Dear ABC News Fixer: I actually have two problems that need to get fixed. First, we had a relative living with us, and we were paying her bills, since she didn't have a job in the beginning. This included her car insurance with AAA, which was paid automatically with my debit card.
She moved away. Last month, I checked my bank and saw a pending charge for $73.99 for her car insurance.
I called AAA and explained that my card should be taken off her account, but they couldn't help me because the account was in her name, not mine, and she could not be reached. I tried to speak with a supervisor, but after holding for 30 minutes I got frustrated and hung up.
Two days went by and the money cleared, along with a $33 overdraft fee. We were about to move to a new place and I needed that $100 for the move. I had $60 for the week to live on for groceries and gas for two cars.
On top of all that, I'm worried – will this happen again next month?
Now for problem number two. For our move to the new place, my wife and I rented a 17-foot U-Haul truck. We were moving about a half-mile away. The U-Haul location was about four miles from the old place, so in total, we drove about 8.3 miles.
We returned the truck and left the keys there. When I got the receipt later, I noticed they had charged us for 59.3 miles – more than seven times what we drove. It would not have been possible to have driven 59 miles to move a half-mile away. I tried to explain that there must have been a mistake, but I couldn't get anywhere.
- Neil Alcaraz, Santee, Calif.
Dear Neil: Well, it's your lucky day, because the ABC News Fixer is offering a two-for-one holiday special, today only!
We were especially sympathetic about how your generous gesture to pay someone's bill had turned into a financial problem for you. (Note to readers: This is why you need think carefully before agreeing to lend money to or co-sign a loan for a relative. We have heard countless horror stories about well-meaning people who were saddled with a debt after the person couldn't pay.)
But back to your problem. We got in touch with AAA's public relations director and were able to explain the situation: that it wasn't your name on the account but it was your money on the account. They jumped on this right away. First, they called you and let you know your card would be taken off. They also agreed to refund you the $73.99 and even better, they agreed to pay the $33 overdraft fee.
One down, one to go!
Using Google maps, you were able to show U-Haul your exact route and mileage. We asked the company to investigate, and meanwhile you filed a complaint with customer service.
You soon got your resolution: U-Haul agreed to refund you $46 for the difference in mileage. (They told us they checked the truck and found the odometer was working properly, but the entry of mileage on the contract is done manually so they decided to take you at your word.)
One general tip for anyone renting a car or truck – consider using your smart phone to photograph the beginning and ending odometer readings. That way, if something is mis-recorded, you'll have your proof at hand.
Best wishes for a problem-free 2014.
- The ABC News Fixer
Listen to this ABC News Fixer story on the ABC News Radio magazine "Perspective,"airing this weekend on your local ABC affiliate.
Got a consumer problem? The ABC News Fixer may be able to help. Click here to submit your problem online. Letters are edited for length and clarity.