Rental car companies are usually willing to overlook small dings and glass chips, But not Vancouver airport's Budget Rent A Car office, say a group of consumers. They claim that Budget location is notorious for flagging returned cars for the most minor of offenses. Worse, they allege that some damage may have been caused by previous customers, and much of it is usually considered normal wear and tear. Alarmingly, a number of complaints allege that damage charges were added after vehicles had been returned and inspected.

The Better Business Bureau has logged at least 70 complaints about British Columbia Budget locations, including claims that customers were forced to pay as much as $966 for total windshield replacements after tiny chips were found, and $446 for repair of a "dimple" in a car's roof. Most customers were informed of the damage well after leaving the rental office, and sometimes after the damage had already been repaired. The business gets an "F" from the BBB.

Those instances would be galling to say the least, but when things got interesting when CBC News' Go Public began looking into the claims.

They found that Budget Rent A Car of B.C. Ltd. is owned by Syd Belzberg, a "wealthy businessman" who also owns Inland Transportation. Which, coincidentally, is contracted to do all repair work for Belzberg's BC Budget locations. Even more concerning is that Allan Fung, the "independent" appraiser used by Budget in at least some of the claims is actually an employee of Budget.

Consumers worried about getting caught in such situations would be wise to sign up for insurance offered by the rental agency. That will at least limit their liability to the deductible, but, as Go Public points out, the rental agency is usually the issuer of the insurance. When, as in the Vancouver area, one man controls the rental agency, the insurer and the repair shop, business interests start to seem "Too close for comfort," as Montreal businessman Marc Vaugeois says.

So far, no lawsuits have been filed, and the Consumer's Association of Canada advises customers to closely inspect their rental cars before returning them and, for extra protection, videotape a walkaround of the car for evidence. To learn more about the Budget fracas, watch the CBC News video report below.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      Carlos Seoane
      • 2 Years Ago
      Ha! I rented from these guys once. I'm so happy they finally got caught. When I returned the car (a Mustang with well over 15k miles on it), the guy went ON HIS KNEES to check every inch and sure enough, he found a scratch on a rim, maybe 1/2 inch long. He clearly was going to keep looking until he found something... anything. They had me fill in an "accident report" which I filled in with "this is wear and tear and I'm not paying you a dime" and I never heard back. Last time I rented at Budget, and that was 7 years ago...
      The Wasp
      • 2 Years Ago
      Shameless. While I'm not a fan of additional regulation, there's no need for a company renting cars to also act as insurer and repairman.
      • 2 Years Ago
      "Consumer's Association of Canada advises customers to closely inspect their rental cars before returning them..." Why not just advise customers to not use the agency at all?
        • 2 Years Ago
        Probably because Canadians are too polite.
      David Barocio
      • 2 Years Ago
      Same thing happened to me with a budget in Miami! They actually accused me of totally damaging the driver front fender. I received a letter A MONTH after returning the car after 1 days use. After calling them and asking what this was about and the car was fine when I returned it, all they said was "ok, thank you. dont worry about the letter, we removed it from your "file". Fishy much?? Criminals.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Gee, quelle surprise. The one time I rented a car, from Budget no less, my $30/day Corolla (this was in the late '80s) turned into a $900 bill after five days and zero added mileage. After my lawyer got involved they settled for $200.
      • 2 Years Ago
      The last time I rented a car, it was from a small, independent, hole in the wall company. When I picked the car up, I walked around and took pictures of everything. I did so right in front of the owner. He kept insisting that every little ding I photoed would not be counted against me and he refused to mark every blemish on his clipboard form. He must have not remembered me though, because when I dropped the car off, he started tagging me for these tiny imperfections. I took out my camera and showed him every little ding. That shut him up.
      • 2 Years Ago
      The suggestions to avoid the problem should include staying away from Budget.
      crazy ray
      • 2 Years Ago
      They're not the only ones. My wife couldn't pay her Comcast bill over the internet because, surprise, the Comcast cable was out of commission. So she tried to pay by phone, which, these nice people told her would cost an additional $5.99. They can't supply their product, so she has to pay more. Now, go ahead, tell me how Comcast is looking out for us poor slobs who were victims of Sandy. they should be put out of business immediately.
      Andre Neves
      • 2 Years Ago
      Most of these rental car companies are run by scum. I've dealt with several and they are all pretty much the same. They all try to screw over their customers every chance they get.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Andre Neves
        No kidding. I also find the insurance and gas charges to be total thievery.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Easy to solve this everyone needs to stop renting from Budget and they won't last 6 months!!!lots of rental companies out to settle for this kind of treatment!!!!!
      • 2 Years Ago
      it has always been a known fact that people (renters) treat renttal cars like crap !!!!!!! Ohhh dont worry its a rental. , i recently was in PBI at the rental place and they were talking to a customer who was irate because they were charging him 250.00 for a cleaning charge because there was smoking in the car , the guy was livid saying it wasnt his fault etc. when the agent walked away I asked him what was going on and he said " i met some chick and she smoked in my car all weekend " when the agent came back he was still arguing that the car was that way .... I look at him and I looked at the agent and i said why dont you ask him about the Chic he met this weekend ........ what a dumb fuc this guy was if you are going to lie lie the whole way not just to the agent i cant stand people who take advantage like this step up and accept responsibility ....
      • 2 Years Ago
      Never gonna rent budget
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