Phoenix Car Rental Company Reaches $100,000 Settlement with Attorney General for Windshield Scam
July 6, 2009

The Arizona Attorney General's office has agreed to a $100,000 settlement with a Phoenix rental car company for violations of the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act. The company, the Phoenix airport location of Payless Car Rental (PCR), has been charged with charging vehicle renters and their insurance companies for replacing the glass on vehicles they had driven, even when the windshields were not replaced.

In addition, the attorney general claims that PCR then would rent the same vehicle out to another customer without advising of the pre-existing damage, and would charge them as well for replacement of the glass.

Along with charging customers for the replacement of the glass, PCR also is alleged to have charged them a loss-of-use fee for the time that the windshields were to have been replaced, according to court documents filed in the case.

This occurred at least 80 times, according to information from the attorney general.

When PCR did have the windshields on its rental vehicles replaced, the work was completed by D.V. Auto Center in Phoenix. As part of the scheme, the attorney general's office says that the rental company altered invoices created by D.V., "changing dates, vehicle identification numbers and repair invoice numbers in order to perpetuate consumer fraud."

"In the instances, PCR submitted the altered invoices to its renters and/or their insurance companies in order to obtain payment for the replacement of the windshield when, in fact, PCR did not replace the windshield," reads the consent judgment filed in the case in June. "In the instances, PCR thus collected or attempted to collect monies both from the renter who was in possession of the vehicle at the time the windshield was damaged as well as subsequent renters who had no responsibility for the windshield damage."

The judgment notes that the company can no longer "assert or collect any claim for physical damage unless PCR (1) provides the renter an opportunity to conduct a complete inspection of the vehicle before the renter drives the vehicle from PCR's rental car facility and (2) obtains the signature of the renter on an inspection sheet, which allows the renter to note any and all damage to the vehicle, including its windshield, before leaving PCR's rental car facility."

The company also is prohibited from charging renters a loss-of-use fee for windshield damage if it's possible that the vehicle's windshield can be replaced and "returned to PCR's rental facility within eight (8) hours."

In addition to the $100,000 fine, the rental company has agreed to pay restitution "to all renters, insurers, corporations and other legal entities from which PCR received payment for windshield replacement and which PCR cannot affirmatively prove that the damage to the windshield occurred during the period of time that the renter was in possession of the vehicle." Restitution payments, totaling $39,000, include the amount the renter paid for the windshield replacement, the amount they paid in loss-of-use fees and any administrative fees incurred, according to the settlement.

CLICK HERE for full text of settlement.

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