We reserved a mini-van from Budget rent-a-car for pickup at Denver International airport 04/22/2021. The first van had a cracked windshield and major dents. Fortunately I noticed these before even starting the van. I want back to the rental counter. The agent made excuses about the windshield and said that they don't worry about windshield cracks unless the crack is right in front of the driver. As for the dents, she just said dents are normal in rental cars and to not worry about them. But she did change the paperwork to assign a different mini-van to me. I went to pick it up, quick walk-around did not show any problems and the windshield was intact. The car clearly had not been adequately cleaned inside (so much for the extra level of COVID sanitation!) and there was even evidence of spilled soda pop. But, this was already the second vehicle. So I drove the van off the lot and then to our destination in southwestern Colorado about 400 miles away where we visited family. The van was parked outside their home two nights and then I loaded up our luggage to head back to Denver. Before leaving, I noticed that the rear right panel inside the luggage area was not fully "flush" with the surrounding area. So I tried to "pop it" back into place by tapping where there seemed to be a hidden latch point. The panel did not seem to be "cooperating", so I partially pried it open to see where the latches were. I noticed that this panel hid the compact spare tire and jack. At that point I also noticed that the spare was essentially "shredded" and would have been absolutely no use if we got a flat tire. I was incensed that Budget had sent us on the road with a non-functional spare tire. Goodness, it has probably been over 30 years since I had the bad luck to get a flat tire, but it is always a possibility. There are many long, lonely stretches of road on our itinerary with towns that were "few and far between". Budget had put us at great risk!
But what could we do at this point? we drove the van back to Denver airport. I did NOT want the next customer to be also put at risk, so when I drove it through the assembly-line check-in process, I told the tech that I needed to show him something. After noting the worthless spare tire, I had left the panel loose. I showed him the spare tire. He was totally clueless and said something like "yeah? it is the spare tire. What is the problem."
I called his attention to the condition of the tire that clearly made it useless and told him that luckily, we had not gotten a flat tire, and therefore never needed the spare, but that I did not want the next person to also be at risk. He called another guy over, but they both sort of shrugged their shoulders and nodded at me.
Three weeks later I received a bill in the mail from Budget saying that their vehicle had incurred tire damage.
So let's see: Budget rents a car with a shredded spare tire, putting their customer at risk, and then, because he is ethically concerned about the risk to the next customer, they bill him for $566.88 to cover their poor maintenance and servicing!
After receiving the bill, I phoned the number on the document right away. the agent ("Taylor"?) asked if I had proof from the original rental date to show the tire was already damaged!
She then said they would review documentation to see if Budget had noted the damage previously, and therefore determine my liability.
Sadly consumers have not control over poor maintenance... what if they had supplied a car with a broken oil gauge? (a possible hidden defect), and they did not have oil in the car? One can think of a hundred examples of how a company could possibly rent a vehicle with concealed problems. Perhaps Budget will contend that I should have paid a mechanic to go over the car with a fine toothed comb before leaving the lot.
And then Budget sets themselves up to "judge" the responsibility for their poor maintenance! Corporate fraud!
I was charged for the loss damage waiver which I did not approve. ( add'l $203) They use the contract...