Companies that will help you rent out your RV are blossoming across the internet. Some promise you can make thousands each year: It’s all quick, easy and, of course, safe! That’s the promise that Jared Voeller says he was made by a popular peer-to-peer rental agency. But he found out that the “background check” that the company made on his customer wasn’t quite up to snuff. His story is a cautionary tale.
Penchant for “run-ins” with police
Jared owns a pickup with a camper. He signed up with the popular rental service outdoorsy.com. The firm set him up with a customer who’d pay $145 a day for the rig—some nice pocket change. It was a “last minute request” from a man (Mr. B) who wanted the rig for nine days. After taking the money and watching his RV head down the road, Voeller decided he’d do a little checking on his customer.
Turns out that Mr. B had spent a little time in prison. The renter had a penchant for run-ins with police, one of them quite literal. In San Antonio, Texas, media reports he rammed a patrol car, then barricaded himself in a health care facility. A SWAT team had to be called in to help remove him. Another incident ended up with his getting a four-year sentence for property theft and a controlled substance violation. When the tech-savvy RV owner did his own internet search and turned up this information, he called Outdoorsy and demanded the contract be cancelled and his rig returned.
Outdoorsy contacted renter Mr. B, telling him the deal was off. Mr. B did bring the rig back, and got his rent money back. But not before he sent a scathing text message to Jared Voeller, accusing him of “ruining” his honeymoon. While the rig was OK, Voeller was “out” the nine hours’ worth of rent he was never compensated for. The unhappy camper-owner has since filed suit against Outdoorsy, claiming the middle-man-company committed fraud under Texas’ Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The suit says Outdoorsy misrepresented it had “verified” Mr. B as a “qualified renter.” The suit asks for a million dollars in damages. Still want to rent your RV?
What is a “verification” process?
It all begs the question, just what kind of unqualified person might slide under the “verification” process? For Outdoorsy, the company says its verification means a “driver verification” to ensure a renter is at least 25 years old and possesses a valid driver’s license. Beyond that, RV owners who use the service are on their own. Of course, Outdoorsy isn’t the only outfit that will put you with a potential customer. How’s the screening work through other outfits?
RVezy.com is another go-between company. Here’s what they say about their background checks: “RVezy does a background check on guests renting your RV. Renters must have a valid driver’s license with an unrestricted driving history for a minimum of 8 years and a clean insurance record.” Does that screen out the guy that got convicted of running a mobile meth lab out of a motorhome? It doesn’t look like it.
Other rental outfits claim to have safety protections for RV owners. However, many are cagey and don’t specify on their websites just what constitutes their background check. To find out more, the companies require you to “sign up,” giving away at least your email address, name, and information about your rig. We’re not sure about you, but these days, we’re a little more concerned about privacy.
One outfit we researched, RVshare, did have a “chat” function. Our only question was what constituted their background check. It took us a half-hour of repeatedly questioning the agent to get this answer: “We have partnered with a world-class ID verification service that is trusted by different institutions worldwide. Moreover, our insurance partner checks every detail of the renter before approving their insurance through their driver’s licence [sic] pictures, selfies, and other documents as well. There is nothing to worry about it, as no renter will be approved if there is any criminal history found in the renter’s history.”
Yes, most of the rental outfits we checked do provide both liability insurance and damage or loss coverage, in favor of the RV owner. But if you take pride in your RV, and someone damages your rig with some sort of nefarious activity, will money really make you “whole”? Or, if your rig was confiscated by law enforcement because of illegal activity, how long will it take you to actually replace it when you finally do receive compensation?
Yes, there is the potential of making money by renting out your RV. But beware the pitfalls, and as they say, “do your due diligence” before you commit your RV to a rental agency.
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