do you think it's good enough just to send the payment in with no correspondence?

The current letter states

"Please be advised an adjustment has been made towards your Budget rental. In order to resolve this matter payment is due upon receipt of this letter" and they give me three options: contact them by phone immediately (I'm assuming a credit card payment over the phone), pay by credit card by mailing the info in (there's definitely no way I'm doing this!), or pay by check (which I'll probably do if it's not worth calling, which I'd prefer not doing just cause I'm sick of these guys).


Thanks all for the input!

Lis

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Re: Budget car rental fiasco and advice on a collection notice
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2014, 09:35:49 AM »
I'd do a check - 1) you don't have to deal with them anymore, just sign the piece of paper and go, and 2) it leaves you a paper trail, god forbid they try to claim you never called or paid. I'd assume paying by phone would still be just as viable, but I'd be more comfortable with the piece of paper my bank can track, considering Discover may have messed it up in the first place.

TeresaB

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Re: Budget car rental fiasco and advice on a collection notice
« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2014, 12:56:00 PM »
I don't know if I'd send a check. Then they have your bank account information. If they decide they want more money later, they might be able to just pull it out. (I've heard of this happening!)

arebelspy

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Re: Budget car rental fiasco and advice on a collection notice
« Reply #14 on: October 03, 2014, 01:04:03 PM »
I don't know if I'd send a check. Then they have your bank account information. If they decide they want more money later, they might be able to just pull it out. (I've heard of this happening!)

No.  Don't spread FUD.

If you could just "pull money" from a bank account from information off a check, that would happen way more, and checks would not be useful at all.

I'm sure in whatever instance you heard of, there was an actual reason the company had been previously authorized to auto debit an account, with a signature, and the person got upset when they felt that it shouldn't have happened (often because they signed something without reading it or understanding it), and a dozen retellings and multiple changes to the story later you hear the story that says "don't use a check."

It's not true.
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jeromedawg

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Re: Budget car rental fiasco and advice on a collection notice
« Reply #15 on: October 03, 2014, 04:26:17 PM »
I don't know if I'd send a check. Then they have your bank account information. If they decide they want more money later, they might be able to just pull it out. (I've heard of this happening!)

No.  Don't spread FUD.

If you could just "pull money" from a bank account from information off a check, that would happen way more, and checks would not be useful at all.

I'm sure in whatever instance you heard of, there was an actual reason the company had been previously authorized to auto debit an account, with a signature, and the person got upset when they felt that it shouldn't have happened (often because they signed something without reading it or understanding it), and a dozen retellings and multiple changes to the story later you hear the story that says "don't use a check."

It's not true.

I can foresee this being possible if someone has both the routing number and account number and decides to pay off a credit card bill. For example, some credit card payment sites only require the routing number and account number with no further verification (whereas others may require you to confirm a couple of deposit amounts before adding the account). If this is the case, and if a person is shady, they could potentially do this. However, I would think this would hopefully set off some alarms for the checking account owner in terms of unauthorized charges.

RetireAbroadAt35

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Re: Budget car rental fiasco and advice on a collection notice
« Reply #16 on: October 03, 2014, 04:55:32 PM »
You're now negotiating from a position of power.  They screwed up and tried to defraud you.  Then they screwed up and failed to deal with the credit card company properly. 

Now they've gotten themselves in a pickle and are hoping you'll do them a solid.

The question to ask yourself is, should you?  I'd make them fight for it and then maybe give them 10% on the dollar.

TeresaB

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Re: Budget car rental fiasco and advice on a collection notice
« Reply #17 on: October 03, 2014, 08:52:55 PM »
I don't know if I'd send a check. Then they have your bank account information. If they decide they want more money later, they might be able to just pull it out. (I've heard of this happening!)

No.  Don't spread FUD.

If you could just "pull money" from a bank account from information off a check, that would happen way more, and checks would not be useful at all.

I'm sure in whatever instance you heard of, there was an actual reason the company had been previously authorized to auto debit an account, with a signature, and the person got upset when they felt that it shouldn't have happened (often because they signed something without reading it or understanding it), and a dozen retellings and multiple changes to the story later you hear the story that says "don't use a check."

It's not true.

Well, I'm glad if this isn't a real risk with debt collection.

That said, I've paid some of my own bills with nothing more than the account and routing number, so it is possible.

Lis

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Re: Budget car rental fiasco and advice on a collection notice
« Reply #18 on: October 04, 2014, 09:06:40 AM »
I don't know if I'd send a check. Then they have your bank account information. If they decide they want more money later, they might be able to just pull it out. (I've heard of this happening!)

No.  Don't spread FUD.

If you could just "pull money" from a bank account from information off a check, that would happen way more, and checks would not be useful at all.

I'm sure in whatever instance you heard of, there was an actual reason the company had been previously authorized to auto debit an account, with a signature, and the person got upset when they felt that it shouldn't have happened (often because they signed something without reading it or understanding it), and a dozen retellings and multiple changes to the story later you hear the story that says "don't use a check."

It's not true.

Well, I'm glad if this isn't a real risk with debt collection.

That said, I've paid some of my own bills with nothing more than the account and routing number, so it is possible.

You paid your bills with the account and routing number, and your consent for the company to pull the funds for a specific bill or bills (either once at a time or recurring). If a company has your information but you have not given them permission for them to pull the funds, they cannot legally take anything from your bank account. A check is essentially a written contract that means, for this one time, you are allowing the recipient to withdraw $X from your bank account. If you sign up for a recurring payment, you're giving the company permission to withdraw an agreed upon amount (either a specific dollar amount or a full balance amount, like for a credit card) on a specific date, and you can cancel this at any time.

If a company ever pulls money out of your account when you have not given them explicit permission to, THAT IS NOT OKAY. Make sure you didn't accidentally check off a box that says they're allowed to do this, or that you simply forgot to cancel a recurring payment (been there), but if you didn't make a simple mistake, CALL THEM IMMEDIATELY.

bacchi

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Re: Budget car rental fiasco and advice on a collection notice
« Reply #19 on: October 04, 2014, 09:33:20 AM »
Yeah, you should pay them. You did rent the car, right? Like the poster suggested, you might want to offer them 90% of what you owe as a punitive measure for their questionable actions.

In any case, send a letter with the check. Write "Paid in full" in the letter and on the check. Make it obvious. When they cash the check, it's settled.

http://www.snopes.com/business/bank/paidfull.asp

Quote
Section 3-311 of the Uniform Commercial Code does state that a debt can be discharged with a check designated as payment in full "if the person against whom the claim is asserted proves that the instrument or an accompanying written communication contained a conspicuous statement to the effect that the instrument was tendered as full satisfaction of the claim."
/quote]

Note that "paid in full" doesn't work for electronic payments.

Goldielocks

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Re: Budget car rental fiasco and advice on a collection notice
« Reply #20 on: October 04, 2014, 10:22:39 AM »
I think you should pay the original amount, especially if they actually directly credited you the SLI fee. Get this in writing from them, of course, but you should pay for services you received.

+1

lack of long waiting times was never promised and some locations like Orlando have them a lot at several counters, not just Budget.

Legally, I think that the one to pay Budget directly is your cc, who then gets you to pay them.

In actuality, your cc made an error, Budget made a second one on the timing.  Dont be cheap over administrative errors.
 Even if the 45 days are up, pay for what you used.


Greg

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Re: Budget car rental fiasco and advice on a collection notice
« Reply #21 on: October 04, 2014, 12:34:44 PM »
I think you should contact your credit card company and ask them to pay the original rental amount owed, and leave you out of it.  They shouldn't have reversed the entire amount, just the added bogus fee.  Ask them to correct their error and that Budget is bothering you about it.


jeromedawg

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Re: Budget car rental fiasco and advice on a collection notice
« Reply #22 on: October 07, 2014, 12:23:32 PM »
I think you should pay the original amount, especially if they actually directly credited you the SLI fee. Get this in writing from them, of course, but you should pay for services you received.

+1

lack of long waiting times was never promised and some locations like Orlando have them a lot at several counters, not just Budget.

Legally, I think that the one to pay Budget directly is your cc, who then gets you to pay them.

In actuality, your cc made an error, Budget made a second one on the timing.  Dont be cheap over administrative errors.
 Even if the 45 days are up, pay for what you used.

True, lack of long lines is never something guaranteed. Although, when we arrived (around midnight) every other counter was sparse in terms of line/people except for Budget. And there like 5-6 employees working the desk too! I'm sure they were taking their time and being deceitful with the other customers. I should also add, the line wasn't really *long* in terms of the number of people in it. I'd say maybe 7-8 including myself were waiting in line for at least an hour and a half while the employees were all helping others for that time. I don't understand *why* it was taking so long for them to help everyone else. When it was my turn, it took like 15-20 minutes to process everything. The other people must have not made reservations or something, but even then I wouldn't think it should take that long to help someone. And with that ratio of employees to customers, it's kind of inexcusable IMHO.

Either way, I agree - not an excuse to avoid paying for the service.

I think I'm just going to send in a check as requested from them at this point and perhaps include "PAID IN FULL". Hopefully that puts the issue to rest. I just don't want to deal with them anymore.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2014, 12:31:30 PM by jplee3 »