Car hire - being chased for excess charges re overseas hire
Not sure if this is the right place to post this - seemed the best fit within the forums.
In Dec 19 I travelled to another country and hired a car through a global car hire company. It got damaged in a carpark (minor paintwork/panel damage to a small section of the car, nothing serious but enough to need a localised panel re-spray). Didn't take the car hire company's excess waiver insurance, just paid the basic rate and got my own insurance to cover any excess damage costs. Reported the damage when I checked the car back in, they pre-authorised about £1,000 on my credit card.
Then, didn't hear anything for ages, got a letter in February from the UK affiliate of the company attempting to invoice me for ~£1,000 mostly for the cost of repairing the car. I asked for evidence that the repairs had actually cost £1,000. About a month later they replied, not answering any of my questions and attaching another invoice, this one for slightly more than £1,000 with different items on it (including an element of the actual rental payment which was definitely all paid in advance). Again I responded to this, querying the amount and asking for evidence of the cost of the repair and refusing to pay anything more than the actual cost of repairing the car.
Another month down the line, they replied, saying that they confirm that there was no balance outstanding and that the matter was closed. Their email cites the rental agreement number and was in follow up to my email seeking a genuine invoice for the damage to the car rather than the list of unintelligible charges they sent.
Now, two months after sending that I have received an email from the group entity in the country of hire. They have sent me a third invoice - which actually does make sense and appears to be reasonable - for about £200. I have obviously pointed out to them that their company has told me no balance is owed. They have given this short shrift and said effectively "unfortunately our UK company does not have access to the relevant information" and threatened to pass to a debt collection agency if I don't pay immediately.
Views on what I should do?
Obviously I was liable for damage caused during the rental period - however, they have (i) confirmed to me in writing that I don't owe them anything after failing on two occasions to send an accurate invoice and (ii) their delays mean that I am now out of time to claim on the insurance cover I arranged, so had they invoiced me properly, on time, I would have been able to claim back the full £200.
Should I try offering them part payment on the basis their delay / incompetence has resulted in me no longer being able to claim this back?
(I suppose it's not really relevant but I don't understand what the point of them getting me to pre-authorise an amount on my credit card was if they still need to invoice me and get me to pay - I assume the issue may be that the card expired last month so their delay in getting onto this has left them unable to do that).
Thanks for reading & any assistance.