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Rental car bait & switch

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Replies to: Rental car bait & switch

  • greenwitchgreenwitch 9286 replies42 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2018
    Rental car agents don't make a lot of money, and they make a commission if they get you to upgrade your car or buy their expensive insurance. It's the reason why many of them use a hard sell.

    If I ever think I have to get a bigger car, or need more insurance, I don't put that on the reservation. I ask the agent directly, knowing it will benefit them. That way, they usually offer you something else as well.

    But in general - this is why we have consumer protection laws, and we need more of them!

    @lookingforward - what they tried to scare your D with was "loss of use". They say that if you get in an accident, even if it isn't your fault, that they can charge you for every day that the car is out of service. Unless you buy THEIR insurance! Of course, most credit cards cover that collision, and your own auto policy might also. One lady kept trying to scare me and said, "only USAA covers loss of use so you better buy our collision coverage". Good thing we have USAA :-c
    edited February 2018
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  • martharapmartharap 555 replies13 threads Member
    Budget is the one company we will never rent from again. Quite a few years ago we reserved a minivan, as we were 4 adults and 2 kids. When we went to pick it up, they had no vans. They told us that having a “reservation” didn’t mean that they actually had the vehicle on the lot. We had no choice but to take a huge pack van, like a delivery truck.

    It was a terrible experience and Budget is forever off our list.
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  • HImomHImom 36015 replies396 threads Senior Member
    Well, the upcharge and different car was just a paper waiting for us and directing us to the bright yellow Camaro—no person until we went back downstairs to talk to the agent, having schlepped our very tired selves and bags to the car and back. I am not used to being charged an extra $100 for our reservation without our permission. It did NOT include any extra insurance or anything.

    I recall once when we traveled too Denver many years ago and H got our rental car while I was resting with our tired kids and they got him to buy tons of insurance that doubled the cost of the rental—as soon as H drive us all to the hotel, I called the car rental company and asked them where to return the car because I was very angry that they sold us all the insurance when we had it with our CC. They said if they removed all of the charges and just kept the rental charges would we keep the car? We agreed and when we returned the car, I made sure to get a receipt showing the amount we were charged matched the original quote we had from Costco without all the extra insurance charges.

    I guess we have had some sleazy things happen but for some reason I expect better and am always sadly surprised by these tactics. We’ve had bad experiences with Hertz, Enterprise and Budget. We did like Alamo but now that they’ve been taken over their rates aren’t competitive.
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  • bookmama22bookmama22 2285 replies0 threads Senior Member
    We usually rent cars on vacation through Costco and I have done so when I travel on business as well. Usually there aren't any hassles. When we went to Maui on vacation a few years ago the entire rental car situation was a nightmare. No matter what you had reserved for they gave you the next available car as they didn't have enough staff to clean and turn the cars over when returned. We ended up with an SUV, a car we had never driven and certainly didn't need but they didn't charge us any extra.

    One of my colleagues who I sometimes travel with on business always uses the same rental car agency to accumulate points and other perks, his typical car rental is in their database and he just accesses the car in the lot. I don't think we even stopped to speak to an agent but I can't recall how we had the keys.
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  • HImomHImom 36015 replies396 threads Senior Member
    The keys are in the car and we are members of many frequent renter programs but normally aren’t upcharged like they attempted to thus most recent rental. I guess one has to carefully check the documents and not get complacent.
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  • dietz199dietz199 3957 replies78 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2018
    This happened to our D in Maui. Car reserved thru Costco. They got there and were told 'an economy sized vehicle was not available, but they would be upgraded'. D said -great, as long as it for the same price. The agent indicated that was not possible and if they wanted a car they would need to take an upgrade. Luckily D pushed back - simply said, well okay, but let me call the Costco service desk first and you can talk to them. Funny thing, all of a sudden a suitable car for the contracted amount 'became available'.
    edited February 2018
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  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 13237 replies247 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2018
    I've only had a problem when renting via a third party (it was Hotwire), so now I always book direct.

    I booked a lower priced but seems OK company car for New Zealand next month....hope that works out OK :| It was 1/5th the price of Hertz (I have gold and prefer to use them in the US) - the US companies seem to all be really pricey there. Even though I have good car insurance on my credit card, I opted to buy theirs. They want to hold a huge deposit if I don't.

    Fingers crossed...
    edited February 2018
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  • gosmomgosmom 2040 replies58 threads Senior Member
    @Himom....many of the rental car companies at SFO do not have the cars that have been reserved due to the rampant problem in San Francisco of car break ins. One rental agent told us that they have 65 cars A DAY that have been vandalized, and thus have to be repaired before renting. Staggering number, but San Francisco logged about 30,000 smash and grabs last year. (note to visitors: DO NOT leave ANYTHING in your rental in SF.)

    And as I believed you have experienced, many cars are towed--lots of tourists don't see signs, which are also very confusing. But it still doesn't excuse the agent trying to ding you for the additional amount for a smaller car. Glad you were able to hold them to the contract amount...
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35380 replies399 threads Senior Member
    Ime, the agent always goes over pricing before I sign. And I bring the booking receipt.
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  • HImomHImom 36015 replies396 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2018
    One person told us a single rental car company had 90 smash and grabs per day with just their rental company! I find SF less and less attractive each time we visit, sadly.
    edited February 2018
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  • gouf78gouf78 7869 replies24 threads Senior Member
    You might be interested in Autoslash. They keep track as prices are lowered on a current booking.
    You enter destination, dates, level of car etc. and it finds the cheapest prices from different companies. You book directly from a company (and you don't have to choose the cheapest option). They enter all codes for coupons etc (they ask if you have any clubs , add in special offers etc). You book directly with company (not third party) and then Autoslash will send e-mails if the price goes down--you are responsible for cancelling and re-booking at new price (and don't wait because it fluctuates big time). You also have to tell Autoslash your current booking so it can be updated.
    So you need to keep track and update the site.
    Last few times I used it I really saved some big bucks (up to half my original rental reservation)--but don't wait to jump on a price reduction.
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  • HImomHImom 36015 replies396 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2018
    My rental was via Costco and the original rate I got was fine. I just had to fight to make them honor it rather than upcharge me without my knowledge or consent.

    I like knowing the car rental company I will be working with. I have not tried Fox and am not a fan of Thrifty. Also don’t like brands I’m unfamiliar with.
    edited February 2018
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  • HImomHImom 36015 replies396 threads Senior Member
    edited February 2018
    Honestly, I guess it’s too much to expect to get what we reserved without a fight after a long flight. <sigh>
    edited February 2018
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  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 13237 replies247 threads Senior Member
    I love and use Autoslash, have gotten great prices with it, but it works with the Hertz companies only, I think.

    They do have coupons for everyone, similar to rentalcarmomma though - https://www.autoslash.com/coupons
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  • greenwitchgreenwitch 9286 replies42 threads Senior Member
    I remember almost buying insurance I didn't need because I could barely hear the agent because my ears hadn't popped after getting off a flight. People who have traveled are a bit vulnerable if they are tired or half deaf.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 83346 replies741 threads Senior Member
    Seen a lot of upsells when picking up rental cars, as well as "free upgrades" (not always desired) because the reserved type of car was not available, but not any attempt to upcharge without any consent at all.
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  • HImomHImom 36015 replies396 threads Senior Member
    Yes, they know when we’ve been on a long flight and assume we are tired and vulnerable, especially when we are getting our car after midnite. :(
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  • HImomHImom 36015 replies396 threads Senior Member
    Just got off the phone with Costco car rental. They will be sending me a form to file my complaint with them so it can be seen by the Costco buyer/negotiator. They say they get these complaints, unfortunately and that completing the form to complain by email is their best tool for the buyer to know about these things when negotiating going forward. She did say buyers have to be aware and alert so they don't end trying to get refunds from car rental companies.
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  • TQfromtheUTQfromtheU 1540 replies17 threads Senior Member
    I rented a basic car for a one day business trip and was given a Mercedes-Benz at no additional cost. The agent explained to me that they had to send back cars that were not rented during a certain period and I would help them keep this nice car at their location. The paperwork showed the discount price and I got to ride in style. The location was located in a hotel off a major freeway, not at the airport.
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  • VeryHappyVeryHappy 18976 replies336 threads Senior Member
    @OHmomof2: If you are renting a car in New Zealand, you should have no problem at all. New Zealand is wonderful and everyone is honest and upstanding! DH and I had a wonderful vacation there, visiting S1 during his semester abroad. Enjoy!
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