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Getting an unwanted upgrade on car rental?

Getting an unwanted upgrade on car rental?

Jul 9th, 2008, 09:36 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
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Getting an unwanted upgrade on car rental?

My husband and I are deciding whether to rent a car at the Avignon TVG station next May. He drove a stick last year in the Dordogne, and let's just say he had some "difficulty". We would be requesting a compact or sub-compact automatic this time.

I saw a post where someone who rented from Avignon was forced to accept an SUV she didn't want. There's a post on another board on unwanted car rental "upgrades", and I'm wondering how many others have recently experienced that problem in Europe. If so, were you given another option when you protested?
MareW is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 09:54 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
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2 years ago we experienced the same problem only in reverse in Dublin. We ordered a compact car and when we went to pick it up they told us they had no compact cars left and were signing us up for a sub-compact car - same price.

My sister was ready to sign the papers but not me. I simply said thank you we will try another car rental. Somehow a compact car just came in.

bratsandbeer is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 10:12 AM
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I am not sure that automatics are available in the smallest cars..before you begin to worry, you ought to check your choices. You will not have nearly the choice of car types in automatic in France that you would have in standard shift. And the report you are referring to took place in Florida; the conditions will be very different in France.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 10:12 AM
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Maybe they genuinely didn't have a smaller car with an automatic. Automatics are not at all common in Europe and hire companies only have a small number, certainly away from the major airports. That the SUV was an automatic does not surprise me - they are a more up market vehicle so more likely to be automatic.
If you are offered an SUV because it is automatic see of they have a smaller car with a "stick"- I bet they do. Then you have to decide - automatic or smaller car.
hetismij is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 10:19 AM
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Automatics are hard to find.
At $7.50 a gallon (thanks to the dollar needing a blood transfusion) stick shifts get better gas milage.

We had the reverse once in Lausanne. The result was a free upgrade to an Opel Vector with an automatic.
Just what Americans want!

We are stereotyped as the clutchless people of the world.

On our just completed trip,we really got lucky. My Auto Europe contract with Avis had a free upgrade. A single class upgrade was not available, so we drove off in a baby Mercedes. My wife, at age 71, can slap gears around quite adroitly.
This was a slick vehicle. It was quite neat on those Swiss mountain roads.

We enjoyed it for 10 days before reluctantly turning it in. Avis would not let us keep it and bring it home.

bob_brown is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 10:55 AM
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We rent automatics whenever we travel to Europe and I have never found them available in the lowest level of car categories. I believe that is an economy. We always have to move up to a compact.

Except, this year there was a Smart Car available at the Nice Airport for rent.
Sher is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 10:56 AM
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The problem works both ways.

I don't book small cars in the US just because I'm cheap (though that's a contributing factor) but also because I really, really do feel uncomfortable in a car that's bigger than my living room. There's also the small matter of the Sustainability Police back home.

When US rental agencies tell me proudly they've upgraded me to something Wal-Mart would use at home to ship groceries into their shops, they just can't get their heads around the fact that I really don't want it. Explaining that the neighbours would lynch me if they saw holiday photies of a terrestrial version of the QE2 results in utter incomprehension.

The only answer is to go with the flow. And if you've got neighbours like mine, either don't show them your snaps or Photoshop them first.
flanneruk is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 12:17 PM
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Thanks for your replies. Ekscrunchy, the post I saw was definitely about Avignon, not Florida. It was at the end of a thread about Provence.

At any rate, we're very willing to rent whatever the lowest category it would be to get an automatic. We just don't want to end up getting "upgraded" to an SUV!

MareW is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 12:25 PM
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There was also a post by NeoPatrick about being offered an upgrade to a large car in Florida recently. But anyway, I would check to see exactly what types of automatics are offered. I've never had much choice when renting automatics in France, Spain or Italy.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 12:38 PM
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Oh, I see. I missed that post. The "other board" I was taking about was Flyertalk.
MareW is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 04:06 PM
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I guess we had a story related to this topic. We rented thru autoeurope/Hertz requesting a diesel compact stick. In May of this year we received a nice one class upgrade Volvo and took off. Fifty kilometers out of Seville, we heard a noise and started to pull over only to find a decidedly flat tire that had shredded- and no spare! After a couple of hours and some help from a roving tow truck, we were taken back to Seville for a new car. Another upgrade gave us a very nice Audi A-4, diesel, six speed and we were on our way trying to make up for lost time.

All of this would have been great had we not found ouselves that evening going to our hotel parking at the top of Arcos de la Frontera where the roads were so tight we had to fold our mirrors in to get to the top! After a restless night, I spent the early part of the next morning scouting on foot how to get out! And the bigger car was no advantage later in Granada, Nerja or Toledo as well.

It all worked out in the end but I decided to pay more attention to any upgrades in the future. BTW-the Audi was great--36 mpg! and fun to drive in the mountains.
macanimals is offline  
Jul 10th, 2008, 04:02 AM
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Actually many automatics now are rated as yielding gas mileage equal to or even better than the stick shift in the same model. In fact, many (if not most) people driving stick shifts are not very good at selecting the most fuel-efficient shift points and would be much better off with an automatic.

We've never had a problem getting an automatic in a compact car in Europe, but we do normally rent in big cities.

The one time we decided to rent a manual transmission car to save money, I ended up regretting it. Going through hilly areas, areas with heavy traffic, etc. was very irritating. I learned to drive using a stick shift and drove manual transmission cars exclusively for 25 years. When automatics finally provided 4 forward gears, we bought one--and it was sooooooooooooooooo nice. I would never consider a stick shift again.
Jake1 is offline  
Jul 10th, 2008, 05:38 AM
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Hi M,

I don't think that you will be able to get an AT in an economy or subcompact class.

It is highly unlikely that you will get a US size SUV.

Our last visit, the VW Golf was upgraded to a Renault Laguna Diesel- larger, more plush, but it got 30 mpg mostly in mountains.

ira is offline  
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