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Peeves with Car Rental Agencies

1) Getting estimates for car rentals.

Some time ago, I was trying to do some comparison shopping among several different car rental agencies. Now, it's probably no secret that the advertised rental rate for a car is nothing like the actual amount of money you'll pay -- there seem to be all kinds of fees and surcharges that creep in when it finally comes time to sign the papers. What I found really difficult to believe was that one rental agency in particular refused outright to tell me what the total bill would be for a rental. He could tell me the base rate and all the individual added charges, but he claimed to be unable to give me a total figure. It seems outrageous to me that the rental agency would essentially say, "Here are the numbers, but we will go no further to tell you what total we'll be ringing up on your credit card. If you want to find out, do the math yourself."

2) Tank fill-up charge.

Almost every rental agency perkily offers a refueling rate when you rent a car. As the agent describes it, you can avoid the small hassle of filling up the tank before you return the car, and the agency will do it for you, charging $1.25 a gallon, or something approximating a competitive rate in the area you're renting. That's all fine and good, but what they won't tell you (unless you explicitly ask them) is that they're going to go ahead and charge you that gallon rate for an entire tankful of gas, regardless of how full the tank is when you return the car. That's right--the tank could be nearly full or 3/4ths empty, and you'll get dinged the same. Unless asked, the agent selling you on this feature will never indicate in any way that you're not being charged for the actual amount of gas pumped, which strikes me as a pretty crummy way to do business.



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