When Ramy Osman rented a Pacifica minivan from the Enterprise car rental company at Windsor airport last Aug. 23, he never dreamed it would end up costing him $2,778.
"Very, very confusing. Very frustrating," said Osman of the ordeal.
He says when he rented the van from a kiosk at the airport, no one inspected it with him, or gave him a written statement of any previous damage.
When Osman returned the van about a week later, he says, an employee there noticed a small tear in the front bumper below a headlight.
Even though Osman did a small inspection of the van before driving it, he says he couldn't say whether he caused the tear or not, so he agreed to pay for the repair thinking it would only cost a few hundred dollars.
When he got the repair bill on Nov. 30 from a shop in Tilbury, there were several other charges for items such as a new radiator because of a small dent in the ribbing, an air conditioning condenser, an air deflector shield and an air pro scan. The company also tacked on a $75 administration fee, a $441.29 loss-of-use fee and $205.61 for diminishing the value of the vehicle.
After a CBC News request this week, Enterprise Canada said it's dropping the charges.
"Our local team reached out to Mr. Osman to further discuss this matter and let him know we are dropping this claim," spokesperson Lisa Martini said Wednesday.
"Maintaining a customer's long-term loyalty is a top priority, so when a customer contacts us with concerns, we will do everything we can to properly investigate and resolve the claim as quickly as possible. We have a thorough investigation process, and carefully review our internal documentation, as well as any documentation provided by the customer. After reviewing all the facts and documentation in this case, we have decided to close this claim."
Osman says he fought the charges because none of the interior damages were consistent with being associated with the tear in the bumper.
He says it's unlikely any of the damages were caused by him. He says he drove the van to a college north of Toronto and parked it for about a week, then drove it home.
"It could have been a rock. It could have been anything. It could have been me. It could not have been me. It could have been anybody."
Bruce Cran, president of the Consumers Association of Canada, says pictures of the damage provided by the company show no time stamps. So it could have been caused earlier or even after Osman returned the vehicle, he says, since it was taken to Tilbury for the repairs.
If there was no pre-inspection walk through, he says, the company wouldn't have grounds to charge Osman for the damage.
"It's very unprofessional of the company," said Cran.
"All of the compound claims the company have made just hold no water."
As for the loss of income on the vehicle, Cran says courts don't recognize those as losses that can be claimed.
Craig Hirota, vice-president of government relations and member services for the Associated Canadian Car Rental Operators — an organization that speaks for the industry — can't comment on the specific case. He says it's common practice for rental agencies to charge for loss of income on the vehicle and depreciation due to damages. But if Enterprise didn't walk Osman through an inspection, he says, it should have.
"Presumably they should be noting car condition upon issuance of the car. And upon return, those inspections should be quite proximate to the time of rental so to eliminate any possibility that the damage occurred prior to the renter taking possession or subsequent to the renter leaving it back in the care, custody and control of the rental car company," said Hirota.
Osman took pictures of bumper damage to a collision shop in Windsor and was given a quote of $623.08, a price he was willing to pay at the outset. Cran believes that if Osman wants to pay anything, that's all he should be charged.
Both Cran and Hirota recommend potential car renters take several pictures of the vehicle before taking it to prove the condition it was in when they received it.