Rental Car Holiday Price Gouging

Old Nov 19, 18, 4:58 am
  #1  
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Rental Car Holiday Price Gouging

I usually rent through Hertz with a USAA code for rentals of a couple days up to a week. Found out two days ago that I had to attend a funeral this Wednesday, so arranged flights ORD-DC out tomorrow (Tue) and back on Thu morning - Thanksgiving day. When I went to reserve a car at IAD, Hertz said nothing available. I checked Hertz at DCA, same story. Then I tried Avis, National, Budget, Alamo, even SilverCar - nada. Then I tried Thrifty; same story, but I got this odd response on their website: "NO RATES DUE TO SELL RULE FROM SOURCE." Huh...?

Then the light bulb goes on. I go back to Hertz and try again, but with the return date set for Friday - one day later. Still no cars. Then I try a return on Saturday and Voila! all the usual car classes pop up and at typical rates. So I make a reservation and will turn in the car two days early, paying about double at the pickup counter. I will continue to check for rate changes up to departure, and I will certainly squawk back to Hertz about this, but I assume it's not just them. Going back to the other companies with the same return date change might produce the same result.

No surprise that car rentals could be more expensive for last minute rentals at busy times. OK, I get that. But why pretend that no cars are available when they really just want more money? This is probably nothing new - I just never saw it before. Pretty stinky!
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Old Nov 19, 18, 5:28 am
  #2  
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Based on your post, there is no evidence of either "gouging" or "pretending" anything.

Rates are higher over Thanksgiving because demand is higher. Same reason why you can find a mid-winter weekend rental for next-to-nothing at a downtown business location in some cities.

Hertz does not suggest that there are no cars available, but rather that there are no cars available for the time period you seek the car. Same reason for limiting availability, e.g. demand. Hertz knows that if it rents a car on Tuesday-Wednesday for one day, it likely won't be able to rent that car for the balance of the holiday, so it chooses to meet the demand and hold vehicles for longer rentals.

Wednesday-Sunday are the busiest travel days of the year. You can look at airfares too and see the same phenomenon. A ticket Wednesday-Sunday costs a fortune but if you are willing to fly on Thanksgiving Day and return on Saturday before Noon, there are some astonishing deals to be had.
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Old Nov 19, 18, 6:32 am
  #3  
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Try reserving for longer than you need (the minimum required to get avail to show) and returning early. You can't be certain of the final rate, but in our experience, it usually works out fine in these cases.

Also, try the link below for a quote. Sometimes, even if Hertz is sold out on the website our prepaid inventory source shows availability. Worth a shot.
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Old Nov 23, 18, 7:27 pm
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In most areas, and in particular large urban locations car rental places have had closed inventory for major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and many of the summer holidays such as Fourth of July, etc....) for months in advance. This is nothing new and has been going on for ages.

There is only so much inventory at locations and or system wide. As it is many National locations in urban areas like NYC must have vehicles brought in from airports and or even far out of state.

Obviously as demand increases so do rates; that is just the common sense model all car rental places use now.

It has always been possible to *bust* a National "no inventory" message by booking a vehicle on a weekly rate. However IIRC National can and just may change the rate if renter returns earlier (< less than one week).

Enterprise/National/Alamo aren't stupid; they can see who rents on a weekly rate, and when the vehicle is returned. If there is too much gaming of the system so to speak, it will prompt changes to curb such behavior.

Finally keep in mind previous statement; just because you force the system to book a reservation by going with a weekly reservation it does *NOT* create any more inventory. You'll be lumped in with the dozens or scores of other renters on eve a holiday with confirmed reservations all waiting for vehicles.
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Old Dec 18, 18, 11:33 am
  #5  
 
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Originally Posted by othermike27 View Post
I usually rent through Hertz with a USAA code for rentals of a couple days up to a week. Found out two days ago that I had to attend a funeral this Wednesday, so arranged flights ORD-DC out tomorrow (Tue) and back on Thu morning - Thanksgiving day. When I went to reserve a car at IAD, Hertz said nothing available. I checked Hertz at DCA, same story. Then I tried Avis, National, Budget, Alamo, even SilverCar - nada. Then I tried Thrifty; same story, but I got this odd response on their website: "NO RATES DUE TO SELL RULE FROM SOURCE." Huh...?

Then the light bulb goes on. I go back to Hertz and try again, but with the return date set for Friday - one day later. Still no cars. Then I try a return on Saturday and Voila! all the usual car classes pop up and at typical rates. So I make a reservation and will turn in the car two days early, paying about double at the pickup counter. I will continue to check for rate changes up to departure, and I will certainly squawk back to Hertz about this, but I assume it's not just them. Going back to the other companies with the same return date change might produce the same result.

No surprise that car rentals could be more expensive for last minute rentals at busy times. OK, I get that. But why pretend that no cars are available when they really just want more money? This is probably nothing new - I just never saw it before. Pretty stinky!
What happened to your rate when you returned early? I'm looking to do an airport rental from Hertz and seeing the same thing... availability for longer rentals, but I only need the car for one day. Thanks!
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