State lawmaker files bill to hold rental car companies accountable for damage
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A lawmaker representing Charleston County has filed a bill in the state legislature to prevent car rental companies from charging customers for damage the customers did not cause.
Rep. Wendell Gilliard (D-Charleston County) filed the measure after he said he received a bill for more than $20,000 from the Avis-Budget Group.
The bill stems from an incident in which Gilliard rented a car from Avis Budget at the Charleston International Airport and then received a bill for $21,199.83 for damages. An investigation revealed the car was taken after Gilliard dropped it off by an Avis Budget employee and the damages happened after Gilliard had returned it.
The bill, filed on Tuesday, would require rental car companies to record a video documenting the condition of the vehicle before it is rented and another video within 24 hours after it is returned.
“A rental company may not hold a renter liable for any damage that is not evidenced by a recording made in this manner, offered to the renter, and provided to the renter upon request pursuant to the requirements of this section,” the bill states. “A rental company shall retain copies of these recordings for a period of three years and make them available to the renter upon request”
Gilliard says customers do not have much in the way of recourse when a company sends them a bill for damages.
“Customers always feel that they’re in a fight with a giant,” Gilliard said. “All you have to do is calm down, get the facts, get the cameras, get the films and prove the point.”
The bill would also prohibit rental car companies from offering to sell optional insurance coverage if the renter already has insurance.
Avis Budget has not returned a request for comment on the new bill.
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