Sep 20, 09, 12:23 pm
I searched Orbitz for a rental from noon Thursday to 1 p.m. Friday, hoping that for some companies the extra hour would count as a grace period and I'd be charged for one day. The lowest rate for a company I'd use was at Dollar. On the Dollar site I also searched a 24-hour rental from 1 p.m. Thursday, and that total was more than for 25 hours. I booked the 25-hour rate on their site, and it's lower than what's showing currently. To make a valid comparison with figures, I searched just now, for the same car class with the AX10 promo code, and get for 25 hours:
1 Day at $52.64 per day. Unlimited mileage. 1 Extra Hour at $10.53 per hour. $63.17 total.
For 24 hours: 1 day at $70.10 per day, $70.10 total.
(Recognizing that this is before the taxes and fees.)
My first thought was that the rate got lower because it slipped into weekend rates, but with the extra hour being 12-1 Thursday, it doesn't make much sense. Other explanations? I first thought I'd be asking if the time over 24 is measured in minutes, would it fit into a grace period. Now my main question is: if I return it in under 24 hours, will it be charged at the one-day rate (leaving off the extra hour) that shows in my booking?
Sep 20, 09, 7:36 pm
That is indeed very strange, and it could be (and probably is) more of a glitch in the rate rules than something intentional. Some rates do indeed have a restriction for a two (or three) or more day rental, and perhaps going an hour over fits that rate's rules and makes it be considered a two-day rate. (I'd have to double check, but I believe a 25-hour rental posts in the rental software as a two-day rental for purposes of frequent flyer credit and utilization calculations, and so it probably does for rate requirements, too.)
As to whether you'll be upcharged if you return it early--it's a crapshoot. Probably not, but depending on how the rate information is downloaded into the counter rental system, it may switch you over to the higher rate.
If you can book your reservation, call the location you'll be renting from directly, and manage to speak with someone who knows what they're looking for (ha!), they might be able to tell by looking in the rate details. That's a lot of ifs, though.
Personally, I'd feel comfortable booking the 25-hour one. If I did indeed end up returning it early, I'd be optimistic about speaking with the manager and getting it fixed by either having him post-date the return time to 25 hours, change it to a one-day rate at $63.17 per day, or even just give it to me at $52.64 per day.
Come armed with printed copies of the screens showing the rate you got that don't mention any sort of restrictions on the rate, meaning you were never told that the rate could go up if you returned it early. And if worst comes to worst, take it up with Customer Care after the fact--they bend over for everyone.
FWIW, most corporate Thriftys have (I believe) done away with the grace period. Other places have reduced it from 59 minutes to 30 minutes. Some places (the franchise I'm familiar with, at least) still hold to a 59-minute one, however. Note that this could come into play--if you rent from a location with a 59-minute grace period and return it 45 minutes after your rental time, the computer will calculate it as a one-day rental (possibly messing with your rate, as we indicated above). 61 minutes, though, is considered two hours, so at a place with a 59-minute grace period, you have to return it exactly 60 minutes later than your pick-up time to be charged for one hour. 59 or 61 minutes don't count.
Sep 21, 09, 5:17 pm
Not exactly the same situation, but I once had a 5-day, 2-hour long rental where the computer was trying to charge the weekly rate plus two additional hours.
The agent extended it a few hours to kick it back to the weekly rate, but when I returned the car the rate reverted back to the original problem of extra hour charges. They fixed it inside without a hassle, but just a heads up that the rate might revert when you return the car.
Sep 17, 10, 3:00 pm
Probably a weekend deal - sometimes they can start on a Thursday.
If you run into a problem by returning it too early, tell them you will just sit there in the parking lot until you cross over the time line, then turn it in. Of course you will be blocking their traffic and car movement process and somebody will finally realize it is stupid.
(this assume you do not have to run to catch a plane)