Thursday, March 31, 2011

Car Rental 101

I used to travel quite a bit so I have every express rental car membership there is. You give them all your info beforehand and get your Wizard, Fastbreak or whatever card from them. Then, when you rent a car, you just show up, grab the keys and go.

Great idea. Except it never works that way. Like...ever. They always want to see your credit card, driver's license and a urine sample. What's that all about? And then..they want a "local" phone number where I'll be staying??

This makes no sense. I can see the airlines needing to call me to tell me the flight's been cancelled or whatever. But if I bring the car back, then the rental company has no reason to be calling me. And if I don't bring the car back? Well, there are only a few reason's for that:

A) I've stolen it. - At this point, calling me isn't going to do too much. I'll probably just hang up.

B) I'm lost and can't find my way back to the airport. - Tough to find me at the local number if I'm working my way through Flatbush trying to find La Guardia

C) I'm dead - Self explanatory

In any case, they don't need to reach me unless they plan on telling me that Jennifer Garner is going to be on Letterman with Ashley Judd hosting.

Next item? Seinfeld was so right when he said they're good about taking the reservation, they're just not good at HOLDING the reservation. I rent a mid-size car almost every time. Yet, when I arrive, only the Chicago Bears team bus is left in the garage. This sort of upgrade used to constitute an adventure when I was young and stupid. (Ok, when I was young anway). Now, with gas prices at 1 million dollars a gallon, it's not so cool. Plus, chicks do not dig the Buick Century. I've checked. I'm returning the car, there's a sign that reminds me to check for items I may have left in the car. You know, illegal narcotics. Small children. My glock. Whatever. The kicker is that this sign is illustrated for those who can't read English. (This is a good thing for just about everyone in some of the departments where I work.) So you see pictures of keys, glasses, wallets etc. Then I notice something. It shows an area where illustrated is a picture of a cassette tape, then a compact disc..then..wait for it...a VINYL LP!!

Now, I know my memory isn't flawless, but how did I miss those cars that had a TURNTABLE installed in them? I can just see driving down the road, trying to drop the needle on the Beatles "White Album" or "Convoy" by C.W. McCall. Potholes would be a bitch.

If Avis is having a lot of trouble with people leaving their 12" records in rental cars, I would like to pull up a stool and hear the story behind that.


  1. There can also be the interesting state of attempting to reserve a car online in which the daily price will vary wildly depending on the time of day you are picking up the car. If I lie and leave the default pickup/dropoff time, it's $25 a day, but then jumps to $120 when I admit that no, I won't be there 10 hours before my plane lands...

  2. You make me laugh...and that, in and of itself, is awesome!

    We shall be renting cars this summer...I can't wait for the adventure to begin!

  3. On vacation in CO last summer, we were upgraded to a Suburban, or as my husband likes to call it, a Subdivision. We're only a family of four, and had never driven something so large. I think there was a dance floor and disco ball in the back. That's probably why the 12-inch vinyl LP check is needed.

    I refused to learn to drive a truck on the harrowing roads in the Rocky Mountains, so the husband was stuck doing all of the driving. Mileage was ridiculous. That was one upgrade we wish would have skipped.

  4. No joke, I flew into Chicago Midway once and my flight was delayed by thunderstorms and I didn't get in until 2am. They had three vehicles left in the parking garage. All three were 15 passenger vans. I got to choose my color, but that is all. It was raining sideways and I had to drive 90 miles at 3am with the rear of this unloaded giant bouncing all over the road.

    The upside is that I met a bunch of my friends for a guy weekend and was able to ferry 10 of us anywhere we needed to go. Car got 1/4 mile per gallon so we needed a support trailer with a pyramid of gas cans to go across the street.