The dangers of leaving a rental car for hours

K: I rented a minivan with Avis for 37 days for $1,770. My pickup and drop off was at the Holiday Inn in Peabody, Mass. When I dropped off the van on a Sunday, the Avis store was closed. I followed the instructions on the door and left the key with the hotel clerk. I parked the van in front of Avis door.

I was hoping for a receipt by email, but never received one. Avis charged me twice – once for $1,459 and a few days later for $1,125. I couldn’t get through the Avis phone jungle to find out what was going on, so I put a second charge on my credit card.

Since then, I have been going back and forth with Avis, answering repeated questions and providing copies of my reservations. I would like to receive a revised invoice for $1,770 and have Avis cancel the second payment and then bill me for the remaining amount. can you help me

A: Avis should have billed you for the correct amount the first time. Once you point out the error, it should quickly review its records and correct your bill. But it didn’t happen.

I reviewed the letter and you are correct. The company asks you the same questions and you already know the answers. Sounds like you’re dealing with a bot (and maybe you are).

Here’s my best guess: You returned your van on time, but Avis didn’t mark it as returned in its system. So it charges you for extra days until it finds the vehicle. This often happens with car rental companies. I advise people to always return their vehicle when the rental location is open so they can get a receipt. It is not enough to leave the key with the hotel clerk, nor is it enough to say what the rental company says. But you wouldn’t know it.

Blocking the second charge on your bill fixed your problem in the short term. But if you refuse to pay, Avis may refer you to a collection agency or put you on its “do not rent” list. That could affect your credit and your ability to rent cars in the future.

After a while I noticed you started writing in all capital letters (which is considered shouting) and threatened to ask your legal counsel. These tactics are understandable, but not always helpful in solving your case.

I contacted Avis on your behalf. A representative reviews your invoices and adjusts the amount as you requested.

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit consumer organization. Contact him Or

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