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My car rental company wrongly charged me for a missing tyre weeks after I returned the vehicle, what can I do? Consumer lawyer DEAN DUNHAM replies

We hired a car for a break in and around Florence. We returned the car, it was inspected and the correct amount of money came off my credit card. But three weeks later I’ve been charged on the same credit card for a spare tyre which was apparently missing from the boot....CONTINUE READING

What are my rights?

E.K. via email

The customer was charged for a spare tyre which was apparently missing from the boot three weeks after returning the car

DEAN DUNHAM REPLIES: When you picked up the car, a representative of the hire company should have inspected the car in your presence and filled out a check-out form, detailing its condition, including any pre-existing damage such as scratches to the paintwork and any other significant matters, such as a missing spare tyre. Likewise, when you returned the car, the hire company representative should have carried out a further inspection and completed a check-in form, to assess if you had caused any new damage or if any other issues with the car had occurred during your period of hire. You should therefore check to see what these two documents say as you would expect a missing spare tyre to be recorded, especially on the check-in form.

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If there is no mention of a missing spare tyre on the check-in form, or the check-out form records the vehicle had no spare tyre, put your complaint in writing to the hire company. Your complaint should clearly state there was no spare tyre and highlight that this is supported by the check-out and/or check-in form – and demand an immediate refund.

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If the hire company refuses your refund, you can turn to your credit card provider and make a Section 75 claim. It is important that you present your card provider with all the evidence and highlight that there is no evidence supporting the hire company’s position that the car had a spare tyre during the hire period. In these circumstances, your Section 75 claim should be successful.

This question highlights the importance of the check-out and check-in forms when hiring a vehicle. Don’t just let the hire company representative fill out the forms unchecked, look over them carefully and make sure you are happy that the forms accurately record the condition of the vehicle. I also always advise consumers to take lots of pictures of the vehicle at the start and end of the hire period. It is this invaluable evidence that will protect you if the hire company wrongly claims you’ve caused damage or removed something from the vehicle.

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