Small ding leaves customer who rented van in Lawrence with an expensive cautionary tale

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Nancy Schwarting, of Lawrence, took her annual trip to Iowa this summer and now she’s paying for it – big time.

Schwarting is facing a more than $2,100 bill from Budget Rental Car that she doesn’t believe she should owe.

“It was supposed to be a nine -passenger van,” said Schwarting. “They upgraded me to a 15-passenger van. So I had this huge van."

As usual, Schwarting declined the rental car company’s collision damage coverage because her credit card company also provided with that coverage.

“In all the years I’ve rented cars, I’ve never had an accident,” she said.

But this time, she did. When Schwarting returned the van, a Budget employee noticed a small dent on the passenger side door panel.

“The agent looked at it and said it's so small they can probably pop that out,” Schwarting said she was told.

But three weeks later, Schwarting got a bill from budget for more than $2,100. Plus the collision coverage on Schwarting’s credit card wasn’t going to pay a dime.
Why? Because the 15-passenger she’d received as an upgrade was considered a commercial vehicle and not covered.

In addition to that bad news, Schwarting was livid about the repair bill, which include 7.2 hours of window glass work and 14.2 hours of body work.

“There are damages reported on the bumper, the rear bumper, glass tinting is on the bill,” Schwarting said shaking her head.

Besides the $1,164 for the actual repair, Schwarting was also charged $191 for loss of use, $100 in administrative costs and $659 in diminished value.

“I was frustrated that they were trying to put charges over her that didn't even exist,” Schwarting’s agent Purcell told us.

That’s why FOX 4 Problem Solvers got involved.

But after speaking to a body shop expert, we learned that the price tag for the repair was typical. Even though the dent involved just a side door panel, a repair shop would have still had to remove and later reinstall the window, bumper and even headlights when it repainted the entire side of the car to blend it with the new door panel.

But what bothered FOX 4 Problem Solvers is that Schwarting requested a nine-passenger van. If she had actually received a van of that size, the damage would have been covered by her credit card. We thought Budget should have warned Schwarting before upgrading her to a 15-passenger van that many insurance policies don’t cover those vans.

Budget’s General Manager Joe Collins agreed Budget could have done a better job. For that reason he dropped all the additional charges on the repair bill – a total of $900 – leaving Schwarting to pay just the actual cost of the repair – or $1,164. That’s still more than Schwarting had hoped to pay, but a lesson learned on making sure you truly understand the limits of your insurance coverage before renting a car.