Zipcar Won't Flex the Rules

zipcar wont flex the rules

Flexcar started as a Seattle-based alternative to traditional rent-a-car agencies. Members could rent cars by the half-hour and feel like part of a forward-thinking community that took care of the cars and generally looked out for each other. Flexcar never turned a profit though. Last year, Flexcar merged with their main competitor Zipcar, also in the red. Meanwhile, Hertz and Enterprise decided to start renting cars by the hour, threatening Flex/Zip's customer base. As reported in The Stranger, after a spotty transition, the merged Zipcar seems far less "Flex-ible" towards its members. Both annual fees and hourly rates are higher and rentals are hourly– rounded up, of course. Zipcar also levies more fines and offers no grace periods. Zipcar spokeswoman Kristina Kennedy insists that fines will force members to "take responsibility for the cars while they are using them." Or really piss them off.

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4 of 11 comments
  • L47_V8 L47_V8 on Mar 15, 2008

    It's an interesting idea, but it was inevitable that the big corporations would follow the idea quickly. Enterprise has a massive amount of small neighborhood offices, and Hertz is opening an average of five per week (called HLEs - for "Hertz Local Edition") to compete with Enterprise in the off-airport/downtown/insurance replacement segments of the industry. This, of course, means FlexCar won't be able to really have a price advantage, as the big ones can undercut them thanks to profits from traditional rentals, they won't have the name recognition or advertising budget, they won't have the sheer number of cars available, and they'll never be able to compete on number of office locations. I don't expect them to last long, with our (Hertz') hourly rates in large cities around $10/hr.

  • Hansbos Hansbos on Mar 15, 2008

    Not having to listen to some unmotivated sales person being forced to do a hard sell of unnecessary insurance and other options....priceless.

  • Morbo Morbo on Mar 16, 2008

    Maybe I'm too jaded, but the appeal (for me) of Avis and Enterprise is knowing I'm getting a piece of crap, and not giving one flying F^(% about the car. Yeah they push the hard sell on miscellaneous services; ignore them. There's something magically about making a rental Intrepid do 70 in second gear, or returning a Galant sans bumper and demanding a new car. The idea that i would have to take care of rental car is...creepy.

  • Donal Fagan Donal Fagan on Mar 16, 2008

    Hmmm, just looking through Hertz and Enterprise's websites, I wouldn't have a clue that they rent cars for shorter periods than a full day. Even the HLE tab doesn't mention it. Does anyone know this for a fact?