Rental-Car Tip: Ask "By Any Chance, Is This Car Listed As Stolen?"

When the police pulled over Malcolm Riles earlier this week and told him he was driving a stolen car, the 29-year-old TSU grad student didn’t know what to think.

Initially, he said, one HPD car was behind him, but by the time he pulled into his apartment complex’s parking lot, he and his passenger were surrounded by six cars. That’s when he was ordered out, handcuffed, and stuck in the back of a car while he tried to explain that, yes, the car was not his – it was rented from Toyota Rent-a-Car. Meanwhile, Riles’s neighbors came outside to see what the commotion was all about. That’s when they saw Riles in the back of a patrol car – not exactly the image one wants to present to one’s neighbors.

Riles told Hair Balls that it took about two hours for the police to straighten things out.

Apparently, the car he rented was reported stolen in July, but it was quickly recovered. Unfortunately, the folks at that rental branch forgot to notify police. And when the branch manager didn’t seem sympathetic or apologetic, Riles says, he filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

“She was more concerned about when we were going to return the vehicle, versus…’Is the customer OK? Is there anything I can offer to do to for you?’” Riles says. Ultimately, he says, he got a call from Operations Manager Andrew Iatridis, who offered him a full refund.

“They should have refunded the money to begin with….she should have automatically said, ‘You know what? We’re not going to charge you for your rental.’….I was sitting in the back of a police car for two hours with all my neighbors outside – you’re still going to charge me?”

Riles says he wants at least three free rentals from the company. Hair Balls left Iatridis a voicemail to see what he had to say about that, but he hasn’t returned the call. Maybe he’s stuck in the back of a police car…

-- Craig Malisow

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