Is Avis really running a scam during Covid19?

Avis appears to be running some kind of scam around billing past customers in times of Covid19.

Thanks to Avis for inspiring me to write up this story.

Ok, here is the story. I am sharing it not because I want anything from Avis but because I don’t want anyone else to fall prey to this. For my part, my therapist tells me I am fully recovered.

To preface this, not only have I been a lifelong Avis customer but quite a passionate one to add to this. I always booked with Avis, even if it meant that I was going to pay a little bit more. Not sure why but somehow, their brand message struck a chord with me and I just kept going back for more.

Earlier this year was my last trip using Avis. I was on the East Coast and used an Avis rental to go from Cincinnati to Nashville.

When I picked up my car, it was pretty clear that it hadn’t been adequately inspected. It was a bit dirty, but most notably, it smelled like smoke. Not like a little smoke. We are talking about some severe smoke smell, borderline a cloud of smoke. Now given that I had just signed a contract promising that I wouldn’t smoke in the car, I went back inside to note the situation. DB, or whoever was kind enough to record it on the paperwork, I needed to leave the lot.

avis covid 19 scam

In retrospect, I probably should have been somewhat suspicious of how Avis’s rigorous pre-rental maintenance check could have missed the fact that the previous renter had been smoking in the car. Oh well, I didn’t care. And the car worked just fine. When I returned the car a few days later, they did one of their quick checks, and off I went.

All is good, or so I thought at least.

A month later, I get a letter in the mail informing me that glass damage had occurred during my rental, and Avis was going to charge me for that.

What? Glass damage? That seems like something I would have somewhat noticed during the rental. And just FYI, I am a prolifically overinsured. While I turn down Avis’s $57.44 per day in recommended insurance products, I have the highest level of car insurance State Farm offers as well as supplemental insurance through my American Express Platinum card. So if there really should have been any damage, I have zero incentive not to report.

Hence, I call Avis. This must be a mistake.

The customer service person was friendly enough, but couldn’t give me much more information either. I asked for both an incident report, as well as pictures of the damage.

Honestly, had I just been sent a picture of whatever glass damage occurred, I would have nodded and let me my various insurance companies do their thing.

But rather than send me either of those two, they just sent me an invoice from their glass repair shop for fixing: Solar 3rd Visor Frit

Apparently, I had broken this:

Avis Covid19 solar frit

According to the Windshield Surgeons, here is what we’re talking about:

Is a black speckled shading in your windshield behind your rear view mirror. It is designed to keep the sun out of your eyes while in the awkward space in the top middle of your windshield between your fold down visors. This is where it gets the name of “Third Visor”.

Got it. That makes no sense. I mean, even if I wanted to somehow break the Solar 3rd Visor Frit I wouldn’t know how to.

But honestly, if that got broken during my rental, show me the damage and I’ll get it paid.  That being said, dealing with their customer service was not very helpful as one rep told me they were looking at the pictures of the damage and then the company line changed and I was told there were no pictures, incident reports or even a record of the supposed maintenance check that had occurred.

That seemed suspicious,  but what do I know.

So I filed an insurance claim, and they started dealing with it.

Turns out, I wasn’t the only one who thought this was very suspicious. This is what one my insurance claim specialist emailed me about the situation.

Dear Mario …:

I am writing to update you on the status of the claim you submitted 30 days ago. Before I can complete my review of your claim I still need the following information:

Documents We Need:

• Accident / Incident report – Document filled out at the Rental Company, which details the facts of the accident as well as the damage caused to the vehicle.
• Photos of damage – Photos need to clearly show damage on vehicle.
• Fleet Utilization Log or proof of payment for completed repairs – Report from Rental Company that summarizes what Rental Vehicles were available for rent at the time the Card Member’s Rental Vehicle was being repaired or the receipt showing the Rental Company paid for the repairs to the vehicle. The fleet utilization log must be location and class specific and will detail the utilization rate for each day claimed.

I have been contacting the Rental Company for this information. I have requested the documents on 03/09/2020, 03/19/2020 and 04/05/2020. I will continue to reach out to the Rental Company to obtain the necessary information. 

I am sorry, Avis. But this very much feels like a scam to me.

Now I talked to a couple of friends in the insurance business, and Avis might just be going back through their records to identify their last customer who didn’t choose their insurance policy and then peg whatever repairs needed to be done to their cars. This is also why it can take them up to a month between when the rental ended, and the customer receives a letter in the mail.

That’s gross, Avis.

No insurance policy will cover this without any proof by Avis.

To save myself any more high blood pressure, I just paid the Avis Covid19 scam money. That being said, I do find it curious that Avis seems to be doing better than its competition in this crisis due to its positive cash flow projection.

In times like these, the true face of many companies will be revealed.

Many have passed with flying colors.

And Avis seems to be exploiting the situation.

Avis, you have lost a lifelong customer.

Oh and if you ever need to rent a car,  I hope you don’t choose to rent from these people. If you do, don’t break the Solar 3rd Visor Frit.