Upgrading - at the rental counter

 
Old Dec 20, 09, 4:04 pm
  #1  
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Upgrading - at the rental counter

I usually get a rental car in Denver Christmas week. Dec 24-31.
Normal pattern - I book an intermediate car with Budget, then when I get there, they offer me an upgrade to SUV for MUCH less than the SUV rental price online (travelocity).

Does Thrifty / Dollar behave the same?

Budget is showing very little availability - and much higher rental rates - compared with last year.

Thanks,
davemflyer is offline  
Old Dec 22, 09, 11:05 am
  #2  
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Originally Posted by davemflyer View Post
I usually get a rental car in Denver Christmas week. Dec 24-31.
Normal pattern - I book an intermediate car with Budget, then when I get there, they offer me an upgrade to SUV for MUCH less than the SUV rental price online (travelocity).

Does Thrifty / Dollar behave the same?

Budget is showing very little availability - and much higher rental rates - compared with last year.

Thanks,
All I can say is: it depends.

It depends on what the rates are online (sometimes they're a relatively small difference online; sometimes they're terribly expensive), what the MOD has set for the day, what kind of freedom the location gives the rental agents for pricing, the rental agent's personal sales goals are and how much they're personally comfortable with, etc.

For some tips on how to try to get an upgrade a bit more cheaply, look at my post #2 in the sticky at the top of the Thrifty forum. The key is to not appear like you want it very much but to seem like you are interested in a good deal (i.e. that price is your major issue).
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Old Dec 22, 09, 3:40 pm
  #3  
 
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Like jackal said, never appear that you NEED the vehicle, only that you are interested in driving something different. I once showed up at the Thrifty counter in YYZ with 5 pieces of luggage balanced precariously on my cart. The location had run out of Fullsize cars for the evening, but insisted that I wouldn't have been able to fit my things into a Fullsize and needed a bigger car anyways. Since it was nearly 1 AM and I was exhausted, I took the bait and got put into a Pacifica for $20/day more, even though I was actually alone and my luggage was only going to my mom's place 15 miles away.

That's why it's a good idea, dpending on airport configuration (I've never been through DEN), to leave other travellers to collect luggage while you fetch the rental. That way you could be anybody at the rental counter. If the agent sees you with 4 other people and a pile of bags, and you ask about SUVs, the rental agent is thinking "This guy is going to be CRAMPED in a Corolla/Caliber/Whatever. He needs a Grand Cherokee/4Runner/whatever. Let's see how much I can get for it."
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Old Dec 23, 09, 11:20 pm
  #4  
 
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Originally Posted by davemflyer View Post
I usually get a rental car in Denver Christmas week. Dec 24-31.
Normal pattern - I book an intermediate car with Budget, then when I get there, they offer me an upgrade to SUV for MUCH less than the SUV rental price online (travelocity).

Does Thrifty / Dollar behave the same?
Year ago, many Thrifty stations seemed to have small fleets, and free upgrades to larger or more interesting cars were common. Today it seems that more stations have plenty of the smaller cars, though free upgrades definitely happen when they're busy.

My personal experience with Thrifty is that they don't offer a lot of paid upgrades. This is in contrast with other rental agencies that pressure me to pay for upgrades I can get for free. For example, this is a common conversation I have with a rental clerk (RC) at some agencies:

RC: I see you've reserved a compact car. Would you like to upgrade?
Me: What are you offering?
RC: I can upgrade you to a SUV for $15/day, or a premium for $20/day.
Me: That's a lot of money. I'll pass, thanks.
RC: Are you sure you'll have enough room in the compact?
Me: Yeah, it's just me and my wife.
RC: Where are you going? If you've got a lot of driving, the bigger car will be more comfortable.
Me: No, that's alright. Just give me the car I reserved.
RC: Okay, well we're out of compact cars. I've put you in a SUV....
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Old Dec 24, 09, 8:32 am
  #5  
 
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If they ask about driving far, you could also say, "No thanks for the upgrade to something bigger, I need good gas mileage." Now let's see what kind of free SUV they try to stick on you and how they justify it. As was noted before, the problem seems to be that some economy car customers are eager for a free upgrade, but some are also upset when they have to pay for the difference in gas.
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