Renting automatic car in France. Yikes!

Old Jul 4th, 2007, 02:29 PM
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Renting automatic car in France. Yikes!

Just checked rates. That was an unpleasant surprise. I'll be flying to Marseille for a week in October. Best rate is $400 for a Citroen CI. Looks fine for urban driving but I'll be in the country. I just found out
that Priceline doesn't take bids for France.
Anyone have any ideas. Hoping a maximum of $400 for something Ford Escort size or bigger.
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Old Jul 4th, 2007, 02:38 PM
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I think you mean the Citroen C1. It's small, but it's fine for country driving too unless you're going to spend most of the time on the autoroute.

It's hard to find affordable small automatic cars for rental that's larger than a Smart. And the C1 is larger than a Smart.
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Old Jul 4th, 2007, 02:41 PM
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I'm surprised you found a price quote that low!

Automatic transmission cars are uncommon in Europe (in rental car inventory, at least) and simple supply/demand makes them often 50-100% higher priced than cars with standard transmission.

And you should be aware that a car rental agency may promise you an automatic... and you get there, and they don't have a single one on the lot. It isn't even always their fault - - maybe another renter extended their rental... or a nearby location badly needed the one they have, the day before. But often, they just don't care about the "promise"... automatic transmission cars are almost "on request" onbly, if you read the fine print. Not promised.

Lesson to be learned? Arrange to have someone help you learn standard transmission driving before you go; it will save you as much as half... and avoid the anxiety of having to "teach yourself" in the parking lot of the rental lcaion (if they even have a parking lot!)

Best wishes,

Rex
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Old Jul 4th, 2007, 02:51 PM
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High prices in Europe because of very weak US dollar.

Fortunately we can drive both stick shift and automatic.

IMO, we prefer manual (stick shift) in UK to automatic - more power!
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Old Jul 4th, 2007, 03:28 PM
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I think inventory may be better for the larger/luxury classes with automatic. I agree with rex, especially with compact cars. They may not have an automatic when you arrive even if you've prebooked.
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Old Jul 4th, 2007, 04:38 PM
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"High prices in Europe because of very weak US dollar."

The rates for any car will work out a bit more due to the worsening exchange rate. But that has absolutely nothing to to w/ why automatics cost more than standard drive cars.

Just know that if one cannot/will not drive a stick you will have to pay a lot more.
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Old Jul 4th, 2007, 04:49 PM
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The rate you have been quoted so far is surprisingly low-----no matter the value of the dollar.
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Old Jul 4th, 2007, 04:57 PM
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Automatic is always more, and you might even come out ahead by reserving a little larger car. We always use to rent stick shift,,,but the past few years we've done the automatic(one less thing to worry about). Just factor it into the cost of your trip.>) It's whatever you are more comfortable with.
Did you try Autoeurope?(brokers for several majors rental agencies) and I guess you've tried Hertz, Avis etc. AAA gives a nice discount, as does AARP(over age 50_)(but you probably don't quality for that!)
As someone else mentioned: it's probably a little more difficult to find a SMALL and AUTOMATIC.!
France might be a little higher than some other countries....though we've rented about 4 times at Charles DeGaulle,,,but I remember one year we chose to rent in eneva(cheaper), though it was a French trip in central, southeast France.
Am sure you asked for exactly one week and not 2 hrs over...(the 8th day adds quite a bit. I also think 5 days qualifies for a weekly rate!
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Old Jul 4th, 2007, 05:02 PM
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oops! I guess you know I meant to type "GENEVA,, not "eneva"!
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Old Jul 4th, 2007, 05:13 PM
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That actually is a good rate for an automatic for week.
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Old Jul 4th, 2007, 05:43 PM
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I don't understand all these reports of not getting automatic when you rent one. We've never had a problem in dozens of trips.

That said - we rent either at the airport or in a center city location of a large city - and we always use a major supplier (we've found Hertz or Avis generally give the best rates for the type of car we want once you add in the drop-off charges - we almost always leave the car in another country).

And although we have gotten cars with problems (non-working headlight etc) but we examine the car and they have always replaced it on the spot - once brining it to the hotel for us when we didn't want to delay our dinner for it to be cleaned and fueled. (We were leaving early the next am - so picked up at 7pm.).
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Old Jul 4th, 2007, 05:47 PM
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Have you tried prepaying to guarantee the automatic? We've always gotten an automatic although not always the model we asked for. As for the $400, Boise ID charged me that for 4 days one time when I flew down for a funeral! We spent 2 weeks in Ireland one time w/a $600 rental for a BMW plus paid their mandatory collision ins.
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Old Jul 4th, 2007, 05:50 PM
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I think $400 is a bargain for an automatic!

As for the guarantee, it depends on where you're picking up the car. Big city? No problem..there are plenty of cars circulating in and out of all types. Small town? No guarantees at all.
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Old Jul 5th, 2007, 02:05 AM
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Since you're not traveling until October why not take some lessons in the meantime on driving stick? If you do get your automatic, great, but if you don't, then you'll be able to handle it.
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Old Jul 5th, 2007, 05:34 AM
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Hi NYT,

>I don't understand all these reports of not getting automatic when you rent one. We've never had a problem in dozens of trips....we almost always leave the car in another country)..... once bringing it to the hotel for us when we didn't want to delay our dinner <

What size Benz do you get?

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Old Jul 5th, 2007, 05:37 AM
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Hi Cel,

www.autoeurope.com has a VW Golf AT/AC in Marseilles for one week in Oct for $318.

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Old Jul 5th, 2007, 06:12 AM
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In the big cities, there is generally no problem getting an automatic. It's the medium and small cities that you have to worry about.

Those of you who always want to use the strategy "take the train out of Paris and pick up the car in a smaller town" may have to bite the bullet if you want an automatic.
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Old Jul 5th, 2007, 06:20 AM
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Isn't the problem here that driving licences are issued to people that can't drive a proper car?
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Old Jul 5th, 2007, 06:21 AM
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I would have jumped at $400 last October when we were in the Cote.
To get an automatic, Avis (my husband gets discounts, etc. and points) he would have had to put our $2,500.
We would have slept in that car.
Instead we got a nice LaGuna, but it would roll down the hills when he had to stop...he couldn't quite maintain that delicate balance
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Old Jul 5th, 2007, 07:16 AM
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celfan, have you tried searching different suppliers to see if you can get a bigger car with automatic transmission? I might start by calling www.autoeurope.com, which you may know about, as they're a broker that has contracts with different rental companies. If they can't find you the car you want, then you may still find the car you want by calling individual car companies directly, or checking their websites. Dealing with the companies directly may mean your rate goes up even more -- just part of the premium one pays for trying to rent an automatic in Europe, I guess.

There's also the car-switching thing. I once thought I was getting a compact car in Nice, but ended up with some sort of minivan-like Volkswagen that was kind of a pain to drive around. I would think that, when dealing with a reputable company in a larger city, one would be more likely to be upgraded as I was, rather than being downgraded or not given a car at all.

I've gotten used to the idea of higher rates and unexpected car substitutions, although I still think that the "I'm better then you because I can drive a stick and you can't" sentiment, like others that are based on the idea that "I'm better than you," is not a constructive one when introduced into forums like these where people are looking for helpful advice.
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