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.
RENO, NEVADA -- Alamo really surprised us with very strange business ethics! To sum up my experience: Alamo personnel give customers false information (about reimbursement and about car details). Alamo cannot handle special requests (we needed a special car and tried to solve this in advance). Alamo rather takes short term money instead of building a long term relationship with a satisfied customer.
The whole story: We made a reservation from Germany and rented a car in Reno. As we planned a camping tour, we needed a stow & go car because we intended to sleep in the back. In order to make sure that we get this special car, we phoned Alamo in Reno in advance which car to book and explained that we definitely need this car type and no other. They told us we need a full-size SUV and promised us that this is no problem.
Once being there, it turned out that the full-size SUV had no stow & go function. Unfortunately, we got into Reno with the last flight, so being back at the Alamo station we found this station already closed and everybody gone. So we had no other chance to take the “unusable” car and stay over night in a hotel. The next morning we drove back to Alamo.
It finally turned out that only the minivan has this function. So they changed our reservation into a minivan. As the minivan was not cleaned up yet, we waited for another 45 minutes to finally find out that this special minivan had a backseat which was not removable at all!!! I really started to wonder if Alamo personnel ever listen to customers' needs? We got back to the station again. Finally talked to the Station Manager. We were really wondering whether Alamo expected to just accept this and sleep outside the car during our camping tour? Unbelievable.
We even tried to solve the situation and asked the station manager to take out the backseats, so we could use the car but she refused. Asking her how to solve the problem because we had no other place to sleep, she advised us to check with other rental car companies. Aha??? She even told us that the money will be reimbursed once we are back in Germany. Even though we were not reimbursed on our credit card, we took the word of the Station Manager and changed the rental car company. Being back in Germany, nothing was reimbursed.
After a long discussion and telling the story over and over again to different call centre personnel (who were unfriendly and even hang up sometimes) and spending a lot of time and money on these phone calls, we were finally informed that there will be no reimbursement. So we ended up paying 681$ for one night rental car driving to a hotel!!!
I am really surprised about how Alamo handles customers in theses cases. It seems that making short-term money is more important than building a long-term relationship with a satisfied customer. I really wonder who is responsible for such customers policies. We are renting a lot of cars in the US, but this has never happened to us. Compared to all other rental car companies, this is the poorest and most unbelievable experience we have ever made. With Hertz this would have never happened. I really wonder how you stay in business.
By the way this was the original answer: "We have tried to book a reservation on the same website that you booked your car through, and the full-size SUV does not list stow and go seating as an option. We do not allow customers to remove seats from our vehicles or they will be liable for any damage to the vehicle so the manager at the station was correct in this fact. We apologize if a misunderstanding was given by the manager concerning a refund but it should not have been promised to you. We regret that no compensation will be given in this situation since a vehicle was provided that you chose not to use."
ATLANTA HARTSFIELD-JACKSON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, GEORGIA -- I really am not sure where to begin this rental nightmare. I'll take it from the top, we have been in our business since 1928, and I have just recently taken the leadership helm. Myself and my staff are diligent about professionalism and excellence in all things [but we failed to do our homework in this area... that won't happen again]. This was to be our maiden voyage business trip under our new staff's direction. All plans and reservations were completed weeks in advance, we called, confirmed, checked and then checked again everything was fabulous.
On the day of our departure all involved were briefed and prepared. We moved towards the airport. Arrival to the airport=excellent; long-term parking and transportation to the terminal=excellent; flight & departure=(you guessed it!) excellent; shuttle to the car rental location=excellent...and then at Alamo/National it all falls down.
We warned them over and again that we were a business party of five men traveling to an undisclosed location approximately 3 hours away. We had done our level best [along with another member of my staff] to emphasize the gravity of having the appropriate command vehicle. That vehicle would be in the form of a Tahoe, an Escalade or a Suburban, and I was assured that there would be MORE than enough of these vehicles available for us to choose from.
Nevertheless, I still felt a little uneasy, so we made over six calls of confirmation that week (I know...I know..that should have been a clue..what can I tell you... that week I was an optimist, plus we had pre-paid to show our level of commitment]. Allow me to continue it gets better, I walk to the counter, I'm greeted nicely, I hand over the confirmation documentation, the credit card and drivers license gets processed..but I keep asking where is the vehicle that I reserved..yet they keep proceeding.
I must have looked like one of those dogs getting dragged on a leash until finally I halt the process and ask for a straight answer. What is my car selection? After all its three options, surely they would have at least one available, correct? Wrong! He starts rattling off cars and mid-size suv's that would barely fit 4 girl scouts with no luggage..Let alone five men with a decent amount of girth and luggage. Did I mention that for business reasons we all had to take the last flight out which means that now its 1:45 am? Not exactly a rush on cars at that time.
He goes to the night manager 1:45 am, 2:00 am, [I'm still not furious, after all God wouldn't be pleased with that kind of disposition] 2:15 am, 2:30 am, 2:40 am "Sir you can't get what you wanted, can we accommodate you with something else?" I'm thinking sure...that Prius looks roomy and will save gas. I should have asked for that in the...."OF COURSE NOT THAT'S WHY I MADE A RESERVATION FOR THOSE PARTICULAR VEHICLES!".
Anyway, it's 3 am we have to get going. So "what are my options?" After reviewing the list we pick the Cadillac dts sitting right outside...errr "No, that car is reserved." "What?!" so was mine, only my reservation is not virtual, it's in your hand!"...The manager does a bunch of scenarios to include two cars for the price of one but I'm trying to minimize our liability with one car full of weary travelers instead of two.
Beaten we agree upon the Jeep...[did I mention it took over 20 minutes to bring that Jeep from the other lot?...nevermind]..We begin to load up, we jump in the car and...it won't start..the keys don't work. The staff goes through approximately 6 people including the individual who drove the car over before they realize "hey..the key doesn't work". We off load the truck and I return to the counter again...Only this time my swagger is gone and I concede defeat..."Please ma'am just give me anything so we can go".
Finally, after an exhaustive search they come rolling over with a Toyota. It's moving forward so we'll take it. Right when we begin loading the car they call over to tell us that if we want to wait 20 minutes they can get another Jeep and the key should work. Yes we got a discount, yes we did get a car but for the entire trip we were squeezed on top each other when prior planning should have been enough to facilitate that not happening.
The truth be told Alamo/National ruined what otherwise would have been a perfect trip and marred the confidence in our leadership that we were trying so hard to display competence that we were so anxious to try to forge in our leaders. You can't put a price on that. Alamo/National's lack of professionalism and ignorance of customer service left me speechless. You can make a note that unless "strong" concessions are made on their behalf I nor any member of our organization will ever do business with that organization again.
My recommendation to all of you. Read the reviews from this website as a baseline and make an informed decision about who you do business with. Find a reputable car rental agency, and use them, because this agency OBVIOUSLY is not.
TORONTO -- I am one of the owners of The Urban Dog located on Whyte Ave in Edmonton, Alberta. In February I went to Toronto for a business trip. We needed a rental car and found a deal online to get a vehicle from Alamo/National. What we thought was a good deal was not one at all. Once we arrived at the airport, we signed a deal with them for a rental for 4 days, unlimited km, and a GPS unit. We decided that we should rent a GPS unit from them so it would be easier to navigate around the busy streets of Toronto. We rented a SUV and enjoyed the vehicle very much.
We were leaving Toronto on an early morning flight on Sunday and would have to drop off the vehicle and leave the keys in the mailbox at the Alamo rental store as the business was not open until 7:00 am. We didn't have time to fill up the gas tank, and we went on a toll highway, and knew that there would be an additional charge for those items. What we didn't expect was an EXTRA charge of $349.00 for the GPS unit on our bill.
Alamo said that we did not return the GPS unit (this same unit can be purchased for around $200.00 at Best Buy) with the car rental. When we returned the vehicle we put the GPS unit in the glove box so if anyone was walking by the vehicle they would not be tempted to steal it or break into the car, locked the doors and put the keys in the Alamo return box.
Alamo is accusing us of not returning the GPS unit. These are my theories on what happened. One of the workers that checked the vehicle forgot to check off that the GPS was returned, they did not check the glove box, an employee saw this was an opportunity to take it (theft from any business by employees is not uncommon), or the GPS unit was still in the vehicle upon the next person renting the vehicle and the new customers took it. Not only on the bill we were charged for the GPS unit they still had enough nerve to charge us for the rental of it for the 4 days we had the vehicle!
Alamo also included in their bill a letter stating that we would not be able to rent from them again in the future, which of course after this occurrence I would never rent from them and not recommend their company either. We also checked with Visa to see if they could do anything about this bill and they said because we signed a contract the rental car company can basically charge whatever they want afterwards.
This bill is an expense that will be written off as a business trip anyway but it has left a bad taste in my mouth front renting from this company (we always rent from Enterprise and have had nothing but the best of service from that company) and for thinking that people in the big city of Toronto are dishonest. Living in the WEST is the BEST. This incident does not want me to go back and do business in that city again.
I have phone the Alamo rental at Pearson International, left messages and nobody is returning my cars. Please make consumers aware that when renting a vehicle, NEVER drop a vehicle off as you do not know what kind of extra charges may appear on your credit card after you leave.
ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA -- Whatever you do, AVOID this Alamo branch, if not, all of the Alamos in the DC area. I have rented for years without ANY problems with companies such as Enterprise (which Alamo happens to now be under, ironically) and Avis, to name a couple. I have never had any problems with my rentals and their post-inspections.... until I used this company at this location. I purchased a deal off of Hotwire, thinking "what a great deal Alamo has." I was even "upgraded" from a Dodge minivan to a Chrysler. I thought, "Wow, this company is great."
That afternoon, I took some friends out to MD in this van, had a great evening, and returned the van back to DCA via the late night drop-off (a little past midnight). No damages done to the van whatsoever and I have witnesses. I dropped the keys AND rental agreement in their mailbox-looking thing, double-checked the van for anything out of the ordinary, and off I went.
Then, I get a voice mail in the morning claiming they found scratches to the vehicle. Of course, I am surprised, upset, and VERY suspicious. I have never gotten into an accident in my life and my driving record is clean. I denied the damages, of course, and yet they insisted they needed to write up a claim. I go on my honeymoon. When I get back, I receive an invoice of $1000 and an estimate with non-time stamped pictures of the alleged van with scratches. $1000 for scratches!! On top of that, the YEARS of the vehicle didn't match.
Let's just say that 1/2 a year later, I'm still fighting their bogus claim. I've contacted the Office of Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau. Alamo has been uncooperative, unreliable, and, quite frankly, untrustworthy. I've done extensive research on bogus car claims, and, well, what do you know... Alamo shows up. Google it. Learn from my mistake and the mistake of many others. This company will take advantage of you if you're not careful.
Avoid this company at all cost. But if you're one of the unfortunate to HAVE to rent from them, force them to do a walk-around (they insist it's "up to the customer"... other places I've rented did that automatically), sign documents to confirm the condition of the vehicle, take PICTURES and VIDEO inside and out, and when you return the vehicle, take pictures and video AGAIN and make sure you do one last inspection with a representative and confirm the condition. It's a hassle. But, you never know if you'll need the evidence one day, as I've read stories about companies who write up claims even AFTER an inspection.
HAWAII -- I rented here in February of 2011 because they had the "lowest rates". What a mistake! When I went to get my car, they proceeded to try to hard sell me all kinds of extras which I did not need. Then they told me that I should pre-purchase my gas with them to save 11 cents a gallon. I was told that it would cost $67 dollars and that there were no refunds, so I should bring it back as empty as possible.
After waiting in line for an hour, I was then told that the mid-sized car that I had reserved was unavailable. They had no mid-sized cars even though I made my reservation six weeks prior. I was told to pick any car at no extra charge which meant I got a Jeep because that was all that they had in the lot. Although I didn't really want a Jeep, I took one.
When I brought it back at the end of my trip. They first tried to charge me $25 for a small amount of sand in the floorboard. They then informed me that I owed them $102.00 for gas. Remember they had quoted me $67. When I told the attendant that I had been quoted the lower amount, I was informed that was only an estimate and was then reminded that I was told this because there were managers initials on the contract that indicated so. When I said this was not true, I was more or less called a liar.
I asked to speak to a manager and was then scolded by this attendant for being rude and told that she was going to write down everything I had said in my file. That's when I lost it and refused to pay until I had spoken with a manager. She then left and returned saying no manager was available but that I could get $25 knocked off the bill. I still ended up paying more than was agreed.
It is my opinion that this company purposely and deceptively makes customers pay more than the original agreed amounts and I will NEVER do business with them again. I encourage anyone reading this to use another company if you value your hard earned money and your peace of mind. I was also told by two different people that someone from the company would be in contact with me to resolve these issues. That was almost two weeks ago and I have yet to receive that call.
ARIZONA -- I recently graduated from AIT (advanced individual training) from the army and my mother and friend drove out to see me graduate. They rented from Alamo and we used that car for about 2 days and returned it. When my mother was filling out the paperwork for the rental they asked her if she wanted to buy insurance just in case the car was damaged. She said no and that was the end of it (or so she thought). We returned the car in the same condition it was rented and when it was returned they wrote no issue of damage on the receipt and we left.
A few days after getting home to new jersey we received a call about damage to the car. My mother argued it and has all the documentation to back it up. She spent about 6 hours of her time arguing it that night. A few days later she was contacted again and this time the claim was turned over to a collection agency. She then spent more time providing documentation and doing some research and mailing it to them. A week or so later she got a envelope in the mail saying the collection agency thought the claim was valid and was going to pursue it when it is not valid at all.
Reading reviews and scouring the internet I've come to find this happens all the time. It is their policy to not inspect the car and to push to have the insurance purchased or file faulty claims. There is reviews of dysfunctional cars that have led to accidents and injuries as well as a slew of other things. This company needs to be set straight. No one seems to have done anything about it, because they are afraid and or do not know the system so they just pay the money. This is wrong. My mother and I have decided to file a class action lawsuit against this company.
OMAHA, NEBRASKA -- Beware - Alamo Car Rental runs a scam through Priceline. Here is what happens: First, Alamo accepts an extremely low bid via Priceline (planning on getting money out of you in other ways). Second, they hard-sell their comprehensive insurance. (I have no problem with this - all companies try to sell you this). If they get you to buy the insurance - then they've made their money. However - IF NOT - THEY WILL SEND YOU A DEMAND LETTER INFORMING YOU THAT THE CAR WAS DAMAGED.
The scam likely works well with most people. They do it intelligently. They will tell you the damage came to about $150.00 or so (below most people's deductibles) - that way you won't call your insurance company about it. After all, if you called the insurance company, they would ask if Alamo documented the damage to the car before and after you rented it. THEY DON'T. I even asked about it when I picked it up and dropped it off. They insisted there was no need. Obviously, they don't want it documented, so they can then scare you into believing there was damage done to the car.
In my instance, I knew good and well that there was no damage done to the car. I called Alamo, informed them I am a lawyer (which I am) and asked them how they planned to prove there was any damage to the car. They immediately backed down. However, absent being a lawyer and challenging them, they likely would not have backed down so easily.
I highly recommend never renting from them. This was obviously a calculated scam, which the company knows about and endorses. Horrible company. Never rent from them. Personally, I have never had any problems from either Dollar or Enterprise. Can't speak too much for other companies... but stay away from Alamo.