Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The curious case of the $40 charge from Enterprise

Occasionally when we have to travel to NJ, we rent a car from Enterprise. Their closest location is within walking distance of our house and their rates are so cheap even having to keep the car for a couple extra days (since they do not open on Sundays) doesn't make it as expensive as renting from Avis (which tries harder by opening on Sundays and costing almost twice as much).

Anyway, Lara rented a car from them in March. Put the EZ Pass on the dash and drove the car to and from NJ. Fast forward almost a month later, I get a letter from Enterprise. The gist of it was "Hello, the car you rented 4 weeks ago got a citation from NJ transit for $30 for running a toll. We have done you the favor of paying the citation for you and have billed you an additional $10 for that pleasure. Please visit our fancy schmancy website to automatically pay with your credit card. Or we will bill it to the credit card you paid with."

That's $10 for a $30 "charge" (I'll get to why charge is in quote shortly). That alone is so ridiculous I almost laughed. Why would I want you to pay a citation on my behalf for a 30% charge.

Now to make matters worse, they (Enterprise) provided no proof that they did receive a citation from NJ Transit. So I called NJ Transit and they said "Ask Enterprise to send you the citation, then call us to discuss why your ez pass transponder didn't work". So I called Enterprise and the customer service rep said "we don't keep records of the citations we receive. We just get them electronically, pay them and charge you $10 for the courtesy. I can waive the $10 charge".

Now most people would have taken this as a victory and gladly paid the $30. But I said "hell no!" You want to bill me for a phantom citation, you have to provide proof of it. Not my problem you receive them electronically. She wouldn't budge so I said "whatever, charge it to my Amex. I'll dispute it and you can deal with the might of Amex".

I watched my Amex and sure enough the charge came through a few days later. I immediately disputed it and asked for "proof of the citation". Today, after some push back on my part, Amex filed in my favor.

Lessons:

  • Always pay with a credit card
  • When a company pays a citation and then bills you, don't be afraid to ask for proof
  • If a company fails to see reason, use the might of your credit card company to your advantage
Oh btw, since then I have rented from Enterprise and I'll rent from them in the future. And if they bill me again for spurious charges, I'll sic Amex on them :)