The car rental experience that didn’t suck
February 27, 2009
My worlds of Twitter and blog haven’t converged, though it may seem to have done so in my mind, so I’m posting thanks to a reminder from SFOrdinaryGirl about my recent car rental.
El papa forgot to mention that he needed a car all day on Saturday until Friday night. Yar! I was expecting some car rental fees over the weekends since they can just use my car during the week, but we don’t share as well if I want to do anything but sit at home 7 days a week. With the pressure to job hunt, I’ve been doing that anyway, but I needed my car last weekend. So with about 12 hours notice, I had to get my bargain hunter on and try to find a cheap rental for the following morning.
My usual go-tos, Enterprise, Dollar, and Budget were all out because I required a one-day rental, and all their local offices were closed on Sundays. [Can I just say? That made me downright grumpy. How can you be a business that involves time-based charges and not be open 7 days a week? How can you be closed to rentals or returns on Sunday? GAH. It’s a little bit like being charged in a hotel or a hospital where you have to check out … except there’s one day of the week you can’t! Ok, enough ranting.]
Weekend rentals at Enterprise are usually 50% off, so the car would have cost about $70-ish Friday through Sunday.
Except 1) you can’t return cars on Sunday and 2) it was Friday night and far too late to get a weekend rental.
On the phone with BFF, she suggested that I use her AAA discount to help defray the costs, and while poking around the internets together, she suggested Hertz. Normally, I avoid Hertz like the credit-card charging plague they are, but looked at their site anyway. I mean, I was striking out everywhere else!
And lo: the skies opened and brought me the Hertz One Weekend Day FREE rental deal. No kidding, they quoted me $13.99 in taxes and airport location rental fees for an economy car.
I searched for a catch, an obligation, a must-do and came up empty. They were serious about this “Buy None Get 1 Free” deal.
With no little amount of doubt and perturbation, the reservation was made. The next morning, other than a 45 minute wait in line thanks to a customer in front of me having difficulties with her reservation, the rental was simple. “You have a free day, sign on the line, you have an additional driver, sign on the line, go get your car!”
Huh. Well, no complications except they gave us a frickin’ Toyota Prius and I had no clue how to turn it on. Power button? What? This is a for-real car, right?
Driving difficulties aside, the rental ended up being less than they quoted me, and they didn’t even charge for my dad as an additional driver. (Normally a $10 fee. The agent didn’t even mention the fee or the discount.) And it took me 36 hours before I asked myself, why did I even do that? Why didn’t I just let him rent it in his name? It’s not like I wouldn’t have paid anyway. The whole ten bucks.
The promotion runs through the end of March, and is good once a month so if you had actual need for a rental this month and next, you could get your free day twice. You have this last weekend to get it in, though.
Caveat: I did not take any extras like the insurance, GPS or any other add-ons. The additional driver would normally cost you, I assume that waiting patiently for nearly an hour was my free pass. And I didn’t even pay for gas because the 70 miles driven didn’t put a dent in the gas tank.
Caveat Emptor: I’m not getting paid to promote Hertz in any way – I’m just happy about the deal and wanted to share.