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An Inside Look At The Cutthroat Culture of Rental Car Sales
Posted by Infpcam on 03/12/2013
CALIFORNIA -- As a former rental car employee at a busy and well known Southern CA Budget location, I feel I can offer some valuable insight into the rental car employee culture that is becoming more and more pervasive not only in other Budget locations throughout the U. S., but also the other major rental car companies that many people rent from.

Since I have only worked at Budget though, I can't make any definitive claims about the other rental car companies. However, I do know that from speaking to other rental car agents at other companies as well as reading reviews on other consumer and employee review sites, it is IMPERATIVE that the consumer take their time reading EVERYTHING on the contract before they sign everything. I feel an inside look into the rental car culture might be helpful to the consumer and answer some questions on why it's important to read everything before you sign.

Some consumers might be under the impression that most rental car agents are unethical, money hungry hustlers that will do anything to pad their commissions. While there are many rental agents out there that do fit that description, I would say that the majority out there either fall into 1 of 2 camps: 1 camp is the agent that faces a daily struggle with their values and really hates having to pressure customers into buying stuff they don't want, but they need the job to feed the kids, pay the rent, pay student loans, etc. in a tough economy. They aren't driven so much by the commissions, but by the threat of being fired by management if their sales numbers aren't considered acceptable. Many agents in this camp have been in the industry for a long time and have seen it change from a customer service focused industry into a cutthroat sales environment. The 2nd camp quickly realizes that this industry is not for them and either quits on their own, or gets fired in a matter of months due to low sales numbers. Many people in this camp have strong customer service skills, but for various reasons don't badger the customer with upsells, products, and other services like the management expects.

As for the unscrupulous sales agents, they pretty much ruin it not only for the customer, but also the employees that are trying their best to remain ethical. The management loves these agents since they are bringing in the revenue, but everyone else hates them. These agents can basically do whatever they want including lying to the customer, or misleading them into paying extra for something they probably didn't even realize they paid for and management will almost always back them up since the contract has been signed.

How do you spot the unscrupulous sales agents? This isn't easy since many of them are rather charming chameleons that are so good at schmoozing the customer. Some things to keep in mind though when renting: All products and services are OPTIONAL no matter what the agent may tell you. You are not required by law to purchase the damage waiver for the rental car (Called LDW or CDW depending on the location), supplemental liability insurance/renters liability insurance (SLI or RLI), personal accidents and effects (PAE), and roadside service (RSN). Some agents may lie to the customer and say LDW/CDW, SLI or RLI, PAE, and RSN are airport taxes or state taxes, but that is false. If a customer chooses to decline LDW/CDW, PAE, SLI, and RLI, the contract should clearly say "Declined" next to all 4 waiver/insurance options.

Here is the tricky part though: Some agents will put that you are accepting all coverages into the computer system even if you said you are declining all coverages. If the agent did that, on your contract the word "Accepted" will be printed next to LDW/CDW, PAE, SLI, and RLI. That means you are accepting full coverage. The tricky agent will lie to you though and twist things around and say that "accepted" next to the coverages means you are declining all coverages. To someone that doesn't understand English well or is really tired from a long day, it is understandable how one can get confused with this twisting of words. My best advice is to have your original reservation printout with you to compare the price to what the contract states. If you don't know what your original price was, you can potentially become an easy victim for the dishonest sales agent. Just remember that LDW/CDW, PAE, SLI, RLI, and RSN are NOT taxes and NOT mandatory to take.

Another common trick an agent might do is "bundle" coverages together if you ask for just 1 thing. For example, say if you only want to cover the car with the LDW/CDW an agent might throw on SLI or RSN too. The agent may present this as "Partial Coverage" or "The Basic Coverage" making it seem like in order to cover the car, you have to purchase it in a "package" with other insurance. That is a complete lie and false. Some agents might continue to argue with you and say LDW/CDW is not sold separately and part of a package. That's a lie. Everything is sold separately and not part of a package. Don't fall for that common trick.

Tricky wording is another common trick rental agents do everywhere. Some examples for coverages: "Will you be taking the full protection package or just the basic?", "Will you be taking the full protection package or partial package?", and "Do you just want the basic protection?" The rental agent that uses these phrases is trying to trick you into taking some type of coverage no matter what. Some customers fall for this trick thinking "Basic and Partial" mean no coverage at all. Here the agent didn't really give you an option to decline anything, so if you don't want any coverage, you have to tell the agent explicitly that you don't need any coverage. Even after you explicitly tell the agent you don't want anything, be prepared for fear based tactics to try and get you to accept coverage. Then be prepared to read the contract afterwards to be sure everything was "DECLINED."

You REALLY have to be careful on the upsell attempt. Management encourages tricky wording for the upsell in order to get as much money out of the consumer as possible. I can't disclose the method that they use explicitly since this method is actually owned by an outside company that many rental car companies hire in order to increase profits. I can tell you that almost no upgrade is free usually (unless the rental car company doesn't have your car class that you booked, then they often do a free upgrade), and if it is too good to be true, it probably is. Let's just say that if you are booked into a Toyota Corolla, don't expect that you are saving money from your original reservation by upgrading into a BMW, Dodge Charger, Camaro, Mustang, etc. or getting a free upgrade. You are paying more and many times much more than your original booking if you fall for this common upsell trick. For anything that is an upgrade or sounds like an upgrade, always ask how much more it's going to cost you to avoid this.

If you took the time to read all of this, I congratulate you. I hope you find all of this information helpful. Just remember to carefully read everything on the contract before you sign anything. Once you sign that document, there is little that you can do since it is legally binding. If you do find yourself a victim though complain to corporate only, and NOT the local management especially if it's a franchise location. Nothing will change unless corporate gets enough complaints.

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Posted by Nohandle on 2013-03-12:
Most Informative. Thank you!!
Posted by BobSF on 2013-03-12:
Another thing, I cannot prove, is that when there is damage on a vehicle they keep charging new customers who do NOT take out the damage insurance. I rented a car that was years old, had a few dents that were obviously old (rust, etc) and they tried to charge me $550 to fix them. I wonder how many other customers they did this to and just never repaired it. I yelled and screamed and they finally relented - now I note every ding, mark, scratch, dent, etc that I can find by taking pictures of it before I take a picture of the odometer so anyone can see I took the damage pictures before I ever drove it.

Most agents are OK but some almost get hysterical when I decline all insurance.
Posted by infpcam on 2013-03-12:
If you don't mind me asking BobSF, which company and location did you rent from? Luckily the location that I worked at wasn't too strict when it came to body damage although there were a few return agents that would go way overboard on the car inspection usually because they had been reprimanded by the GM for missing previous body damage.
Posted by jktshff1 on 2013-03-13:
Well written thanks
Posted by Sheri on 2013-04-25:
I rent cars fairly frequently for business and work for an insurance company so decline all coverage and they don't argue too much about that. I also take pictures of the car as I point out dings and scrapes to the agent before I drive it out of the rental lot because a car I rented in AZ a few years back was supposedly damaged while I had it.
Posted by Lynelle N. on 2013-04-25:
First,I want to thank the author of this review.Fortunately,I was stung on unrelated scams many years ago when I was young and as a result I do not trust anybody who is trying to sell me something.Two weekends ago,I rented from U-Haul.As soon as the sales agent started talking about all of the coverages,I needed.I told him that I am not buying anything extra.I have a convincing presence and personality and it doesn't take anyone long to understand that I say what I mean and that I mean what I say.And I will not play the game of "ring around the rosie",by repeating myself.And they don't want to entangle themselves by applying the upsell or hard sell game with me.Unfortunately,many rentors are not aware that even if some type of insurance coverage were lawfully mandatory, in most states,the rentor has the option of using their own auto insurance policy as a binder for coverage and that is of course if the rentor has his or her own insurance.My agent did not give me that option.I had to tell him about it.But I cleary understood the game.I only wish that most consumers were savvy enough and intersted enough to educate themselves about these type of scams so that it would put the skids on this type of selling technique.It sounds like the writer is one of the good guys.....Keep it up through life......Don't change.....Life will pay you back with benefits.
Posted by sam on 2013-06-08:
this Author was spot on, but to the people that commented on this mans advice, optional insurance from a rental car company isn't a scam because you don't want it. either you need it or you don't.
Posted by cath on 2013-08-04:
Just got charged $703 by Budget SFO for an upgrade to a car 1 size up for a 14 day rental I paid for months ago with eBookers. I agreed to a $20 per day surcharge for the upgrade. How they got to $703 is a mystery. It should have been a $280 additional fee. Am currently on hold (long distance UK to USA) AND HAVE BEEN FOR 45 MIN, to try to get a breakdown of my bill. They said this bill breakdown would be difficult to get. They emailed me a copy of bill with just $703.06, and no breakdown. We'll see.. I'm just reading this and doing other things while they keep me on hold. EBookers told me my fee to them included the Collision Damage Waiver, Local Tax, Airoport Service charge, Unlimited MIleage, Location Service charge, and additional Liability Insurance but Budget SFO added these things on anyways a second time!
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Just Initial Here
Posted by InsuranceGuy on 08/12/2005
You rent a car for a few days because you don't want to drive your 1998 Contour with 105,000 miles from Philly to Erie to see your kid play clarinet in the Pennsylvania High School Music Educators State Band.

So you pick "Budget."

Here's what can happen:

They offer you their insurance coverages. The total premium is about $53 per day.

You say, "Nah, I've got GEICO (or Allstate or State Farm or Nationwide.) I'm covered."

The kid behind the counter says "Okay fine, initial here and here and here and sign here."

You do it quickly.

It's 9:30 AM and you have to leave by 10:00.

Maybe if you weren't pressed for time you'd read what you just signed. Because what you signed is a binding contractual obligation.

You drive to Erie. The trip goes well.

That night, while your're eating dinner, some drunk slams into the rental car in the parking lot at Damone's.

He leaves the scene.

Amazingly, nobody saw anything except a black coupe with front end damage charging out of the parking lot with it's lights off, making a right on red, and laying rubber into the darkness.

A few days after it's towed to the Ford dealer, the rented Taurus' damage is estimated by an appraiser hired by Budget.

Believe it or not, there's $6800 of damage on Budget's vehicle!

Budget hauls it away-they don't actually fix vehicles hit that severely-and you relax, because your "InsuranceGuy" told you your insurance would cover the damage.

You're out your $500 deductible, but you can deal.

Weeks later, back at Budget, they're preparing their demand for reimbursement from your insurance company.

They list the $6800 in damages. They list the $200 tow. They list the $150 in storage at the Ford dealer.

These amounts are no problem for your insurance company to accept. Your insurer is only too willing to pay them since liability is not an issue.

But then Budget gets creative.

All rental companies are creative, but Budget is extremely creative.

Because Budget tells the insurer, in their "Demand for Payment," that there's more to this request than the damages and the tow and the storage.

You may ask, "What more can there be?"

Well...there's "Administrative and Estimating Fees."

"What are these?"

Budget might reply with this:

"Estimates don't write themselves. We had to have an Independent Appraiser go to the vehicle and write it. He charged us $125 for this service. Then there's all our paper handling so we added an additional $30 for that."

Next there's "Loss of Use."

"What's 'Loss of Use'?"

Budget might reply:

"Since this car was damaged we weren't able to rent it to anybody else. And because this vehicle was out of service we MAY have lost SEVERAL customers (believe me, they didn't.) So we used our formula (more secret than Coca Cola's) to figure out our Loss of Use amount. We've calculated the amount to be $990!"

Now most rental companies demand Loss of Use reimbursement from the insurer. But they might drop the demand when the Loss of Use is denied. Usually other companies are asking for about $350. $990 is the HIGHEST Loss of Use I've ever seen.

Finally, there's the piece de resistance of all the extra fees:

Valued Customer, may I present... "DIMINISHED VALUE!"

As stated, all car rental companies fool around with Loss of Use and admin fees when presenting reimbursement demands to the renter's insurance company.

But Budget is the unmitigated "KING."

And their Crown of Thorns is the godforsaken concept of "DIMINISHED VALUE."

What Budget is saying with Dim Val is this:

"We lost sales revenue at the auction on this vehicle when you wrecked it. And because we did we're going to charge you for our loss."


Don't let your eyes glaze over at this point, because what I'm going to tell you directly impacts not only your pocketbook but your, and your families, emotional well being.

Budget uses their in-house created "Diminished Value" worksheet.

No expert on auto physical damage, no auto-rental-industry overseeing committee developed it.

It's Budget's in-house created Frankenstein.

When calculating how much Dim Val to demand from the insurer, Budget calculates how many of the replacement parts, and how much of the repair labor, and how much of the refinish labor is eligible for inclusion in their formula.

They enter these figures onto their calculation sheet (which they send to insurance reviewers like me, so I HAVE studied them) and they multiply a subtotal by a pre-determined mathematical factor, such as 2.35, (I'm NOT making this up) and this determines a final dollar amount which they present to the insurer as part of their demand.

If the damage to the vehicle is significant, as with my FICTIONAL renter described above, this Diminished Value figure can be FOUR or FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS!

Or more!

Budget then sends their demand to your insurer.

It consists of the estimate amount (let's use the $6800 from above) PLUS the admin fee($150) PLUS the Loss of Use ($990 )PLUS the Diminished Value (say, $4600).

So Budget says to your insurance company:

"We want $12,450 for this $6800 loss.!"

Folks, your insurance company is NOT going to pay it.

You can't blame them.

They'll pay the $6800 plus the related tows and storgage, etc. but they won't pay for the crap.

Check your policy. It may specifically state that they won't pay for this crap.

Although I don't think they use that word.

They won't pay for the crap because, as a "Third Party" to this loss, they only owe for "what we did" i.e. the damage to the rented vehicle which occurred while it was being used by our insured.

They do not owe for Budget's subjective, unverifiable, costs-of-doing-business charges and alleged revenue-diminishing deletions.

Insurers are NOT going to subsidize Budget's Profit Sharing Plan!

So Budget says this (and I had two claims I reviewed this week where this happened):


Do they do it?

You betcha!

What if you, like any righteously indignant victim who senses a major league screwing approaching, says, "Go to hell, Budget!"

They may send your unpaid bill for $6000 to a collection agency, one of those endearing institutions which calls your house every other day and leaves messages on your voice mail. Or perhaps they'll leave an intimidating message with your teenage daughter-one she has to relay to you tentatively at the dinner table- saying they need a call back concerning a "matter of great urgency."

And through this collection agent, good ol' Budget might threaten to contact Trans Union, which they'll say they really don't WANT to do. But, they'll add, we can avoid all this unpleasantness if we can come to a payment agreement. But if we can't reach an agreement, your recalcitrance, causing us to initiate this action, could cause your FICO score to drop precipitously from it's current, pristine, 788.

This horror story has happened because you waived the insurance coverage and signed the rental agreement, an agreement which is a legal contract which states you'll be responsible for "Diminished Value," an amount which could be in the thousands of dollars,

And then you had to go and select the wrong parking spot at the restaurant.

Suddenly a trip of pleasure has become a long journey into a dark night of tension and turmoil.

Budget seems to practice one of the worst traits a corporation can exhibit:

Callous disregard and lack of empathy for their customer.

True story:

I looked at a demand from Budget this past week and saw a $7000 estimate to repair Budget's car. I looked at their demand sheet which accompanied the estimate. They wanted $13,700.

I know when I refuse to pay these outlandish fees, as I WILL do this coming week, (I left a message for their rep this evening) a return call will be received from "Kristen" or "Carrie" or "Brad" or "Kirk," one of Budget's underpaid, easily exchangable, improperly-seduced-into-believing-management-opportunities-exist, twenty-something employees (check out rental car company's employee turn-over rates.)

And with all the intimidation she can muster, she will say something like this:

"Well, we'll just have to bill YOUR insured ( Note, this person is Budget's customer, too!) for the balance!"

As loan sharking is to banking, so too is "Diminished Value" to car renting.

Buyer beware!

Stay away from Budget!

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Posted by AZJEM on 2005-08-13:
Thanks for the good info. Sorry you had to get raked over the coals to give us this money saving help. If your still in the middle of this rip-off, I wish you alot of luck.
Posted by Sparticus on 2005-08-13:
After reading this I don't know whether I should always pay out the whazoo for the added insurance when renting, or never rent again. Scary.
Posted by SuZQ on 2005-12-01:
WoW! I guess you should have bought their insurance afterall. It really does pay to read contracts no matter how busy you are. And Yes folks, if you use their insurance, you don't have to worry about any of that, it would be covered.
Posted by Chefbogey on 2006-06-26:
6-24-06. I am going thru the same experience with enterprise. However, the big difference is that I am not the renter of the car but the person who bumped into it because it was illegally parked across the driveway of the neighbor across from my driveway, so it was almost impossible to back out unless you were a tug boat captain that maneuvers aircraft carriers. I did not sign anything. They billed me for loss of value, loss of rental, administrative fee for a 300.00 dent to bumper. They said it took 3 days to repair. They included cites to backup their way of doing business(Calif Law) -they must have a great lobby. If you or I were involved in an accident caused by another - Judge Judy would not give us time it took to come to court, cost of appraisal fee, administrative fee, probably no loss of use or rental car fee, and no diminished resale value fee.

Also, these car companies are probablh self insured and at approx $10-15.00 per day would take in $3,600 to$5,400 if the car was rented every day. Say the car was rented only 50-75% of the time....they still make a fortune out of insurance. They would be a fool not to be self-insured as they are only liable for car damage and not personal injury awards.

To show the level of the adjuster I am dealing with, she sends me demand letters that are typed, but the envelopes are hand written. I guess she does not know how to use a computer! Probalbly minimum wage! I will keep you informed of outcome. If I pay them anything it would be with a provision that my settlement would not be made known to any insu
Posted by leopard on 2007-07-14:
You should have bought the Damage waiver. Then you wouldn't have had to pay for anything. Bet that $20 a day sounds pretty good now compared to that $12,000. Oh, and all rental car companies charge loss of use. They all have their own claims service and damage adjusters as well. Not just Budget
Posted by jbrey on 2008-02-08:
Yes all rental companies charge for loss of use (even renting a lawn mower). Where the real problem lies is with insurance companies. I too have had an issue with a rental company on loss uf use charges. I too declined the insurance or for better terminology Damage WAIVER. I was told by my insurance company that I did not need any additional insurance because I had a rental car rider on my policy. When I had my accident, and it was my fault, I was then only informed by the insurance company that I was only covered for the damage to the rental and not for any other loss of use/admin fees. What's worse, I travel 90% of the time and hear stories like this all over the country. Most of the time when people call their ins. provider, the rep who answers the phone doesn't even ask the customer's name - how is the rep going to know what's included on your policy?
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Watch out for E-toll scam from Budget Rent-A-Car
Posted by Blav on 09/23/2010
Get ready for a surprise a week after returning your car when you look at your credit card statement! A $12.50 charge listing under BUDGET RENTACAR TOLLS 866-2573707 US

I was never told about the e-toll pass, never requested it, and even though we paid our one toll in cash, the device was activated. So we have been charged $12.50 after the fact on our credit card--$2.50 to pay the toll (a SECOND time) plus $2.50 a day for using the device!? And good luck waiting for a customer service person who CANT help you. Can you say SCAM? Stay away from BUDGET and E-PASS.
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Posted by Skye on 2010-09-23:
The E Pass is activated when you pass a toll area. What does your contract say about the E-Pass? Many car rentals are doing this, because toll booths are just about a thing of the past in many places. The toll that you are paid for in cash, is it the same one that is charged to the E Pass? If it is, provide proof you have been double charged to the Budget.
Posted by getoverit on 2010-09-29:
I'm glad I read this because it's something I didn't know about. That's a nice little service for a car rental company to provide. Personally I'd be willing to pay a few bucks over and above the actual toll, just for the convenience.

However, they need to make it clear from the beginning that they are providing the service, what the charges are, and how the activation works. Just some extra words in the fine print of the contract isn't good enough.

Posted by sue on 2011-05-31:
We were billed by Budget for an electronic toll from the Homestead FL area when we were only in the Venice FL area. We never were anywhere near Miami or Homestead. The car was never out of site and locked in our garage at night. It got even stranger when we talked to the 3rd party billing company in NY. Florida needs to look into this situation because this must be happening to other tourists.
Posted by Hal Watson on 2011-07-09:
Yes, this Budget Rent-a-Car eToll "service" is a TOTAL ripoff!! I was charged a $15 fee on top of a single, $1.50 toll-- ridiculous!!

I sent Budget an email complaint. I'll never use Budget again if they fail to respond to my complaint in a constructive sort of way!!!!!
Posted by Greg on 2012-02-28:
How I defeated Budget E-Toll fraud.
I rented a car from Budget at Fort Lauderdale airport in December 2011 and got into the same scam.
The rep told me neither about that SunPass device nor about extra charges associated with it.
Since I didn't know about that "very convenient service", I paid cash at toll booths.
Back home I found that some E-Toll crook company charged my credit card by $23.

To get money back:
1. I called my credit card and requested a Dispute Form for that charge.
2. I wrote a paper letter (not e-mail) to Budget Headquarters:

Avis Budget Car Rental, LLC
6 Sylvan Way
Parsippany, NJ 07054
Avis Budget Group, Inc.
4500 South 129th East Ave
PO Box 699000
Tulsa, OK 74169-9000

In the letter, I explained that it was a fraud, that I didn't signed up for that extra service and even was not aware about it.
As a result, credit card was refunded in the full stolen amount of $23. The whole story took about 4 weeks and couple post stamps.
Posted by vicki on 2013-05-03:
This just happened to us! We paid cash at tolls for 3/16/2013 Orlando/Disney trip. Charge mysteriously showed up on our card. They are claiming same as above. We are fighting it!
Posted by pras on 2013-05-23:
i was aware of the tag and there are associated 'admin' fees. it is same with most rental companies. so i enclosed it in the metal jacket, and tucked it away in the glove compartment and used my personal e-zpass.
however these etoll guys charged me $71.15 in mentioning about 3 toll charges that showed up for their tag (tolls only ~ $30, and $40 in admin charges.. really guys?). had to email them my e-zpass statement to have them verify and issue a refund. they have been helpful so will report back when i do get my money back.

bugdet- if you insist on having the tag on board, please make sure the enclosures do their job as well. and stop wasting our time and look like you want to steal our money. personally, i will never use your services again.
Posted by pras on 2013-05-23:
i got an itemized toll list, so their fees are $14.75 2.5/day. for my 5 day rental, it ended up to be ~$28. with that out of the way, the best part... we were in boston when their first charges appeared in new york. the rest was all around the area when we were actually in canada.

prolly the bugdet guys swapped out the tag and forgot to update their system or etoll is a total scam. judging by the number of incidents, i say scam. have emailed them back and no updates yet.
Posted by J.J. on 2013-11-01:
I used to love budget. Now they too have taken to scamming for a few extra bucks. For a 1.00 toll I was charged 15.75. When I asked them what the deal was, as I paid cash all tolls, I was told there was no toll booth, the state of fla. takes a picture of the license and budget sends the bill. They did not have my permission to use my card for this. Budget can go to ....
Posted by Hank Mann on 2014-02-14:
Same thing to me in the San Francisco area. The Golden Gate Bridge doesn't allow you to pay tolls with cash
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Unethical Customer Service
Posted by Kim277 on 05/27/2008
We rented a car from the Budget Car Rental at Reno airport. We got to the counter after we landed and waited nearly 45 minutes to get to the counter. There was no line anywhere else, and had we not had a pre-existing reservation I would have left then. We used a credit card for the hold (of $200) but let them know that we wanted to pay with the debit card when we returned. We were only in town for 2 days, and we returned the car on time, with a full tank of gas. Returning the car was easy, we changed payment to the debit card and were on our way. Only when we returned home did we figure out that we had been charged over $700 in 3 charges. First the credit card was charged $250 (I imagine this was the hold that hadn’t yet been refunded), the $81.05 rental fee to the debit card, and a $300 fee to the debit card. I had no idea what the $300 charge was for, so I called the national Customer Service number to ask.

After 30 minutes of being on hold, I explained what my issue was, and he pulled up our reservation. He then told me that it was my fault that we were charged so many times because the only reason that would happen is if I asked to be overcharged. I told him that I couldn’t think of any circumstance in which I would actually ask to be overcharged, and that perhaps it was an accident. He said there was no way, and it had to be because I asked for two charges to two different cards. At this point we weren’t going to agree, but I just wanted to get it taken care of. He said that he could certainly get the $300 charge released if I would give him my bank account information, pin number, and social security number. I politely refused and asked for another way to handle it. I specifically asked for a letter to be faxed to me showing this charge to be released and I could handle it with my very nice local bank. He said this wasn’t possible and again asked for my personal information. He said that he had it all there in front of him and just needed me to confirm it with him. I still refused to give him any of my personal information and asked to speak to a supervisor. He said that he didn’t have a supervisor at which point I asked him for his name so I could report the call to Consumer Protection. He then hung up on me.

On the brighter side, I called back and spoke with a very nice woman who apologized for the previous agent’s actions and said that under no circumstance will anyone at Budget ever need my Social Security Number, bank account info, or anything else like that. Not only did she take care of the charges (yes, without the personal info) but also she said that she would report the agent I spoke with earlier and have it taken care of internally.

I think it’s incredibly inappropriate for a company like that to have a customer service agent asking for such personal information. I realize that his actions do not represent the entire Budget Car Rental Company, but he was the Customer Service agent and represented Budget to me at the time. Again, the second woman I spoke to was VERY helpful and took care of it, however, I don’t think I will be renting a car through Budget again.

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Posted by cherpep on 2008-05-27:
BRAVO! Good post and excellent example of how to handle the situation when asked for SS# and pin number.
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-05-27:
Excellent review and I also applaud how you handled the first 'rep'. I would only add that you may want to make Budget aware of the call (date, time, etc). They obviously have a phisherman on their staff who has likely compromised the identities of people who are less savvy than you. Very helpful post!!!
Posted by tnchuck100 on 2008-05-27:
Excellent post!
Posted by DebtorBasher on 2008-05-27:
Good job...it may also have been that rep's last day on the job and was trying to get as much personal info from as many people as possible...for his "New" job.
Posted by Mrs. V on 2008-05-27:
Wonderful Post!
Posted by Big Al2674 on 2008-06-03:
Thanks for sharing your experience. Good lesson for everyone, never share ssn, pin numbers with anyone. I might have asked for the supervisor as soon as he started asking for that info.
Posted by Sunchaser1469 on 2008-06-10:
Wonderful post! Just reinforces that not every Customer service person is there to help you, some want to hurt you.
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Budget Rent A Car Never Again
Posted by VA Renter on 06/08/2009
I, along with my wife and 14 month old, arrived in Orlando about 10:30am on Saturday May 30, 2009, excited about our family vacation. We collected our bags and made our way to the Budget Rent A Car counter and everything seemed to be going smoothly. Javier checked us in with the online reservation made through Hotwire.com. He gives us the sales pitch of upgrading us to an SUV for $10 more dollars a day, but we felt fine with our “full size” reservation. He then tries to get us to buy the insurance telling us this was what “most people” do. I decline and decide to give him a break as it is probably part of the required sales pitch. We take our rental agreement across the street to the garage to pick up the car and this is where our experience takes multiple turns for the worse.

As I was given the keys, I noted that they were for a Chevy Malibu, which according to the EPA classifications is a mid size, and I thought there had been some mistake. We make it down to the space and sure enough, it was a Chevy Malibu. I was confused as our confirmation from Budget Rent A Car’s website listed a Full Size car, Chevy Impala, Hyundai Sonata or similar. I understand the “or similar” but there is a great deal of concern that a Chevy Impala and a Chevy Malibu are considered similar, which are not considered similar by EPA or General Motors whom both classify the Impala as a “Full Size” or “Large” and Malibu as “Mid Size.” The trunk space alone is nearly 20% smaller in the Malibu as compared with the Impala. While I have highlighted the comparison with the Impala, it is similar with the Sonata, which is also classified as a full size.

After recognizing what I thought was a mistake, I went back to the key counter, passing five Hyundai Sonata’s and two Chevy Impala’s. I was then directed back across the street to where I signed my rental car contract. I went back down and talked with Javier again who greeted me with “Not big enough, need a bigger car?” I would not want to think that he purposely issued me the smallest car he could in a malevolent attempt to have me to pay more money for an upgrade. I pull out the rental confirmation and detail for him the differences between the Malibu and the Impala and Sonata, and he only attempted to have me agree to a Mercury Grand Marques for an additional $35 a day. At this point Javier became rude and dismissive telling me that the Malibu was what I had, unless I wanted to “pay more money.” Sounds fairly close or “similar” to extortion to me. I thank Javier and inform him that I needed to call Hotwire.

I called Hotwire and spoke to a very friendly and helpful young man, it was quite the contrast. After he made multiple attempts to reach customer service at the Budget Rent A Car there in Orlando, he called the main office, which only gave him another number that never got answered. After being on hold with him for 30 minutes he informed me that he had noted the complaint and gave me the number to customer service to continue trying. I then called the number and left my name and number along with rental agreement number, and have yet to hear from them. Not exactly the glowing example of promoting quality and service of Budget Rent A Car’s Mission Statement.

At this point my 14 month old had been in the parking garage for over an hour, he had drank just about all of his water and eaten all of his snacks. He was hungry and starting to fuss as he had growing tired of his stroller, but there isn’t really a clean or safe area to walk or play in a parking deck. Frustrated, we go to the Malibu to install the car seat and the car reeks of dry, hot and stale, cigarette smoke. I refuse to subject the health of my child to a situation resulting from others failing to properly clean a car. Again I head back to the key counter in the garage only to be referred back across the street to the rental counter. This time Javier would barely even talk to me. I told him that the car reeked of cigarette smoke and he referred me wait for the next available agent.

Miraculously the new agent now had a Hyundai Sonata, a “Full Size” car available. I was then able to go back over to the parking garage, pick up the new keys and load up my family. The new as well had an odor of cigarette smoke, but a hungry, crying toddler along with some airing out with the windows down convince us that we need to get going. Finally about 12:30pm, almost two full hours since collecting our bags, we were leaving the Orlando Airport to start our vacation. While there were no major concerns with the Sonata, we had to continuously be sure to air the car out before we loaded our family in it due to the smell. I also believed that I would be called by customer service, since I had left them my number, and the car could be sorted out afterwards. Much to my chagrin there didn’t appear to be much customer service present with the Budget Rent A Car in Orlando.

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Posted by czar on 2010-03-25:
I had a reservation for a Full Size car at Orlando Airport (Budget Car Group/Class E) - Ford Taurus or similar. Now, the Ford Taurus comes equipped with a
standard 263-hp 3.5-liter V-6 engine. So, when the rental agent informed that there were no Ford Tauruses, no Chevy Impalas, no Dodge Chargers, no Pontiac Grand Prix, etc that were available on the lot, I expected to be offered another similarly equipped Full Size car. When the rental agent offered me a Toyota Camry, I asked him whether it had a 4-cylinder engine (155-hp 2.4-liter I-4) or a 6-cylinder engine (268-hp 3.5-liter V-6). He assured me that it was a V-6.

Now I travel a lot on work and end up renting cars a few dozen times a year and am familiar with different rental car companies' fleets. Typically the full-size cars are base models, so unless it comes with a standard V-6 engine, chances are that the car would be equipped with an inline-4 engine. But I accepted the rental agent's statement at face value, only to learn that he had misinformed me. After a 6-hour flight across the country, I chose not to get back into the long line at the counter and decided to settle for the under-powered "down-grade". At the gate-check, I noticed that the fuel level was slightly under the "full" mark and the very courteous gate agent said I could go back to the counter and pick-up another vehicle with a completely full-tank if I preferred. Again I chose the path of least resistance and not worry about a couple of gallons of gas.

However, when I returned the car, the agent who checked-in the vehicle was abrupt and asked me if I had filled-up, to which I responded in the affirmative. In a demeaning tone, he pointed to the gauge indicating that the fuel level was under the "full" mark. When I mentioned the level at pick-up, his curt response was, "Go speak to the manager!"

I was traveling with my family and we were quite taken aback by this uncalled for rudeness. Once again, the long lines at the rental counter deterred me from taking up, yet another disappointing issue regarding this rental experience, with the location's manager.

As a frequent renter of cars (not necessarily with Budget, for obvious reasons) and a Fastbreak member, my recommendation to Budget would be to invest a little more in the training of your rental agents - make them more familiar with car makes, models and engine-types and/or make that information available to them on their computer workstations. They shouldn't feel compelled to lie just to get the customer out of their hair, or just because they don't have information at their finger tips. And of course basic etiquette must be ingrained into any customer-facing agent.

That's my 3-cents worth .....
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StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty Star
Debt Card Use - Need to Pass a Credit Check First.
Posted by Theladieshere on 08/01/2012
TAMPA INT'L AIRPORT, FLORIDA -- I reserved a car from Dollar Rentals; now affiliated with Thrifty. Before I booked it, I called & asked the representative if they accept debit cards. (I don't have any credit cards; nor want any.) He said they accept all debit cards, not a problem, but they also put an add'l $250 on "hold" through my checking account until we returned the car. Not a problem for me.

I went to pick the car up, and used my debit card. About 5 minutes later, I was told it didn't go through. I couldn't believe it! I had over a $1,800 balance! I was told that my "credit" check/score wasn't accepted by Equifax. What the heck is that all about?

They stated it was in the "fine" print, that they go through Equifax to secure payment and I didn't qualify. WHAT! Why was that not mentioned when I spoke to a representative before I reserved it! Naturally, since I didn't have a credit card; I was denied!
Someone overheard us, and recommended I use Enterprise.

IF YOU WANT TO USE YOUR DEBIT CARD, and have no credit history DON'T use THEM! Go to ENTERPRISE CAR RENTALS; they have no problem with using our debt card; what the heck, it's comes directly & immediately out of your checking account!
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Posted by bob932304 on 2012-08-01:
Bummer. I have a no-fee credit card from my Credit Union basically for buying airline tickets and making car reservations. I pay it off when I get my bill so I do not care what the interest rate is, because I never pay the interest. You might consider this solution - just never, ever use the card for anything else.
Posted by trmn8r on 2012-08-01:
Accepting a debit card is a LOT more risky for a rental card company than accepting a credit card. I believe this is why they do a credit check. I tried to rent a car in the 80's, with $5000 in cash in my hand as a "deposit". They said "no dice" and I ended up walking - true story. This is what led to me getting my first card.

I use my credit card on average twice each day. I've paid the bill in full every month since 1987 when I got my first one. There are many benefits to using a CC. The only downside IMO is for people who carry a balance - paying CC interest is not something that should be done - in all cases I have heard of the rate is insane.

The issue is not the rental car company being paid for the rental. The issue is being compensated in the event something happens to the car.
Posted by yoke on 2012-08-01:
It is in the Terms and Conditions about using a debit card. That is why I won't use Budget.
Posted by Deana on 2013-03-06:
We had the same problem... I called the site that we were getting our rental car from and they told us that we could use a debit card (even though there websites says you can't) So I asked them if that was okay and they said yes and I ask the gentlemen if there was anything else I need to know about and he said no... So when my Finacee and I showed up to Budget to get our car thats when we learned that we need the 200.00 deposit and credit check I was so pissed I told the guy right out that I WILL NEVER USE BUDGET EVER AGAIN.. and that I will tell anyone I can not to use them.. It was my wedding day.. and even though financial couldn't afford enterprise I would defendly use them in the future
Posted by infpcam on 2013-03-12:
It's understandable that customers are upset about the credit check since it wasn't disclosed over the phone by the rental representative, but keep in mind that you aren't going to get anywhere by directing your anger at the CSR at the counter since it's the company that decides these policies. Perhaps it is justified to direct your anger at the customer service representative over the phone who wasn't being explicit, but it wouldn't surprise that they purposely didn't mention the credit check since they possibly could get reprimanded by the company for disclosing this since this is the wacky world of the rental car industry we are talking about.
Posted by theresa on 2013-06-23:
I reserved a vehicle for one day total was only going to be $28. I have been renting from budget for about three years now. Renting atleast 5 or 6 times a year. Never had a problem until today. Used my debit card like always he ran it and it was denied by equifax. Never had this happen before. Being a regular customer and a member of the rapid rewards program you would think they could override but now sent me down to another company. I asked the guy so what would happen if I had done like hotwire and it already been paid for and knowing the difficulty with trying to get money back from hotwire how that would work he said that they would give me my money back. This is were I don't understand if it is prepaid (already paid for) why would they not continue with the rental. And yes I know they are using your card for deposit but it is debit so it is coming straight out of my account. Makes no sense to me. I am not a genius but I am far from being stupid. They may have just lost a regular customer because I am getting ready to rent for 2 weeks for vacation another company might just get my business. Might have to pay a little more but this is not good business to treat a regular customer the way I was for a 1 day rental when I have rented longer and rented things before like mustangs and convertibles before.
Posted by Brad on 2013-07-04:
I would like to know what credit score I need to rent a car at Budget with a Visa debit card. I tried to get a customer service Rep at Budget to run the credit check for me before I wound up reserving and failing the credit check. The Rep said he couldn't check it on the phone. I think that their insurance would pay whether my credit is good or bad if anything happened to the car.
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How to win against Budget in Dublin Ireland
Posted by Z49 on 10/29/2009
DUBLIN -- I won against the BUDGET rent a Car of Ireland, they capitulated before the case got to the court.

Zoltan v Budget of Ireland 1:0, Hello Ann Marie!!!

If you are a tourist from the USA, do not ever rent any cars from Budget in Ireland, chances are, that you will be ripped off, they have your credit card, and they will blame you for some "damage" and charge your credit card.
In April 25 2009 I rented a VW in Dublin, in 15 minutes I am back at the rental location at the airport after 3 stalls (with this bait car), the vehicle was defective, than they blamed me (tourist from the USA with a credit card) for the "damaged" clutch 1,067 Euro, they charged me for towing 160 Euro, loss of rental income 88 Euro, total scam, plus an another 50.00 Euro for "one day rent". Budget used their own garage the Flynn Bros in Ballygar to "tow away" my VW seven weeks after I left, they must have rented it to some other people for weeks, than I get the bill! Their "clutch repair" was highly inflated, padded by 500 Euro above authorized VW dealers located in Dublin. I spent a lot of time fighting it, had to hire a local Irish solicitor,(090)66-26-245, called the local police An Garda several times to investigate this fraud .
They scammed an another lady from the USA she (Ashley)drove also a VW for 9 km, $ 1,880.00 (1,300 Euro) fraudulent charge, same scam.
The credit card company was not much help to recover our damage, Budget knows that, they are using the system to their advantage, they know, the customer needs to come to the Irish court. This is what I call corporate pick pocketing. What a way to treat a tourist in Ireland.
Their staff at the airport was totally arrogant and abusing, E-mailes, faxes, calls not returned, only after serving them with a court paper I managed to get any meaningful response from Budget. After five months I finally got compensated for this fraudulent charge and for some of my expenses and for the legal fee. They knew, that they have no case front of any judge so they decided to pay up. Hope they will not abuse any more tourists, so the BUDGET scam back fired. An official criminal case filing may follow the civil case settlement to teach them a lesson. They have violated the Irish consumer act of 1980 in several places. If you think you get screwed, fight back!!! You sign the rental agreement, the consumer law said you are entitled to get the expected service or merchandise. You are responsible to pay for damages (in some cases are justified), unfortunately Budget uses this sentence on the rental agreement as a license to steal. You are assumed guilty as charged, than you need to prove it otherwise. Take pictures of the vehicle from all over, inside, odometer, attendant, best avoid Budget.
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Budget Car Rental in Mexico
Posted by Homeguy on 10/01/2007
I rented a Budget Rent-a-Car in Cabo San Lucas Mexico. They honored the internet price I was quoted but was told at the time I rented that there was an additional $17.95 per cay MANDATORY insurance charge and pointed to the sign behind the counter that indicated that yes, indeed, this was "Mandatory". My; first issue is if there is an mandatory charge associated with the rental that should be disclosed on the web-site and included in the price of the car.

But now we return the car a week later and they inspect the car and find a minuscule scratch on the corner of the painted bumper. It was so small that it was probably there when we inspected the car at the time we rented it. It was too small for me to have even noted. But they have their "estimator" come and estimate that that is a $150 scratch. No problem, because I have the "mandatory" insurance, right? WRONG! Apparently the "mandatory" insurance had a deductible. So, I pay $17.95 a day for eight days PLUS $150 for damage that I did not do to the car for a total of $293.60 EXTRA.

The guys behind the counter refused to drive us to the airport terminal until we paid these disputed charges - they really had us and they knew it.

Two letters to a Customer Care Representative (including a copy to her boss with the second letter) accomplished nothing. She just referred me to the manager in Mexico who was responsible for this whole fiasco.

I have spent a lot of $$$ at Budget and their sister company, Avis. But cheat me once, shame on you, cheat me twice - NO WAY JOSE!

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Posted by Anonymous on 2007-10-01:
Never rent a car in Mexico, ever!
Posted by Anonymous on 2007-10-01:
When you're in Mexico, it seems you are pretty much stuck with whatever they want to do. Their laws/rules are very "flexible". FedUpAndPissed is absolutely correct. Sorry for your bad experience though. If you are able to get this resolved, please let us know.
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Loss of use of Budget Rental Car
Posted by Ukiebee on 02/06/2006
EUGENE AIRPORT, OREGON -- My daughter had the loss of use and other fees piled on her when she hit a deer driving a Budget rental car. We frequently rent cars and have always waived the LDW, and calculated over six years times the number of days paid for a rental car plus the $23 per day LDW we would be paying out $22,000. We could buy a car for this amount and use it just for travelling! The difference in the resale value of our car in six years betweeen having 40,000 and 100,000 miles on it, would be $1400, so there is no way it is cheaper to rent, as AAA suggests rather than add miles to one's own car. An infrequent renter would be wise to pay for the LDW, I have concluded after my daughter's ordeal with Budget, but stay away from Budget. They want you to report an accident immediately but no one answered the many phony calls for assistance my daughter made to the Eugene Airport location even though there was someone on duty there, they never answered calls, nor returned a voice mail plea for assistance. My daughter had to call AAA for towing purposes, if she had not been a member of that organization, she would still be sitting in a damaged car on a remote part of Oregon if it had been left up to Budget.
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Posted by topher63076 on 2006-02-06:
you said it yourself your daughter made phony calls that's why they didn't answer
Posted by Slimjim on 2006-02-06:
I don’t understand the phony call part either, or the need to justify a cost analysis. What strikes me is she hit a deer and didn’t have the offered insurance coverage. That means it’s her own insurance's responsibility to pay for the damages. Let them fight it out over excessive fees.
Posted by CandyPickletoes on 2006-02-07:
I don't believe the OP meant to say "phony calls", I believe he/she meant "phone calls". I just think this is a case of a slip of the finger. As far as rental cars and insurance, I always buy the insurance, then they have nothing to say if something happens. But, then again, I'm an infrequent renter.
Posted by Ukiebee on 2006-04-09:
Sorry about the typo of phone, which is what I meant, certainly not "phony", when I sent the complaint about Budget rental car. I was just trying to alert consumers about the tactics of this company, and as I read the other posts on this site, others have been fleeced by BRC as well, they certainly have a many ways of exhorting money from unsuspecting drivers.
My daughter's insurance company does not cover loss of use and diminished value etc. that they are charging her, and there is a post on another site that the driver DID get LDW and still was charged with fees over and beyond the repair, so you are not safe even if you purchase the expensive LDW. In my opinion, this company should be avoided, there are other car rental companies that are so much better towards consumers. Can it be that BRC is trying to drive away customers? Certainly seems so, and in our family, has accomplished that.
Posted by leopard on 2007-07-14:
Just wanted to give you a heads up. No insurance company covers loss of use, and all rental car companies will charge for that. But pretty much all rental car companies' LDW will cover loss of use. I am now a frequent renter at my new job, and always accept LDW (I also used to work for a rental car company) Yes, I am covered for the car by my own insurance, but what your agent doesn't tell you is that when you decline the LDW and then get into an accident, of course you use your insurance, making your premiums shoot up, and then you have an accident on your record. Your insurance profits, and that is why all agents tell you to decline rental coverage. So my advice, take the LDW. yes, sometimes it may cost more than the actual rental, but in the long run, it can save you thousands if something happens.
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StarStarStarStarEmpty Star
Pushed for an upgrade when no compact available
Posted by 07nova on 11/09/2012
FOSTEER CITY, CALIFORNIA -- I reserved and prepaid for a compact car rental thru an off airport Budget/Avis car rental local in Foster City, Ca. When I got there did not seem to have a compact car. The representative offered me a Toyota Yaris, telling me it was in the compact category. The only other car he had on the lot to offer me was an upgrade to a Toyota Prius but for a fee. I agreed to this because I needed to leave. After looking online I found out the Yaris was considered a Economy car (a lesser Rate). Upon return complained, said I was lied to about the Yaris, did not want to pay the extra charge since no compact was offered to me(was told then he could have gotted me one)but never said that at arrival. Paid the fee so I could get to the airport. Today I called customer service, the lady was wonderful and said the extra charge will be removed.
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Posted by trmn8r on 2012-11-09:
That is great customer service that you received over the phone.
Posted by ticia232 on 2012-11-10:
I agree trmn8r. What should have happened was that you (the OP) should have been given the upgrade for free and the person who didn't return the car be penalized. It was not your fault that the other person didn't return the car on time, so no they shouldn't have charged you for anything. People are getting fired over this and I feel it is justified.
Posted by infpcam on 2013-03-12:
This is a common sales tactic that is used in the rental car industry to gain an upsell. Unfortunately, enough people fall for this without ever realizing they are getting ripped off.
Posted by Vinsent Vega on 2013-05-14:
Watch your account when they say they will return money. Budget will tell you that and never give you a dime back..
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