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An Inside Look At The Cutthroat Culture of Rental Car Sales
Posted by on
Rating: 1/51
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 to 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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User Replies:
Nohandle on 03/12/2013:
Most Informative. Thank you!!
BobSF on 03/12/2013:
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.
infpcam on 03/12/2013:
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.
jktshff1 on 03/13/2013:
Well written thanks
Sheri on 04/25/2013:
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.
Lynelle N. on 04/25/2013:
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 renters 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.
sam on 06/08/2013:
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.
cath on 08/04/2013:
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 anyway a second time!
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Budget Ireland SCAM cost me $1800!!! - HOW TO GET MONEY BACK
Posted by on
DUBLIN IRELAND -- In May 2009, I had a troubling experience in Ireland (apparently notorious for scamming tourists). I have fought for six months and I have WON! Here's my story and here's how to defeat these common scams.

I rented a car from the Dublin airport, a gray VW Golf, and it was acting funny from the start. It stalled when the clutch was almost fully depressed and the gears would grind even when the clutch was fully depressed. At first I dismissed the stalling as learning a new cars behavior. But after only driving the vehicle for 9km (5.5 mi), the clutch burnt out leaving me stranded. Keep in mind I have years of experience on a stick shift as it was the first car I learned how to drive. I filled out an incident report and was told I would be contacted within days if there were any issues. I left Ireland for the USA 16 days later. Six weeks after THAT, I received a bill in the mail. They had already charged my credit card $1801.13!!! This included towing the vehicle from Dublin (country capital) to Galway (~200 km) along with labor, parts, and a "loss of car hire" fee of 88 euro. Even insurance companies get to assess damage before paying. Why wasn't I afforded this opportunity? I was never given a copy of my own statement, OR a copy of the investigation report concluding I was at fault. I was never even notified they were holding me liable or given information regarding where and when the vehicle was being repaired. There is no way I burned out a clutch in only 9 km and there is no way it should cost almost $2K to repair. Budget of the U. S says they have no jurisdiction. I've filed a complaint to the Better Business Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission, the European Consumer Center, the Car Rental Council of Ireland, and have sent certified letters to the car agency. It sucks because for the last month I have been raving about how wonderful Ireland was. So beautiful and everyone was so nice. I even had my coworker convinced she would retire there (she retires next month). I have since learned that Ireland is notorious for doing this to international renters. I started doing my own research and here's what I found:
1. Something like half of all complaints against car rental agencies in Europe are against Ireland.
2. There are SIX authorized VW dealerships in Dublin that quoted a third of the price to repair a clutch.
3. Low clutch/transmission fluid can simulate a burnt out clutch.
4. I contacted VW in Ireland and even they say there it is “highly unusual” for a clutch to burn out in 9km. I saved this email (you must get this info in writing).
5. Budget supposedly towed my vehicle all the way to Galway to "repair" when there were six authorized VW dealerships locally. They towed it to Flynn Brothers Garage. After calling around in Ireland, this is the same company as Flynn Brothers Rent A Car... which has the same phone number and is affiliated with Budget Rent a Car. So did they even really tow it to repair it? Or did they just have their sister company write up a fake invoice? The invoice didn't even have an odometer reading.
6. The repair on the invoice occurred SIX WEEKS after my trip. This implies that the car just sat around for six weeks before a repair yet they charged me only 88 euro for "loss of car hire."
7. I began blogging and right here on my3cents.com, a man named Zoltan found my story. Here's HIS story.... exactly one week prior to me, in April, he rented a gray VW Golf from the Dublin airport from Budget Rent a car. He drove his for 15 minutes before he realized something was wrong. He actually returned his vehicle. Seven weeks later, in June, he was charged $1801 from Flynn Brothers in Galway. This man has 30 years of experience driving stick shifts in over 50 countries with no issues but suddenly they say he broke their car?
Now that I've told you my story, let me update you on my WINNING RESULT:
My credit card denied my dispute to no surprise and same for Zoltan. So Zoltan found a lawyer ("solicitor") locally to Budget HQ in Ireland. They went through the 3 month process of sending letters and Budget claiming it was still our fault. They wouldn't budge, so we hit them with court papers. This time I will no longer accept the original $1800. I wrote an invoice for my time and money spent on the issue with receipts (logged international phone calls, certified mail, car checks, plus all of the HOURS spent) and charged my hourly rate as an engineer. Then we hit them with court papers demanding not only the $1800, but about $4700 total and that is to be ON TOP of our lawyer fees. Guess what. One day before the court date, my lawyer was sent a check for $4704.02!! I just got it in the mail and I am cashing it today! Zoltan got his check a few weeks ago. NEVER GIVE UP. If you are in the right, you will prevail if you persevere enough. Zoltan and I also contacted the Garda (police) in Ireland. Mostly they said it was a civil matter but Zoltan somehow got one to go pay Budget a visit and ask some questions. This just adds more pressure. Also I got Christopher Elliott, the travel guy from MSNBC (after multiple emails pleading for his interference) to contact Budget in Ireland as well. They never responded but more pressure is better. Now that I’ve won after 7 long months, I want to do my job to help others as well. So if this has happened to you, in ANY country, here’s how you win!
1. Don't pay your credit card. Dispute it. Keep in mind you WILL LOSE the dispute, but the process takes months and buys you time. In the mean time, go ahead and begin your research.
2. Blog like crazy. Ya never know who you will find out there that can help you out (like Zoltan). I also emailed Christopher Elliott, the travel guy from MSNBC. It took about 5 emails before I got his attention but once I did get his attention he contacted Budget in Ireland and that hopefully added pressure. Email news agencies, radio shows, anyone. Probably one out of 50 will respond, but you need all the publicity you can get to add pressure.
3. You must work with the local legal system. Even countries like Ireland have such different laws than the U.S. It will take time. Be patient. They will play chicken with you but stick it out; you will win. Just a letter from a lawyer will most likely not do it. It will take at least serving them papers for court. They will most likely wait until last minute before the court date to pay up. You just have to be patient and be persistent!! Let it go to court if it has to.
4. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission so it's logged. Once a company has so many complaints, they are required to investigate. Do your part in making sure this doesn't happen to others.

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User Replies:
Soaring Consumer on 06/29/2009:
Did you contact your credit card company to see if the charge could be disputed?

Obviously there was a pre-existing problem with the car before you got it and you should not have to pay for that.
Ashley82MS7 on 06/30/2009:
I did call my credit card company about 8 times to talk to 8 different people. The first 7 said I could not dispute that charge. I'm not sure why. Finally the last person I called a week later let me dispute it and issued a "temporary credit" so I'm not sure how temporary it is. I'm not sure what my next step should be or what my rights are considering they are in Ireland. It's been causing so much stress, I just wish it was overwith!
Soaring Consumer on 06/30/2009:
Sounds like you need a travel troubleshooter. Christopher Elliott would likely be able to help you.
Ashley82MS7 on 06/30/2009:
Actually, I already emailed him last night but received this response this morning: "Thank you for taking the time to write. I'm sorry to hear about this."
So... not looking good in the help arena. Any other ideas??
Soaring Consumer on 06/30/2009:
Hmm... lets see what the credit card company decides, then we can see what needs to be done from there.
DigitalCommando on 06/30/2009:
Ashley, try these two links which focus upon Irish consumer relations specifically.


Slimjim on 06/30/2009:
Like what? I hate to say it, but if the credit card company won't reverse it, it's the end of the line with options.
Actually I may take that back. Those links are worth trying
DigitalCommando on 06/30/2009:
On link #2, page 18, section 3 refers to alternative dispute resolutions and refers to an agency that might help to resolve your issue to a far lower number than $1,800. It's worth a try at least.
Ashley82MS7 on 06/30/2009:
Thank you all so much for your comments. I did actually come across those agencies last night after lots of Googling (though not that PDF, so thank you DigitalCommando!). It looks like the ECC is only meant to protect European citizens from other European businesses. I submitted my complaint again today anyway, but it does say "Please contact your local European Consumer Centre if you live outside of Ireland" and if you click the link, the U.S. is of course not listed (http://www.eccireland.ie/about_us/eur_network_list.html). I also did email the Car Rental Council of Ireland last night. I think they might be like the Better Business Bureau of Irish car rental companies. I think that may be my best option so far and I really hope they respond and try to help!
turlough on 07/09/2009:
Funny I had a not-so-great experience with the Dublin Airport Budget people. First, the gentleman rushed through the items for my approval and when questioned gave a vague answer. When I queried the collision damage waiver, he gave me some lame response and said take it or leave it. Fearing the worst, I took it and paid too much. My simplest question to him was to break down the insurance package which he didn't. Right after signing for the car and the insurance, I glanced to my left and saw that another customer from the same flight got a similar car but his insurance package was cheaper. Turns out included in my "quote" was coverage of loss of contents, etc which, had I realized, I never would have purchased because I never leave anything in my rental cars when I travel in Europe. Anybody else feel like you're getting the shaft from Budget?
Ashley82MS7 on 07/09/2009:
Yeah they seem to use the whole insurance thing to their advantage. I read the 2008 ECC report Digital Commando posted and it says "ECC Ireland recorded that 60% of complaints requiring intervention are against Irish based traders and only 40% against foreign ones." That's ridiculous. It also said "Charges for damages on return form the most problematic category and represent 45% of all car rental complaints received by ECC Ireland. Here, credit cards are charged for damages that the consumer did not cause. In many cases, consumers are not even notified that their credit card is debited and they are not given any chance to clarify the position." (my case exactly). My latest update is just that I've been saving all of my correspondence with them (four unanswered emails, certified letter mailed TO them in Ireland, record of phone calls, etc) and sent it onto my credit card in support of disputing the charge. Budget of Ireland is completely nonresponsive though. I am terrified of having to pay this charge.
Ashley82MS7 on 12/11/2009:
For those who said after a credit card denies the dispute you are out of options ... you are WRONG. I hope NO ONE thinks they are out of options. I have been through a lot and here is the fact.
1. There is NO ONE in the United States that can help you. Not your credit card, not a lawyer, not BBB, no one. So don't waste your time.
2. It pays to blog. Blogging has allowed me to find Zoltan, another victim of the SAME SCAM one week prior from the same exact place.
3. You must fight it through the local court system. you WILL WIN.

Here's what happened. Zoltan found a lawyer ("solicitor") locally to Budget HQ in Ireland. They went through the 3 month process of sending letters and Budget claiming it was still our fault. They wouldn't Budget, so we hit them with court papers. This time I will no longer accept the original $1800. I wrote an invoice for my time and money spent on the issue with receipts (logged international phone calls, certified mail, car checks, plus all of the HOURS spent) and charged my hourly rate as an engineer. Then we hit them with court papers demanding not only the $1800 but about $4700 total and that is to be ON TOP of our lawyer fees. Guess what. One day before the court date, my lawyer was sent a check for $4704.02!! I just got in in the mail and I am cashing it today! Zoltan got his a few weeks ago. NEVER GIVE UP. If you are in the right, you will prevail if you persevere enough.
ESpitzer on 09/09/2010:
I've recently experienced a damaged clutch due to poor utilization claim from Avis of Portugal. We rented a Mitsubishi Outlander in Lisbon. On a nice Sunday drive with my mother in law, wife and kids the clutch went soft. One of the first things the tow truck operator asked was did I know how to operate the car? I've driven a manual every day for the last 11 years. I've put close to 200,000 Km on it without an issue. The charge is for 1,800 euro/$2,400. I intend on fighting it for as long and much as it costs me. Anyone else have a similar issue with this outfit? The rental company is in the business of renting cars, maintaining cars and taking depreciation risk. Where do they get off passing this risk to the customer. A clutch is a moving, spinning piece of machinery that takes wear and tear. Are they going to start asking for extra wear on break pads next, wiper blades, shock absorbers,... How do they allocate this depreciation to just one customer?
Alan1357 on 01/30/2013:
I'm having the exact same problem as Zoltan and Ashley after I tried to rent from Budget Ireland this summer (2012)! It appears to be the same scam right down to the drained clutch fluid and towing to Flynn Bros Garage in Galway. The credit card company didn't help, so I'm going to look up the solicitor that they used. So glad I came across this!
Chas on 08/10/2013:
I just got back from Ireland where I rented a card at Dublin airport. When I returned the card the budget agent checked the car over like I have never seen before. He was paying particular attention to the front window screen. I even saw him lift the wiper blades. Then he can in an told me there was a chip on the window. When I went out to confirm sure enough that was a small pinhole size chip. I only drove the car 300 miles and never heard anything hit the screen. I felt it was there all along and who checks the screen for a pinhole chip that was nearly impossible to see, Well the next day the charge $1860 to my credit card. I am furious about this and will report this to any consumer organizations I can think of. Here is the states a pinhole can be repaired for $100-150. They told me all cars include a level of insurance automatically and I decline the additional insurance they offer me. Right now I am trying to get a statement of repairs from them and a incident report. My credit card will cover but I really feel like Budget Car Rental (Also in business with Dollar in Ireland) are ripping people off. I will never use Budget or Dollar again. Regarding comments above where US say they are not associated..... that is a laugh. They share the same name and the US branch should straighten the Irish brach out for thei rip off attitude towards USA Tourist.
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Posted by on
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI -- Warning to all...this is what happens when you use your debit card:

May 31, 2011 I rented a vehicle using my Utility Bill (address on bill 1704 **************.) and my most recent paycheck stub (address on stub 3831 N. *********** my current ID (address on ID 1704 **************) and my debit card. I agreed to the rental fees for 1 week totaling $365.00 and a deposit of $150.00. It was explained to me by the rental agent (you should be able to pull her name from my original rental agreement) that upon my return of the vehicle the $150.00 will be refunded to me but could take up to 2 weeks depending on when my bank releases the funds. I was told that if I were to need to extend the rental to call back in and authorize my card to be charged again. I was also instructed that if my method of payment were to change I would need to return back to the location to extend my rental. On May 7th at 10:00 I called in to extend my rental on the same original card given on May31st. I was told by this agent (again you should be able to pull his name from this transaction) that my total charges to extend my rental would be $216.00 and the $150.00 will be released back into my account but would be used to make up for the rest of the rental charges. I asked the agent to please confirm only $216.00 would be debited from my account so that I could make sure enough money was in my account to debit. I was reassured that the total amount of $216.00 would be debited, nothing more. I agreed to this. I checked my account at 2pm on 6/7 and the $216.00 was debited on 6/7. On 6/8 I viewed my account and an additional $150.00 was taken out as well. At 9:30am on 6/8 I called the Wyandotte location to question the additional $150.00 charge. It was explained to me that the agent I spoke to on 6/7 did not debit enough money and the $150.00 deducted from my account was to make up for the mistake. The agent (Sherry) apologized for the agent not taking out the correct amount and began to tell me there was nothing she can do. When I explained to her that my checking account had been drastically compromised, she interrupted me to advise me "Well you can just return the car and I will refund you for the days you have not used the car." I advised the agent that I asked the previous agent who extended my rental to confirm the single charge as advised $216.00 would be debited and was told "yes". I advised her that I had no knowledge to question the $216.00 being incorrect because the person I talked to should have been giving me accurate information especially when dealing with a debit card and not a credit card. Since she did not display any concern for my current situation I asked to speak to the onsite manager. She advised me that she was the location manager and there was nothing she could do. She again advised me "You can return the car and I will refund you for the days you have not used". I advised her that I was using the vehicle for job related travel and was unable to return the vehicle that day and should not be penalized by having to look for another vehicle because I was advised the incorrect information. Since the charges were valid in the end; I decided to let the matter go even though the matter was left unresolved. On 6/14 I called in to advise that I would be returning the car late, I spoke with Mike (a manager of another location, but at the 1217 location that day) and he advised me since I was returning the car late to be sure to have it back by 10:15 6/15 and to expect a $77 refund on my debit card instead of the entire $150.00. I later received a call from the agent who originally rented me the car and she asked if I would be returning the car that day. I advised her that I spoke with Mike and he gave me instructions on returning the rental. She advised me that he was a manager and see saw the arrangements made. I advised her that I will be calling in on 6/15 to renew the rental. She advised me this was fine, however if I am changing my card in which the rental was being charged on I would need to come into the 1217 Wyandotte to do so. Otherwise, I could call in and extend the rental. 6/15 8am I call in to the 1217 Wyandotte location to renew the rental. Sherry was the person who answered the call, she asked me who I was and put me on hold for about 5 minutes. She came back to the phone and advised her systems were down and she would need to call me back. I gave her my work phone number because my cell phone was not on me that day. She did call me back about 30minutes later advising me that I could not renew the rental because there was a debit card policy that stated no rental could be out over 14days. I would need to come in, close out the contract and take out another rental. I advised Sherry that finding out this information this late in the morning at work was once again putting me into another unnecessary position. I was never told this information at the time of the rental nor while talking to the agent on the phone the previous day. Sherry advised me that the policy was on the information I signed that is kept in the Budget rental office. I explained to Sherry that $300.00 total was being held on my debit card in addition to the $365 for another week. She advised this was her policy. While speaking with her over the phone I looked at my bank account and saw a new charge for $73.00. I asked Sherry to have a District Manager call me immediately as this situation was getting out of hand. Sherry asked what number was best to contact me on and advised my work number, the same number she had been calling me on that morning. Waiting all day at work for a phone call back, I never received one. At 5pm, I regained access to my phone and saw that I had a message from 785-331-2722, I listened to the message and it was from Mike. He called my cell phone at 11:32am. Mike advised that if the car was not returned Budget would report the car stolen. In a panic, I call Sherry to first ask her why I was not contacted at work. She simply said “I don’t know”. I advised her that I was waiting on a call from her manager. She advised me, her manager did not want to call me back and he told Mike to call me and “handle” it. Sherry said she would call her cooperate office to try to find out what can be done at this point. Sherry called me at 5:45pm to advise me the car was reported stolen and there was nothing she could do. She advised me “Just drop the car off at the airport location since you live up north anyway, we close at 6. There is nothing I can do”. I advised her that I had my 2 young children with me and this is leaving me without any transportation at all. She advised me “If you continue to drive the car, you are creating grand theft auto, the best thing for you to do is drop it off at the airport location”. I asked her if they could renew the rental, she looked up some rates and advised me it would be $86/day in addition to a $150 deposit. I ended the call with Sherry and proceeded to call the Kansas City Police department in fear that if I got pulled over on the way to the airport with my children in the car, I would be in another very bad situation. I asked them to let me know if the vehicle identification number or license on the car had been reported stolen, they advised me no. The car had not been reported stolen. Feeling very angry and confused I looked at the back of my rental agreement that shows additional fees if the car is dropped at a different location. Sherry did not inform me of this, but today I am very glad that I did not. 6/16 7:30am I call the 1217 Wyandotte location to speak with Sherry to renew the rental. Prepared to pay the additional fees, I go into the location in person. Sherry asks me for my proof of income and utility bill. I advised her that they should already have that information on file from my previous rental; Sherry says “I told you over the phone yesterday I would need this”. I went back to the vehicle to retrieve the original documents used to rent the vehicle. I handed them to her; Sherry says she needs an updated paycheck stub. I called my boss and had him fax me a paycheck stub. I also gave her my most recent utility bill. Sherry takes my debit card and drivers license along with my proof of income and utility bill and give me the total for the rental. I advised her that I was using my cell phone to move that exact amount over into my make account. Sherry runs my debit card. 30 seconds later Sherry hands me all of my information and says she cannot rent me the vehicle because the address on my paycheck stub does not match the address on my utility bill. I advise her I just recently moved and it was an update still pending with my HR office. I asked her what other information I could give her she says “Nothing”. I advised her that after 2 weeks of renting this vehicle they are just not seeing an error? She says “They never should have rented you the car in the first place. I can’t let another mistake walk out the door.” I asked her to allow me to gather my son’s car seat and stroller from the back of the car. Sherry advised me “I don’t have to let you get anything out of the car”. I asked her, what could she possibly want with a baby car seat? She then advised me that the car doors were unlocked. I went to gather my things from the car. At 8:28 AM I am standing in downtown Kansas City with a stroller and have no transportation to work. I called Enterprise was picked up and in a car in less than 20 minutes. No issues at all. As soon as I got to work, I checked my account again, 93.00 had been debited that morning. If Sherry was not going to extend the rental, my question is why didn’t she tell me that from the beginning and not waste my time. She led me to believe she was running my card for the new rental agreement that morning. Once she confirmed the charges were through, she then advised me she could not help me. When I saw the charges on my card I called Sherry to find out that the charges were for and she advised me because the car was dropped late and the gas tank was on “E”. Had I had known Sherry had no intensions on renewing the rental I would have put gas in the car ready to turn back in, but my intensions were to rent the car again and head straight to work. I was given the name Mr. Sweeney who works in the Shawnee Kansas location as the DM. He, to this day has not returned my call and to the day the deposit for $150.00 has not made it to my bank. It is my hope that writing this letter this information will make it into the right hands and this entire situation costing my not only money but complete embarrassment at my place of employment because of being misinformed on several occasions by the employees and managers at the 1217 Wyandotte location.
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dongriffiths25 on 04/05/2012:
This eems to be a common practice with budget.
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StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty Star
Gas Scam
Posted by on
Rating: 1/51
FT. MYERS, FLORIDA -- I rented a vehicle from Budget Rental Car in Ft. Myers, FL Oct. 31, 2014 - Nov. 7, 2014. I filled the vehicle FULL of gas on my return to the airport. When I turned in the vehicle, the Budget Rental Car Check-In Assistant checked my fuel gauge, saw that it was indeed full, entered that information into his hand-held device and proceeded to print out my receipt showing the FUEL READING: FULL.

Two days later, I noticed on my Discover Charge Statement that I had been billed an additional $101.37. When I called to ask what this charge was all about, I was told that my vehicle was returned empty and this charge was to refill the vehicle with gas. When I stated that I had my receipt FROM THEM showing that the vehicle was FULL of FUEL upon return, the customer service agent stated that their OWN RECEIPT was not sufficient enough to prove that I had returned the vehicle FULL. She went on to state that I would need my gas receipt and if the amount of the receipt was not for a full tank full of fuel (18 gals) that I would need to provide multiple receipts to prove I had purchased enough gas to fill the tank.

This whole ordeal is laughable. I have, of course, disputed the charge with Discover and they have credited back my account.

I have said all of this in order that no one else be scammed by Budget Rental Car. AVOID BUDGET AT ALL COST!!!
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steve on 11/28/2014:
I hope someone from Budget contacts you. I always show a receipt showing I bought gas within 5 miles of the airport and the tank is full. I've never heard of having to show all the gas receipts for your rental period. That just doesn't make sense. Like I said, I hope someone from Budget contacts you.
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Just Initial Here
Posted by on
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 its lights off, making a right on red, and laying rubber into the darkness.

A few days after its 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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AZJEM on 08/13/2005:
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 a lot of luck.
Sparticus on 08/13/2005:
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.
SuZQ on 12/01/2005:
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.
Chefbogey on 06/26/2006:
6-24-06. I am going through 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 back up 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
leopard on 07/14/2007:
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
jbrey on 02/08/2008:
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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StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty Star
Awfully Terrible
Posted by on
Rating: 1/51
GLENDALE, CALIFORNIA -- I must say [I] am not a person who writes or read reviews but after my horrible and very emotional experience with this location, I will fully concur after the fact to the previous reviews on other web site, PLEASE STAY AWAY!

I travel a lot and have used budget rentals many times, yet this is my first time at this Glendale location. My upfront service was good, yet staff was a little unprofessional with very casual attire ( it was mid week) and used slang to describe the car functions. Overlooking this concern (slang used because I African American), Yet out the door service was good . . .

Now when it came time for me to extend my rental another week, that when their level of service and customer care was outstandingly AWFUL. I called and spoke to an agent at the branch extending the car for 1 to 2 weeks, because I was going into surgery and also informed the agent of this fact. The agent said, "no problem and it would be taken care of" . . .I said thank you and ended phone conversation.

As I was recovering in the hospital, apparently this branch attempted several times to get another deposit on my credit without my verbal or written permission and the card was declined. (I inform my credit card company to place a hold on my card(s) while I was being hospitalized).

The day I was released from the hospital traveling from Northern CA and in no mans land, I find out that manager named, Guillermo has report the car stolen via voice mail message. I immediately contacted the police department which stated it was not in there system as a stolen car yet. I then contacted the manager, Guillermo to resolve and find a solution for this issue, then later spoken to his Regional Manager named, Jeff . . . .After explaining the situation of my hospitalization, The manager, Guillermo just want to be argumentative and made no effort for a solution. Jeff did apologize for hear about that I was hospitalized and could see it was just an error in communication, yet still refused to find a solution.
(Note: at this point the car is still not in the police system as a stolen car and we could contact the police station, stop the action and made arrangements with the supervision of the police department). Regional Manager Jeff just told me I was no longer able to drive the car.

To avoid being pull over and arrested for a misunderstanding, I had the car towed to the nearest 24 hour Budget rental location and checked in.

The next morning I called the police station, spoke to the Detective assign to the case, he verified that the car was at a budget rental location and in good condition, called me back and said the matter was closed.( total talk time 18 mins. to resolve this matter alone).

My goal in posting this review to share my horrific experience with this location in Glendale, (which is not a corporate office, but an independent leasing office). Independent offices have much less supervision from Budget Corporate, so they can and may be a loose cannon). Also to warning everyone of this branch abuse of authority, the bad customer service/care and how this branch functions professionally. If you do rent here, I pray your experience will be better. I wish I would had just read the prior post on other sites before I rented there . .because if I had, I WOULD NOT!
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Paul on 01/30/2014:
It's helpful to look at this from the rental car company's perspective. I can easily see why the car was reported as stolen, what with the credit card on file with the credit card company on hold. My guess would be that asking to keep the car 1-2 weeks was the authorization to charge the card again.
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StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty Star
Screwed in Vegas by Deceptive Sales People
Posted by on
Rating: 1/51
NEVADA -- I reserved a rental from Budget Car Rental and the written estimate I received was $260.00 Upon pick up the actual bill was $430.77! When I spoke with the salesperson I specifically said that I did not want their insurance and I also told them the name of my personal carrier and that I have Triple AAA towing. Despite this they still checked the box that I had "agreed" to their insurance and then they charged me an additional $100.00. Watch out for their fine print "insurance waiver" which is one of the several spots that they ask you to "initial" before receiving the car. Regardless of what you agree to verBally you need to make sure they don't change what is on paper after it is presented to you. When I asked initially why the bill was so much different I was told it was because of the "high taxes in Nevada". I was never told it was because of the additional insurance they tacked on that I specifically said I didn't want. When I returned the vehicle four days later I brought the issue up with their "customer service manager" and filed out a written complaint. I was told that the would review the "audio tape" to see if I had agreed to the insurance. Apparently they tape their customers without informing anyone that they are being taped. In my book that is illegal but regardless they never contacted me about the result as promised, billed my credit card, and I've been in a "customer service" tape recorded "leave us a message" loop ever since and it's been almost two weeks! The bottom line is that for the $100 that they basically ripped me off of they have lost my business, my companies future business, and everyone that I come in contact with whom might be in need of a future rental car. It's now my personl quest to make sure everyone knows what a scamming company they really are. It's amazing how any company can think that they continue to do business this way and be successful.
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trmn8r on 09/29/2012:
Checking a rental agreement over carefully before signing is of the utmost importance, as this incident clearly shows.
ript on 09/29/2012:
I've been screwed in Vegas by a salesman too.
infpcam on 03/12/2013:
This is not unique to Budget. Go to Avis, Hertz, or even Enterprise and you are bound to come across agents like this. Unfortunately, this is what the rental car industry has become. That's why it's important to read the rental agreement with a fine- tooth comb before signing.
wins on 07/26/2013:
We rented a car to travel to Chicago from Bloomington and they did the same thing with us.WE trusted the agent to put the correct information and check boxes.We always used to rent it from enterprise but this time to uur fate,first time tried Budget (airport office) for this horrible experience...The old guy took 1 hour to make the reservation.On returning charged extra 190$ - 100$ for extra miles (as he didnot check unlimited), 10 gallons of petrol (although car capacity was max. 8 gallons only) and 40$ half day fee ( as due to rush we stood in the line and he could only print the final receipt after 45 minutes)....Total rip off....whole staf speaks very rudely and make benefit out of innocent and trusting people...Not going evr againand will tell this everybody not to hire from this useless service.
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StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty StarEmpty Star
Unhappy Customers? Why Not Call the Police!
Posted by on
Rating: 1/51
CALGARY, ALABAMA -- NEVER rent from Budget, especially this location. I have never been treated with more rudeness and disdain and complete idiocy from a company than I have from Budget.

I reserved a car through the 800 number and informed them that our primary driver was under 25. After giving all her license details - a class 5 GDL - I was told the only restriction was paying the underage fee, which we were fine with.

We arranged for a 6pm pickup because of schedules, and went to the location only to be told that the reservation would not be honored because it was a class 5 GDL. This put us in a very tough place as most other car reservation places in the area were already closed and we needed to leave town that night.

We escalated to the manager, who also refused to honor the reservation and grew more and more angry as we tried to resolve the situation. She was extremely defensive and abrasive and refused to give us contact information to further escalate and continually threatened to "call the cops" if we wouldn't shut up and leave the store. She finally gave us a business card to escalate to - our own - and when we threw it back on the counter she declared that we were officially abusive and went to call the police.

Obviously we left, and thankfully managed to secure a rental with Enterprise, who were amazing. I'm completely shocked and appalled at this woman's complete inability to provide any form of customer service or problem solving. She should not work in any public-facing job, especially in a management role. I am disgusted and not only will never rent from Budget again, but I have also recommended that my Visa card no longer associate with Budget for discount/advertising services as I don’t want anyone to experience the same horrible situation that I did.
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trmn8r on 06/12/2012:
My guess is that the manager would not compromise, which would be a deal-breaker. Due to not being able to negotiate a solution the situation became untenable.

The Budget website indicates that policies vary by rental location, and that the specific location should be contacted to verify policies.

A class 5 GDL, or Graduated Drivers License, is for novice drivers, for the first few years of driving (age 16-18). I'm not shocked this license would not be acceptable. It's a real shame that the person at the 800# didn't know this could be an issue.
clutzycook on 06/12/2012:
Just curious, but if you all are leaving town, why would you put someone with a novice DL as the primary driver? Were they they only one with a DL?
ticia232 on 06/12/2012:
It does seem that call center representative is in the wrong. I googled and found this.


Only Enterprise will rent to under 25 in your state.
trmn8r on 06/12/2012:
Ticia, there is no Calgary, Alabama. I believe this happened in Alberta because they have "class 5 GDL" licenses there.

I wondered that as well, clutzy.
ticia232 on 06/12/2012:
Thank you. Didn't know that, just went off location.
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Budget Rent A Car Never Again
Posted by on
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 drunk 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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czar on 03/25/2010:
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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Unethical Customer Service
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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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User Replies:
cherpep on 05/27/2008:
BRAVO! Good post and excellent example of how to handle the situation when asked for SS# and pin number.
Anonymous on 05/27/2008:
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!!!
tnchuck100 on 05/27/2008:
Excellent post!
DebtorBasher on 05/27/2008:
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.
Mrs. V on 05/27/2008:
Wonderful Post!
Big Al2674 on 06/03/2008:
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.
Sunchaser1469 on 06/10/2008:
Wonderful post! Just reinforces that not every Customer service person is there to help you, some want to hurt you.
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