Rental Review - Mishaps With Maven
General Motors launched its Maven rideshare service in 2016 with the goal of providing renters with a taste of its vehicles, while also bringing in a little extra revenue. The service offers a wide array of vehicles ranging from small hatchbacks like the Chevrolet Spark to large SUVs like the Tahoe.
The service is available in many larger cities across the country and, since I was visiting Detroit for the auto show, I decided to give it a try to see what a potential renter might encounter. I signed up for the app and rented a couple of vehicles without notifying GM in order to experience the vehicles just as the general public would.
The vehicles were far worse than I expected.
I chose an early flight to Detroit since it was the only direct one from my smaller airport, meaning I would be arriving a few hours before the rest of the TTAC crew and would have to haul my luggage to breakfast and then hold onto it until the afternoon. Uber and Lyft were available from the airport to downtown Detroit for around $30, but I would still be left with my luggage. Renting a car for the day was surprisingly similar in cost, but I would have to return it to the airport the next morning.
Luckily, I remembered that Maven was available in Detroit, and that its rental rates started at $6 per hour and allowed for one-way trips into the city.
Signing up for the free app took only a few minutes and required entering my driver’s license and credit card information. Although Maven’s notice states it can take up 48 hours for an account to be approved, I received an email in just a few short minutes telling me I was approved to rent. I pulled up the app and saw there were a couple of cars available at the airport that could be had as a one-way rental before being dropped off near the Renaissance Center. I picked the Chevy Spark for $6 per hour and hopped on the shuttle to take me over to the QuikPark lot where it was located.
After the shuttle dropped me off a few feet from the Maven section, I pulled out my phone and tapped “unlock” in the Maven app to open it up. I placed my luggage in the trunk and popped the front door open to start it up.
Upon entering the vehicle I noticed that the interior was fairly dirty, but it wasn’t enough to cause me to cancel the reservation. The windshield and rear glass had a buildup of salt and dirt I had to clean off. It was at that point I discovered there was no windshield washer fluid in the car at all. Maven also provides Wi-Fi and charging cords in all of its cars, but the micro-USB cord in this Spark was snapped off.
Thankfully, the Spark was decently optioned and had heated seats, which helped to deal with the frigid Michigan temperatures. I pulled out of the QuikPark planning to stop at a gas station to clean off the glass and use the included fuel card to add a little fuel, since it only had about a quarter of tank. Adding fuel was not a huge deal — it is covered under the service and Maven will even reimburse you if you forget to use the included card.
I pulled out onto the highway, and, as I looked over at the passenger-side mirror in order to merge, I noticed it shaking and finally just falling off. I pulled over at the nearest exit and hit the OnStar button to call Maven customer service.
The call was quickly answered by a Maven representative who was extremely apologetic about the situation and told me that she would refund the charge for the trip immediately while giving me a few options for a replacement vehicle. Since I was ready to eat breakfast, I chose the option of returning the Spark back to the QuikPark and choosing another vehicle. I fastened the mirror back to the car in the best possible fashion and headed back. The rep told me to call her back directly once the Spark was parked so she could help me finish cancelling the original trip.
She was probably the brightest part of the whole experience, given how friendly and apologetic she was.
Once the original trip was cancelled, I booked another one and chose a Malibu that was parked beside the Spark. I thoroughly inspected the whole exterior of the Malibu to make sure there wouldn’t be any issues and threw my bags into the back seat. Once inside the car, I noticed the Malibu was also dirty, and had some mysterious white spots on the passenger seat.
Since the driver’s side was fairly clean, I decided to press on. The windshield of the Malibu was in worse condition than the Spark’s, but once again there was no windshield washer fluid to be found. I stopped at the closest gas station and cleaned the glass before heading to breakfast.
After my meal, I got in touch with Chris Tonn so he could meet me at Maven’s drop-off garage on Larned Street. I saw the Maven sign at the entrance for Level Two and used the included card to pop the ramp, but spent a few minutes trying to find the designated drop-off area as there was no directional sign. Checking back in the app, I saw that it showed Level One, so I drove back out on the street so I could re-enter and cut to the left in order to find the right level.
Once parked, I hit “End Trip” in the app and completed the survey, stating that the car was dirty inside. A receipt showed up in my email a few seconds later stating that I had been charged $14.42 for my 102-minute rental period.
In the end, Maven worked out to be most convenient and inexpensive option for my situation. I had a place to store my bags while I ate breakfast and was able to enter the city on my own time, all for half the price of a Lyft or Uber. It’s unfortunate the cars were in such poor condition, as the app and its representative are excellent. Hopefully GM steps up its maintenance efforts on these cars in the future, because it seem like it could be a decent option for short trips.
[Images: Bozi Tatarevic/The Truth About Cars]
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As a Michigan resident, I would agree that it's down right impossible to keep a car clean for more than 2 minutes in the winter, so I wouldn't necessarily hold that against GM. Last time I rented a car from a regular agency I had barely pulled off the lot before running through a puddle of slush and salt. As for the payback on this, I imagine it isn't as expensive for them as the previous comments proposed. Their "cost" for the vehicle is far less than invoice... that's what a dealer pays them and that includes profit for GM. They don't have to pay retail incentives on these and, at the end of Maven duty, they have a nice used car to sell to dealers as future CPO cars. Frankly, these aren't cars that are killing it in sales, so they move some iron that would otherwise be sitting in inventory. On the other hand, these also aren't cars that are going to convince young hip urban 20-something car-sharing intenders that GM brands are the ones they want to get excited about when they do eventually change lifestyles and want to buy something of their own.
FOR THE RECORD MAVEN IS THE WORST. I'm in LA all the time frm NYC and their customer service is intolerable. I showed up 4 times and there were problems to initiate my time-sensitive trips. twice my reserved cars were not there, once couldn't get out of parking lot, assigned gate dsnt work, another time the car app wouldn't allow pre-trip inspection. Also, returned car and their parking spot was taken after looking around to get a spot and sort it all out. they overcharged me $50 for a late fee. then the customer agent in so many words told me I complain too much.. 'll be using Zip Car from now on.