Monday, December 23, 2013

Budget Battle: When renting a car from Budget is a battle for your dollars

It's holiday time. The airports are bustling with travelers, some delayed in their flights home. Time is precious. Families want to get on the road and celebrate with each other. 

But this evening I witnessed a time-consuming battle for my friends' money at the Budget Rent a Car counter.

Their flight was delayed coming into Portland International Airport. I picked them up and took them to the Budget lot which was off-site. I thought I'd save them a bit of time. But what happened next was anything but a time-saver.

The line wasn't long, fortunately. As they pulled out licenses and ID, they were registered. They had reserved a car online at a price they thought was budget worthy. The agent, feigning interest in their travels, asked personal questions such as where they were going, who they were visiting, what they would be doing and what fun activities they had planned. In reality, they were going to visit an elderly parent.

As they went through the lengthy registration process Q & A, the following was asked of them several times:

How many suitcases do you have (they only had carry-ons)
Do you want an upgrade to a more comfortable car? (more $$)
You may want to sight-see. Do you want an upgrade to a more comfortable car?
We have a Lincoln on the lot, would you like to upgrade?
Do you want full insurance coverage? (many $$)
So you want to decline insurance coverage?
Do you want replacement coverage? (more $$)
If you decline the coverage you may be responsible for the cost of the car (if stolen, etc.) and we don't bill your insurance company.
Do you want to purchase a full tank of gas? If you do, you won't be charged anything on your return. (This works only if you are going to use a full tank on your travels)
Do you want a GPS (more $)

They then had to initial all the things they had declined. This was made to seem like they were signing their life savings away. The car had better not be returned with a scratch, they thought!

They went out to their very ample compact Budget car, which wasn't really clean so it was hard to see scratches in the night light. One of the renters noticed the upholstery was soiled. But by that this time they were so weary, they didn't want to go back in and have these things witnessed by the "interrogator." 

Moral of the story: You have to be assertive in order to end up with a Budget rent-a-car within your personal budget!

How to Avoid Unnecessary Rental Car Fees

How to Say No at the Car Rental Counter