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Rental Car Experiences?

steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,049
Rented a car lately?

Good experience or did you get ripped off? Does anyone actually read the fine print in the rental car contract? (if you do, you must walk around with a magnifying glass in your pocket!).

4 Rental Car Scams

Car rental tips from an ex-Enterprise Rental Salesman

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Minivan fan. Feel free to message or email me - stever@edmunds.com.

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Comments

  • oldfarmer50oldfarmer50 Posts: 6,597
    I recently rented two cars in Florida from Budget. When they asked about insurance I momentarily lost my mind and said yes. I guess I was thinking about my wife who was driving the second car.

    Anyway, it DOUBLED my rental cost. Sometimes when you are on vacation your good sense leaves town too.

    On the positive side, both cars drove like new. That has not always been the case. I sometimes think I'm the next renter to get cars that appear on YouTube.

    2009 PT Cruiser, 2008 Eclipse, 1995 Mark VIII, 1988 GMC Van

  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,860
    I rented an Audi A6 from Hertz in Vegas a few months ago. It was a little pricer than the average car, but I got the exact vehicle I wanted, it was in new condition, and the whole experience was faultless. I also joined the online club scheme which enabled me to not have to wait in a long line at the delivery desk - and no hard sell on insurance or anything. Not a bad deal.

    Earlier in the year on seperate occasions I rented from Enterprise, once a Ford Focus ZX5 and once a Kia Spectra. The Focus was nice enough, only had about 5K miles on it and very clean. The Kia however had like 25K miles on it, and those were some hard miles judging by the interior. I actually felt sorry for the car. Renting the Focus was smooth, but I got the hard sell on insurance with the Kia. I didn't fall for it.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    love to sell the insurance, don't they?

    Actually, the only time I haven't had the hard sell on insurance is when I rent from my local Enterprise. But I am a regular there, so maybe since I never get the insurance they have just given up on that score, eh? I still get friendly treatment, quick service, and what I think is a good price. And the Enterprise cars I have had have always been fairly new and in good condition.

    Rented once recently from National/Alamo (my Enterprise was out of minivans) and had no problem myself; however, when I came back another guy (who didn't buy the insurance) was getting raked over the coals upon returning his rental, because the front underbody air dam was partially ripped off. One look at the thing and it was clear this damage was way older than anything this guy could have done, but it made no difference - they were insisting on charging his credit card for the full price of body repair and threatening to sue. First and last time I will ever rent at National/Alamo.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • tedebeartedebear Posts: 832
    I think the people behind the counter must get a commission whenever a customer agrees to the ridiculously overpriced insurance. That's the only reason I've concluded as to why they try so hard to get me to accept it.

    I always tell them that my credit card company covers me if I have an accident but they try to intimidate me by saying I will be charged the full amount and it could be months before the credit card company pays me back. I sometimes counter with, "Well, maybe I've rented this car with a credit card I seldom use that has an extremely low credit limit and you won't be charging me for anything higher than what it is." If the daily rates weren't over $4,000 per year I might accept their coverage.

    I'm currently doing battle with Europcar for excess charges when I rented a vehicle in Paris back in August. They're trying to tack on over $70 in fuel surcharges because I returned the car about 1/2 full. The problem is when I picked it up from the CDG airport the fuel tank was nearly empty. I should be charging them for the excess.

    I was in a hurry at the time I picked up the car and I had them make a note of the fuel level (in French). The return attendant apparently didn't notice the note. My credit card company is interceding on my behalf. We haven't heard from Europcar in two months so I think the matter is closed. $70 isn't that big of a deal to me but it's the principle of the thing.

    Then there's the story of the tiny windshield rock chip that Dollar in Detroit tried to stick me with paying to be replaced, if anyone wants to hear that one.
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,193
    My girlfriend once rented a Mitsubishi Galant from Enterprise on Rising Sun Avenue in Philadelphia. She forewent the insurance and they tried to make her pay $500 for a little ding on the front passenger door. Fortunately, the previous guy who rented the car left his paperwork under the seat and it noted the same ding. She confronted them with this evidence and they quickly dropped it. I guess girlfriend won't be renting a car from them again.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,035
    Everyone just about has a digital camera. It would pay to take pictures before you leave the rental place. Not sure it would help. It would let you know if it was a new or old dent.
  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,915
    Great idea gagrice. Most people have a digital camera on their cell phone.
  • We all like to bargain shop but remember in a lot of cases you get what you pay for. I've rented from several different companies from Budget to Avis to Enterprise. There is a REASON they call Budget, Budget. It was a tiny little building in the middle of no where. I had to wait 10 mins to check in, 10 mins to find someone to help me figure out which type car I needed and 30 mins for the car to be ready. Dropping off wasn't much less of a wait. When trying to catch a plane this is a bad deal.

    I like Almo's set up the best. You can even check in online there and the keys are in the car. Just pick one and drive away. Drop off is just as easy, you circle around and drop with the attendant. Hop out and hit the shuttle.

    Also I pass on the insurance, you have to remember that your auto ins covers you in that vehicle just as it does your own. You wouldn't add additional insurance to your OWN vehicle if you took it on a trip why would you add it to a rental car.
  • carguy58carguy58 Posts: 2,303
    Well I rented a Chevy Cobalt from Enterprise like in September for like 3 weeks. It looked it was first a personally owned by somebody at one time. It had like 25K on it. It had some marks on the back seat. I thought the interior quality ranged from good to ok. It drove nice but it wasn't fun to drive.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 29,391
    Pay upfront for a tank of gas, and you can bring it back at any level you like.

    When I declined this generous offer, the rental agent said, "You don't think you'll use a whole tank of gas in a week?" :surprise:

    Well, yeah... but, if I don't bring it back on Empty, then I'm out extra money... I can just take a chance on them charging me for filling it up.. It can't cost more than paying for a whole tank... :confuse:

    MODERATOR
    Prices Paid, Lease Questions, SUVs

  • tedebeartedebear Posts: 832
    Pay upfront for a tank of gas, and you can bring it back at any level you like.

    Yes, that's another one of the money-making scams the rental companies try to get people to accept. They like to point out their slightly lower cost per gallon than most nearby stations.

    However, if I only use 1/2 of a tank of the gas I paid for when I return it then that price suddenly doubles. Then the next customer who accepts their offer pays for that same gas again, plus whatever the rental company added to bring it up to the full mark.

    I always tell them I'll return it full. They usually then try to scare me with some ridiculous rate I'll be charged if I don't return it full but I start scouting for cheap gas when I'm within 5 miles or so of the rental return lot.
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    No. The latest upcharge is the one where the agency charges you an additional $xx because you filles up 8 miles away as opposed to filling up at the airport exit.

    The "buy the tank of gas upfront" can be bad for you if you return it half full. My complaint about it is that I don't want to drive to tghe airport on fumes or stop twenty miles away and pay $4 in gas just to make it back. The GAS price MAY be a bargain at times ... but you will not know that until you buy it. Also, how much gas does the car really hold?

    I generally only rent from Avis/Hertz and occasionally Budget. I never get all of these hassles with the big guys. However, when I go low-ball and rent with Thrifty or Dollar or the like, I am always fighting unexpected add-ons.
  • tedebeartedebear Posts: 832
    The tricks by Dollar and Thrifty seem to work. When I pick up a rental car I usually notice long lines at those counters and the Avis and Hertz agents are standing there twiddling their thumbs.

    It appears that most customers are swayed by the lowest price they find on an Internet search.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,049
    Sure, and when they pull the surcharge trick, you just complain to the credit card company and back charge them. Naturally you took a last "vacation" photo of the dash showing the odometer reading and the gas gauge on "full."

    And naturally your first "vacation" photos are pics of the rental car in the lot showing all the bumps and scrapes that the car had when you picked it up.

    Moderator
    Minivan fan. Feel free to message or email me - stever@edmunds.com.

  • tedebeartedebear Posts: 832
    My credit card company has always stood up for me when battling various business wrongdoings.

    I recently received credit for nearly twice the amount I had been disputing on a car rental when I returned it with the tank 1/2 full. See message #5 in this forum.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,049
    Yeah, I seem to be repeating everyone's lines in here.

    But they bear repeating. ;)

    Moderator
    Minivan fan. Feel free to message or email me - stever@edmunds.com.

  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 29,391
    I've rented from them the last few times.. I think National/Alamo are one company..

    As long as you say NO to everything, I've found they are by far the cheapest..

    MODERATOR
    Prices Paid, Lease Questions, SUVs

  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    The tricks by Dollar and Thrifty seem to work. When I pick up a rental car I usually notice long lines at those counters and the Avis and Hertz agents are standing there twiddling their thumbs.

    Because with Avis and Hertz, you generally head straight to the vehicles and don't have to deal with a counter agent.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    Yeah, that's a real nice feature of those two.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • When I rented from Enterprise through my Saturn dealership's free rental providal when my car is in for major service, they gave me a big hassle about a rock-chip on the windshield that the agent decided to miss during the walkthrough. Unfortunately, I'm generally a trusting person since I figure that as long as I take care of them and the car, and don't have malicious plans to mess around with it, they'll take care of me. It freaked me out when I returned it, and they somehow found the chip. It was impossible for it to have been while I had it, because all I did was drive it to work for the day and back to the dealership. Less than ten miles, and I know no rocks hit it.

    Upon return, I was scared sh*tl*ss because they told me that since it wasn't logged, I had to pay the full $500 deductible on my insurance policy. It turns out when the corporate office, or whatever the level up from the rental dealership is, they said that they would see if it could be repaired with a windshield fix-it service first, and if it could, I would be alright. I never got a call back from them afterwards, so I guess it worked out.

    After that, I don't think I'll ever not get the damage waiver... I don't want to go through all that again, and maybe next time I won't be so lucky?
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    "After that, I don't think I'll ever not get the damage waiver"

    That's just what they want you to conclude. Apparently, that is one of the highest-profit items they sell, and the representatives behind the counter get a commission for selling it to you.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • tedebeartedebear Posts: 832
    that is one of the highest-profit items they sell

    I calculated the daily rate they quoted me once and it was something like over $4,000 per year. There's no way I'm going to pay that kind of money for something that's already covered by my personal car insurance and credit card company, when I use that card to rent the car.

    And I don't mind standing in a line for a few extra minutes at Dollar if it means saving a wad of cash. ;)
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,193
    Oh, they tried to pull the same stunt on my girlfriend about a ding in the right front passenger door of a Mitsubishi Galant until we found some paperwork left in the car that suggested they tried the same stunt with the previous renter. My girlfriend's insurance company was also wise to this scam. She got out of it and didn't have to pay the $500 after vociferously complaining to Enterprise corporate headquarters. Girlfriend refuses to ever rent a car from Enterprise again.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    "Girlfriend refuses to ever rent a car from Enterprise again."

    Good for her! If we all let our dollars do the talking and boycotted some of the low-cost, fairly sleazy car rental companies (National and Thrifty come to mind), a few might even do everyone a favor and go out of business.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • dtownfbdtownfb Posts: 2,915
    Unfortunately that won't happen as too many people use Orbitz, hotel.com, etc. to find the lowest prices when traveling. Cost is the priority, quality is a distand second.

    Personally, I have an account setup with Enterprise. Never had a problem that went unresolved. They know I do not accept their insurance and I'm in and out in under 5 minutes. Heck sometimes they let me upgrade if they have unassigned cars in the parking lot. And they let me reserve specific cars if I like.

    Best advice is if you do rent quite a bit, join a rental companies frequent renters club. The service will be much better.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,860
    Indeed, people get what they pay for.

    I rented from Enterprise twice last year. I had no problems and didn't get much of a hard sell on their add-ons. The first car I rented didn't have me thrilled - a Kia Spectra with over 25K on it, but it looked like it had 100K on it. Luckily I only had it for a day. The second car was a Focus ZX5 with under 10K on it, it was very clean and still smelled and drove like new. I got a decent deal on it too, something like $22/day.

    I had a good Hertz rental in Vegas. I enrolled in the 'number 1 club' online, which allowed me to check in at a dedicated line which had no waiting (as opposed to 20 people in front of me at the normal line). I rented a higher line car (A6) and after the 3 minute check in, was directed to the car which was in a covered garage immediately adjacent to the rental counter. Returning the car required no wait either, they checked it out immediately upon arrival and it was done. It was worth paying a little more for a nice car and an easier procedure.

    I don't plan to travel far enough to rent a car this year, but next year I probably will, and I will keep Hertz in mind.
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    A few points to the last few posts:

    1) I have to admit that I occasionally go to one of those lousy car rental places when the majors are $40-50 higher for a weekend. We travel a lot on pleasure and sometimes, price is the difference between taking a long weekend or staying at hme.

    2) If you are renting with Hertz and can get the gold card (as with Avis), you will almost always get upgraded to a better vehicle than you ordered.

    3) Fintail - in Las Vegas, I prefer Alamo/National over Hertz/Avis. The reason is when you check in at the counter, they point you out to the canopy of the size of vehicle that you reserved, and you get to choose amoung the 5-20 models that are out there. if you are renting other than a compact (usually a Cobalt/Cavalier), that can give you some very interesting choices.

    4) I like Hertz and Avis a lot. However, the locations where they have not implemented the express service can be some of the slowest around.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 29,391
    I rented with Alamo/National in Phoenix, and they had the same deal as Vegas...

    The only problem? It took 15 minutes for me and my son to decide on a car... My wife was ready to jump in one and leave us... ;)

    MODERATOR
    Prices Paid, Lease Questions, SUVs

  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,860
    That choosing the car idea would be pretty fun - especially somewhere like Vegas that seems to have a very diverse rental lineup.

    When I rented the A6, I was able to specify the model when I booked it online, as Hertz does for their higher line rentals. I was only worried about color, I didn't want white or black. Luckily, I got silver. I think it was like $84 or $88/day - not cheap, but it was a pretty nice car for a rental, and I only had it two days. I substituted driving around the area for gambling/eating...and was probably better for it :P
  • tedebeartedebear Posts: 832
    When renting in Vegas I always use Rent-a-Vette. Dont' let the name fool you - I've rented lots of cars and none of them was ever a Vette.

    If none of you have ever driven a Lotus Elise try one out for a few days there. It's entertaining enough just watching the valet attendant trying to get in it. :D

    However, I don't recommend the trip from Vegas to the Grand Canyon and back in one like we did last year. :sick:
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