Thursday, February 21, 2008

Drive Happy?!?!?!

(I realize our vacation was OVER A MONTH AGO, and I am still finishing vacation-related posts, but I really think this is my last one! And on the positive side, the blog's been getting a lot of action this month, right?)

I don't want to dwell on a negative experience, but I have to warn everyone out there to STAY AWAY FROM ALAMO, the rental car company. For our vacation we originally reserved a standard SUV, and got an excellent rate due to my stalking the rates on Hotwire.com. I knew standard SUVs were generally five-passenger, but we'd rented one several times before and got upgraded with no problems. Also, it was the largest thing other than a minivan on Hotwire, and we needed 4WD. I figured something in that class would have an optional third row of seats.

I was wrong. Not only was I wrong, but the girl at the counter then told us our reservation was worthless, and now instead of the $20/day rate I'd reserved, we'd need to pay $63 per day "walk-up rate" for a full-size SUV. ($63 times 10 days plus taxes... you do the math!). They then remarked that the walk-up rate for the car we reserved was $60. Andy offered, quite logically, to pay an extra $3 per day (the difference between the rate for the car we reserved and the rate for the car we needed).

The Alamo people acted as if this was totally ridiculous. We talked to three different people at Alamo, all of whom were shockingly rude and completely dismissive. The location manager had the nerve to say to us, multiple times, "We are not having this conversation!" Personnel just walked away from us, mid-conversation. Our customer service rep tried to bully us into taking an SUV with five seats, knowing there were six of us including two small children.

We aren't unreasonable people. All we wanted was a car with four-wheel drive and six seatbelts so our family could be safe.

Thankfully, Andy is (seriously) an expert negotiator. He went up the chain of command until we talked to the regional fleet manager on the phone. He gave us the car we needed for an extra $11 per day.

We still think we should've only had to pay $3 but at that point, we'd been at Alamo for 1.5 hours, while my Mom and Dad and Will had been sitting, along with our two car seats and five bags of luggage, on a concrete island where the bus dropped us off from the airport, and Sophie had wet through her clothes in a big way (all this, mind you, in the freezing cold). $11 per day felt like a major victory after the war we'd been through.

Other customers were having similar problems, although no one else persevered as long as Andy. After one lady told an Alamo representative that they'd never rent from Alamo again, she was told, "Oh yes you will! We have the cheapest rates in town!" The customer responded, "So you're going to hold a gun to my head???" But truly, that's their customer service attitude in a nutshell.

I had rented from Alamo before with no problems, but most recently we've rented from Budget, where we always got upgraded just by telling them what we needed. No problems, no questions asked, no extra payment required.

We will never rent from Alamo again.

1 comment:

Candice said...

I had to rent using Enterprise during the whole headache of getting my car repaired from being rear ended! I'm not getting into why Enterprise, but more importantly...Enterprise was great to work with. They gave me a nice free upgrade and didn't hassle me a bit! (I was due a tin can called aveo but was upgraded to a dodge truck!)

They were super nice to me while dealing with Traveler's Insurance jerks. (Traveler's didn't want to pay for the rental. Ugh!!) However, they helped me bug the snot out of Traveler's until they coughed up the extra $25. Insane, I know.

Needless to say Enterprise will be getting my business in the future!