I rented a car from Avis. The morning I was supposed to return it, the battery in the car remote died. Unfortunately it was one of the cars that starts with a button press and needed the remote battery to be alive for it to start. I called Avis and they had the car towed and then charged me more than $200 for the "service" even though they were the ones who gave me a defective car.

Is there anything I can do to get my money for the towing "service" back?

Edit: I tried holding the remote next to the start button but that didn't work. Replacing the battery would have meant 30-40$ in Uber costs as I was short on time and was in a suburban area with no guarantee things would work even after that.

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    Did you use a credit card? I’d go through my card. Dispute the charge and take it from there. AMEX never fails me in such situations. – Augustine of Hippo May 15 at 7:47
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    For the record, what did Avis say about it so far, and did you try escalating to the manager or to corporate? – krubo May 15 at 10:18
  • Haven't tried escalating. The rep just says I didn't pay for towing insurance so no matter what the cause, I'm liable..I'll try and escalate. I'm could try through my CC but I'm worried I'll get blacklisted by Avis – Opt May 15 at 17:48
  • Did you ask if they had a spare key? I'm wondering because typically they do, especially if you lost the key for example. If it wasn't too far then the tow could have been avoided. – Zorkolot May 19 at 12:49

First, all button start cars start witout a battery in the remote; you can dislodge a physical mini-key from the remote and unlock the doors with it, and you can hold the whole (unpowered) remote directly near the start button and press it. Both parts usually work without a problem; aside from that, you could have replaced the battery for some cents.

In other words, If your problem was really only a battery in the remote, there was no towing necessary. Their point of view is probably that you produced that cost by 'not knowing how to use the car correctly' (not reading the manual and therefore not knowing above techniques). It might be annoying to you, but I tend to agree with this view, and you will have little chance legally to win such a battle.
It is a bit stupid from them to not tell you how to do it on the phone, but maybe the problem wasn't clear to them, of the guy on the phone didn't know either.

You might be able to sweettalk them into covering it, but this is probably not a good time to hope for lenience, as all car rental companies are bleeding badly for cash.

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    If it's so easy to explain how to operate the car in these circumstances, why did Avis have the car towed instead of instructing the customer how to use the car with a dead battery in the key? I don't think the customer should have to pay because the customer support is inadequate. – phoog May 15 at 14:48
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    @phoog , I agree, but it depends on what he told them on the phone. If his problem description was "the car doesn't start", it would not have been obvious that the remote battery is the issue. But probably you're right, the guy just had no idea either. – Aganju May 15 at 17:33
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    I tried that -- it didn't work. An Avis rep guided me through the process. I was in a suburban area. It would have cost a buttload to take an uber to a store and get a replacement battery. Or maybe there was a more serious issue with the remote and after spending 30-40$ on trying to get a new battery, I would have found that it still doesn't work and would have still have had to have it towed – Opt May 15 at 17:44

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