As CBC News reports on claims that Budget Rent a Car in B.C. is overcharging customers for minor damage, consumer agencies recommend renters take steps to protect themselves.

1. Read and understand the contents of the consumer contracts to ensure you are comfortable with the obligations under the terms of the contract.

2. Give the vehicle a thorough examination of unusual dents and scratches before you take it out, especially windshield chips. Any damage should be noted on the contract before you leave the lot, even if this means going back into the rental office to make sure the damage is acknowledged in writing. Photograph the car when you take it over and again when you take it back. When you return the car, insist the agency confirm in writing there is no damage.

3. Refuse to pay for damages if the car is dirty — dirt can cover a lot of damage, which may not be visible.

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Consumer advocates advise customers to give rental cars a thorough look before leaving the lot.

4. Pay by credit card, which helps you dispute unwarranted charges. Familiarize yourself with the insurance coverage provided by your credit card company, as well as any limitations.

5. If you do damage the car, get a separate independent quote before you return it so you have an idea what a fair bill might be. You also have a right to see proof that the car was repaired, where and for how much.

Source: Better Business Bureau, Consumer Protection B.C.