Last Updated on April 22, 2024 by Kristin

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We all hope our trip will run smoothly, but unfortunately things do not always go according to plan. If you have a bad experience, here’s how to file a car rental complaint that gets results.

Know Why You’re Complaining

While it’s understandable to be annoyed after a disappointing interaction with a rental car company, avoid picking up the phone or firing off an email to vent until you have taken some time to identify the specific problem and what you would consider a satisfactory solution.

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Focus your complaint on one or two fixable, concrete issues rather than a general complaint about how awful the company is. After all, a rental car agent can remove a surprise fee but can’t change an entire company culture. As consumer advocate Christopher Elliott points out, it pays to use your manners and be specific about your request if you want rental car companies to take your complaint seriously.

Make a Formal Car Rental Complaint

When you’ve decided on the core issue of your complaint, your best bet is to contact the rental car company directly through its main customer service phone number. Here are some of the main customer service numbers for quick reference:

Avis: 800-352-7900

Alamo: 844-357-5138

Budget: 800-214-6094

Enterprise: 855-266-9565

National: 800-367-6767

Thrifty: 800-847-4389

Sixt: 888-749-8227

Call the main number and say you’d like to file a complaint. Note the time of your call and the representative’s name and ID number, if any. The representative will likely ask you to fill out a form or complete a process. Listen to the instructions and provide any necessary documentation. FIling the correct paperwork is is key for tracking your complaint and ensuring that the right people see it.  If you haven’t heard back after a few days or a week, call again to check up on your complaint.

Reach Out on Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool for sharing your feedback with rental car companies, especially if you need immediate help or if you’re hearing crickets after going through the official channels. Here’s how you can get in touch with rental car companies on social media:

Twitter: Most car rental brands use Twitter to communicate with customers. Send a direct message to the company or tag them in a tweet with a quick explanation of your complaint. Again, be direct but polite and avoid inappropriate language.

Google and Yelp Reviews: Google and Yelp both allow you to review your experience at a specific rental car location, and you can document your experience with transparency. Managers often check these reviews and offer unsatisfied customers direct responses about how to remedy the situation. Just make sure you use factual information, and remember that there is a real person on the other end reading your feedback.

Document Everything

You’ll need to provide some basic information about your rental experience when filing a complaint, especially if it involves extra charges or damages to the vehicle. Here are some documents you should gather:

Rental car contract and reservation confirmation: Be sure to keep a copy of your rental car reservation, as well as the rental contract. This information serves as a record of the dates you picked up the vehicle, how long you had it and the specific terms you agreed to.

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Photos of the vehicle: When you pick up a rental car, always take detailed photos of the exterior and interior of the vehicle. Then do the same when you return the car. This will protect you if you have to dispute charges related to a damage claim.

Credit card receipts: Keep all receipts related to your car rental reservation in case you have to dispute a charge directly with the credit card company.

Phone calls and emails: Keep a record of every contact you have with the car rental company. Take note of the person you talk to and the information discussed.

While it’s never fun to file a complaint about your rental car reservation, using these tips will help ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.