• Costa Rica Coffee Guide

RENTAL CAR DISPUTE

May 6, 2005

Through an ad in The Tico Times, Irented a Hyundai Galloper last Februaryfrom Pearl Harbor Industries, S.A. inEscazú, represented by Ms. CassandraBurns. The vehicle was in pretty roughcondition and did not have a marchamosticker on the windshield and no currentderecho de circulación in the glove compartment.On my way to the airport topick up a friend, the rear right tire fellapart. After repairing the tire, the car ranOK for the remainder of the rental period,and my $500 cash deposit was refundedupon returning the car.Thinking Ms. Burns was just a notvery-organized person trying to do herbest, I ended up getting the same truckagain when a couple, friends of a friend,visited Costa Rica later in February. Iwas flabbergasted to find the truck inexactly the same condition as before,with no repairs done. I handed over$1,025 (15 days at $35 each, plus a $500deposit). The next morning, the truckwouldn’t start. Later, after furtherproblems, a repair shop confirmed mydiagnosis: alternator not working. Wehad it repaired at a cost of $90, but didnot ask for a receipt.My new friends decided they didn’twant to keep the car any longer. Therewere several telephone conversationsbetween my friends and Ms. Burns(regarding whether they could returnthe car early), but in the end, when Ireturned the car (after four days), Ms.Burns would not refund anything butthe deposit.She made us use a car not legal todrive because of missing paperwork, didnot do any maintenance for God knowshow long, did not repair a defective electricwindow, right door lock, back door,tail light, expansion tank or brake fluidlid (between the two rentals) and did notthink we had the right to return a car thathad, on top of all this, shown two substantialtechnical problems during thefirst 36 hours of a 15-day rental.I will wait to see whether this letterwill lead to the refund of $420 ($525less 4 days at $35 each). Otherwise Iwill file additional complaints with theFinance and Public Transport ministries…to get my money back andprevent somebody else from trippinginto this hole.–Jens Klaus,GolfitoWhen contacted by The Tico Times,Cassandra Burns explained she would notreturn the remainder of Jens Klaus’ moneybecause the rental contract he signed, onboth occasions (Klaus denies havingsigned the contract on the second occasion),clearly states that no pro-ratedrefunds will be made for returning thevehicle prior to the termination date of theagreement.A copy of an unsigned Pearl Harborcontract Klaus provided to The TicoTimes confirms Burns’ assertion.She said she gave Klaus $75 forrepairs to the alternator, although he providedno receipt. She said he changed theamount he expected to be paid for therepair, first asking for $90 and then agreeingto $75, and that her own mechaniclater inspected the car and said the alternatorhad not been touched. She addedthat the car did have the proper registrationon both occasions, but that afterreturning the car the second time, Mr.Klaus took the registration papers beforeleaving her property.“This is not a complex situation,” shesaid. “A man rented a car. For some reason,it doesn’t matter what, he decided hedidn’t want it anymore and brought itback early. He got his deposit back, hegot $75 for a repair he said he made butwhich he had no receipt for, and moneyfor gas he bought, for which he did havea receipt.”Klaus enclosed a document from theMunicipality of Escazú, stating that PearlHarbor Industries, S.A. does not have abusiness license with the municipality.Burns told The Tico Times that accordingto her lawyer, her operation does notrequire a business license.She accused Klaus of threatening toruin her business reputation and of “diabolicallies.” She also said he attempted toblackmail her by threatening to contactthe Finance and Public Transport ministriesif she did not deposit $385 into hisbank account by a certain date.Regarding the alleged mechanicalproblems Klaus experienced while drivingthe car, she said, “He drove the carback. It was running just fine.” She alsosaid he received a special rate on bothrentals, and that “if he wants a perfectcar, he can go to Hertz and pay $100 aday.”

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