Ford Econoline E-350 driven in a dusty climate. Am I being ripped off?

I rented a van for a trip with some friends. It spent about a week parked in a very dusty climate (read: frequent dust storms), but was never driven while any dust was in the air. It made the 500 mile trip back at the end of week with no problems, and no strange noises (1000 mile round trip).

Cut to a few days ago, and the rental company sent me a bill claiming that the air filter, serpentine belt, power steering fluid, and transmission fluid all needed to be replaced. On top of the fees they’re charging, it’s almost $750.

Everything I’ve read says that, if the power steering and transmission fluids need to be replaced, it’s every 24,000 miles or more. The belt was fairly dusty, but definitely showed no obvious cracking or fraying. Am I being ripped off? What’s my recourse here?

I see no possible way the dust could have gotten into the transmission fluid or the power steering fluid. They’re closed systems, not sealed, but not open to the elements in any way either. .

I’d have to see the serp belt and air filter, but since I can’t believe them on the fluids, I also must distrust them on the other items.

I think you’re being ripped off.

Tell them to jump in a lake. That’s BS. You can drive through all the dust you want, you’re not going to get dust in the transmission fluid or the power steering fluid. Dust on a belt doesn’t hurt anything - if it needs to be replaced it’s because it’s worn out, and that’s not your problem. The air filter is SUPPOSED to be dusty, because it traps the dust before it gets into the engine and damages something. It’s a standard replacement item and you aren’t responsible for that either.

These jackasses are trying to con you into paying for their routine maintenance. Don’t fall for it. This sounds like a very shady car rental shop that probably needs to be reported to your state’s attorney general.

I like Shadow’s idea of reporting them to your state atty general’s office. There should be a form online. I believe all states have these complaint forms online now.

Also send these idiots a certified letter advising them that you’re reporting them to the AG’s office. My guess is that they’ll waive everything. My guess is that they don’t want the AG’s office investigating them. But follow through with the report anyway. They deserve it, and you’ll be helping stop crime and preventing others from getting ripped off.

Agreed. The only way they could ‘prove’ this is if they inspect the fluids and air filter after EVERY rental. They don’t. Contest it on your credit bill and write (don’t just call) a detailed refusal, copy the appropriate govt. agency.

These items are all part of regular maintenance. Those who rent are responsible for damage, not maintenance. That should be included in your rental fee.

Lots of good ideas on how to proceed from here. Being retired and having the time, I would exhaust everyone of them…from notifying the AG of your state to stopping payment on your credit card…ASAP.

Agreed; they’re trying to rip you for the cost of basic maintenance which is the responsibility of the rental company. File a complaint with the AG’s office.

Wonder how many others they try to pull this cxxp on. Do it a 1000 times and if 200 people do not balk and pay up without question it becomes a profitable venture for them.

This is what I would suggest

Call them up and tell them either they’re satisfied with the initial rental fee, and not one cent more . . . or you contest the charge, and they may get nothing in the end

A bird in the hand . . .

No matter what they say, report them to the AG, regardless

I would suspect that a phone call or letter from the consumer protection people at the AG’s office would probably lead to that monetary demand dying and some mumbling from them about a “misunderstanding”.

I suppose if the van were caught in a desert sandstorm, buried up to the windows and needed to be shoveled out (like the scene from the movie English Patient) then it’s possible that there is sand contamination to some systems of the van. But as you describe it, I don’t think there’s any damage.

If this “wonderful” rental agency refuses to behave, OP should dispute the charge, tell them to ESAD and contact the credit card company and the AG

Maybe then they’ll rethink their greedy, shady and criminal ways

Yes you are if you pay the $750. I wouldn’t pay them an extra dime.

This wouldn’t be Enterprise, would it?
I saw that an investigative reporter recently was researching Enterprise, and there might be criminal convictions in some states as a result. It seem Enterprise has a corporate policy of ripping off customers. There have been extremely large number of complaints filed with state atty general offices about Enterprise charging people on a routine basis for things such as you describe. The investigations are revealing that they’re routinely charging people for damage that doesn’t exist, charging multiple people for the same damage, and numerous other nefarious charges.

In addition to filing a report to your state’s atty general’s office, a search of this problem might be revealing.

It seems Enterprise is “enterprising”

An appropriate name for a company with apparently shady business practices


I have a better name… but this is a family friendly forum.
I wish I could remember the details of what I saw, but I cannot.

Not Enterprise, although I didn’t know that they also had a shady reputation.

It’s a van rental company called Bandago.

I’ve never heard of them but a look at their website shows that the only maintenance policy they have is that the van renter is required to change the engine oil every 3k miles or a fee will be assessed for that. You only put a 1000 miles on it so I’d tell them to pound sand.

The cruder version would be to eat ____ and die; always an option if the pounding sand thing doesn’t work out… :slight_smile:

Sounds like Bandito would have been a more accurate name.

They saw dust in the engine compartment and went for it.

They probably never even opened the hood… and they probably have no intention of doing the work.
This might even not be he first renter of this vehicle that’s been charged for this maintenance.
In the investigation into Enterprise they discovered that numerous renters had been charged for the same damage… damage that was never repaired.