Non-smoker hit with $400 smoking fee from car rental company


A B.C. woman who is a non-smoker is warning others after she was hit with a $400 USD smoking fee from Sixt Rent a Car.

“Very disgusted. They were being so blatant in their attempt, charging me for something that rightfully was not me doing,” Andrea Caplan told Consumer Matters.

Back in January, the Whistler resident flew to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and rented a Sixt vehicle.

When Caplan returned the rental car at the end of her trip, she said the Sixt agent inspected and approved the vehicle.

“The agent at the airport gave me the ok.”

However, four days later, she received an unexpected surprise on her invoice indicating a smoking charge. She reached out to Sixt and disputed the charges with little success.

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“Initially, they said, ‘Oh, it’s a bad odor that you are being charged for and not smoking,’ and then they reverted back to, ‘No, it’s a smoking charge,’” she said.

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Making matters worse, Caplan said Sixt sent her several photographs of a vehicle’s interior as evidence.

However, she said she couldn’t tell for certain if the pictures were from the one she had rented.

“I can’t really tell what they are. It looks like dirt to me. I couldn’t even tell if it was even my vehicle,” she said.

“It was just a close-up of the console. Basically, I guess they think it’s my word against them and there was nothing they were going to do.”

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Caplan reached out to Consumer Matters for help.

Days later, a Sixt representative told Consumer Matters in a statement:

“At SIXT we are deeply committed to providing our customers with an outstanding car rental experience and excellent customer service. There is nothing more important than for us to ensure every customer has the very best experience with us. We have resolved the concern the customer had to their satisfaction.” 

Caplan was refunded the smoking fee and the entire cost of her rental for a total of $923.72

After this latest experience, she said she is warning consumers to do their due diligence when renting a vehicle.

“Take a long time before you leave your car with the agent. Videotape her or him doing their inspection and make sure you do a full video of the car inside and out,” she said.

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The Better Business Bureau also suggests the following tips when renting a vehicle:

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  • Thoroughly inspect your rental car before you drive away.
  • If you see any damage, notify the company representative and make sure it’s noted on the car condition form.
  • Take pictures of the damage and the mileage.
  • Before leaving the rental vehicle, photograph the vehicle’s front, rear, sides and interior and be sure the check-in attendant inspects the car’s body in your presence and you agree to any damage.
  • Get a final print-out of the charges, keep receipts and watch for any unusual charges on your credit card.  Contact your credit card company if you see suspicious charges related to damage to the vehicle, third-party toll bills, cleaning charges alleging you smoked in the car, etc.
  • If you opt to return your rental with a full tank of gas, keep your receipt and record the mileage at the time of the fill.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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