There are ultra low cost airlines, economy hotel/motel chains and, super low cost rental car companies. These companies have been around for years, usually at off airport locations. Today, they can be found at airports, sharing space with Avis, Budget, Hertz and National.
Getting what you pay for?
The most obvious trade off with the low cost rental car companies is service. Should your car break down with the larger rental car companies, they will replace the car or Uber you to the closest location.. With the smaller companies you may be responsible to get the car back to a location. Lock outs, the larger companies will charge you, but in most cases will bring a key to you. Drive outside the rental area, again you may have to tow the car to the rental location.
Every company, will try to sell you optional coverage or other add ons, they may attempt to upsell you into a larger vehicle. The low cost companies are extremely aggressive, six to ten dollars a day is not sustainable. Selling extra services, upselling a customer into a larger car outweighs customer service. Customers who said they didn’t need coverage were asked if they had their insurance policy. One agent told horror stories about drivers in Houston. “He would take the coverage because the drivers are crazy in Houston. Unlike business traveler who would bolt over to Hertz, the person who chooses the low cost rental car company will except the poor customer service because of price. At the end of the day, the costs for the extra coverage’s may exceed the cost of a car from one of the larger car rental companies.
Deathmatch @ Payless Car Rental at the San Diego International
The Reservation was booked three weeks in advance on Priceline. My Full Size Sonata including taxes and fees totaled $142.00
Round 1# The Existent, non Existent Reservation and the disappearing car
My flight from Sacramento was seven hours late. When I arrived to Rental Car Agency they had my name. It was a normal reservation. The agent said he didn’t have any full size cars available , I was okay with that. He said, he had a smaller car, a Volkswagen Jetta and with coverage, would be $230, dollars. When I told him I didn’t want the extra coverage , he said the car with minimum coverage would be $192. Again, I told him I didn’t want any coverage! He looked into his computer and the Jetta was no longer available. He did have an Hyundai Elantra. Again I said that was fine, and he said the total without coverage be $174. Reminded him I had a reservation for a full size car for $142. He told me that reservation was cancelled?
With a growing line behind me, I called their customer service department. Not once did he ask me to step aside to help the customers in line. While I was on hold, he pointed to a sign, it was an haphazard cut and paste affair including SOME sections of Payless’s rental agreement. After a short wait I was told the reservation is automatically cancelled after a few hours. I walked away, and told them I might return.
Round 2# Agent on fire!
I returned to Priceline, the Rental Car Terminal wasn’t bustling. I found another rental lower than my original reservation and it was of course, Payless. An Agentcalled may I help you? in a wearied voice. I have a new reservation…..and before I could complete my sentence. The Agent angrily said, I’m sorry, you cant book more than one reservation a day” What I replied? “YOU CANT BOOK MORE THAN ONE RESERVATION A DAY” Can I speak to a manager? YOU CAN, BUT HE WILL TELL YOU THE SAME THING!!! HE IS UP ON THE THIRD FLOOR YOU WILL NEED TO GO THERE!!! I am the customer, please ask him to come down. He called someone. Shortly a manager came down. When he came down the agent left. I explained I had a reservation and the agent said “I couldn’t make a second reservation. Who said that? he replied.
Round 3# I got all the time in the world bitch!
The rental process with the manager at the helm started well, it was a matter of the credit card and the contract. I don’t want anything extra. Ok he said…… I could feel paradise, my hotel room. He said with taxes, it will be $135 dollars. (record scratch) I whip out my phone with my Priceline reservation 92.75 including extra hours, all taxes and fees. The reservation is wrong, he turns his screen around, we don’t have hourly rates. Sir on your screen are hourly rates just like my reservation. Yes they’re there on the screen but we don’t charge those. Huh? I found myself repeating his words. There on the screen but I’m an to ignore what I see because it is meaningless. Is he gas lighting me? Sir, I’m not sure how you arrived at $135. But here is my Priceline reservation, your telling me your not going to honor the Priceline reservation. I looked at him. I’ve got not nothing to do nothing but time….. Alright!
All eyes were on me on the third floor when I picked up theHyundai. There we’re minor scratches. I took pictures. Total Time 40 minutes.
A typical car rental transaction is four minutes.
Expecting a fight. With fuel receipt in hand. I returned the car early. The check in was seamless.
Do: Call you insurance company, most provide coverage for most car rentals. However, if your planning to take that Jeep off road, your company may not cover you. It may not cover and luxury or exotic car.
Do: Take pictures of the car paying close attention scratches and dents. and take pictures when you return the car. I was dinged $1200 for damages after I returned the car. Hold on to pictures for a couple of months.
Dont: Assume all rental contracts are the same. If your planning to drive out of the area, ask if there are restrictions. You make be responsible for returning the car back to the Rental Agency if the car breaks down .
Dont: Rent a car for a friend or family member. You will be held financially responsible if they fail to return the car. You will be held financially responsible if they lend the car to someone else.
Do: Ask if upgrades are available.
Do: Scan the contract before signing.