The Atlantic runs a piece that argues the real allure of a service like Silver — a car rental company that offers uniformly good cars, filled with features, and all-in pricing — is avoiding other people and not having to see Ford Tauruses.
I disagree. Luxury services nearly always require seeing and being seen by others if they’re about making the customer feel better than someone else. It’s a novel theory indeed that Silvercar is selling the luxury of not interacting.
That’s especially strange when Silvercar offers more service from people. In Austin at least you get picked up by a person and driven to their off-airport location. You are taken in a car, for sure, but you are driven rather than walking directly across to your car there where the major agencies are located. And you’re checked into a vehicle by that person, instead of just getting into your assigned car (Hertz, Avis) or choosing your own car (National) and going.
Joining a frequent renter program with the major agencies is the true path to not interacting with others… not Silvercar.
They’ve got a personality that’s different though. Avis eliminated their ‘we try harder’ slogan (perhaps they no longer do) but Silvercar greets customers brashly:
For Silvercar, “not sucking” means not being like traditional rental car companies. The rest of my on-arrival text message drives the point home. At the end of their detailed instructions, Silvercar urges me: “do NOT go to the purple ‘rental cars’ sign. That’s for those who’ve already given up ;)”
But in a world where no publicity is bad publicity, I’m happy for Silvercar that it’s being marketed presumably to The Atlantic’s core customer base because I hope it succeeds. I want competition over quality and not just price or more specifically I want competition over both in order to provide a strong package of both quality and price.
The shared rental bus does “suck” and getting Taurus after Taurus (or even Sentra) may be the ultimate in first world problems but for someone who rents a car and drives a lot dozens of times a year it is certainly less pleasant than driving a nicer car. Little luxuries on the road can be really comforting.
I’ve rented from Silvercar twice.
- The first time the rate for one day was $59, and I used a $50 off coupon. The price was $9 plus tax or $13. And I earned $25 for being referred by a reader.
- The second time I used a 30% off coupon code (that I got for filling out a survey) and that made Silvercar $2 per day more than my next alternative.
They’re not the cheapest, but they are at least attempting a value proposition that’s new and different. Their customers are most likely to be business travelers booking away from expensive mid-week airport options, not the super wealthy who don’t need to drive themselves.
In any case, the last thing we need is a right wing or left wing perspective on the subject of rental cars.