PENSACOLA, FLORIDA -- My wife and I rented a Mustang convertible from Alamo in Pensacola for a short beach vacation. Nice car, and the Alamo folks at the airport were very pleasant both at pick-up and return. Trouble started two weeks later when we received a letter from Alamo's "Damage Recovery Unit" alleging $2100 in damage to the car, which had apparently been driven over a curb or similar obstacle.
I called, got a person on the line, and said categorically we didn't damage the car, period. Rep said she would have Damage Recovery Unit review, which it turns out just means they renew their claim. Our insurer, USAA, advised to just pay the deductible because "the consumer never wins these."
Two bits of advice: first, don't ever, ever, ever rent from Alamo. Second, get a statement from any rental car company at turn-in, saying no damage. Otherwise, any negligent employee drives that car over a curb and doesn't want to own up to it, you pay. Seems to be Alamo policy.
PHOENIX, ARIZONA -- I hired a car from Alamo at Phoenix airport on the 3rd of May this year, and was stitched up by Alamo. Their agent attempted to sell us loads of options. When we said no to all of them he became very short close to being rude. He also tried to give us a lower level of car which I had to sort out at the pickup point (the lady here was very helpful). However on return home to the UK and getting our credit card bill they had charged us for options we had not taken, such as a pre-fuel charge of $43. Not being aware of this we paid twice as we returned the car with a full tank.
We were also charged $231 for an additional driver which I had originally requested through Rentalcar.com, but refused it when I got to the airport because they were running a promotion offering additional driver free! I of course said no to the agent when he asked, saying I will take the free offer to which he made no reply and continued preparing the paperwork for us to sign. In total I got charged $363.95 for extras I didn't request. Alamo's response to date has been hard luck. You signed now go away. This is because of my final signature on the last page.
I went to Los Angeles on vacation/business back in April of 2009. I got a vacation package with Southwest Airlines that included stays at the Holiday Inn and a rental car from Alamo. Southwest was a great flight (they were actually early!) and I have high marks for the Costa Mesa Holiday Inn we stayed out. Alamo on the other hand is a different story. When I confirmed the reservation I asked for a subcompact. When we got to the airport and went to the Alamo terminal, there was quite a long line.
When we FINALLY got to the terminal the representative was OK. She kept trying to get us to upgrade to a larger car. We had to refuse several times until she took the hint. She then pushed the CDW waiver on us big time. I also said no to that because I have rental car coverage on my insurance. We finally got away from here to go pick our car up. When we went to the compact area, there was not a SINGLE car out of many spots. We found a porter and asked what to do, and he said take a midsize. So we went to the midsize area.
There were NO midsize car's either. I found another porter and she said that we had no choice but to take a large car. So after all that haggling with the front service desk rep, they didn't even have the car we reserved!! So they ended up giving us the Large car at the compact price. And they knew that they had no compacts but were still trying to charge us for a larger car.
So from the get go, this company is a shady business. We went about our vacation and had a great time. When I got back I checked the car in at the airport. I did the run around with the gate agent and he told me it “looked fine” and I specifically asked him if “we were in the clear” and he said yes. We flew home and everything was fine.
Then 3 months later I get a letter from Alamo saying that I owed them “$700” because the car was all scratched up. I tried calling the guy on the letter “**” numerous times to discuss but he never picked up nor called me back. They just sent me “after” pictures of the car with all of the scratches. You couldn't even see the scratches in the pictures! So I disputed this charge and they have sent me to collections. The collection agents have been harassing me. I have sent them certified letters disputing the charges, but they are still persisting.
I will be getting a lawyer soon and I plan to sue Alamo and the collection agency. I have also found a class action lawsuit being started. I plan to be a part of that as well. And just to note, I had used Alamo 3 times in the past and Enterprise 4 times… I was a loyal customer that was always happy with my service. Now I will NEVER use any of the ERAC companies again (Enterprise, Alamo, National). I have traveled 3 times since then and I have been using Hertz and Avis. When I told the gate agents my experience with Alamo they couldn't believe that a company would be so terrible to a loyal customer.
I think it's a case of “You get what you paid for”. Pay a little bit more for an UPSTANDING rental car company and you won't have to go with what I am going through. So yeah, Alamo your pettiness in trying to get a measly $700 is going to cost you a customer for life. Plus I have been telling all my friends, family, posting in forums about how you treat your customers.
KAILUA/KONA, HAWAII -- Although I don't expect much can be done about this fraud, I do think attention needs to be paid to the exorbitant methods Alamo uses. On May 8, 2010 I picked up a rental car from Alamo at the Kailua/Kona airport in Hawaii which I had reserved through Priceline.com some weeks earlier. The Priceline rate was quite good for an intermediate car. Our flight was delayed for three hours so when we arrived at 11:30 pm everyone rushed to the rental car lots.
The Alamo people were quite insistent, even though the lines were long that I should pay an addition $19.00 per day for insurance. I said my American Express Gold card covered any damage and declined the coverage, as American Express has recommended I do. Even though people were waiting the agent persisted at some length that I was taking a serious financial risk in not buying their coverage. I again politely declined the coverage.
There were no intermediate cars available so they provided me with a full size Chevrolet Malibu at the same rate. The agent who gave me the keys insisted that I inspect the car carefully for any damage before I drove out of the lot. Apparently that was my major mistake. The lot was very poorly lit at that midnight hour and I walked around the car twice examining fenders and front and back for any scratches or dings. I found none that I could see. I was then required to sign that the car was free of any damage or blemish before I could drive out of the lot.
I used the car on only one of the five days I was in Hawaii. The rest of the time I spent in the pool or with my brother-in-law who had rented his own car. I know no damage was caused to the car during the time it was parked in the condominium lot because the lot was nearly empty. When I returned the car on May 13, the Alamo agent again examined the car carefully.
She found what appeared to be a small one inch by three quarters of an inch blemish on the top of the bumper immediately underneath the trunk key hole. It could have been caused by a liquid spill which discolored the paint, or perhaps a suitcase which was being removed from the trunk scraped the paint. The agent claimed it was a dent or crack in the bumper. That was an exaggeration. However that was only the first such overstatement.
The manager of the Alamo lot at Kailua/Kona claimed that since I had not purchased their insurance I would be responsible for paying for the repairs and that Alamo would contact me at home about what I owed. Within five days of my return I received a letter from Alamo indicating I would be receiving a bill. I then contacted American Express and started a rental car damage claim with them. In a phone call I asked the Alamo agent to forward the bill to American Express and gave them American Express claim # which I received when I called American Express about this matter.
I should state that American Express was extraordinarily helpful in resolving this matter and I have no complaint about their practice. I am concerned about Alamo's fraud however. Three weeks after this conversation with Alamo I received a bill with an estimate of repair costs from an auto body shop in Kailua. The total bill was $719.77! This included $569.37 for "collision repair" and 144.37 for "administrative fees and loss of use." The auto body estimate is clearly outlandish.
An auto detailer could have removed the blemish for less than $100. Within two weeks American Express informed me that they had paid the $569.37. I told the American Express agent that I thought this was fraud on Alamo's part and that there was no damage which would require the payment they had made. The agent thanked me and said they were following their own procedures for resolving a claim.
On July 9 I received another call from Alamo stating that although American Express had paid part of the claim, they still required payment of the remaining $144,83 for "administrative fees and loss of use." When I called American Express about this they indicated that Alamo had not provided the documentation required for such a payment. They needed some justification that the "administrative fee" required some documentation which demonstrated that it was additional work beyond their normal business activity.
American Express also indicated that "loss of use" would need to be demonstrated by a rental log which indicated that demand for the car was such that it required reimbursement for this loss. Alamo would not provide this documentation to American Express.
I emailed the Alamo claims department and said that if they expected my payment for these charges I would like similar documentation. The Alamo agent called me and said "we are not obligated by law to provide you such proof." The agent further stated that if I didn't immediately send payment - within ten days - they would send this bill to collection. However the agent did say, if I was agreeable and sent them one - half of the amount they would consider the matter settled.
I was extremely upset at the time but finally realized that nothing was to be gained by continuing this conflict. I sent them a credit card reimbursement for $75.20 which (with the taxes they had included) was half of the cost of the administrative fee and loss of use charge. I don't expect to get this money back but I am outraged that Alamo can get away with this fraud. Clearly they are insisting on exorbitant rates for their own damage insurance.
When renters decline this coverage they engage in fraudulent exaggeration of damages and fraudulent auto repair estimates. Unfortunately American Express seems to be enabling this fraud by agreeing to pay for these damages. I do think government officials need to investigate this matter because it is an instance of consumer fraud. Although American Express acted in a most helpful way in settling my claim, they should inform their Gold Card customers that some portions of a rental car company's repair charges may not be paid if required documentation is not supplied.
Thank you for anything you can do to alert the public to this consumer fraud. I will never patronize Alamo again and will inform everyone I know of their fraudulent practices.
COZUMEL, MEXICO -- I am wanting to warn all consumers about Alamo car rental in Cozumel Mexico as we had several issues, which the last one happened today. My family and I had a great cruise vacation which one of our ports was Cozumel Mexico. When we got off the boat and headed down the pier we were approached by an employee at Alamo, letting us know that they had great rates on Jeeps, and that we could rent it until 6pm that day for only a grand total of $40. We decided to take the deal so we could see the whole area.
The manager of the location filled out the contract and the total was $125 not the $40 as promised. He then stated that the guy who approached us on the pier did not include tax and insurance and other customary charges. I then told him never mind, but of course had an upset wife and kids who were looking forward to going out and exploring the area. We finally came to an agreement of $85 including tax and full coverage insurance. This was in my opinion a sucker them in move with a lowball offer and we will negotiate from there.
After signing all the paperwork, contracts, and credit card receipts we were then told the vehicle was on the way and would be there in 10 minutes. This became another huge debacle. We waited and waited and waited and were continuing to be told it was only 5 to 10 minutes away. Now mind you we have limited time before the boat boards and we leave at 5pm. A total of 1 hour has passed and no vehicle. Of course my wife and I are very upset. The manager then comes and says that he was mistaken and that they have no Jeeps available. He then says they can have a higher class vehicle there in of course 10 minutes.
The problem for us is we waited all this time and have no other plans and it's too late to book anything else, so he has us. Of course 10 minutes come and go and after 20 minutes the vehicle shows up. To my surprise it's a decent vehicle with lower miles. The manager apologizes for wasting one and half hours of our vacation time but to my surprise never offers to discount the vehicle and when I suggest it even gets defensive about giving us a higher class and more expensive rental. Either way I was not going to waste anymore time. From there on everything goes as planned. No issues until we get home.
I get my American Express bill and was charged as promised. On the whole vacation and in fact over the past 9 months this is the ONLY place my wife has used her American Express card. Now fast forward a couple months and today I get a call from American Express security wanting to know if my wife, myself or someone we knew were in Cozumel Mexico and used my wife's card to charge $540 worth of electronics.
The security agent said that the charge was done in person and since my wife's card is still in her wallet that they must have made a duplicate copy of it from the Alamo receipt or it was scanned by one of those scanners to make a copy at a later date. When she charged the Jeep at Alamo the guy swiped it several times before running it through one of those older types of machines with paper where you put the card on top of paper and run the device over top of it to make an imprint.
Sorry, so long. But I just wanted to warn anyone going to Cozumel to please be careful with your credit card and NEVER USE A DEBIT CARD TIED TO YOUR BANK ACCOUNT. Alamo in Cozumel either has someone copying the cards to commit credit card fraud, or at the least is careless with the paperwork that has the credit card information on it. Either way that is very poor business and will have this loyal Alamo customer looking at other car rental companies. Thanks for your time to read this.
MOBILE, ALABAMA -- My husband and I sought a rental car for a weekend trip and ended up going with Alamo at the airport in Mobile, AL. While the rates were better than the other airport rental companies, the lack of customer service and cavalier attitude displayed by the regional manager, along with the logic behind what gets placed in "Lost and Found" and what gets "tossed" was not worth the few dollars of savings. We were hurried to get the car back before 9pm and in the rush of getting the baby out of the car in the back, we did not check the floorboard of the front seat where I had placed my leather bound work padfolio.
When I discovered my error the next morning, I immediately called and got the regional manager's voicemail when I followed the lost-and-found prompt. I then contacted someone at the counter who assured me a call back that day. I was never called back so my husband stopped by in person. He was told that there was no such padfolio in the Lost and Found and that it was probably thrown away! What, then, is the purpose of Lost and Found? I was very puzzled and anxious by the notion so I attempted to contact the regional manager, again, the next day.
This time I did get a return call from the voicemail that I left. Essentially, the regional manager was very cavalier, told me that he didn't know what a padfolio was, until I explained/described it, and was then told that it would be a "common" item to be thrown away. He also informed me that the car we rented was rented back out within the hour and they are not responsible for lost items in the vehicle. I told him that I certainly understood that they were not responsible but I could not understand why a sturdy, leather bound, padfolio that clearly contained work items would be classified as trash.
I then asked what types of items did make their way to Lost and Found. He responded that he currently had a $20,000 infrared camera and a projector in the Lost and Found. My next question was that the value of the items, then, determined what was placed in Lost and Found. He responded "no" but that "common items" like notepads would be thrown away. I tried to explain that the padfolio was not simply a notepad but a sturdy, leather bound notebook that was very substantial and would be hard to confuse with a fast food cup or a newspaper (items that he also mentioned as being common to get tossed).
I then asked their policy for receiving policy or process improvement suggestions as I think they should definitely review their policies on this. Of course, he responded that I could email him or send a letter to corporate that would get pushed back down to him. Well, I will see how far that is going to go but I will be submitting that letter to corporate, nonetheless. So, PLEASE CHECK FOR REMAINING ITEMS before you return the vehicle.
Alamo's Lost and Found policy certainly doesn't give me much faith in their concern for the customer and I will not be renting with them again, if for nothing else than general principle. As a final note, I can't help but wonder if one of the local Alamo staff is now outfitted with a beautiful leather bound portfolio, courtesy of me.
ORLANDO, FLORIDA -- I recently had to travel for emergency business for NASA near Melbourne FL. I work in software design and was called down to troubleshoot the latest Atlas rocket that was to be launched on Friday Nov. 13th 2009. I drive a corporate car for business, insured by my company, and rent from Enterprise at least 4 times a month. I have NEVER had an issue with Enterprise but had to rent from Alamo since they were the only ones open when I would be arriving.
The reservations were made, including all pertinent information (License number, etc.). I arrived at the rental counter at 11:30 pm, and was finally greeted by an gruff, obviously not happy to be there, annoying clerk. After giving him my reservation number, he disappeared for 10 minutes. No explanation as to why, or when he would return. After handing him my reservation papers and my drivers license, he inform me that Alamo had me on the "DO NOT RENT" list. No explanation, no nothing. I have never had this happen before. I would have been stranded at Orlando airport and had to take a cab the 45 miles to my hotel.
Luckily my fiance accompanied me on this trip and she was able to rent a car, after much hassle from the clerk. I was not able to even put on the car as a second driver. When I finally got a car, there were none available. We had to wait 30 minutes for a car to be brought from another terminal!!! When it finally arrived, the girl handing out cars actually threw the keys at us. No looking over the car for damage, no nothing.
The car had a defective lighter which made our Garmin impossible to use. My fiance, instead of having a relaxing week in FL, had to shuttle me to NASA every morning, and pick me up every night. She had no idea where to go during the day, since our Garmin didn't work, and I had to hike from the main gate to the operations center daily. She could not drop me off at the op center since she did not have proper credentials. When the car was returned it was filled with gas, yet the gauge did not register completely full. The attendant asked us to present the gas receipt to the Alamo rental desk, which he signed off on. When we got to the rental desk, again, no one was there.... What a lousy way to do business.
When I finally got an answer from Alamo regarding my "DO NOT RENT" status they said it was because I had rented form another company within the last 2 weeks, and I had had an auto accident in the past. Mind you, that was over 2 years ago!!! Then they sent me a bill for the additional gas (2 gallons) and since I didn't sign up for their fill up program they charged me 56.00 for 2 freaking gallons.
Their customer service sucks, they are rude, (including their customer service dept) and their cars don't always work. I am disgusted with them and will never rent from them again. When I returned to NY, I told this story to my fellow co-workers and they have had the same "DO NOT RENT" experience.
P.S. The Atlas mission had to be scrubbed, but it wasn't my fault!!!
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA -- Having prebooked a car to be picked up on 6 Aug 2009 at 10.00 am in Bush Street, San Francisco, we were appalled to discover that the queue for the Alamo desk stretched to about 100 people long in front of us. We had to stand out on the street with luggage in the hot sun with nowhere to sit for THREE AND HALF HOURS before we reached the desk.
There were three Alamo attendants manning the desks. And whilst they were clearly stressed, two of them were able to remain reasonably polite. But the third attendant actually accused a fellow (non-English speaking) customer of disrespecting him and started a rant about Europeans not being able to drive automatic cars and that it was not up to Alamo to provide tuition, reducing the already stressed customer to tears.
Having signed all the forms when we finally reached the desk, we were informed that the car would be ready to collect in 15-20 minutes and that we should wait in another area inside a private multi-deck car park. Again with no seating or amenities other than a disgusting toilet with a broken door lock. We waited here for another TWO HOURS before we were handed the keys. (Meanwhile, there were other customers still waiting for their cars who were in front of me in the original queue, I have no idea how long they waited).
There was no time available to ask questions about the car and because it was given to me in a position where it was holding up other cars, I had to drive it out of a dark basement and into three lanes of traffic without any familiarisation period. Not easy when you normally drive a manual gear-shift, right-hand drive car in the UK.
The total wait of FIVE AND A HALF HOURS for the car meant that the first day of our driving holiday was totally messed up. We had to drive straight to our prebooked accommodation in Monterrey rather than spend a leisurely day touring and sightseeing to get there. The delay in picking up the car was, we think, because that Alamo did not have cars immediately available. Cars were being returned by customers finishing their rental periods during our wait and were, we think, being turned around quickly for the next hirer, and in consequence were not fully checked out apart from a basic valeting.
After a couple of days use a warning light appeared on the dashboard, although the car was behaving normally. There appeared to be no handbook in the car so I had no means of knowing what a red "engine block" symbol meant. I tried to call the Alamo emergency help line but gave up after being put on-hold for a few minutes (with a UK cell phone it was costing a fortune!). I checked the oil level and found it to be about 1.5 cm below the min line. I had to add two quarts (4 pints?) to bring it back to the required level. However this did not solve the warning light problem immediately, though it did disappear the next day.
Eventually after trying on two other occasions I managed to get through to ask advice about the car, as by now a warning message had appeared on the dashboard saying that the car was due for an engine oil change at 20000 miles (at this stage the milometer read about 19500, but we still had another 1250 miles to go). It was suggested by the advisor that I could arrange an oil change myself, or call in at another Alamo office and exchange the car. Neither of these suggestions fitted in with our touring schedule so it was agreed that it would be OK for me to continue through the full rental period ignoring the warning message.
I have never used Alamo before and certainly won't be using or recommending them in the future. I am still awaiting a response for compensation for the lost day of our holiday and the cost of a full tank which was taken off my credit card even though the tank was full on returning the car. (It is true that I signed a clause on the form at the start of the rental to authorize this, but in the chaos of the pick-up the implications of returning with a full tank were not explained to me). The rental was arranged online through Holiday Autos UK who say they are dealing with my complaint, although I have had nothing from them yet.
30 Sept 2009 Update!! Alamo have come good and through Holiday Autos have offered me compensation for the "lost" day and the full tank of fuel. Thank you to Alamo for seeing reason.
So my wife and I rented a car in Seattle and drove up to the San Juan Islands, Orcas island in particular. For those who don't know you need to cross over on a ferry. The last day we were there a person backed up into our car with their company vehicle puncturing the radiator. The person was very apologetic and told us it was their fault, the officer who was called said so as well. Fine, an accident. They happen. Called Alamo and talked to two separate service reps about the situation and what occurred.
Explained to them in detail where we were and what town the island was on. We spelled out the name even. Eastsound, Eastsound. Two times, two different people. Even the person who hit us talked to the service representative at one point and told them where it happened. They told us to sit tight and wait for the new car to be towed to us from Seattle WA. It would take 2.5 hours. Wow I thought, they have it together. They must really know the ferry schedule well to make a quick call like that. Three hours later we get a call from the towing company. They said they could not find us in EASTON and were getting frustrated.
That's not when I lost it, it gets better.... soo we explained to him that we were in Eastsound and not Easton. They called Alamo and got it straight while we talked to one of the Alamo big wigs and got it straight as well. We ended up paying for a tow to the ferry parking lot. We left the car and grabbed our belongings and headed across. The accident happened around 1pm and we didn't meet up with the also very frustrated tower with the new car until 11pm. Alamo did not explain to him that none of this was our fault. Alamo told him all this was our fault. So we explained to him what was going on and he agreed with us Alamo dropped the ball.
He slept in his truck to wait for the ferry the next morning while we took the new car and headed to our new destination. I stupidly assumed the company insurance of the person at fault in the accident would cover all repair costs to the old vehicle. That's what the deputy on the scene told us. He also told us the police report he wrote would be sent to Alamo.
Fast track a couple of months. I got busy with life and forgot about this mostly. Today I open the mail and read that Alamo is billing me for the TOTAL repairs cost to the vehicle. Close to 3000.00 called them up and they want my insurance info. They explained also that a police report was never received and that I'm solely responsible at this point.
Amazing but not beyond belief Alamo would drop the ball, or rather never pick up the responsibility and leave a customer hanging for so long and in the end pin the bill anyway on me. This is worth fighting and I intend to not pay one dime, me or my insurance. It simply sad a large company treats at least some of its clients this way.
ORLANDO, FLORIDA -- We rented a car through Alamo and paid for it in advance and declined the insurance already as we booked it.
At the airport we arrived tired, 2 kids, long line. The employee asked if we want insurance. We DECLINED it. Then he kept talking with me about upgrading the car as he marked the places to sign to decline stuff (like in 4 places). I signed fully trusting his marks and thinking that I can look it up later, just in case, but the copy that I got was just a printout not including my signatures. On the printout there is a lot of stuff: no way to know later where did you sign.
Anyway I didn't think much at that time, not even as I returned the car and got the receipt (there was the approx. the same amount I paid for the car and a balance of $0.0, so I thought this is the rental fee that I have already had paid. As I got home I saw that amount charged on my card. I thought that might be a double booking but no, it seemed that I was misleading to sign an insurance of $20 a day (that I already have and never needed and declined more than one time). So I ended up paying almost double for a compact rental: nice way to make profit scamming your customers.
It turns out some other people complained about it and that this behavior has method. They were rude to my complaints and stated that I should read carefully what I sign (true, but with a long line in your back you kind of trust them to put the x-es on the right place or at least not to talk to you like a waterfall as you sign). So if you book Alamo expect huge lines in the future!!!
They gladly take your money and do not cooperate and if you want to see your signatures on the damn contract you have to request it in written and wait 4 weeks :)) I am still not sure I signed there actually but they say I did, I assume they are right otherwise the scam is much more than that... Why not fax a copy over right away to clear the doubt????
And why would you print out a form with multiple options if the customer denied it verbally already? (We have computers now and you print it out especially for your customer anyway, why then all the listed options) Yep, I think this has method and it is intentionally set up like this! And why do not provide the customer with a signed copy of your contract so you can see your wrongdoing 5 min later as you get settled in the car?
I have serious doubts of the validity of a contract with multiple options where I cannot see later exactly what I signed! To me this seems like organized scam. And from a big US company like Alamo I wouldn't expect this at all. It makes me mad and sad that a US company will go so far just to make profits. We as consumers have to stop this or we'll all have a lot of bad days in the future.