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Last month, I rented a 2012 Camry from National Car Ripoff (i mean Rental). The rental location was Union Station in Washington, DC. In hindsight, I should have known the whole operation was trouble, when the counter clerk refused my request to inspect the car before signing the rental contract. I was told (in front of two witnesses traveling with me) words to the effect that "we don't do that." However, it was late, I had missed my train and signing the rental agreement - car unseen - was the only option I had to get home.

Although National has a retail desk in the Station proper, one needs to go to the bowels of the attached bus terminal in order to retrieve the chosen car once rented. When we got there, the attendants could not find the car for 5-10 minutes. After it was located, they again would not allow us to inspect it. We were quickly hustled into the car and out of the facility.

The drive home was uneventful. Two work colleagues traveled with me and could attest that nothing happened. We arrived back in Wilmington, DE around midnight. I dropped my colleagues at the train station parking garage. I then set about trying to return the car.

National has very little presence at the Wilmington Train Station. They share a desk with Enterprise (by whom they and Alamo Rental Car are owned). Nor does National have a dedicated lot at the Wilmington Train Station for its cars. Rather, rental cars are located in an unguarded, open lot approximately 1/2 block from the train station, which is located in not the nicest part of town. National has 2-3 spaces that are clearly marked with National signage. I parked the rental car in one of these spaces.

Although National's retail desk at the Wilmington Train Station was closed, they had an after hours drop box, in which I deposited the car keys. I also, in a move that would haunt me later, wrapped my copy of the rental contract around the keys so that there would be no confusion as to my identity. From there, I retrieved my car from the station garage and drove home, thinking my National Car Rental saga had reached its end.

How wrong I was! The next morning a clerk from the National desk at the Wilmington Train Station called me and asked if there had been an accident involving the car. I said no and asked what was wrong with the car. She said she wasn't sure but thought there was damage to the right front bumper and would get back to me. I never heard from her again.

The next communication I received was a letter from National's "Damage Recovery Unit". That letter insisted I was responsible for damage to the rental car but again provided no information about what the alleged damage was. Several frustrating telephone calls and emails followed, in which I tried without success to find out what the alleged damage was and what basis they had for trying to assign responsibility to me. I could not even succeed, except with great difficulty, in obtaining a copy of my rental contract. The first request was ignored. The second request resulted in them sending me a copy of such poor quality that it could not be read. Only on my third try did I actually get a legible copy of the contract.

I fared no better in finding out what was the alleged damage to the vehicle. A representative of the so-called Damage Recovery Unit actually insisted that they would not give me any documentation or other information about the alleged damage until AFTER they had completed their own investigation AND made repairs. That tactic, of course, renders it impossible for anyone to effectively challenge their claim of damage, which, I suspect, is just what it was designed to do.

Well, I eventually (after approximately 12 days) received documentation about the alleged damage in the mail. It included pictures of the alleged damage to the vehicle. What they revealed is that some third person (assuming that no one from National was responsible) had broken the window at the back of the passenger compartment, dented the car in various places, punctured a hole in the body, damaged the bumper and damaged a headlight assembly. The damage was extensive enough that I (or the other two people traveling in the car) would have noticed it. I, for example, can say to an absolute certainty that no occupant of the car was covered with shards of safety glass from a broken window in the passenger compartment at any time during our journey. The only likely explanation was that the care was vandalized by some third party after, per National's instructions, I parked it in National's open, unguarded lot at the Wilmington Train Station.

I patiently explained all this to the Damage Recovery Unit people. Their response was to insist that - despite the fact that I had returned the car and the keys to their premises - I remained responsible for any damage to the vehicle until a National employee got around to checking the car in during the next business day. For this proposition, they rely on language deeply buried in their non-negotiable contract of adhesion. At this time, I am continuing to contest their assertion of liability.

So, consider yourself duly warned. This is the treatment you can expect from this company. I can't promise you that other car rental agencies will be better. But, if my experience is representative of how National deals with its customers, you will come to regret using National if there is any problem with the vehicle you rented - regardless of your culpability - when you return the vehicle.

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Severn, Maryland, United States #932258

I had the misfortune of renting a car at the NATIONAL car rental location in CANCUN,

and yes -

they are scammers and thieves.

I agree with this post and many others.

They made a point of mentioning and showing me the gas level in the car, much to my surprise when I returned the gas level marked on the document was higher. (I brought it in with exactly the amount I got it with). They proceeded to charge me 12 dollars for a gallon of gas because i was one 16th of a tank short. Unbelievable.

No amount of discussing or explaining worked in fact they got very very rude with me. I felt like since I was in a foreign country I didnt have much recourse, because in the USA I would have just called national corporate.

Severn, Maryland, United States #729405

The Balt/Washington Location has bad service and rude agents. We opted to rent and drive from Baltimore to New York bad choice using them. Everyone was rude !!

Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico #728935

hi...just got a letter from NATIONAL RENTAL, DAMAGE RECOVERY UNIT.

I live in Cancun,MX and can't seem to connect to the phone number on this letter. A month later they are trying to make me pay for a scratch that was on the car when rented it.the email address just bounces back to me, what kind of a company is this????

please if someone can get me a phone number to their claims division in Dallas, Tx.

Thank you.

Buffalo, New York, United States #702617

I just got a letter from the Damage Recovery Unit saying that I owe them $1400+ for damage to their car. I did not rent of their cars.

They said I was responsible, insinuating that I hit their car. And they sent all sorts of pictures of a damaged passat that I know nothing about.

This sounds like a huge scam to me.

If they want to contact me it is claim 04045401


I am having the same problem with I have suspended any more business with them for the rest of this year.


We'd be more than happy to look into this for you. Please email care[at] with your contact information, the rental agreement, and all the details above so we can address this issue.

When emailing please list reference #120614-001180 in the subject line.


National Car Rental

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