A few weeks ago on vacation, I rented a place and a car. Had I not done this one thing I could have been screwed over.
Took a couple of weeks off from posting weekly because I was on vacation in St. Thomas, and then afterward some time getting acclimated to the sad reality that I don’t live on a beautiful island in the Caribbean.
For the vacation, we had rented a condo from a property management company, and a two-door soft-top Jeep Wrangler from a small local rental company. With the apartment rental, our check-in instructions were such that we would “find the door unlocked and the keys on the kitchen counter along with a sheet of paper with house rules and wifi login instructions.” Check-out instructions were to take out the garbages’, leave the keys on the counter as we had found them, and the door unlocked for a cleaning crew that would arrive later on.
As for the car, we were picked up from the airport by someone from the rental company in the jeep we rented and driven back to the rental company base location to drop the man off and also finalize paperwork. A deposit of $300 more than the price of our rental was added to our bill, and the instructions for returning the vehicle were to drop it off in the airport parking lot, leaving it also unlocked, and with the keys and parking lot ticket under the driver’s side mat.
The Life Pro Tip Which Can Save You Bit Headaches
As soon as we arrived at the condo I pulled out my phone and turned on the video. The video I shot shows us walking in to find the keys and paper, and then taking a casual tour of the apartment, noting anything out of the ordinary. (During this stay at this location there wasn’t too much to note, but one never knows.) As soon as I finished recording the video I forwarded it to my attorney.
In my case, I have a family friend who is my attorney. This is someone who I have a great relationship with and she would never charge me just for saving a two-minute cell phone video, but I recognize this is not the case for everyone. Sending the clip immediately is a means to timestamp the video. This can be done in other ways too. Other ways to timestamp would be to record the screen of someone else’s cell phone’s calendar for a moment, immediately email the video somewhere, turn on the television and record its timestamp if possible, or download a timestamp app for your phone. Upon leaving the condo, I again recorded the state of the apartment, along with us leaving, and off sent that recording.
Just like with the condo, we took a video of the entire jeep inside and out as soon as we were in possession of it, and also another video of the vehicle’s condition inside and out for its return.
There Was An Attempt…
Once we were through customs and security at the airport, I called the car rental company to inform them that the jeep had been dropped off about a half-hour prior. The person on the phone thanked me and said they would go retrieve it. About a half-hour after that while waiting for our flight to board I received blocked number call. Upon picking up, the person who had been my main contact at the company began angerly yelling at me.
“Hey bro. We just got this jeep back and cleaned it up. There are some dents on the passenger’s side!” I calmly replied that whatever he was speaking of I was not responsible for.
“Either you give me your insurance to pay for this or I am going to keep your security deposit!” None of what the man was saying phased me in any way, as I knew I had video evidence to prove that the jeep was returned exactly as we got it. He went on for a brief moment, loudly trying to pressure me into relenting to some type of scam until I interrupted.
“Yeah, um, I have a video, so do whatever you want.” For a moment there was silence.
“A video?” he said confused.
“Yeah, I took a detailed three-minute video of the entire car inside and out immediately after dropping off the car.”
“Alright, well I’ll send you a photo of the damages.” The man hung up, and then I never heard from him again.
Just to be safe, as soon as I got off the phone with the man I called my credit card company’s fraud department and alerted them to block any further charges from the rental company. The next day upon waking, I logged into my credit card portal and saw that the charges for the car were exactly what I owed for the time I rented the vehicle — no more, no less. My deposit had been adjusted back to me, and there were no additional charges.
So, next time you are renting a car, or an apartment — long or short term — remember to take a video!
Too Long Didn’t Read
If you are renting something take a video of the state that it is in when you pick it up and when you drop it off/vacate so that you are not a victim of fraud.
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