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Stupid Travel with National Car Rental

The travel business is filled with bad policies, bad customer service and just plain bad business practices. From airlines to hotels to car rental places to big name travel websites, they don't want you to come back to their company by choice. They act and feel like you have no other choice so they charge fees for everything they can get out of your pocket. Every other major travel website portrays the bright colors and smiles as if everything with every company is positive. Not me and you know it's not true. You've probably flown in the last ten years. You've stayed in a lousy hotel. You've probably rented a car.

One example of a ridiculous way to run a business is National Car Rental. Their slogan is something like ‘bypass the counter at the airport' but they left two letters out. They really mean you should bypass THEIR counter at the airport and go somewhere else.

I made a reservation with National Car Rental in Tampa, Florida. It was about a $700 bill because Florida has more expensive car rentals than just about any other state. (Thank Disney and Orlando for that.) A freak situation arose during travel that would prevent the car from being picked up on time. First, you have to find a phone number. Companies love to tell you to print your confirmation out and then it never has their phone number on it.

Here is the summary of the ensuing conversation.

The car is already paid for, can it be picked up in two days instead of tonight? I'll still pay for the whole time.

Rental Agent: No. If it's not picked up within a certain amount of time, it's considered abandoned.

It's abandoned on your own lot when it's paid for and not being used? Your making more money and less wear and tear. Not even asking for a refund.

Rental Agent: Yes. It's abandoned. You have to pay for it and you can't pick it up at all if you don't pick it up within a certain amount of time.

What is that time? How late can it be picked up? Two hours? Twelve hours?

Rental Agent: I can't say.

Can the reservation be modified?

Rental Agent: No. It can only be canceled before the scheduled pick up time. We'll charge a small cancellation fee and refund the amount.

So you'd rather take a few bucks in fees, cancel a rental and refund the money than modify it and have a 14 day rental instead of a 16 day rental?

Rental Agent: Yes. Policy.

Friends and family wound up being very helpful and a shorter reservation was made with another company that actually wanted to rent a car.

In reality, it's probably not just National Rental Car. Most likely, the same stupidity would have shown up at another brand under the same situation. If you could ever get someone on the phone with some authority to use their head and independent thought, the result could be different. But people are not trained to think anymore or given the empowerment to keep a customer. They almost seem to want to drive you away.

Credit card companies, cell phone companies, cable companies all do this as well. They act like they have a monopoly which some of them do. For example, I recently called and complained about my weak cell phone signal at home. The response was “do you have a home phone? Use that. That should work better.”

Thanks and maybe this other companies service works better.

I'm starting a new series here. Do you have some crazy travel stories? Ripoffs? Cons? Frustrations having anything to do with travel? Send them in to me and I'll publish them. I'm on your side here at AllStays.com and probably the last non-corporate, non-outsourced travel website that cares.

Adam | Aug 7, 2009 | Category: General

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