Old May 4, 17, 8:20 am
Mike Rivers
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Falls Gulch VA
Posts: 211
Thrifty - Worst Excuse For Not Honoring The Reserved Rate

I keep thinking I've heard every way of being screwed when traveling but this one takes the cake (so far anyway).

I had a reservation with Thrifty in LAS a couple of weeks ago, two days for a mid-or-larger car. Thanks to the good folks at AutoSlash, I ended up with an outrageously low daily rate of $14.44, $43.34 total with fees and taxes.

I had flown in a few days earlier and picked up the car after I'd finished my business, planning a couple of days of touring. I reserved for a pickup time of 9 AM.

I'm a Blue Chip customer so, as directed, I went right to the lot. The monitor that lists Blue Chip renters and tells you where to pick up your car was blank. The agent in the booth was having difficulty finding my reservation, so I handed him a printed copy. After a fair amount of typing, he handed me my paperwork and directed me to where to pick out my car. I did so, and drove off.

When I returned the car, I looked at the receipt and noticed that I was charged about $20 more than the cost on my reservation. I would have stopped at the rental desk (Dollar, same company, I know) to ask about it, but there were a couple of people in line and I didn't want to miss my flight I - figured I'd call and straighten it out when I got to my next destination.

When I called, I was passed around to three different people all of whom insisted that I was charged the rate that was on my reservation.

After filling out their "did you have a great rental experience?" survey with a lot of "terribles" I was surprised to get an e-mail reply from someone with a Hertz e-mail address saying that he would look into it. I e-mailed him a copy of my original reservation and the receipt, and a day later he came back with this answer:

"The reason is your original pick up time was schedule for a 9 am pick and it seems you picked the vehicle up 15 minutes earlier than schedule. I know this doesn't seem like a big deal, but with some rate codes the time of pick-up is important. So with picking it up earlier, the rate defaulted to $24.59 a day instead of the $14.44 a day that your reservation quoted." !!!!!!!

I know that rates change frequently now with rental cars, but I always assumed that that the rates they quote are the rates in effect at the time you make the reservation, for the car, date, and time you want.

Could be that the agent at the desk at the lot was a mindless dolt, but it would have been reasonable for him to point out that the rate the computer spit out wasn't the same as what was on my reservation and then let me argue about it. Or if he knew why the rate was different (and I suspect that he didn't, since it took quite a bit of digging to find the reason) suggest that I go back to the lobby, have a cup of coffee, and come back in fifteen minutes.

The Hertz guy apologized, of course, and said he put in a request for a refund of the difference between what I reserved and what I paid, so I'm hoping this will end well.

I realize that a reservation isn't a contract, and if it was, I'd have broken it by picking up the car 15 minutes early. But I guess that when your business is controlled by a computer, the human employees, at least at the service level, have no choice but to blindly follow whatever it says.

I wonder how often this occurrs. What if a flight arrival was late, or, heaven forbid, 15 minutes early?

I've learned to carefully inspect a rental car for damage before I leave the lot, but I've always assumed that if the car is there when I arrive, that the reservation process worked.
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