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VIC Bogus Claim From Redspot Car Rental?

Discussion in 'Australian Consumer Law Forum' started by Fayiah, 25 May 2015.

  1. Fayiah

    Fayiah Member

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    I rented a 2013 Nissan Almera rental car from Redspot Car Rental at Brisbane Airport on Friday 8/5/2015. Car was returned at 9am on 11/5/13. An inspection was done in my presence. After the inspection, I asked the gentleman if everything was fine and he said “yes, there are no damages so you can leave. You don't need a clearance receipt” he said. I even thanked him and said I enjoyed the service and would use them again in the future. I left the scene thinking that the contract was over.

    Nearly 20 minutes later after I had gone through security check en route to boarding my flight to Melbourne, I was called and asked to return as a manor damaged had been detected on the driver's door. I return immediately and a different agent showed me two minor scratches (probably less than 30mm in length) on the driver's door while the vehicle had been parked at a different location from where the initial inspection was carried out. I informed the inceptor that the claim was suspicious on several grounds.

    First, we did not see the related scratches at the initial inspection so the damage in question seemed questionable. Secondly, there is a high possibility that the scratches might have occurred while the vehicle was moved from the initial location to where I had come to see it packed. On those grounds, I felt that the claim was unfair and requested that I be given a few hours to call back and discuss further. I also advised the agent not to withdraw any money off my card until I was given an option to discuss the claim. I hurriedly had to leave as I was boarding immediately.

    Upon landing in Melbourne, I received a tax invoice for $3354 via email. I rang the claims department to raise my concerns and discuss a possible resolution but couldn’t get anyone on the line and was unable to leave a message. I followed up with an email the same day but only received and automated response that they would get back to me in a reasonable time. I didn’t hear back from them and on Saturday the 16th, Redspot withdrew $3354 was withdraw from my credit card. I spoke with the Claims and Recovery Manager on Monday the 18th and she told me they would adhere by their policy and repair the damage at my expense. She said the cost of repair plus administrative and out of service charges would be deducted and the remaining balance credited to my account. I was informed it might take more than a week for anything to happen. The alleged scratch which is probably less than 30mm in length shouldn’t cost anything more than $200 dollars and should probably be done in less than two hours. I have school fees to pay on June 9th in the amount of $5666 so I desperately need the money back.

    I sought advice from Consumer Affairs Victoria and they too agreed that the amount charged is disproportionate to the actual cost of such repairs and advised that I take the case to QCAT if I’m not satisfied with Redspot resolution process. I believe they have engaged in dishonest and misleading conduct and I’m not claiming responsibility for the damage. I read very similar review on productreview.com.au and the customer indicated that Redspot Car Rental took $3300 from his account on similar bogus claims and it’s been over 3 months now and he hasn’t received any updates from them. They promised to email me an itemised repair invoice but I still haven’t received any updates and they usually don’t respond to emails.

    Any help on this matter would be highly appreciated as I’m considering further legal actions if Redspot fails to find a reasonable solution in a timely manner.
     
  2. Ivy

    Ivy Well-Known Member

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    Hi Fayiah,

    You did the right thing by calling Consumer Affairs Victoria and yes, you may need to take this matter to the tribunal. The Australian Consumer Law provides guarantees and protections that apply Australia-wide. One of the protections is against unfair contract terms.

    There are three limbs to an unfair contract term, that the term:
    1. Would cause a significant imbalance in the parties' rights and obligations arising under the contract
    2. Is not reasonably necessary to protect the legitimate interests of the party who would be advantaged by the term; and
    3. Would cause detriment (whether financial or otherwise) to a party if it were to be applied or relied on.

    You can find a guide to the unfair contract terms law here: http://www.consumerlaw.gov.au/content/the_acl/downloads/unfair_contract_terms_guide.PDF

    A company cannot apply punitive (punishing) costs as part of a contract. So yes, it sounds as though you have a good case against the company.

    Now, as far as whether you need/ should engage a solicitor and where (which state) you can bring an action, I cannot provide much help. @Sophea , can you help out here?
     
  3. Fayiah

    Fayiah Member

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    Hi Ivy,
    Thanks for your response Ivy. I just got a "hirer indemnity Form" from Redspot this morning. They've requested that I fill it up and return it as soon as possible. "“Hirer Indemnity Statement” is a form provided to You by Redspot Car Rentals, in the event of an accident or claim involving the Vehicle, that You are required to furnish and sign if You have no knowledge of how the damage or loss was caused to the Vehicle.

    I was wondering if filling such form would have any legal implications on me?
     
  4. Ivy

    Ivy Well-Known Member

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    Hi Fayiah,

    My best guess is that Redspot could use this form as evidence if it came to a dispute.

    If it were me, I would be contacting my local community legal centre and/or engaging a solicitor before returning any forms or responding to any further requests from Redspot.

    Additionally, I neglected to mention earlier the option of following up with your bank about the unauthorised transaction. Companies have limited rights to withdraw funds directly from your account. Was there anything in the contract you signed that gave Redspot permission to withdraw funds from your account to cover repairs? Either way, I would be calling the bank and disputing this transaction.
     

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