If necessity is the mother of invention, Hilary Kennedy has 1,500 reasons why you need to take her advice. It came after a recent rental from a company called Sixt.
"I was having some maintenance work done on my car and I needed a rental car for about 4 days," Kennedy said. She'll be the first to tell you she's a very cautious consumer.
"I'm so paranoid about something happening to a renal car when i'm driving it that i always get the additional insurance."
Her first impression.. not the best. She reports Sixt was understaffed and running late When the car was finally brought around. She says she did the once over to make sure there was no damage and "noticed the car was dirty inside and out" but decided to leave to make it to another appointment. 4 days later she was back to return the car.
"Drop off was great - it was smooth and easy. I dropped off at the right time. I got a thank you email with coupons for my next rental. I thought everything was great."
But 5 days later she got an email from Sixt.
Damaged. They wanted $1,500 to fix it.
"I knew I hadn't hit anything," Kennedy said, "and so I checked with the additional insurance that I had bought to see if that was covered and they said, "well, no, because you never had an incident."
She asked Sixt for a documented intake to show she returned a damaged car, time-stamped photos showing damage, or even a record of where the car had been in the 5 days between her drop off and their damage claim.
"They wouldn't send me that," Kennedy said.
She even filed a complaint with the better business bureau and went back-and-forth with no luck. Then a call from collections, which caused her to call us.
"I contacted FOX 4 because I watch your consumer reports and I know you can get stuff done and I know you can get people to call you back," Kennedy said.
Sixt did call me back, in fact, within an hour. They completely reversed course, dropped the claim and told Hilary she owed them nothing!
"Since July, I've been working on trying to make this happen," Kennedy said, "and you made it happen in about an hour so I'm really grateful.
So why the sudden change of heart? All they would tell us is they're "closing the file without acknowledging any statutory duty to do so."
But we wanted to know more. So we sent Sixt links to almost a dozen complaints Hilary found online from other consumers, both here in the U.S. and overseas, Who all claim Sixt sent them invoices to pay for damage to cars they rented - damage they say they didn't cause.
While Sixt didn't specifically address any of the claims we sent, in a written statement, a spokesperson took "strong exception to the arbitrary suggestion that issues with customer complaints are specific to Sixt, and reserve the right to defend our good name."
"I've been fighting to prove i didn't damage this rental car since July," Kennedy said. "That's a lot of sleepless nights."
For Hilary, her case is closed. Her advice to you? If you're hitting the road in a rental this holiday season, take video of the car's condition - inside and out - at pick up and drop off.
FULL Sixt statement:
“Sixt has a successful, 100-year history around the globe. We take great pride in our reputation for excellence and world-class customer service. Our dedicated team members in Sixt’s new North American headquarters—as well as in numerous locations across the nation—work tirelessly to bring that spirit to operations here in the United States.
“We have already created 750+ jobs here, and in each case our top priority is ensuring that employees benefit from the very best training possible in order to best serve our customers.
“Car rental is fundamentally a customer service business and, like our competitors, we face challenges that are common in the normal course of business. And because service is at the core of what we do, we work tirelessly to find ways to better serve our customers and rectify problems when they arise. This is true here in Dallas. In light of this, we take strong exception to the arbitrary suggestion that issues with customer complaints are specific to Sixt, and reserve the right to defend our good name.
“We welcome any comments and feedback from the public as to how we can do better, and look forward to continuing that conversation.”