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Old Jun 10, 12, 7:03 am   #1
 
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1 week rental $391. 8 days $113

Just when I thought I've seen everything... I understand that flying return is cheaper than one way, and that renting for a week is the same price as five days. I can understand this.

But I can't understand how renting for 8 days would be one third the rate of a weekly rental. Both Thrifty and Dollar have this: rent a full week (in Washington DC, in September), pay $391. Return your car a few hours later, so it counts as 8 days, and the rate drops to $113.

What will they do if I book for 8 days and return the car two days earlier, force me to drive it for two more days?

Shuly
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Old Jun 10, 12, 7:11 am   #2
 
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I can't duplicate this so far.
Example dates, location (DCA?), car size, any promo code used?
It maybe a useful glitch, or maybe not.
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Old Jun 10, 12, 7:26 am   #3
 
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Originally Posted by MrHalliday View Post
I can't duplicate this so far.
Example dates, location (DCA?), car size, any promo code used?
It maybe a useful glitch, or maybe not.
Both DCA and IAD. Try September 4th though 11, then through 12.

Shuly
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Old Jun 10, 12, 7:36 am   #4
 
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Originally Posted by shuly View Post
...What will they do if I book for 8 days and return the car two days earlier, force me to drive it for two more days?

Shuly
No, they'll just charge you based on the rates for the time you used.
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Old Jun 10, 12, 10:01 am   #5
 
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Originally Posted by shuly View Post
Both DCA and IAD. Try September 4th though 11, then through 12.
OK, I see it now !
....and the price drops for some of the higher end vehicles.
Ford Escape 8 days $169.99 ai.
And it works for 9 days, two weeks, three weeks, etc.

Unfortunately this doesn't answer your question
about early return, but nice find !

Last edited by MrHalliday; Jun 10, 12 at 10:27 am..
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Old Jun 10, 12, 1:46 pm   #6
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Originally Posted by jwhite4 View Post
No, they'll just charge you based on the rates for the time you used.
This.

It's not intentional--it's a function of the way their computer systems do rate analysis of the competition in conjunction with forecasted fleet availability. Note that Thrifty's primary competition, Enterprise (which Thrifty competes most strongly with and sets their rates in accordance with), has a similar rate for both sets of dates.

Once you book a particular rate plan, though, you are locked into that rate plan regardless of the length of rental UNLESS you do something that invalidates the rate plan (such as pick up too early or return too late for a weekend rate, etc.).

That said, I can't guarantee this will be the case 100%. You can often see some more detailed rate information in travel agency GDS systems. A good way to get access to this is to do a test booking on Travelocity and then click the "Rules & Information" tab, which shows the full T&C as published in the GDS. In your case, the rate rules for your 8-day September rental come up as this:

Code:
NO ADVANCE BOOKING REQUIRED 8 FULL 24 HOUR DAYS REQUIRED 28 DY MAX RNTL DROP CHARGES IF APPLICABLE WILL DISPLAY AT CONFIRMATIONMINIMUM BASED ON A 24 HOUR CLOCK RCUW8
For comparison, here are the rules of the higher 7-day rate:

Code:
NO ADVANCE BOOKING REQUIRED 5DY MIN RENTAL REQUIRED. 7DAY MAX RENTAL ALLOWED. DROP CHARGES IF APPLICABLE WILL DISPLAY AT CONFIRMATIMINIMUM IS BASED ON A 24-HOUR CLOCK. RCUW5
Now, I believe those are just the rate rules that Thrifty's reservation engine uses to figure out which rate it should apply to your reservation. I don't believe they are "attached" to your reservation once your reservation is confirmed.

At Thrifty franchises (which I have the most experience with), the computer systems are too dumb to factor any specific rate rules in. The Thrifty reservation system simply transmits the reservation to the franchise's computer system with a daily rate and a weekly rate attached. Any changes to the pick-up and drop-off dates can't change the rate, because only one rate (with no particular rules) is associated with that reservation.

However, Thrifty corporate locations (which IAD and DCA are) use a more sophisticated computer system that very well could consider specific rate rules such as those noted above. There is a chance--a small chance, but a chance nonetheless--that upon returning the car early, your rate may jump up to the higher rate. I do not think the chance is that big, though, and would feel comfortable booking the later return date and counting on that price to stick.

Worst comes to worst, ask for a manager at return and ask how your rate triples when you're doing them the favor and letting them re-rent the car to someone else for an extra day or two. On an early return, I would (begrudgingly) accept having to pay the same price as I would have had I kept the car longer, but certainly not any more than that. I think the local manager would likely see the logic and agree. Even if you're charged the full $113 for the 8-day rental despite returning it after 7 days, you'll be money ahead. In fact, even if you have to keep the car, go park it offsite, and then call them on the 8th day to have the car picked up by them and they charge you a $25 (or even higher) fee to do so, you'll still be money ahead.
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Old Jun 10, 12, 10:44 pm   #7
 
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Excellent explanation, and this last paragraph was exactly my thoughts. Thank you.

Shuly

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackal View Post
Worst comes to worst, ask for a manager at return and ask how your rate triples when you're doing them the favor and letting them re-rent the car to someone else for an extra day or two. On an early return, I would (begrudgingly) accept having to pay the same price as I would have had I kept the car longer, but certainly not any more than that. I think the local manager would likely see the logic and agree. Even if you're charged the full $113 for the 8-day rental despite returning it after 7 days, you'll be money ahead. In fact, even if you have to keep the car, go park it offsite, and then call them on the 8th day to have the car picked up by them and they charge you a $25 (or even higher) fee to do so, you'll still be money ahead.
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Old Jun 11, 12, 3:57 am   #8
 
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...Worst comes to worst, ask for a manager at return and ask how your rate triples when you're doing them the favor and letting them re-rent the car to someone else for an extra day or two...
By the same logic, would you ask an airline why you just can't get off at 'B' on an A-B-C itinerary when A-B-C is cheaper than A-B? By the same measure, why should the airline punish you for a higher A-B flight, when they can sell B-C for additional money?

Often, travel pricing just doesn't make sense.

Jeff
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Old Jun 11, 12, 10:16 am   #9
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Originally Posted by jwhite4 View Post
By the same logic, would you ask an airline why you just can't get off at 'B' on an A-B-C itinerary when A-B-C is cheaper than A-B? By the same measure, why should the airline punish you for a higher A-B flight, when they can sell B-C for additional money?

Often, travel pricing just doesn't make sense.

Jeff
There is some logic to your argument, but the rental car industry's pricing models are not nearly as sophisticated as the airlines. Having been on the inside, I can assure you that the issue raised in this thread is purely unintentional, and if it were brought to the attention of the rate management department, they'd probably fix it (I'll even go so far as to state that most pricing in the rental industry is unintentional and haphazardly instituted--having worked extensively with rate management folks, it's all a big guessing game and rates are just thrown out there with little understanding of the actual mechanics of how they're applied).

Rental car agencies do want to get the highest rate possible out of you, yes, but they don't want to encourage you to keep the car longer than you need by actually charging less for long rentals (less per day but still more overall, yes, but not less overall), as they would view that as lost potential revenue from additional rentals.
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Old Jun 11, 12, 12:38 pm   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shuly View Post
Just when I thought I've seen everything... I understand that flying return is cheaper than one way, and that renting for a week is the same price as five days. I can understand this.

But I can't understand how renting for 8 days would be one third the rate of a weekly rental. Both Thrifty and Dollar have this: rent a full week (in Washington DC, in September), pay $391. Return your car a few hours later, so it counts as 8 days, and the rate drops to $113.

What will they do if I book for 8 days and return the car two days earlier, force me to drive it for two more days?

Shuly
Could the OP give us the dates or a screenshot of the rate?
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Old Jun 11, 12, 1:06 pm   #11
 
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Originally Posted by am1108 View Post
Could the OP give us the dates or a screenshot of the rate?
He did, in post #3.
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Old Jun 11, 12, 5:51 pm   #12
 
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Originally Posted by MrHalliday View Post
He did, in post #3.
Oh Sorry..
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Old Jun 12, 12, 12:19 am   #13
 
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still working !

Last edited by MrHalliday; Jun 15, 12 at 9:50 pm..
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Old Jun 12, 12, 9:50 am   #14
 
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Originally Posted by jwhite4 View Post
By the same logic, would you ask an airline why you just can't get off at 'B' on an A-B-C itinerary when A-B-C is cheaper than A-B?
Indeed. Just replace 'C' by 'A'. In other words, I think the situation here is very similar to one in which flying return from A to B is cheaper than a one-way. You buy a return ticket and only fly the first leg. There's very little the airline can do.

Having said that, in the airline industry such a situation, while frequent, is only half the truth, since the rules that govern the one-way fare are typically much more lax than the rules of the return fare. Whereas with the car rental situation, there's no difference whatsoever between the one week deal and the 8 day one.

I agree that this must be an error.

Shuly
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Old Jan 4, 13, 11:42 pm   #15
 
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Funny I managed to do similar thing in LAX for Mar 2 -10 at $118 for full size vs Mar 2 - 9 at $319.
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