This week, my aunt and cousin are visiting from Germany. When you’re staying with family and part of such a big clan, it’s often tough to get around and do the tourist thing. So today, my cousin decided he was going to rent a car and go to San Francisco for a day or two. He wanted a rental car so he wouldn’t have to worry about who’s car he’s driving, whether he’s covered under the insurance plan, etc. I searched on Kayak and booked him an economy car from Hertz.
We drive to Hertz and the only employee working there is on the phone with what appears to be an angry customer. He looks tired and “over it” if you can imagine what that looks like. He hangs up and tells us, “If you’re here for a rental car, I’ve got zero cars on the lot.” I tell him I have a reservation and he responds with, “So do the 17 other people I’ve been calling all afternoon.” He holds up a piece of paper with names and phone numbers to emphasize his point. I ask why Hertz was accepting reservations if there were no cars left and he says, “It’s Hertz Oklahoma. They’re clueless about our inventory.”
We leave and drive a block over to Enterprise, which I also remember seeing availability for that morning. We go inside and there’s a customer on the phone with somebody, complaining about how he came “all the way out here” for a rental car and they told him his reservation had been cancelled, and how he wished he’d been notified ahead of time. Hoping this was more of an issue with the type of car he wanted, I walked up to the desk and asked the rep if they had anything. Yes, they do but that car is going to be driven off the lot shortly. If we cone back at 4 PM, they should have a car ready for us.
Next, I call Avis and they tell me they’ve only got an SUV. It’s kind of strange that all these rental agencies in the suburbs are out of cars on a Wednesday, but I keep trying and call Budget next. They tell me they’ve got two cars and I head out to the location, which was thankfully not too far. Oddly, Budget and Avis were not only in the same building, but they shared a desk! You would think the Avis rep would have saved me the trouble and said, “We don’t have anything, but let me ask my colleague at Budget who’s sitting right next to me.” I can’t stand the car rental industry.
Anyway, we picked up the car and the ordeal was over. What I find annoying is that Hertz continued to take reservations even though they were way overbooked. Even Enterprise was showing availability online despite having no cars available. So if you’re ever booking a rental car at the last minute, I would highly suggest you call the agency right after your booking and make sure they have cars available. It would be awful if you were flying into another city, thinking your rental car was taken car of, took a shuttle to the rental office, and found out they had nothing available. Even if you’re booking way in advance, give them a call before you arrive and make sure they have availability.
Has something like this ever happened to you? What was the outcome?
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