Rental Car Tricks

Old Oct 13th, 2004, 09:27 AM
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Rental Car Tricks

Just wanted to give every one a heads up on our Rental Car experience and what we consider a well practised scam.

Firstly we were in Seattle over the weekend and rented a car from Budget.

Secondly we have rented before and think we know how to handle ourselves with the sales agent, but we still got scammed.

Found a low rate on Expedia - $16.99 a day with unlimited miles. A very good deal we thought.

Get to the rental counter near baggage claim and the counter person finds our reservation. The person starts in by trying to upgrade us to larger more expensive vehicles, all of which we turn down (3 times).

Then she starts in with the other options like gas etc all of which we decline. I actually tell the person that "I decline everything"

Then here is the kicker - the counter person's next question was "Do want full coverage OR just the loss damage waiver."

So thinking that was the only 2 options, I pick the LDW.

When the agreement was printed out, it showed a charge of $20.99. So I ask the counter person "What's this $20.99, I thought I was getting this car for $16.99."

Well she just points to another part of the agreement that does say $16.99 and says "Yes you are getting it for $16.99"

Turn the car back in 4 days later, and got a bill much higher than we expected. Told we could talk to a manager, but at the counter, there was a line and we didn't have much time left to check in etc.

So we fly home and the next day I called up Budget to complain, and bottom line was that we signed the contract, we were responsible for all charges on the contract.

I complained that I felt I was tricked into taking insurance (LDW) that I didn't want, that I pointed it out on the agreement and the agent just deflected our question, and that I thought it quite clear that I wanted to decline everything.

The company rep stuck to the line that it was my fault for signing the rental agreement, but offered to refund half of the LDW charge. Which I took.

Interestingly I did some research. Most rental agencies charge LDW of $8-12/day. So with my refund I was then only charged $10.50/day.

Another fact - LDW @ $20.99/day works out to be $7661 per year - pretty hefty insurance rates.

So basically just wanted people to be aware that you can, and should decline insurance. Don't sign anything on the agreement until you are sure it is right, and try to read the entire rental agreement, which is about as clear and simple to read as a TV repair manual.

But I do have a few questions.

Do the counter staff get commision or incentives to sell upgrades and add ons such as insurance?

Are there any occasions when you do have to accept insurance (state laws etc.)? I always felt that my personal vehicle insurance and the credit card would cover me pretty well.

Thanks Bill

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Old Oct 13th, 2004, 09:50 AM
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I agree that the insurance rate was rather steep, but I would never think of driving a car around (mine or someone else's) without proper insurance coverage. I live overseas, so I have to use their coverage since my own wouldn't apply.

I rent from Dollar regularly and always decline the LDW because my credit card covers it. That saves me about $10 per day, but I still always accept the liablity, which my credit card does not cover.

I will admit that in dealing with various rental companies, the per day price always starts going up with the adds-on's, such as insurance, gas, upgrades, etc. I just accept the insurance I need and decline the rest, so my rate is not upped by much.

I have no idea if the employees recieve commission on sales or not, but they definitely try to up the price of the car any way possible. I have never felt high pressure to do such with Dollar, though.
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Old Oct 13th, 2004, 10:05 AM
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Bill.....About incentives...yes, yes, and yes...I had a roommate who worked for a car rental company....He had a company issued poster in his room....
"Roses are red
Violets are blue
Sugar is sweet
And what did you sell today?"
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Old Oct 13th, 2004, 10:32 AM
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I worked for many years at a few of the name-brand car rental agencies, and when I was there we DID receive bonuses for selling the insurance. As far as whether you need it or not, it depends on your own insurance and your credit card. Some insurance policies cover you in any car you drive and some do not. Some credit cards cover it and some do not. One charge that you will experience if you are unlucky enough to ever damage a rental car that NEITHER your own insurance or credit card will cover is the "lose of use" charge. This can add up pretty fast when there are repairs to be made before the vehicle can be returned to the rental fleet. For this reason I would check with the rental company to make sure you DO have coverage for this expense. All it takes is one little accident and you could be charged a hefty sum so it's worth it to be protected.
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Old Oct 13th, 2004, 10:38 AM
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Sorry Bash -- but Platinum credit cards DO cover a rental car for Loss of Use. Obviously, you have to use THAT card to pay for the vehicle.
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Old Oct 13th, 2004, 11:03 AM
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I agree with Laurieb, my platinum AmEx does cover that. It is in my agreement with them and I had them confirm again when I called them. My Visa Platinum card also covers this however, one of my friends found out her platinum card does not cover it so it is bets to check prior to renting.
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Old Oct 13th, 2004, 11:10 AM
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I am quite sure they get commissions.

This spring I rented from Thrifty at the Phoenix airport. I had reserved the car on the internet, including liability insurance because I am living out of the country and do not own a car and thus do not have insurance. I used a Platinum Visa and had verified they covered all the rest except the liability.

First thing I am offered is an upgrade at 10$ extra per day(I had rented the cheapest car). I said no thanks I will be fine. He proceeds to ask me if I am staying in Phoenix the whole time, I say no we are also going to Las Vegas. He proceeds to tell me I can't possibily drive this car to Vegas as it has no power windows! Oh no! I again explain, we are on a budget and I am sure it will be fine. Then he offers me an upgrade again for less money, I dont remember what and I decline again. By now I am thinking they dont have my car and they will have to give me an upgrade anyways. Next he says well he is going to go ahead and give it to me no charge. I say ok, thanks.

So then he starts in with the insurance. Like I said, I had already taken the liability, and he tried to sell me a complete deal for all the insurance combined. I say I dont need that my card covers the rest. He says it does not. I say, well I have called them and verified. He says in a disgusted tone that I can believe him or them. I said I most certainly believe the credit card company.

He then proceeds to print out the invoice and low and behold he has charged me extra for the upgrade! I point this out and I am now quite disgusted with the whole transaction and should have just left, but didn't want to hunt around for a car after a long flight from Europe. He takes off the charge and the reservation then comes out to a little bit less that the rate I had on the internet. He has however, taken my upgraded car away and I am back in economy.

I guess I should have contacted Trifty after all that and complained but quite frankly I did not want to waste another minute on them, i just wont rent there again.

And just to bring things full circle, I had been in Phoenix all of 2 days when a rock flew into my windshield and left a huge chip in it. I called my credit card right away, and yes they cover it no problem. When I returned the car they did an inspection and never said a word about it. Go figure.
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Old Oct 13th, 2004, 11:25 AM
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Renting a car is a often a necessity that has a high potential to be a bit of an ordeal.

I just rented from Dollar in St. Louis. I had an online reservation with Thrifty, but noticed a cheaper rate on Dollar, so I switched. Dollar also says they are "on site" in St. Louis and they sent me a "Fast Lane" card etc etc.

When I arrived in St. Louis at 6:30pm on a Thursday evening, the "on-site" office was closed. I had to schlepp my stuff out the garage, up an elevator, across a road, and down a half block to the pick up site. Then I waited 15 minutes for the shuttle to take me to to the OFF SITE lot.

When I got there, I stood in line for service. Where's the Fast Lane, I asked the counter guy. Oh, this is a franchise, there is no Fast Lane.

The capper was that the final price was the same as Thrifty, not the ten bucks cheaper I expected. I questioned it, simply because I was a bit annoyed by this point. The counter guy compared the line items on his invoice to my print out of the internet reservation. Several of the add-on charges (airport tax, etc) were higher than the online quote.

Now Dollar is a big company -- isn't it somebody's JOB to make sure the online prices are correct? I felt it was a bait and switch scam.

Not that Thrifty is so wonderful. IMHO, they all suck.
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Old Oct 13th, 2004, 12:55 PM
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Speaking of scams, the rental car tax at SeaTac is totally outrageous. I rented a car in August there for 5 days - rental charge $199 with tax $327. Two weeks later at LAX, same car for 5 days - $96. with tax $103.
JoeG
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Old Oct 13th, 2004, 04:07 PM
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Yes! Watch the taxes. Las Vegas is another city with high fees. I had to help someone recently out of a huge problem with rental in lAS. This was a car included in her vacation package. When arriving at Alamo she was talked into the upgrade. FIRST MISTAKE. If you want an upgrade, arrange it before arrival. The package deal would have charged much less for the upgrade. Then when checking out she was charged the following taxes: 11.11 concession recoupment fee, 3.25% for rental surcharge imposed by Maricopa county, $4.50 per day for customer facility charge and 5% for state mandated recoupment of vehicle license fees. AND< don't forget the 10.10% sale tax!!!!!! Yep, her INCLUDED car was $228.56 (84.00 of it was the upgrade). So, watch out!! With many letters to the vacation tour vender and also to Alamo, she received back some of the money- just under $100.00 because nowhere on her documents did it state she would owe these taxes.
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Old Oct 15th, 2004, 08:40 AM
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Thanks for all your replies.

It makes sense now to see that rental car agents are motivated to try to sell up their potential customers.

I wonder if there are any national rental agencies that do not give their employees incentives?

When I talked to Budget's customer service I mentioned the words Bait and Switch and the guy on the phone got really defensive. His point was that the agent has the right to offer the customer a better deal if it was available. My point to him was that I felt because I declined all the upgrades, that the sales agent then stuck us with the LDW so she could make more out of rental.

I also complained that I had said I wanted to decline everything and such, the LDW should not have been put on my rental agreement. He basically told me it was my responsibility to get the rental agreement corret, and that by signing it, I agreed to everything on it, even it it did not match the verbal agreement. Once you sign, you are toast.

So from now on I will examine my rental agreement very carefully, and I pity the next rental agent, because they will sure get an earful if they try to pull what Budget did in Seattle.

I also mentioned to the customer service agent that I would never rent from Budget again due to their upselling tactics. He wasn't fazed at all. So for an extra $40 bucks or so on this rental, they have lost my business and any business form our 5 employees forever. A strange way of doing business if you ask me!

Bill
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Old Oct 15th, 2004, 08:46 AM
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"Once you sign, you are toast."
Boy, ain't that the truth! I had a bad experience in Seattle also, Bill, many years ago. I had my mother and my aunt with me, both in their 80's, and I was anxious to get them to the car and out of the airport.

In my haste, I signed the rental agreement without looking it over carefully. When I dropped the car in San Francisco, I had an unpleasant shock. The weekly rate for the car was much higher than the rate I received when I made the confirmation. Mind you, I did not upgrade nor take any additional coverage or extras. They just jacked up the rate and I was dumb enough not to notice when I signed the agreement because I was so distracted by my situation.

I argued til I was blue in the face, but to no avail. Now I don't care if the building is falling down around me, I look over the rental agreement carefully!
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Old Oct 15th, 2004, 09:15 AM
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The current line at the counter that I'm hearing is even more deceiving than what you heard.

"You probably don't need all our extra insurance coverages, right? You're all set with just the basic?"

Lots of people nod yes, but NO, you do not need their "basic" coverage either if you are already covered by your personal auto policy or gold/platinum credit card.

Best thing would be, at checkout, to ask them for an estimate of the total charges. You could have figured out at that point that there was a mix-up.
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Old Oct 15th, 2004, 09:17 AM
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There are no scams here--either on the insurance or the taxes. It is easy to find out before you rent. And credit cards DO cover the insurance. As for taxes, if you look for your rental on Hotwire it will break out the taxes separately so you will know what the add ons will be. I look on Hotwire, get that quote (which you don't have to accept) and then bid on Priceline knowing what will be added/day. I usually save 50%
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Old Oct 15th, 2004, 09:41 AM
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Personally I do feel scammed in two ways.

Firstly by how they word their questions. In my case it was "Do you want the full coverage or just the loss damage waiver?"

A more fair question would have "Do you want full coverage, LDW or no insurance?

Secondly, no matter what you discuss or prebook, the counter agent can put what ever they want on the rental agreement, what ever they want. It then YOUR responsibility to find any errors or add ons.

How many people really look over the entire agreement. Most people just want to get their car and get going. My rental agreement came out on an old dot matrix printer that is almost impossible to read. And I really don't understand everything on that form anyway.

And lastly in my case, I actually questioned the agent about the $20.99 charge on my bill, and she just deflected the question - again she had an oportunity to be fair with me, by pointing out that was the LDW and would be added to my bill. If she had done that I would have declined it.

I felt I was scammed but I have learned from it, and I just posted here to let other know to be aware of it.

Fool me once....
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Old Oct 16th, 2004, 04:05 AM
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I think you did a service by posting your experience.And I assume this was the first time you have rented a car.Many years ago we used to pay for the insurance until many newspaper articles on travel revealed these practices to be high pressure by agents--and that we would be covered by our own car insurance. And then finally in recent years, that it is covered on our credit card. The "add on" at the actual rental desk is always a checklist of what will be charged AND you must initial each one to decline it. Indeed, we DO read the entire rental agreement.
And indeed now you do know.
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Old Oct 16th, 2004, 07:51 AM
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Actually the credit card is only going to cover what your own policy doesn't cover. (It's secondary coverage unless you don't own a car, then it becomes primary coverage.)

I can see how somebody who isn't rental-savvy would be confused when the word "waiver" is used, thinking that he's being asked to waive their insurance offer.

Also, credit cards don't cover Vans and large SUV's usually, some credit cards cover nothing, and the car rental companies now add on "administration fees" of around $150 to the repair bills that your insurance or credit card will not take care of.

Bottom line be careful where you park a rental car, think twice about letting a valet park it. Any major scratch or dent and you will pay one way or another.
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Old Oct 17th, 2004, 01:08 PM
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Just wanted to second tracy2cents comments.

This is almost the exact wording that was used on us a year ago at Phoenix Sky Harbor except that the word "standard" was used instead of "basic." We had even initially said yes, because as already mentioned, it sounds as if you're rejecting optional coverage and staying with a standard rental.

However, in this case my antennae was up because this agent had already tried every trick in the book on us up to this point, so I then specifically asked if that meant we wouldn't be paying for any insurance at all. He was then forced to admit that the "standard" coverage was ONLY $15/day as opposed to the "extra" which was about $30/day. Obviously we made him take that off immediately.

This was after he had inquired very friendly-like as to how much luggage we had (2 bags each) and then told us he was worried that we'd need to upgrade in order to fit everything in the trunk. That was pretty funny since we had a full size car reserved and there were only 2 of us! When I pointed out that we could use the backseat, he glared at me. Then he asked if we were planning to go to Sedona or the Grand Canyon. At this point I'm thinking how unusual it is that the rental agent is showing so much interest in my trip! Of course the reason was that he could now declare that we really need an SUV to make the trip. Now we were catching on, and just kept declining everything until he got to the CDW, which he almost slipped by us.

The funny part was that rather than thinking of complaining to the company about this behavior, my husband actually complimented the agent and told him that that the company was probably really proud of his pushy salesmanship, and that he really deserved an A for effort, but that unfortunately the agent was no match for his wife's vigilance!
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Old Oct 17th, 2004, 02:00 PM
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Be thankful you're not from Brooklyn or the Bronx! I was recently checking car rental rates in New York City. The fine print said "rate will be $77 PER DAY higher for citizens of Brooklyn or the Bronx". Wow! Imagine being hit with THAT news at the rental counter if you didn't read the terms and conditions!

I know that they charge you more if you declare that you're from certain countries when you book online...but I would think charging somebody more just because of what city they live in borders on something illegal.
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Old Oct 17th, 2004, 02:04 PM
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"I would think charging somebody more just because of what city they live in borders on something illegal."

Tell it to the insurance companies.
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