I want to share with you recent experiences we had with Alamo Car rentals on three different occasions in a 6-week period in the US and Canada. We used our travel agent to make reservations for three separate car hires with Alamo in North America: 1) Los Angeles 1 day 24 August 2007 Invoice **, Contract ID **; 2) Vancouver 3 days 25 September 2007 RA **, Contract ID **; and 3) Los Angeles 7 days 28 September 2007, Contract ID **, RES # **. Each time, Alamo insisted that we agree to pre-pay them to refuel the car with a full tank of gas, instead of our following the usual practice of returning the car full.
We have been renting cars through DTN in North America for the last 15 years and have never been denied the option of refilling the fuel tank ourselves until our recent experience with Alamo. They said they had the authority to do this because of the tour operator's agreement (with DTN), and that they were unable to vary this requirement. Their comment: “Blame your travel agent for not telling you”. There was no disclosure of this policy in the written documentation we received from DTN, or verbally from our travel agent, United Travel Browns Bay. Had we known about this policy we would have rented elsewhere.
In fact they are gouging the customer – using fees that look reasonable when quoted by DTN to travellers as ‘bait', with the intention of making extra windfall profits from every car rental by not having to completely refuel a car after they have required their customers to pay for a full tank of fuel in advance. This policy is contrary to Alamo's own signage at their offices and contrary to the wording in the rental agreement between Alamo and each driver.
Refueling service. The Vehicle will be provided to You with a full tank of fuel. You may choose one of the following options: (my emphasis) a. (Prepaid gas) You may pay an upfront, non-refundable Fuel Service Option charge; and b. (Return Full or Pay) If You do not elect the Fuel Service Option, You may return the Vehicle with the same amount of fuel as when You received it. You will then not pay a refuelling Service Charge. We were given no choice in this matter, even though Alamo claims every driver has this choice. It appears to be a deliberate and cynical attempt to profiteer off vulnerable overseas travellers.
The first hire was at Los Angeles Airport on August 24 this year. It was for 24 hours, and our intention was to drive from the airport down to Redondo Beach nearby. We drove a total of 28 miles altogether. There was no way we could use a full tank of fuel in one day. Why would we want to pay in advance for the car to be completely refuelled?
The clerk insisted we sign the agreement, and said the computer would not allow him to change it, but did say we could try to negotiate a refund with the manager on returning the car. Eventually on our return the next day the manager did agree to credit the refuelling fee – but it added considerable time to the whole check-in process.
The second hire was for three days at Vancouver airport on September 25 this year. Our plans were to drive to a motel in Burnaby, an inner Vancouver suburb, and visit friends – using the car only for shopping, and short trips to restaurants and our friends' house. Again there was no possibility of using a full tank of fuel. This time Alamo was completely inflexible.
We also had a third hire at LAX for 7 days from September 28 to October 4. In this case we did foresee the possibility of using at least a full tank, and the tank was low on fuel as we approached LAX when returning. Given the difficulties of the two previous rentals, and the time pressure we were under, I did not refuel the car.
The reasons why this policy is unfair and unreasonable are obvious: Windfall profits to Alamo, and added expense to the renter, if a car is not returned empty. It is very stressful attempting to judge the fuel level accurately when attempting to returning a car almost empty of fuel to an airport. It encourages unnecessary driving in order for a driver to ‘get their money's worth'.
This is wasteful of the driver's time, hastens depreciation of the vehicle, and is very environmentally insensitive given the finite supply of oil on this planet. It is common wisdom that it is best practice to refuel any car before it is ‘empty' because the bottom of the fuel tank tends to collect impurities.
We complained to DTN after we returned home, and they pointed out that they had not been informed by Alamo about this policy. They contacted Alamo, and their response was to offer us a one-class upgrade on our next rental. This offer is derisory, and we will not be accepting it.
Alamo is in the tourism service industry. If people choose not to rent their cars they would go out of business. Therefore it is surprising that at no time either when we rented the car(s), or after we complained, did we feel that we were treated like valued customers. Instead, we were exploited, by being charged for services we had no possibility of using.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA -- I see they already wrote a review on this!! At LAX I went into Alamo to rent my first car. They asked me if I wanted the insurance and I, too, have the coverage on my personal car insurance and I said "No". Then I got the paper to sign and it said over $100 more than it was supposed to be. I asked the guy why it was in the $400s instead of $338 and he said bc of the insurance... I said "ohh the insurance" I said "that I DIDN'T want???" I told him not to charge that to my account but he said that he already had.
I filled out the paperwork crossing out the amount and writing in $338 and declined the coverage. I checked my checking acct balance and had they charged me the total w/ insurance my car payment would have bounced. I flipped out on the guy and all he could say was it was a misunderstanding. So I talked to another guy who printed out another paper w/ only the $338 which I signed.
I returned my car on the 25th, and I checked my acct balance today to find out I'm overdrawn over $100... talking to my bank I found out that there were two holds on my account, one for the $338 and one for the insurance. They told me I was charged $35 because they covered my car payment for me.
So I called Alamo and told them they need to fax an order to my bank saying to release those funds. They said that it is not in their policy to fax anything - BULL!!! And I got them and my bank of the phone together. We went around and around in circles. I was even talking to a "Manager" What manager can't break policy when it was the company's fault!! He said that I won't in the end get charged the insurance fee but he can't release the hold. Tell me WHY there is not only a hold on my account for something that was NOT authorized, but ALSO WHY would you hold something if you are not going to be getting it in the end anyway?
Because of them and their incompetence, I got charged a fee as well as being short over $100 for who knows how long. This "manager" gave us another number to call... the guy from my bank asked if someone was going to pick up at that # and the guy said "Yes", then he "had to go" because he had "another customer waiting". Hmm sure sounds like good customer service to me - NOT!! SO we called that # he gave us and it went to some woman's voicemail. And in that message it gave another # which led to another person's voicemail. I'm about to call back and try to talk to someone w/ a little common sense.
I don't know what will come of it but I do know one thing... I will never, EVER rent another car from Alamo again!! I can understand if there was an initial mistake made, but to be unwilling to correct this matter for me is just ridiculous and just goes to show they don't care about their customers at all.
ST LOUIS, MISSOURI -- I rented a car last Thursday, May 17, 2007, from the Lambert St.Louis International Airport location. I rented an economy car on a special rate because my car is in the shop and I just needed a car for two days until mine was fixed. When I got to the car lot, I got very little instruction as to what to do and how to do it! I finally found someone and they said just pick a car of your type and drive off.
They only had one car left, a Saturn Ion. I was OK with this and went to the car. The car had what looked like something had been dripped on the paint, possibly wax or some kind of mineral that had left some chalky drip marks on the car. I didn't care what the car looked like and I was in a hurry, so I got in the car and drove to the exit. I have rented at other companies, and they all check the car with you before you leave. The lady at the exit gate just took my card that was in the car and let me go. I FOOLISHLY assumed that SOMEONE at that lot had checked this car out before I drove off. I was wrong.
The story continues! I had a flat tire while I had the car. I changed to the spare and then called your 800 number. They told me I was responsible for getting the tire fixed (it sounded like someone from India, every time I called!!). I had no idea what to do. I called the direct number to their desk at the airport. They asked if I had paid for road side assistance? I was never even asked or had it explained to me that this was an option. I did decline the collision damage coverage because my insurance and credit card cover that. I had NO idea that some kind of assistance with a TIRE was extra, the other places covered at least that much!!!
They again told me that I had to fix it, setting down the phone a bunch of times, ignoring me, and even LAUGHING AT ME!!!!!! while I talked to them. UNBELIEVABLE!!! So, stupid me, I tried to get the tire fixed. It turns out the tire was already worn out on the sides and could not be fixed!! This made sense as the tire went flat turning into a PARKING LOT!! I didn't even drive it after it went flat!!!! So, it looks like I got a bad tire, which explains why it had been handling funny from the time I got it!!
So I called the airport desk again, and was told to make a report to your roadside assistance people. I did so, and they were no help, just took a report, so I called the airport desk AGAIN! This time I finally got someone who said they were manager on the actual Lot. I asked her what to do and how much a flat tire would cost me. She told me she didn't know how much it would cost. After a lot of talk, I finally found out there was some kind of book inside they could look it up. I finally had to ask, "could you please transfer me in to them to look it up?" She said "oh, OK..." SO... Now I find out it's like a $50 dollars charge.
By now, I am late on my return time as well... The Indian guy told me it would be my rate plus an extra $11 dollar charge. Actually it's like $35.. Fine, whatever.. I'll pay it.. I just want this car out of my life. It's 10PM at night, I bring the car back. Now the guy checking the car in puts a note on his sheet that there appear to be some kind of ACID stains on the car finish!!!!!!!!!!!! And that there is NO NOTE of this from before!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is OUTRAGEOUS!!!!!!!!
I go inside, the girl there was trying to be nice to me, one of the few. I thank her for that! She takes down another note about the tire, and that I said the marks were there when I got the car, for all the good that will do. I assume by now I'm just a dupe and someone at that shop probably screwed up and let the marks get into the shop without checking, or maybe they even screwed it up there. But now I'm sure they're trying to get a customer to pay for it!
I go outside to apologize to the check-in guy, because I was pretty angry when I talked to him, and that wasn't fair to him... He actually turned out to be pretty cool. I asked him didn't he think this would have been noticed and noted when it was checked in? He said "yes", but said that if it was returned between 10PM and 5:30AM, then it WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN CHECKED when returned!!!!!!!!!!!!
So, I got a car that probably had a bad tire to begin with, with chalky spots on the paint that either didn't get looked at when the car was returned or were caused by the lot where I rented it at. I get treated rudely by just about everyone, and even laughed at!!!!!! I am going to be calling about this, writing a letter to Alamo, and I have already called the airport and complained and will next call the City of St. Louis and the Attorney General of Missouri to complain.
I have NEVER had such bad service from ANY kind of company in my life! I can't remember being this outraged in a very, very long time for something so meaningless! I try so hard to be good to others and to be honest and fair, and I feel like that was all just spit back in my face! I have used Alamo in the past, but will NEVER do so again, and I encourage everyone to avoid it like the plague.
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.
I rented a car from Alamo for my trip to Alabama. I usually choose Alamo for my road trips because they offer very attractive weekly rates, unlimited mileage and the driving area is the entire Continental United States and Canada. I book under my corporate contract in order to get all the insurance coverages and additional drivers at no cost. I use googled Alamo Coupon codes and prepay to save an additional 10 percent. (Alamo has a very fair cancellation policy) I also have a butt load of Alamo upgrade coupons courtesy of our corporate travel office. Overall I'm always satisfied with Alamo.
This last trip I got a mid-sized Saturn (free upgrade) for a base rate of $143.10 a week, minus a 20 dollar internet coupon, minus 10 percent prepay discount which comes to about 111 bucks a week plus 16 bucks in taxes. Since the Alamo in OKC is off airport I get to forgo those nasty Airport surcharges. Anyway, all in all sweet deal.
So time passes and I'm having such a blast in Alabama catching miniature catfish and enjoying the locals that I decide to delay my return. I see by the Alamo rental agreement that extra days will be billed at $89 dollars a day. I'm going to be three days late so with taxes that comes out to about $300. This does not please me in the least. Holy cow that's more than double my weekly rate. So I did what every good consumer should do and called the Alamo reservation line in order to find a more favorable and reasonable solution to my problem.
I asked the Alamo guy if I could get billed the weekly rate instead of the daily rate for the additional three days. He said 'No sir'. I asked him if the daily rate was negotiable. He said 'No sir'. I see on the rental agreement that I can extend the rental up to 28 days so I asked him if I could extend the rental by a week at the $143.10 base weekly rate. He said 'Yes Sir'. Cool. I asked him if I extended my rental by a week but turned the car in four days early would I still get the weekly rate. He said 'No sir, you have to keep the car at least five additional days to qualify for the weekly rate'. Okay, Gotcha. Extend by rental by a week at the weekly rate which he did.
Bottom line is by reading the rental agreement and asking the right questions I was able to save about 150 buck by merely keeping the car an additional two days. I don't understand the logic of the Alamo policy but hey whatever saves me money. I actually enjoyed the car so much that I kept it for the full seven day week. It was like pennies from heaven.
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA -- We rented a car from Alamo at the San Jose airport. We were offered the fuel service option with a guaranteed price of $3.81 per gallon. However, it was not explained that we would be charged for a full tank of gas and that we should bring it back empty, just that we were guaranteed that price. So when we dropped the vehicle off with a half a tank of gas, we assumed that we would be charged just to fill it at the price of $3.81. Our receipt showed a full tank, but I assumed they just were showing what a full tank would be and that they would adjust it accordingly. Wrong.
I called Alamo this morning to see what the final price was and they said it was the same. The customer service rep explained that we had agreed to purchase a full tank, but very quickly offered to refund half since we returned the car with half a tank of gas. I was fine with that. She then put me on hold and when she came back on, she said that she could only refund me $25 since she had to use the refueling option at $5.63 per gallon.
I told her that it was outrageous that they were charging that much per gallon more. The gas station outside the airport was $4.25 and we definitely would have filled the tank had we known that we would be paying $5.63. I then spoke with a manager who was of no help whatsoever and finally ended up accepting the $25 refund.
So be forewarned if you choose this option and make sure that you bring the car back absolutely empty. If they had just refunded the half that they initially offered, I would have been happy, but they have definitely lost this customer and I will be sure to tell everyone I know about this experience. They obviously don't care about losing customers.
GERMANY -- While in Germany I rented a car for 7 days. The second day the oil light went off, I called the assistance to know what I had to do, they sent a technician that said there was NO oil in the car, I had to pay for the oil. The third day I got up at 5 to take my husband to the airport, and the car would not start, did not have cash only American Credit cards that the cab would not take, we had to stop someone on the road and beg for a ride to the airport. I called assistance (and I was very upset, I am sure it is in their notes) another technician came said the battery was not good, he jump-started it and told me to drive around for an hour to make sure it would recharge well.
(Said the battery might be too small ?!) When I returned the car I explained to them what happened, they refunded the money that I paid for the oil and then said that they will probably give me 10% off my rental for the inconvenience and the tip my husband gave to the person that drove him to the airport and the fuel that I used to drive around Munich for an hour during rush hours.
Since then I have been emailing back and forth with the customer service and they say there is no proof of evidence that I need a refund. They say they will not refund me because the car did not need any repairs after we brought it back... (who knows for sure?) And I mean, that does not even matter because... it had a lot of repair done while we had it!! NEVER USE ALAMO/NATIONAL in EUROPE. I don't recommend it. Customer Service not very friendly and not very customer oriented.
SEATTLE AIRPORT, WASHINGTON -- Alamo took advantage of my inexperience and deceived me by not explaining what their terms mean. When picking up my car at the Seattle Airport they rushed me through the process. One does not have the time to read the fine print while standing in line at the airport. This should be explained on the website when booking cars and this can be explained in 10 words or less at the counter. I was told that I had a choice to fill up the car myself or to let Alamo fill the tank. They did NOT tell me what that meant... I was supposed to know that they charge for a full tank whether I used a full tank or not. If they fill the tank for you, they charge $6.99 per gallon!
I drove 119 miles - used less than 1/2 a tank of gas and they charged me for a full tank of gas at $78.57!!! Rip-off!! Fill your own tank! Also, be aware that the City of Seattle and the State of Washington charge the rental consumer astronomical fees for renting in their municipality. I paid to the City and State: Customer facility charge $16, Concession recovery fee $58.38, Vehicle License recovery $2.24, Washington Sales tax of $44.97 and Washington Rental car tax of $49.01. So my fees to Seattle for renting the car in Washington for 4 days was $170.60, plus a tank of gas at $78.57 are astronomical.
I paid more in fees and gas than my rental charges. I will never ever use Alamo again and hope you don't either. I will spread the word to everyone I know personally and on the internet to avoid this company. I could have used a car service for a fourth of the cost to rent this car. I was ripped off totally. After speaking with Customer Service, I am even more disenchanted with their "We couldn't care less" attitude. Screw the customer is their motto.