I rented a Makita HR5211C for a week to help with the knock-through on my kitchen extension. With the wall and the huge concrete lintel duly demolished, I took it back about 15 minutes before the end of the last day of hire (yesterday). They accepted it without looking at it.
Today, the hire company phoned me to say they'd just noticed it had been damaged and looked beyond repair. Could I come and have a look? Off I went and they showed me the damage - a dent in the aluminium panel surrounding the roto-stop control and a bit of plastic casing which looked like it had bowed and come unhooked from its mating half. I was then directed to the boss, who I must now come to "an arrangement" with, despite my protestations that it hadn't been damaged whilst I had it.
The boss explained that the tool, dispite still working, was now scrap since it was uneconomic to repair and certain to fail a test vital to allowing it out on hire (PAT presumably). I would have to pay for a new one but, luckily for me, I would only have to pay 485 quid, since he could get them cheap. I offered to buy the "broken" tool from them for 200 quid since I could do with a decent breaker and I didn't care about the "damage". This met with laughter. The tool was "only six months old" and only a brand new replacement would compensate them for the fact that it was now a total loss.
There followed a discussion about what my options were. The boss urged me to make a claim on my house insurance. I elected instead to refuse to pay, which would result in the dispute being escalated to "the directors". The boss warned me that "the directors" weren't likely to be as understanding as him and they would probably come after me for the full list price which he helpfully looked up - 1200 quid. If I still refused to pay, it would go to court and "we always win".
The tool was quite gnarly and I was a little sceptical about it being only six months old, so I asked to see it again to take the model and serial numbers. When I commented that the serial number started with "2008" the boss, quick as a flash, said "That's the date of the design". I bade him farewell and left.
Back home, I rang the Makita service department who were very helpful. They confirmed that 2008 was the date of manufacture and that, from my description of the damage, the tool would be quick and cheap to repair. I passed this info on to the boss at the hire firm who responded that the tool had been bought as "pallet stock" but was still effectively new six months ago. He did seem much more accommodating though and said he would take it to Makita and show me their repair price before authorising a payment.
All in all, I've come to the conclusion that these people won't be my first choice next time I want to hire something...