Ichabod's Kin
A place for politics, pop culture, and social issues


         All good things end. A certain rental car service has been one of my faves—good experience and ease of everything, from soup to nuts. No more, not in my case, anyway. For two years running, it has played the old bait-and-switch game and the time came for me to make inquiries.

          It may be that the new way of doing things has not metastasized throughout the company, but at the Phoenix, AZ airport they appear to be on a mission to defraud.

          Long flights are bummers especially for early-hour departures and what can easily turn into, in our experiences, 22-hour days—viz., getting from here to Logan airport with the proverbial hour-and-a-half ahead of flight; five hours in the air with crabby cabin crews; catching a shuttle to the all-in-one rental terminal—and dealing with the charmers at the rental counter who are ready to pounce on your car reservation.

          This does not include getting the car, which is a bit of a hike, laden with baggage and, at last, driving to your destination, checking in and settling in. But by the time we were at rental counter, and knowing the hours still ahead, we were drained and just wanting to get our car and go.

          Our area travel agent, as the year before, made the reservation, using said rental company as the agency’s preferred rental reference. As said, prior to this year and last, all went swimmingly. So what’s happened?

          Okay, so you’re tired. Yours has been a long day and will be longer. This may be what certain reservations agents count on. Now they’re the hunter and you’re the hunted. You lay out your reservation letter and their questions begin: Would you like such and such a car? Sounds good; I have one like that (it would turn out theirs was older and much higher mileage), so okay.

          Then: would you like insurance? I already have good insurance. Well, yes, but it wouldn’t cover certain kinds of liability, like an uninsured driver who messes you up while in their not-so-fine car. The previous year I wondered whether that was really worth it, and opted for full coverage but was not told the cost: final bill was three times my cost of reservation.

          This time, I declined but was not told that their car, older and more mileaged than mine, also cost more. We’re having a hard time on our feet by now, given our exhaustion, but walk away to our car and once inside note that the bill is twice our reservation cost.

          Okay, I decide to contact the company’s rental desk at our resort to request adjustment and a different, lesser car if necessary. But no one staffs said desk; you must use a desk phone and someone who is somewhere but you don’t know exactly where, puts you off repeatedly or, short of that, you must leave name and number for their reply within a stated time—a time that doesn’t come.

          Need I say that no one would help; the sole time I had “Justin’s” ear he told me to call another company place up the road but that dude was totally uninterested in helping, either. This went on each day of our stay.

          As we departed the desert, I kept the car company Survey to rate the service provided, completed and returned it on return home. Guess how much the rental cofmpany really cares: yep, as in No Response.

          My own car insurance agent, in all her years in biz, and knowing all about the vagaries of car-rental companies, had one such accident which is used to scare the hell out of customers–an uninsured driver (why are they always the ones who are maniacs behind a wheel?) smacked her and, here’s the catch, it took my insurance agent a year to get out of the grasp of the car rental agency.

          Why? Because they had her credit card, and didn’t intend to sustain the loss themselves, so until they could get hoped-for satisfaction, she wanted to keep her on the hook for all costs. She finally got rid of them but it wasn’t easy.

          Now here’s something else you need to know: why do rental agents at your destination want to sell you more than you reserved for? Because a travel agency, as in my case, gets a small commission for their trouble; but if the car-lease folks can re-write the contract with an upgrade and/or more insurance, they get it all.

          It is said that there are different kinds of untruths: fibs, white lies and bald lies being among them. But that’s when someone tries to evade deserved embarrassment or blame. When, on the other hand, evasion, incomplete information and undisclosed costs are used to get something from you that you didn’t ask for, that’s lying.

          It’s all about lies and liability in the car lease business. And the car rental company I’m talking about, a one time a leader in service, has slipped more than a bit. Comparatively, I nowget much better service from other companies, like Enterprise. If you’re wondering which one I’ve complained about, there’s a clue in this post.

          But what I got the past two years from my former fave company doesn’t feel good: it HURTS.

         You can do what you want, but it’s no more of them for me.

3 Responses to “LIES AND LIABILITY”

  1. Have you tried uber?

  2. Hope the rest of your vacation was pleasant and relaxing. Do they have a Better Bus. Bureau in Phoenix or is that Passe? We rented a room in NYC to the tune of $300 last Thanksgiving .We smelled onions cooking at night and cookies in the am (over the vent). It was an old but charming boutique Marriott hotel. We wrote a letter to the nice mormons of Marriott and never got even the courtesy of an apology.

    • The newspapers (2) that I editorialize for won’t permit use of name in columns–with which I disagree, and probably WordPress doesn’t either–advertising, you know. So had to put a clue in: “HURTS” for HERTZ. BBB in Phoenix is good idea. I think readers deserve to know when these scams come up, and most businesses, espec. corps, go in cycles with these practices. Anyway, most people caught on, so with two papers and a blog I think some attention has been called to Hertz.

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