San Diego

Rental Car Company Blames Wrong Person for Crash Damage

Woman whose car was hit while inside grocery by Alamo rental car driver told to pay for damages

Kate Callen was inside the Vons Supermarket in North Park when she heard an announcement come over the loudspeaker.

“I heard over the loudspeaker they were calling for someone that has a white KIA,” Callen told NBC 7 Responds.

“I didn’t think anything of it because I don’t have a white KIA.”

But little did Callen know; the message did involve her, and it nearly cost her thousands of dollars.

Just before the announcement was made, the driver of a white KIA crashed into Callen’s gold Prius in the parking lot. A shopper was walking in the parking lot and pulled out his phone and recorded the video below of the driver of the Kia looking at the damage and then fleeing the scene.

Meanwhile, Callen finished her shopping. She loaded her groceries into the car and drove home.

As she unloaded the groceries, she noticed major damage to her front bumper.

“Oh, it was bad and I thought, somebody hit me hard,” said Callen. 

“I called the store manager and I said my car was just hit in the parking lot, do you know anything about it and he said, yes we were trying to find you. He said there was a witness.”

Callen contacted the good samaritan that recorded the accident and he sent her the video. She also reported the accident to police.

A few days later Callen was contacted by a representative from Alamo Rental Car. The driver who had hit Callen was in one of their rental cars.

Callen sent the company the video, the pictures of her car at the scene, as well as the police report.

A few weeks later Callen received a letter from Alamo in the mail.

“The letter said, ‘Our review has determined that you are responsible for this accident and we demand that you send us roughly $2,700 right away,” Callen recalled.

Despite the video evidence and the police report, Callen says Alamo Rental Car wanted her to pay for the damage to their car as well as hers.

“I thought this is a nightmare,” Callen said. “I had all of the evidence...and yet, this letter came. It was a shock.”

Unsure of what to do, Callen contacted NBC 7 Responds for help.

“I needed to do something,” she said. “A lot of tourists are driving around in San Diego in Enterprise and Alamo rental cars and if you’re unlucky enough to be hit by one of them you can get a similar letter.”

NBC 7 Responds contacted Alamo’s parent company, Enterprise Holdings and sent them a copy of the video as well as the information that Callen provided.

The following day a spokesperson contacted Callen and told her that she was no longer responsible for the damage.

NBC 7 Responds contacted Enterprise Holdings, Alamo's parent company. In a statement a spokesperson said, "Because the renter who initially denied any involvement is now being truthful and acknowledging fault, this claim has been closed."

“Without NBC News, I’d be sitting across from a lawyer asking how much this would cost me to not have to pay for this,” said Callen.

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