Sunday, July 23, 2006

Rental Car Games

Here is the first of two rental cars I had during my trip to Idaho. It is a Ford Focus and as rental cars go, it wasn't too bad, except the seat was hugely uncomfortable, forming a "C" shape with the headrest pushing my head forward and no lower back support. I wish I'd had the second one, a Chevy Cobalt, for more than just the last day. It was much nicer, with a more upright seat and lumbar support!

Now why, you may wonder, did I have two different rental cars? Well, that is where the games come in. Rental rates are based on blocks of time. One day rentals are the most expensive, weekend rates less so, and 5 to 7 day weekly rates are the best of all. But what if you need a car for 8 days as I did? Do I get any special deal for keeping it a day more? No, I'm penalized and have to pay nearly half again as much for the 8th day as I paid for all 7 days prior. Doesn't make much sense to me, but then I've never had much of a brain for business.

But the games did not end there. It seems that there are special penalties if one wants to return the car to a location other than where one picked it up as I needed to do. When I checked a weekly rate for that, suddenly the cost of the rental car jumped from about $175 to over $400, nearly matching my plane fare! Geez Louise, I'm running on a tight budget here and I still had my motel to book.

It finally dawned on me that dishonesty of a sort was going to be the best policy here in order to get me a reasonable deal on a car. I booked a weekly rate with one rental company with pickup and drop off at my arrival airport, then found the company with the best single day rental from this same airport to the other airport I'd be flying out of. It saved me a ton of money, but I have to admit it was a little odd dropping off the first car, having the attendant wish me a good flight, then heading a few counters down to pick up the second car to "fly" down the road to my friends' house three hours away.

I SO hate playing games.

No comments: