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Rental car bait & switch

HImomHImom Registered User Posts: 34,234 Senior Member
edited February 2018 in Parent Cafe
We made and printed our reservation for SFO budget rental full size car for $185 for 6 days. We got to budget and they said just go down and pick up our paperwork and go straight to our car. The car waiting for us was a2 door yellow Camaro sportscar for $285–an extra $100!

We had to go back to the Budget rental counter and complain that the car and price did NOT match our reservation. No apology but she then offered us a SUV which we nixed. Ultimately she offered us a hybrid Prius at our $185 rate but no explanation as to why we were initially charged an extra $100 and given a different car than we reserved.

Is this a common newer tactic to up charge you without mentioning it and hope you don’t notice?

Replies to: Rental car bait & switch

  • sherpasherpa Registered User Posts: 4,810 Senior Member
    edited February 2018
    I view rental car companies similarly to timeshare presenters. Go in knowing that they'll use every trick in the book to extract money from your pocket, smile and joke with them and, in the end, stand your ground. Between their crazy toll fees, ridiculous refueling options, and constant insurance upselling, theyre almost as annoying as "Heather from account services".

    What they with you is known in sales as an "assumptive close", which is a method of passively manipulating you into something you didn't bargain for.

    So yes, it's basically an attempt to surreptitiously upcharge you. Congratulations for catching it and resisting.
  • boudersbouders Registered User Posts: 2,573 Senior Member
    The last time I was at SFO, I had reserved a minivan. All they had on the lot were Sprinter-like vans, like they use for shuttles. This was at Alamo. I've never been upcharged though or maybe I just didn't notice. I'm glad you got a vehicle that worked for you.
  • great lakes momgreat lakes mom Registered User Posts: 2,991 Senior Member
    Renting several times per year, I have never had that particular problem. Once I did go for a lower rate for their choice of car hoping for a SUV or truck.. I got some sort of rear wheel drive dinosaur that I had to refuse as snow was forecast in the AZ mountains. Paying an additional charge for something else else front wheel drive was not a pleasure.
  • VeryHappyVeryHappy Registered User Posts: 18,576 Senior Member
    IME, if they don't have what I reserved, they give me the upgrade for the price I reserved at. I've never had a problem.
  • oldfortoldfort Registered User Posts: 23,005 Senior Member
    I rent cars several times a month for work. I usually get an upgrade with no extra cost. I also rent for personal use few times a year. I've never had any problem. They will ask me if I want to pay for insurance, re-fuel, etc, but I don't feel there is ever a hard sell. My only complaint is in NYC there is long wait some times for them to bring up my car.
  • MarianMarian Registered User Posts: 13,218 Senior Member
    IME, if they don't have what I reserved, they give me the upgrade for the price I reserved at. I've never had a problem.

    I've had the same experience. I always use Enterprise. I like Enterprise. I put a big scratch on one of their cars once, and they never got around to billing me for the repainting.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 76,061 Senior Member
    I’ve never been charged for an upgrade...ever. And sometimes I’ve asked for one...and still haven’t been charged.

    Are you sure no one indicated they wanted the insurance, etc when you picked up the car?
  • MomofadultMomofadult Registered User Posts: 1,110 Senior Member
    We rent a couple times a year, various locations. The only time in recent years that I have not received what I reserved is with Budget. We were given the option at the Santa Barbara Airport of waiting another 2 hours for what we'd reserved, or taking a small SUV at a higher price immediately. They "assumed" the car type we'd reserved was coming in on time, but couldn't assure us of that. Other companies have given us free upgrades, Budget's handling of the situation surprised us. I don't think I've had a Budget car since.

    We have had the experience of going to pick up a car at city locations and there was absolutely nothing available. The cars allocated to the outlet had not been returned according to contract and there was nothing that could be done for us. I hope that isn't common, but I have taken to getting cars at airports. There is generally more demand there and if my company fails to deliver there are other agencies in the immediate vicinity.
  • VeryHappyVeryHappy Registered User Posts: 18,576 Senior Member
    DH is about to leave to visit S1 and DIL at a very rural location in ND. There is an Avis in the town where he is going, but they don't have cars available for pickup there!! Apparently it's only a drop-off location. (He had wanted to rent a car to drive to the airport an hour and a half away on his departure day.)

    We were amazed. Why call it an Avis site if you don't rent cars there?
  • anomanderanomander Registered User Posts: 1,647 Senior Member
    edited February 2018
    Sounds like a good reason to avoid Budget. I’ve been renting from Hertz regularly for work for 25 years and never been charged for an upgrade. Of course sometimes I get an “upgrade” when I don’t want one, like a huge SUV for downtown San Francisco when I’d really rather have a tiny Accent or Versa. Once they even put me in a Mercedes E-class instead of the Nissan Altima I’d reserved (by divine coincidence, that was the same trip we were dropping D at college for the start of freshman year so it was much appreciated).

    The only time they flat out didn’t have my reserved car was when that Southwest flight crashed in SFO. A few days later I was renting in Orange County and it turned out since SFO was closed (IIRC) a lot of business travellers just rented cars and drove up one-way, leaving the cars up North. Would’ve been nice if they’d told me in advance; I forget what happened but I think they eventually found me a car.
  • RecusantSamRecusantSam Registered User Posts: 117 Junior Member
    If it is just me or me and spouse, I always reserve the cheapest car. About 60% of the time, the cheapest model, which I have a paper reservation for, is not available. Most of the time they will simply put me in a higher-end model at no cost. The few times they have tried to upcharge me--"sorry, you model is not available, but we can put you in xyz model for $20 more per day"--I simply decline, and ask them to honor their reservation. They usually put me in a higher-end model at no additional cost. On two occasions, I have had to be unpleasant and hold my ground, and insist on the original cost. They complied. One one occasion I had to phone the 800 number to get them to honor their reservation.
  • JustaMomJustaMom Registered User Posts: 2,730 Senior Member
    I had the exact experience my last 2 rentals (Maui & O'ahu). In Maui the rental agent smirked "don't you WANT a convertible to ride around in?" Me: "No. I want a compact to conserve mileage (10 day rental), and is similar to what I drive at home" On O'ahu the agent tried to get me into a Jeep. I laughed and said I'd rather walk. Both times I was given the car I'd rented. Both times I could see deflated agents.
  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn Super Moderator Posts: 39,276 Super Moderator
    I had the opposite experience at a hotel in Miami last month. I had reserved a suite - something I NEVER do, but it was an amazing price so I thought what the heck.

    We checked in and the employee didn't say anything. We went up to our room and it was NOT a suite - we'd been downgraded with no warning. It was a very nice room - a corner one with windows on two sides and great views. So I didn't complain. When I checked out, though, I asked about it. They said since I had reserved it through Priceline, I should get a refund from them. So I called Priceline and they weren't terribly helpful at first. Finally, they agreed to contact the hotel. It took several days, but they eventually said I would get a refund of $48! If I hadn't said anything, I would have been out the money. I'm kind of annoyed.
  • 3puppies3puppies Registered User Posts: 1,716 Senior Member
    DH and I use Hertz, as we've had far fewer problems with them than anyone else, and their discounted rates are better than everyone else. Getting #1 Gold customer status meant we have no counter line waiting time, and they have always had our requested vehicle. Before we signed up for the #1 gold we found we were waiting in lines but quite often got free upgrades to larger vehicles
  • momtogkcmomtogkc Registered User Posts: 683 Member
    We have had the type of car not available a few times. It is always a problem for us because we rent the largest 3 row SUV you can pick so there usually is no option for an upgrade. One time we did get a free upgrade to the nicer large SUV, a brand new Suburban. The other time we were downgraded to a minivan and told we could swap it out for the SUV when we got to our destination. We got lazy and never did it AND I forgot to call to complain and ask for some money back. Oh well, we fit fine in a van just prefer the SUV.

    The last time we rented a car and it wasn't available it turned out to be a great thing. DH and I went to Minneapolis for the Super Bowl and rented a small SUV. When we went out to get it there was no car there. After much back and forth and going to several counters another agent told us there were no small SUVs but he would upgrade us. We walked back out into the cold and to our new car - it was a small sedan. I started to complain but DH just wanted to get out of there! It turned out the upgrade was smaller in size but it was a premium car or something like that - it was a top of the line VW Pasaat. We had been looking for cars for D19 but had never considered a VW - we ended up liking it so much we decided to research the safety and ended up buying one for D a few weeks later. :))

    If you are a Costco member always check their car rental prices - I can't remember a time where I have found a cheaper reservation than through Costco Travel.
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