IN YOUR CORNER: Nurse on pandemic front lines fights for rental car refund

In Your Corner

OKLAHOMA (KFOR) – Christine Leiva was on a cross country trip when it happened.

“I pick up the vehicle from Will Rogers [World Airport],” she explained. “Come back to the house, load up all the kids, and we start driving.”

They loaded up in a Budget rental car, which would cost an estimated $358. The crew was destined for Carlsbad, New Mexico.

“We’re about eight minutes away from the hotel we’ll be staying in, and I hit a deer,” said Christine. “Never hit anything in my life.”

Carlsbad police responded to the scene, giving the family a lift to a hotel, while towing the rental to an impound lot.

“We told Budget, we said hey, your car’s wrecked, here’s the impound, here’s the police report, here’s our rental confirmation, here’s everything,” said Rob Roddy.

The family trip was then cut short. Christine is an intensive care RN with Integris.

With COVID-19 numbers rising in the state, Christine said she needed to rush home in another rental to help at work.

She tells News 4 she now almost exclusively works with COVID-19 patients.

As the pandemic raged with Christine on the front line, a mysterious charge appeared on her credit card.

Budget had charged their card more than $4,000, and a call for answers only led to more questions.

“They’re saying, well, we don’t have the car,” Christine said. “So that’s a $4,000 rental fee.”

Christine tells News 4 she believes they were charged for every day the car wasn’t returned.

But when she tried to explain her situation, she and Rob say they were stuck on the customer service carousel.

“They would say, OK, we have to transfer you to another supervisor,” said Christine. “Is there nobody that’s putting this into like a file, a document?”

In Your Corner took a look into the story. We’ve learned the car was taken to Fairway Auto Clinic in Carlsbad following the wreck.

People at the car lot tell News 4 the car was taken back to an AVIS/Budget lot on April 15.

Christine first saw the Budget charge four days later on April 19.

A spokesperson speaking on Budget’s behalf was unable to comment to News 4, but said the company would reach out to the customer, and a resolution could be looming.

Then late last week, some good news for Christine by way of a voicemail from Budget.

“I did want to let you know that, after a review of the rental, there was a refund issued in the amount of $3,521.20,” said the Budget employee. “I apologize for the frustration, and I appreciate it being brought to our attention.”

After we called, and a further look by Budget, Christine received a refund minus the amount for damages to the car.

Good news for her family, and a reminder of how important insurance is on rental cars. Christine didn’t opt for extra coverage, because her insurer covered the rental.

Bottom line – make sure your rental ride is properly covered either by your current plan, or by their extended options.

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