Rental Companies: One Way, Or Another, We're Gonna Get Ya

Glenn Swanson
by Glenn Swanson

The Tribune (via CNN) kicks ass and names names, detailing a panoply of rental car “scams.” We're talking hidden riders, new fees and plain old cheating. For example… When a flight delay made Amy Villa late for her rental car pickup, Alamo exercised its contractual rights and revised the rate upwards; from $268 to $400. OUCH! Renter Penny McLain was whacked with a gas charge despite filling the gas tank as required (anything less than a pegged FULL needle isn’t full). ZAP! Rental companies are charging customers for damages inflicted on their sleds by previous customers. OOOOF! Drop-off fees are on the rise. Hertz used to allow frequent renter Warren Atwood to pick up a car in LA County and drop it off in Orange County without incurring a “drop off” fee. Not anymore. KA-POW! Holy read the fine print Batman! Caveat emptor old chum, caveat emptor.

Glenn Swanson
Glenn Swanson

Glenn is a baby-boomer, born in 1954. Along with his wife, he makes his home in Connecticut. Employed in the public sector as an Information Tedchnology Specialist, Glenn has long been a car fan. Past rides have included heavy iron such as a 1967 GTO, to a V8 T-Bird. In between those high-horsepower cars, he's owned a pair of BMW 320i's. Now, with a daily commute of 40 miles, his concession to MPG dictates the ownership of a 2006 Honda Civic coupe which, while fun to drive, is a modest car for a pistonhead. As an avid reader, Glenn enjoys TTAC, along with many other auto-realated sites, and the occasional good book. As an avid electronic junkie, Glenn holds an Advanced Class amateur ("ham") radio license, and is into many things electronic. From a satellite radio and portable GPS unit in the cars, to a modest home theater system and radio-intercom in his home, if it's run by the movement of electrons, he's interested. :-)

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4 of 24 comments
  • L47_V8 L47_V8 on Dec 20, 2007
    Matthew Danda : December 20th, 2007 at 12:35 pm The way I understand it, Enterprise has much stricter standards for hiring employees than the other companies. One reason they tend to have better customer service. Things are, of course, different across the country, but here Enterprise is the worst around. Let me quasi-preface this by saying that I worked at a local Avis office for a year and a half and have worked at Hertz for five months additionally, but never fear - no bias here. The Enterprise in our town (there are actually two locations) constantly calls us to bail them out when they have more renters than cars. Case in point - the last time this happened, about two weeks ago, an Enterprise representative (college student like me, no they don't hire any more selectively here than the other rental companies in town) called the Hertz office to say they had booked an Explorer for a lady, had picked her up and taken her to their office (about 1/4 mile away from Hertz), and when they had arrived, had nothing but a base Chevrolet Cobalt (we're talking crank windows, no cruise control, manual locks). She was understandably angry, and had the Enterprise rep demand that we give her an Explorer for the price they'd quoted her - about 15% lower than their rate. I did so, by price-matching, and she left our office happy in the car of her choice. Avis and Hertz both operate this way here - if you reserve a car, you get a car, and it will be the car that you reserved or larger. Enterprise operates very, very poorly here.
  • Gardiner Westbound Gardiner Westbound on Dec 20, 2007

    Return a rental car during office hours if you can. Notwithstanding gassing up a couple of blocks from the agency, one charged a $45 refueling cost. I found out weeks later when I received my credit card invoice. You can't fight it. Registering a Small Claims Court action in this jurisdiction costs $73.

  • Stephan Wilkinson Stephan Wilkinson on Dec 20, 2007

    Subscribing...I'm gonna blog about all this wonderful stuff at my Conde Nast site.

  • 50merc 50merc on Dec 20, 2007

    re: "In 30 years of driving and renting, I’ve never had a problem with National, Hertz, Thrifty, Enterprise or Avis. If anything, I screwed them over a few times by ill-treating their equipment. And I mean ill." Haven't you heard of the Golden Rule? Those cars eventually wind up with new owners. I've bought ex-rental cars, and I'd hate to think some renter's demolition-derby tactics led to premature brake or drive line failures. It wouldn't bother me a bit if rental companies checked the car's computer after each rental for indications of wild driving, and charged for it.