BEWARE of Car Rental Scams...

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When planning our first trip back to the U.S., we needed to rent a car.  For 35 years I have been a loyal customer of Avis, in fact, I've used them so much I even memorized my bloody Wizard discount number.  So when it came time to reserve our car, naturally I called Avis. 

Using their online reservation system, I entered all my information indicating the need to pick up the car at the Ft. Lauderdale airport and drop it off, 21 days later, at the Westchester Airport in Rye New York.  Everything was fine until I saw the price. Avis wanted to charge me $2,240Are they freaking nuts?  In addition they expected me to pay $.40 a mile.  NO UNLIMITED MILEAGE!  Now here's the funny part, I could have driven the car all the way back to Ft. Lauderdale, thereby doubling the mileage on the car and spent only $1,167.  Only in America... right?

Screw them... so I started checking around.  All the big guys, Hertz, National, Budget and Alamo were were similar with Hertz (as expected) being the highest priced company.

 

I then tried Thrifty Rent A Car.  Only one problem, their nearest drop off point was in Atlanta Georgia.  OK... so what's the big deal if I double back a little bit.  This would give us an opportunity see and do even more stuff on vacation. 

Well I ran the numbers with Thrifty.  Thank goodness, they did include UNLIMITED MILEAGE.  Now the really good news, even with a "drop-off" penalty, our price was now down to $1,170.  Not bad, but when I started checking the detail of the quote, I saw one line item labeled "AIRPORT CONCESSION FEE: $16.00/DAY" that had be a bit puzzled.  I called up Thrifty for an explanation.  I was told it was a fee that that had to be paid if the car was delivered to me at the Ft Lauderdale Airport.  Having lived in South Florida for way too many years, I knew there was an offsite Thrifty Satellite Office just a few miles from where we'll be staying in Sunrise Florida.  I asked the woman on the phone, "if I picked up the car at the Sunrise facility, could I eliminate that $16.00 daily fee?"  She answered with a resounding YES!  Holy shit... I just saved another $320.  Now my entire car rental expense is going to run me $850 instead of the original quote of $2,240 for a savings of $1390!


A word to all my traveling friends out there... if you plan on renting cars, check to see if you can save money by picking your car up at an off-site location rather than the convenience of the airport location.  It may be money in your pocket.  However, if you are unfortunate enough to be traveling on business, and your company is picking up the tab... what the hell... do what's convenient.  It's bad enough you have to work!

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