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I rented a car 2 months ago from Enterprise in Zurich airport and got tricked. The sum isn't big but I don't like it since I chose them to avoid this over other cheaper options.

When fetching the car, I got asked to return the car with a full tank or them filling it up. I chose full tank in order to avoid any filling up extra fees.

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I filled up the tank at the station closest to the airport, a 10-minute drive. And 2 months later I got a 4 CHF bill!

It seems the bill is for "1" quantity of fuel, worth 3.66 CHF, the current gas price is 1.7 CHF / Litre.

Is this really ok? What can I do to fight this kind of extra charges? It seems they are really looking to get me on any fees and costs they can.

I have rented cars around the world, and got asked to bring a receipt once showing that I filled up the car less than 20 minutes from the airport, but never this kind of bullshit.

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    What kind of answer are you looking for? I'd recommend to just call them and ask for an explanation, if 3.66 is worth it for you. Apparently they managed to squeeze in another 2 litres of fuel (or maybe less, where '1' is their minimum amount), so perhaps you didn't quite fill the tank. But of course there's no way to prove that either way.
    – Berend
    Jan 16 at 16:43
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    Complain with the company and do not pay it (and if you have a local connection, you should complain with a consumer protection). -- note: about not paying: deny the credit card payment: it will cause trouble to them (especially if they do it regularly) Jan 16 at 16:43
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    at the station closest to the airport FWIW, there is a station on the airport itself, only 700m from Enterprise: Flughafenstrasse 79.
    – Berend
    Jan 16 at 16:53
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    Tweet them. Companies don't like it when customers (especially regular customers) tweet bad experiences
    – Midavalo
    Jan 16 at 17:18
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    There are worse scams. Note that many rentals are franchises, so their operation may not be controlled too closely. At Tenerife airport my booked car has "a full tank which we have charged you for, bring it back empty". That is quite difficult even when you plan a lot of driving, but on a small island, almost impossible. Jan 16 at 20:12

1 Answer 1

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Whilst it's possible that this is a scam, there are also many legitimate reasons that something like this could happen - from simple human error on behalf of the person checking in the vehicle on return, to a faulty fuel bowser that didn't completely fill the car, to even a slow-to-update fuel gauge on the vehicle that didn't show as being full when the car was returned.

(Several years ago there was one particular model of car that I refused to rent as the fuel gauge would take 10-15 minutes or more to completely update after the car was filled, which meant that by the time you were returning the vehicle after refilling it often didn't show as full even if the vehicle was!)

Regardless the reason, the course of action you should take is the same - contact the company and state that you have been incorrectly charged and that the vehicle was returned full. If you have proof that you placed fuel in the vehicle, it can't hurt to provide that (eg, receipt from the petrol station if you still have it, or even just a screenshot of the relevant entry from your credit card statement).

Some rental companies will even have a specific email address printed on the receipt telling you to do this, but in general you'll just need to email their customer support email address to get it resolved.

I've had this happen multiple times, from multiple rental companies across multiple countries, and I've never had problems with having them remove the charge once I reported it.

For future rentals, it's also a good idea to take a photo of the dash of the vehicle when returning it. For example, here's the photo I took at the end of a rental two weeks ago, showing the vehicle mileage and fuel tank level at the time of return. If the rental company claims I returned it with the tank not full I can show this as proof that it was returned full.

Dashboard photo

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    Great answer, I will point out that for the company, having an agent busy with the op's complain is probably already as costly as 4 CHF. Therefore, he can feel vindicated even if they don't give the money back.
    – André
    Jan 16 at 21:47
  • Note because I think it is a cheap scam: to make you to pay to small amount of fuel, they must have some official measurement before and after. And when you receive the key/get the key. On such small quantity it is impossible they have a good measurement (it is commerce, so they must have measurement units controlled and certified at least one a year). So usually rental companies have a margin (so that they must 100% sure they never overmeasure [which it is fraud]). Why they do with just 4 CHF? Maybe to test how far they can go. Or they keep 1 liter every client for own private car. Jan 17 at 8:15
  • Any take on why it takes them 2 months to send the bill? If they were to check it it should likely be checked on the next if not the same day (because they want to rent the car out again). Usually companies (and agencies) are quite fast to send you something if they want money. The 2 months seems like an appropriate time to wait if you hope the renter has forgotten about it and will just comply. Jan 17 at 8:59
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    Taking a picture of the dash at pickup and at return is always good practice. I once used this to reverse a spurious charge for going way over the mileage limit, which was complete nonsense - thank goodness I had pictures of the odometer at pickup and return. Jan 17 at 8:59

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