One of the main reasons why AutoSpies was founded was specifically to help you, the consumer. So, unlike many other automotive-related publications, we do our best to reveal the very truth about what's really going on in this space.

That includes the latest products, auto manufacturer news, auto show news, the dealers, and even auto-related applications and services. This story has to do with the latter, specifically an application called Turo that allows users to rent out their rides to make extra cash on the side.

For a friend of AutoSpies, it's clear that Turo did not work out for him.

The following is his story. Buckle up, Spies. You're about to go on a wild ride.

Dear 001,
I am sure that, like me, many of your readers are interested in new technologies, new gadgets, and new apps just as much as we are interested in new cars and automotive news.  In my case, I heard about this (what I though was new) app called Turo which facilitates renting out your car.  I want to share my experience with you and your readers.  I hope I can prevent someone from having the nightmare experience that I had (and am still having).
When I discovered the Turo app, I thought if this works I can be driving a nice car in every city I visit and also rent out mine when I am not using it.  I admit I didn’t thoroughly research the company and was swayed by their advertisements and the security and safety of the process which those advertisements seemed to portray (as well as their mentions of extensive insurance coverage being provided to all rented vehicles).  What follows is a brief account of what actually happened to me in my first, and only, experience renting out my BMW 740 through Turo.

I received a request for a two day rental a few days after my car went live on the app; the app indicated that the proposed renter had used Turo in the past and had been positively reviewed, so I accepted this request for February 1.  The pickup went fine.  I explained to the renter that the paint was matte and not to wash it, and the renter confirmed that this was understood and that the vehicle would be properly cared for while in her custody.  When it came time to return the car, the renter was about 3 hours late, having provided an excuse about unexpected delays from traffic.
What happened next made my heart sink.  I got the car back finally, but it was wrecked on front end.  The interior was also trashed.  The car smelled like marijuana and alcohol.  Everything was wet.  Every button on the car, including the iDrive controls, radio controls, and rear climate controls, were soaked with liquid stains.  There was ash everywhere.  The car's leather had burns, rips and, tears.  They used the navigation screen to ash out cigarettes.  They put out cigarettes all over the car.  They returned the car to me with the exterior damage area buffed; this only exacerbated the situation as you cannot buff matte paint.
I immediately informed Turo, and they seemed understanding about the situation at first.  I did as they asked and sent in nearly 100 photos of the damage, along with a written listing of the damages I had observed.  It was so extensive it took me several hours to compile everything that night.
The next day I had the car towed to the repair center at a local BMW dealership.  Turo's insurance company, The Littleton Group, sent out an inspector.  At the time of the inspection, I was informed that the vehicle would be a total loss.  By the time the inspection and parts research was finished, the damage came out to over $58,000.  The initial appraisal from the appraiser hired by Turo and the Littleton Group stated in writing that the car was a total loss; as such, I went ahead and replaced the car.
What Turo did next was incredible.  I got a courtesy call late at night from the appraiser, who told me Turo and/or Littleton Group (without ever having seen the vehicle in person beyond what he had represented to them) had ordered him to change the estimate from a total loss due to almost $60,000 in damage (including burns and damage to leather, wood, and electronics) to an estimate that showed only the cost of fixing the bumper (approximately $4,000) and a minimal allocation for cleaning/detailing the vehicle and its interior.  Turo had apparently decided to classify almost all of the nearly $60,000 in damages as “wear and tear” which would be excluded from coverage; just for context, that’s greater than $50,000 of wear and tear that Turo claims was a reasonable result of 24-48 hours use of the vehicle by their renter.  The appraiser informed me that the original estimate would NOT be changed, and that he would instead prepare a new one which complied with Turo’s instructions to revise.  Fortunately, I have copies of both.  My sense was that Turo was now playing games, so I asked my personal attorney to go over the claim.

Several weeks had passed since my initial claim, not one cent had been paid, and no work had been done on my car yet, when I unexpectedly received an email from Turo saying they were sending me a payment in the amount of $40,874.37.  The was close to the cost of the parts from the initial estimate, so I made the logical assumption that they had decided to pay out on some of the underlying claim and were attempting to transfer funds to me in connection with this.  Three days later I received another email from Turo stating they were trying to transfer the payment of $40,874.37 to my personal bank account but had been unable to do so and would need me to update my bank account information.  At that point, I reviewed my bank account information on file with Turo and confirmed that everything was accurate.  Approximately one hour later, I received a third email stating they had sent approximately $161.  I asked my attorney to follow up with them about this issue; they told him the discrepancy was due solely to a typographical error made when calculating the amount owed for the mileage overages from the brief period of time when my car was actually rented out, and claimed they had no role in the $40,874.37 failing to transfer from my Turo account to my outside bank account.
After another couple of weeks passed with little progress, I learned they sent a check to the body shop so they could begin work on the bumper.  I grew at least somewhat optimistic that Turo was finally attempting to at least partially address my claim, but my optimism turned out to be short-lived.
Throughout the process, I have additionally insisted (on a non-negotiable basis) that I would not accept back a car which clearly was littered with drug residue, based on both the smell of the vehicle when it was returned and my own visual observation of areas of the interior.  This issue was of particular concern to me because my profession regularly requires that I drive my automobile within the secure areas of the local airports, where, as you can imagine, there is no tolerance for vehicles which show evidence of drug usage. I had (and still have) a very real fear that a drug sniffing dog or some other detection method could wrongly create the impression that I was using the vehicle for the transport or use of illicit narcotics, which could obviously cause me significant personal and professional harm.

Turo ultimately agreed to ensure the removal of any such drug residue and provide certification that there was no remaining drug residue in the vehicle.  Nearly three months has gone by since my initial claim and today they finally sent a crew to deal with the ongoing drug issue. Two gentlemen arrived with no written work order (beyond a general authorization to work on the vehicle that I had previously signed at the request of Turo and the Littleton Group) and instructions to vacuum the car. They had not heard anything about drug testing, and they informed me that their company does not even do such testing.  Furthermore, the shop where the vehicle is located was unwilling to even allow them to do the vacuum cleaning, as they said that Turo and Littleton Group had failed to contact them in advance to obtain authorization for an outside worker to perform work on the vehicle while on the premises. Turo ultimately claimed this was not a failure on their part, but only the result of a miscommunication in terms of what I should have been expecting to be done that day (this after I took time off from work so I could be present to observe the process given my ongoing concerns).

It has now been three months since the rental, and, with the exception of some minimal cleaning of the interior of the vehicle and the aforementioned bumper repairs, my claim still has not been addressed. I additionally attempted along the way to contact my personal insurance carrier, but they (understandably) took the position that there was no coverage for this under my policy, which contains an exclusion for damages incurred when the vehicle is being rented out for commercial purposes. I mention this not to cast any aspersions on my own insurer, but simply to point out that I have truly been leaving no stone unturned in attempting to get my claim fully addressed.

It is my hope that by sharing my experiences, I can spare your readers from potentially encountering the same kinds of problems I’ve been dealing with for the past three months.  I only wish I had been provided such a warning before I made the mistake of doing business with Turo (which I now realize is actually only another name for a company formerly known as RelayRides, Inc. that seems to have its own significant history of uncovered and undercovered claims if the research I have since done is any indication).
Michael Roberts



Curious About Using Your Car To Make $$$ On Turo? After Reading THIS, The Answer Should Be VERY Clear!

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