I was tweeted this morning with a question about rental cars.
[A] friend trying to drive to her wedding this weekend is getting a shrug & “what can you do?” from @Hertz, but no car. Advice?
You’re less likely to have this happen to you if you’re a member of the rental car company’s frequency program, but it’s not a guarantee of protection.
There are no new problems in travel of course, and it’s even happened to famous comedians on TV.
There’s a Seinfeld meme for almost everything, for those old enough to remember. At the very end of the series, Elaine Benes declared her love for… United Airlines (and the next day United issued a press release “we love you, too.”). There was even one for an Orbitz discount.
But no Seinfeld meme in travel is more powerful than:
Agent: I’m sorry, we have no mid-size available at the moment.
Jerry: I don’t understand, I made a reservation, do you have my reservation?
Agent: Yes, we do, unfortunately we ran out of cars.
Jerry: But the reservation keeps the car here. That’s why you have the reservation.
Agent: I know why we have reservations.
Jerry: I don’t think you do. If you did, I’d have a car. See, you know how to
take the reservation, you just don’t know how to *hold* the reservation and that’s really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them.
If your rental isn’t prepaid, and another rental company has cars, just go to them.
The rental car company you booked through can’t hold you to a deal when they don’t have a car at the assigned time, anyway.
If the other car companies are more expensive, you’ll generally be able to get your rental car company to make up the difference for the first day of the rental at least. That may require followup after the fact.
Here’s the policy from Hertz and Avis in this kind of situation.
In situations like mine where there are no cars left at the airport, Hertz will let customers rent from a competitor and pay the difference, or pay for a cab to and from your hotel, asking you to return the next morning when more cars might be available.
The company will also provide a $50 voucher for a future rental.
Alice Pereira, a spokeswoman for Avis Budget Group, Inc., outlined a nearly identical policy at her company.
When no one has cars, you’re in a pickle. The most you can get is compensation later. I’d check with off-airport rental companies for cars. I’d look to going without a car and having one delivered later. Or in a worst case, like getting to a wedding, paying the exorbitant costs for cab or driver. Not satisfying, but when there legitimately aren’t cars there are few options.
- You can join the 40,000+ people who see these deals and analysis every day — sign up to receive posts by email (just one e-mail per day) or subscribe to the RSS feed. It’s free. You can also follow me on Twitter for the latest deals. Don’t miss out!