Car rentals go wonky in $4/gal conditions

Old Jun 4th, 2008, 06:45 AM
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HKP
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Car rentals go wonky in $4/gal conditions

Have been hearing consumer alerts that the smaller cars -- which the car rental agencies have been downplaying in favor of SUV, minivans, etc. -- are now in heavy demand. Such heavy demand that: 1. some companies are charging less for the big monsters than for the "econ." "compact" and even "standard" sizes; 2. specific offices are chronically running out of the smaller cars and "upgrading" everyone to gas-guzzlers.

Have no experience yet of that myself, and have no clue how to avoid getting "upgraded" involuntarily. Anyone run across this yet?
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Old Jun 4th, 2008, 07:17 AM
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Cassandra
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Actually yes, at TPA -- I was given a fairly large car (one of those "family" sedans that reminds me of my grandfather's old Pontiac) because they were out of ALL smaller cars. They were surprised that I wasn't thrilled with a double up-grade, but I'm too short behind the wheel to see comfortably over the hood of a boat-sized car.

And I feel very nervous about parking a big rented car given what happens if they decide you've damaged their car.
 
Old Jun 4th, 2008, 08:04 AM
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Last week picking up my rental car, they gave me a choice b/w a Pontiac G6, Ford Explorer or a Suzuki SUV. When I asked for the G6, they tried pressuring me into taking the Explorer.They couldn't understand why I didn't want the upgrade.
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Old Jun 4th, 2008, 08:20 AM
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Oh they understood alright.
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Old Jun 4th, 2008, 08:49 AM
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I've run into this "upgrade" thing for quite awhile, but I imagine it is worse now that the demand for smaller cars is so high.

Hopefully the rental companies will start buying more small cars to meet the demand.
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Old Jun 4th, 2008, 04:41 PM
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When we arrived in Denver we were told the only vehicles available were mini-vans. When I protested I was told that it might take several hours before a compact car was available. Obviously I wasn't going to set around and wait.

They had lots of compact cars on the back of the lot, but they claimed none of them had been cleaned up and since they were short-staffed, they had no idea when they would get any of them ready.

I assume this is the only way they can rent the larger vehicles.
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Old Jun 4th, 2008, 06:20 PM
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.I've been noticing this too..am trying to find a good rate for 4th of July Seattle wkend..just a medium size would be find..just in case anyone finds a bargain.
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Old Jun 4th, 2008, 06:33 PM
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Last fall in Albuquerque I booked a rental car at the airport with Avis and also (to be safe) Dollar since they were the same price. Tried Avis first. They were all out of compact cars and kept trying to put a positive spin on "upgrading" me to a big fuel-inefficient car, to the point of infuriating me. I finally just canceled my Avis rental and walked over to Dollar - who had plenty of Compact cars and didn't play stupid games with me.
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Old Jun 4th, 2008, 07:06 PM
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When I picked up my Dollar one day rental last Saturday to drive 150 miles to the airport, they gave me a Grand Marquis instead of the smallest car possible. The guy told me I could file a "simple" request for an adjustment based on the extra cost of gas, but as I was only driving that $150 miles and only renting for one day, I let it go. Interesting to know that they will make an adjustment however.
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Old Jun 4th, 2008, 11:51 PM
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Hmmm..adjustment...I will keep thtt in mind...seriously tho I am desperately trying yo find a cheap rate at a reconizable rental co out of SEATAC for 7/3-7/7
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Old Jun 5th, 2008, 04:43 AM
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1JAR, I don't know if this helps you, but when we got a one way rental in Seattle to drop off in Oregon, we saved well over $150 by picking it up in downtown Seattle rather than at the airport. I'm thinking that was with National. You might compare a rate picking up downtown (and maybe even returning to the airport if you want).
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