Car Rental Expectations

Old Nov 28th, 2004, 07:08 PM
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Car Rental Expectations

I have some general thoughts to illicit opinions on what you travelers in general expect when renting a car. We rented a car during our Thanksgiving trip. First, the car was fairly dirty inside. Not disgustingly dirty, but noticeably dirty. Stained dirty mats, dirt/rocks on the floor. Some of the other available cars had severely stained seats. This wouldn't be acceptable in a hotel room, but I'm wondering where this comes to play with car rentals??

The funny thing about when I say noticeably dirty is that we were shuttled from the airport to the lot (National). The driver dropped us off in front of a row of full size cars and said, take any one of these in front of the fence. So after 10 minutes of going through all the cars in an open lot in a drizzly rain, we tried to pick the least dirty of them. We were checked out on the way out of the lot from the car we selected. This was an odd process to me. Is the rental car industry changing???
hugglynn is offline  
Old Nov 28th, 2004, 07:16 PM
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No, I would expect much better service than that.

I've never used Ugly Duckling or similar companies, but considering the reduced prices affiliated with such firms I wouldn't be concerned about a car that's stained so long as nothing gets my clothes dirty when I sit in it.

However, National is definitely not one of those companies. I hope I would have told them to find a car that was clean. If I were in a terrific rush and didn't want to take the time to persue a better car, I hope I would have at least gotten a signature indicating that the interior was stained prior to my rental.

I'm curious to know the mileage of the car you selected.
MikeBuckley is offline  
Old Nov 28th, 2004, 07:18 PM
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Are you perhaps from the west coast, and rented on the east coast. I think, in general, people who don't live in the northeast are a little shocked when getting into ANY car, not just a rental, as with the dirt and salt and slush and grime all over the place, it is very hard to keep cars as spotless as we do in other climates.

I've never gotten stained seats, but stained mats are probably the norm, and dirt and rocks might just have been tracked into the car by people who, like you, were trying it out while deciding which car to choose.
clarkgriswold is offline  
Old Nov 28th, 2004, 07:19 PM
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Where did you rent this car? I have picked up a dingy convertable in Kauai due to the red dirt. Continuing my island adventure trumped my waiting for the car to be recleaned. Just depends on your priorities.
Old Nov 28th, 2004, 07:31 PM
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Car was in San Antonio, we ARE from the northeast. Funny thing, now that I am recalling it, a prepared germophobe , I pulled out my packet of wipes and wiped the doors, console, gearshift and dash when we got in. There was a fair amount of grime attached to the wipes as well, and also dirty type kick marks in the back seat. As I said, we "tried" to pick the cleanest car of the lot of about 8-10.

We had a 5 hour drive ahead of us b/c we went to S. Padre initially, so we wanted to get on the road--it's strange no one went over the car, and the keys were already in all the cars on the lot. I guess the rental car industry is downsizing, too--so much so that you just get to pick the car you want from and hope for the best >)
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Old Nov 28th, 2004, 08:30 PM
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I would not normally accept a dirty car, but if we were in a hurry and weren't going to be spending too much time in it, I'd at least ask the clerk to take a look at it and give us a discount.

Maybe a nice letter to customer service?

The "chose any one from aisle 3" thing has been happening at Alamo for quite a while, at least in Portland and San Diego. I love it, especially if there are several different cars models.

That way, I don't end up with an odd colored car or one that smells like smoke. In Portland, I often reserve an SUV and like the small is so hard to tell them which I feel are "small" when making the reservation, especially if they aren't sure what will be in when I arrive.

lcuy is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2004, 12:08 AM
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I'm a little disappointed that none of the four responders who posted here have any "illicit opinions". Perhaps they were edited away? My illicit opinion would have been to tell the desk clerk to "shove the car..."

Obviously, the agency knows that they "have you on the hook" as a customer once you have made the reservation, arrived, and then signed all the paperwork inside the office. They then tell you to select a car from the lot. This is the old "lesser of all evils" option - a method common in the lower priced end of the industry.

Had you seen the available cars before signing the paperwork, you likely would not have signed, am I correct? They operate on the percentage of customers that would simply accept what is available and drive off. It works. They're still in business.

Fool you once...but never again.
MaxwellSmart is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2004, 04:02 AM
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I would have been thrilled, as Icuy said, to get to actually CHOOSE my rental car - from a pick of TEN! Call me a fool, Maxwell...

So all ten cars were dirty, hugglyn? Come on!
joan is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2004, 04:37 AM
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I'd be interested to hear if others have had this experience with National. I have rented from numerous agencies in my lifetime, but have used Dollar exclusively over the past few years. I can honestly say that I have never gotten a dirty car in the US (overseas, yes, but not in the US). My last rental with in October and the car was like new both inside and out.

I'm not saying by any means that this incident didn't happen to hugglynn, I'm just wondering if this is stricly a National Car Rental problem.
Statia is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2004, 05:28 AM
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National has gone downhill since they merged with Alamo. I've also gotten cars which were less than spotless. However, I must add that usually I see a car being returned and "want that particular car!" and rush them into servicing it.

Hertz cars are clean. Always, in my experience.
Dan is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2004, 06:56 AM
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Dan, you're right, I just did some research after recalling more from this that the lot was combined National/Alamo....then remember my husband saying something about one purchasing the other. National and Alamo were bought in October 2003. Story is here for anyone interested:

Anyway, one of the comments in the article was that they had updated the fleet of the companies because of "tattered" cars, however, again after rechecking, this particular car had 26K miles on it--which explains a lot.

Bottom line, just wanted to "elicit" opinions on your expectations, and it seems most of you at least expect a clean car.

hugglynn is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2004, 07:02 AM
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I would have said, "Mr. CarRental, all of these cars are unacceptable to me. They are filthy dirty. I don't keep my own car that way and don't expect to pay for a rental that looks that way. I would very much appreciate a clean car".

If nothing is done, call the headquarters while you are standing there from your cell phone.

Sometimes instead of settling, you must take matters into your own hands.

For what it is worth, I never leave home without the number to the headquarters/parent company of the hotel/airline/rental agency I'm using.
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