(WSVN) - With the pandemic pressure easing, many South Floridians are breathing a little easier and starting to travel again, but now, they’re getting hit with a new headache: bill battles with rental car companies. The Nightteam’s Patrick Fraser has tonight’s special assignment report.

When COVID hit, people stopped traveling. Rental car companies were devastated. Hertz filed for bankruptcy.

Nerriza Ballee, rental bill doubled: “And we decided, ‘You know what? We need to get away. We’ve been cooped up for almost a year.'”

Now, America is reopening, people want to travel and rental cars are in high demand.

Jason Garcia, rental bill tripled: “You get to see things that if you’re in the air, you wouldn’t be able to see. You drive by things, see people you wouldn’t usually see. That’s really cool.”

Jason would wind up in Phoenix.

Nerriza was headed in the opposite direction to Puerto Rico, but both wound up with the same problem.

Nerriza Ballee: “It was like a normal, simple rental that turned into a nightmare.”

Jason picked up a car in Las Vegas and spent three days driving to Phoenix, where he returned the car. With a short supply of rentals, it was a little pricey.

Jason Garcia: “So, it came out to $800.”

That’s what the contract said it should have been, but Thrifty said he owed a lot more.

Jason Garcia: “And that I owe them $3,500.”

Jason had returned the car on the third day. Thrifty said he kept it 13 days.

Jason Garcia: “I had it from the 17th to the 20th, and they’re claiming I had it from the 17th, and I dropped it off on the 30th.”

Jason battled with the rental car agency, calling them seven times and sending Thrifty his boarding pass from the day he flew out of Phoenix. It didn’t matter.

Jason Garcia: “And they’re saying that’s fake proof or whatever. They are saying, ‘Sorry, you owe us $3,500.'”

Nerriza Ballee: “We literally drove around almost the entire island.”

Nerriza and Barbara loved their short getaway to Puerto Rico. Their rental return wasn’t as pleasant.

Nerriza Ballee: “And the charge should have been around $250 in change, so almost three weeks coming back from our trip, there’s a charge — $500 in change.”

Allied Rental told Nerriza the price doubled because she turned in the car five days late.

Nerriza Ballee: “It says my return date, which is the 13th, so they just literally wrote the number 18 next to it.”

Neither Nerriza nor Jason was given a receipt the day they returned the car.

Both fought, both lost, and they are not alone.

This South Florida woman wrote us that her rental agency said she owed $12,000 more than the agreed price.

Another company told this Miami man he owed them another $1,450, so what’s going on?

The spokesperson for a national rental association told us they have not seen a problem nationally that we are seeing with Channel 7 viewers. In other words, it might just be a coincidence that some South Floridians renting cars are having this bill battle.

Jason Garcia: “Now to be going through all of this, it’s just like it left a bad taste in my mouth.”

Fortunately, we were able to wash that bad taste out of Jason’s mouth.

After we contacted Hertz, which owns Thrifty, they wrote, “We considered Mr. Garcia’s documentation and provided a refund.”

Allied hasn’t responded to us regarding Nerriza’s rental mess.

Nerriza Ballee: “That’s scary: the fact that this is something that is happening within the rental companies.”

We will help Nerriza get it straightened out, so the memory won’t be of a rental mistake but like Jason: a wonderful trip.

Jason Garcia: “It was the best vacation of my life.”

And after you win the bill battle, that’s all that really matters.

If you plan on renting a car soon, make sure you get a receipt that shows you returned the car.

Tips To Avoid Rental Bill Battles:

  • Always get a receipt from the rental agency.
  • Take a photo of where you left the car.
  • Keep your boarding pass to prove you departed from the airport.

Copyright 2021 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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