My experience with Budget Rent a Car was that I had reserved a car online for a stay in Ireland. When I got to the end of the reservation form and submitted it the web page seemed to have a glitch and took me back to the beginning. I filled out the beginning again then wondered if I would be charged twice so I closed the window and later checked my email. It confirmed that I was all set. I have to say right here that I had only rented a car once before from Enterprise, and it was a great experience.
When I got to the Shannon airport, I was walking toward the rental counter and noticed that there was a large crowd of customers at the Hertz desk which was right beside the Budget desk. No one was standing in front of the Budget desk. That should have been my first clue. Like a naive person, I never thought to see if there were any consumer complaints about Budget. After all, it's a nationally known company. If they were that bad would they still be in business after all these years? I know. Faulty reasoning, right?
When I approached the nice young lady at the desk, I was told that they didn't have anything reserved for me and that they didn't have anything available except an upgrade. I explained the glitch at the end of the rental form and she (flustered) said "sometimes you have to enter things twice." (???) So I said I had gotten a confirmation email and I showed it to her.
The Manager came over and said they had only a couple of SUVs and that it would cost more. I hesitatingly said "Let me just check with these guys" and started to step over into their queue. He quickly said, "Let me see what we can do." He went into a rear office for a second and called the young lady back as well. After a few seconds, he came out and started poking around on the screen. He MAGICALLY (well, it IS Ireland, you know) came up with a Toyota Corolla which, coincidentally was the exact vehicle I had reserved in the first place. Hhmmmm.
We (my two young daughters and myself - I'm a woman) drove to the Dingle peninsula. After a couple of days, I tried to withdraw some money from an ATM and it said my balance was too low. That couldn't be. I had to have a friend wire me some money to finish out the trip. I got to checking and they had added additional charges, including $800.00 for insurance which they said had to be paid up front -- a year's worth of insurance!
When I complained after bringing the car back, they said "Well, you signed the paperwork". Enough said. My experience with Ireland otherwise was delightful and I had no other shady experiences. It's a BUDGET problem, not an Irish problem. Buyer beware! Stay away from this company. I hope the young lady at the desk (it seems like she had just started working there) jumps ship and loses those losers.
While recently moving, our truck broke down when the steering wheel began shaking so violently that we had to slow down to 10 mph on the freeway just to pull over. Upon calling the company we rented it from, we were told, "What do you want us to do? We aren't mechanics," and given another number to call. A mechanic was sent out within the hour but he ended up on the phone with Budget for over an hour trying to get authorization to repair the wheel bearings. He told us that we were lucky we hadn't gotten it up to a good speed otherwise the truck could have flipped or gone out of control, also that the rental company had to have known the truck had a problem.
I recently had hip surgery and had hired several friends for $12/hour to make it worth their while (nobody likes helping you move for free). We waited... And waited... And waited. At about hour 5 I called and told them the only thing being driven at that point was me into bankruptcy. I was told they couldn't do anything about a refund or compensation until after the truck was turned in. The mechanic finally got the truck running (after replacing the wheel bearings with the wrong parts given him by an auto shop, causing him to do it all over again) but at this point 7 hours had gone by with my whole life sitting on the roadside.
I called to speak with them and was close to having them tow me to my destination when the mechanic said he was done and I headed out. Since they had already broken the contract by not supplying me with a safe reliable vehicle to make it from point A to point B in a reasonable period of time, I opted to not fill the tank with gas before dropping it off at midnight. Now I have been given the runaround ever since; every time I call I am told I will receive a call back. I never get one. Furthermore, I am told that they cannot give me a 100% credit on my rental because it is against company policy.
This company should be ashamed of itself for the poor service they provide. I am surprised that they have any business at all with these dirty business dealings. In a time when this country needs all the business they can get for fear of failure, you would think they might have more integrity and appreciation for the customers they have. I am now out about 450 bucks, which I will keep my word and pay my helpers. Grow a backbone, Budget. I will never rent from you again, nor will any of my friends or family (as well as the countless people who drove by our broken down truck that day).
If I heard tomorrow that Budget was filing for bankruptcy, I would rejoice that bad business practices and poor customer service had finally taken its toll on them. Shame on you, Budget, you spineless weasels.
PARSIPPANY, NEW JERSEY -- We just returned from a road trip to St. Louis. We returned our rental car early to the MCI location (Kansas City airport) of Budget and forgot our contract at home. They couldn't find a copy of the contract that showed that we had pointed out scratches on the hood of the car. I stayed while Rob went back to get the contract. When I handed them to them, they accused us of lying. They said they had no proof that Rob didn't write the S and circle on the hood on the contract. That's not the way their guys do it and they would sign it and take the yellow copy.
This is how it happened on Thursday night. We were late picking the car up. The counter agent was helpful but one thing did make me suspicious. He said the car was pre-checked and there was no damage. We checked the car anyway, in the parking lot around midnight. We found scratches on the hood. We saw the counter agent in the parking lot and told him. He said to tell the guy at the exit booth. I got in our car and Rob drove the rental ahead of me. I saw him hand the guy at the booth the papers. The guy wrote on them and handed them back. We drove away.
We didn't look at it after that, just stuck it in a bag and went on. Maybe we should have but that guy in the booth should know his job better than we would. When we returned the car, the lady at the counter went out to check it and said there were scratches on the hood. I said, I know, we pointed that out when we checked the car out. She went and look for a copy of the contract and couldn't find it. I sent Rob back home to get our copy. While waiting I said they either did a sloppy job on the pre-checks or they are intentionally trying to snare naive customers.
Because, if we could see those scratches at midnight, walking around the car, they should have been able to see them in the daylight. The lady tonight clearly saw them. So how were they missed in the pre-check? How was there "no damage?" So then when I have the papers, the manager comes out and says that maybe Rob wrote in the damage. I said we wouldn't know how they mark it. He said the circled S was common sense, but then he said it's not how they do it. He said the guy standing next to him was in the booth that night and he would do the paperwork right.
Of course, the guy next to him wasn't going to admit to doing a sloppy job, so he went along with it. I was--still am--livid! I wanted to speak to someone higher than the manager. He gave me his card, which I pointed out wasn't higher than him. He said if I called that number, I'd get it. But when I intended to call, he said it would just ring there. I said I'd find the number. I tried on the internet on my phone but I got a mobile site with limited information. So I called the reservations number on the coupon I had. They gave me the customer service number but Customer Service isn't opened until Monday at 7:30am. It was Sunday, about 10:30.
Finally, after I called back again and at least got a sympathetic reservations agent, they said I could leave but the counter agent said the car wouldn't be "returned" and we'd be charged for extra days. I said no. I also said I absolutely would NOT sign any accident report for an accident that didn't happen. The manager said he's close out my contract now but he couldn't give me a receipt without an accident report. I said I wanted it in writing because I didn't trust him.
I told them I'd be calling Customer Service tomorrow and I'd never rent Budget again and I'd tell everyone I could not to rent Budget. They have some serious customer service issues and, in my opinion, are actively scamming customers and maybe getting away with it with customers who give in to their lies.
My son and I happily made advanced reservations online for a Fourth of July trip which was to be started on July 3rd. We made reconfirmations 3 days prior (I am always organized and timely). We were to be picked up by 8 am on July 3rd. At 8 am we called and got a gruff voice that stated "I don't know anything about that. I can't leave here I have 21 reservations and I am alone. When the manager arrives I will call you." This went on till 9:30 am when we decided to drive over there. He insisted for me to drive there and leave the car there even though there were numerous signs saying you will be towed if left there. I was reassured otherwise.
I had my paperwork all ready but was told he did not know where the car was coming from. We waited some more and was told they would be there and was on its way from Daytona Beach (2 hours away) and that the paperwork was overlooked. I was told the car would be there by 12 noon!!! When I insisted on an arrival time. Car was 4 hours late with no pick up at home. You haven't heard the rest yet!!!
Listen up. He swiped my card and told me Equifax was saying do not rent to renter and that it didn't mean I had no money. This time the car arrived but according to them I did not qualify to rent it. I told them it may be a protection for identity theft. I called the bank immediately and the bank representative told me that it wasn't even showing any attempt to remove funds. He hadn't swiped the card it was a phony attempt!!!
I told the Budget representative to redo transaction and it went through. Were it not for my persistence they cared nothing!!! The manager said he would give a 10% discount for the inconvenience (I was already missing an important function being 4 hours late).
On Monday I returned the car in one piece gas level where it was and the representative is asking me where the level was when I took it. Next the transaction rung up over $100 extra. The budget representative (same one barking at me he couldn't pick me up) states it was a late fee return plus an additional day. He stated he was new and that I should return 09:30 next day for manager. I did and was told he was in a meeting. Finally I drove in at 11:00 AM and he pretended never to know me nor the previous circumstance. I told him about the extra day and the 10% discount he had calculated prior to taking the car for the inconvenience.
Nothing done for 4 hours late for me but 2 hour late return has late fee of $10 plus full late day charge of $80. Go figure that disparity!!! I was refunded the $80 after I told him I was going to write this review and then he stated I couldn't have the 10% and $80 off one or the other. Then he asked what kind of work I do? I guess if they don't think you are a lawyer you are in deep doo-doo.
I am glad after all I never allowed him to taint the roads and pick me up in my community. I have learned my lesson and will stick to Enterprise. They are very professional and timely. Only they did not show a convertible and we wanted a convertible. Never ever use Budget no matter what!!! P.S. By the way my son of 12 years did the math and showed the representative the incorrect charges!!!
MUNICH -- Do not trust Budget! Forget "Rent More Save More" from Budget! In the last year (December 2008), on the Christmas Vacation we rented small car Opel Corsa (for one week) from Budget company to get our designation in Italy, Canazei (SKI place) from Munich Airport. We came there from Israel. It was our first time for me and my daughter trip in Italy.
On the next day of our Driving, before about 50 km from our designation Hotel the car was broken. It was so strange faultiness. It had begun problem in conditioner and was seem system failure on car computer. In the next stage was very cold in car and started flash "Service requirement" indicator. Definitely was possible continue to Hotel, but it was very cold in car and we was afraid do not give any damage to car.
We stopped car and called Budget Break Down Service. After two hours our waiting came truck with Service mechanical. He start up engine of car and was surprised, why we called him. He confirmed that everything is OK.
He does not speak English (German or Italian) and it took me so many time explain him problem. And I'm not sure what he had understood. Service Mechanical did not repair car and did not give us another car, but asked Drop all our staff from car with my daughter out to take this car to Service Center.
Obvious it was absolutely impossible. After so many time on cold my little daughter got sickness and I cannot allow Drop her out from car on cold (it was winter) in unknown place, in the middle of nowhere. I contacted to Break Down Service with all explanations and asked take us together with car to Service Center, but Service Mechanical did not agree and left us. After more than 6 hours there on cold did not any choice to leave failure vehicle and get taxi to Hotel designation.
Two days with sickness daughter we were waited in Hotel replacement vehicle, but it not happened. No one come to us to give keys of failure car. After this time, being in despair, we took taxi and came to leave place to return vehicle. I was so naive had hoped have repaired or replacement car. Unbelievable, it not happened. There all time, everyday, I was contacted with Break Down Service and wasted to unsuccessfully conversations a lot of many.
In hopeless situation I had locked another way to return us to Munich Airport. There was nightmares for us. Doubtless all our vacation was broken. I got apologizes from Customer Service (Fred **), but after my requiring return me all my wasted money, after half year the Budget Company have begun charge money from my Visa card. By the way, the car was rented with super CDW. In another word, it says you will be never surely what event, case or matter you cover in paying insurance of car.
Apparently Budget Company in order to cover falls in service decided throw to customer bearing of charges. This is how they make money! There no was any accident. The faultiness of car was completely out of my control (of car rental). Needless to say, I have not rented from Budget since last December and of course I have shared this story with all my friends, customers and my company who had made a note of the event and have been encouraging travelers to have used other Car Rental Companies until we can get this resolved.
Now, I have used Hertz Car Rental Company every month and do not complain. Definitely, this event turned out to cost Budget, as my friends, customers, my company will not be renting from Budget (doesn't matter which department).
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK -- The brakes on a Budget vehicle failed on route 95 approximately 11:00 pm in the rain. I managed to maneuver and stopped the vehicle without injury and without running into a WAWA convenience store. I contacted the roadside assistance and because of the late hour they suggested I get a hotel while I waited for my replacement vehicle. Three hours later I had a new vehicle. I took pictures of the vehicle and conferred with a mechanic regarding the identity of the liquid leaking profusely from the vehicle. We bother confirmed it was probably brake fluid.
THIS IS WHERE BUDGET MANAGED TO BREACH MOST OF THEIR SO CALLED MISSION STATEMENT. The following experience was wrought with stress. I was not treated with integrity. There was no quality in the vehicle provided or the customer service. I was not treated with any compassion or respect. Nor did Budget display any team work to coordinate this effort. (Please see Budget? Avis Mission statement - hysterical)
The next morning I contact customer services and the rental location to discuss the incident and to inform them as a result of the vehicle failure that I would be late returning the vehicle. Customer service said to contact the Manager at the rental location. The Manager stated that she would allow me to retain the vehicle for an additional day without charge. She would update the record so when I returned the vehicle all would be aware of the contingencies.
The next day when I returned the vehicle to the location I was told by the Supervisor that the Manager did not update the record to reflect the earlier discussion. She also advised me that the Manager no longer worked at that location and in the Managers' absence she was not authorized to remove any charges from the invoice. But, she did manage to remove the charges associated with the extra day but failed to remove the late fees and suggested I contact the customer service department to discuss the matter further.
Over a two week period I have been attempting to negotiate this matter with customer services and various other Budget employees (not Management, the common customers do not have access to anyone other than customer service).
After great frustration I thought perhaps taking the whole mess to Court might be easier than trying to maneuver through the idiot mine field. Customer service referred me to legal but that number sent me to an automated system where you could leave a message that would reach any lawyer decided to listen or not. In my professional experience Lawyer on respond to Court filed complaints.
Someone in corporate sales manage to contact the new Manager at the rental location who authorized an additional $50 credit that I had to coordinate with customer service to execute. After discussing the incident with a Supervisor she took off the cost of the hotel and stated that she would remove the $10 late fee. When I contacted American Express she stated the hotel fee had been removed but the late fee had not.
When I called to confirm all credits had been applied I spoke to a feeble minded $5.00 an hour, old, poorly educated man who attempted to bully me into not requesting the credits that had been orally agreed upon prior to his brief and unnecessary inclusion. The entire useless conversation was ridiculous considering he had no authority to make any modification to the file.
In order to expedite resolution I had to coordinate with the location Manager (who was very cooperative) to negotiate with his customer service to execute the credit that had been agreed upon. Throughout this entire process not one Budget employee ever acknowledged that because of the questionable condition of this vehicle I could have been injured or killed.
I attempted to contact corporate but I was told by a secretary at the front desk of the corporate office she was not allowed to give out names of Management or Legal and was not allowed to put dissatisfied customers in direct contact with anyone other than customer service.
This has been the most dissatisfying encounter I have had with a corporation in quite some time. It will be one I will not forget. But I will certainly forget to consider AVIS and BUDGET when I require car rental services. I will also make sure my organization and our partners in the respective Procurement departments also forget AVIS and BUDGET when considering services. I would have probably received better customer service by banging my head against a brick wall. ** would be a understatement when describing the unreliable, belligerent, short sided, incompetent budget employees.
A company's stature is reflected by its employees. Employees are a reflection of the tone set by management and their mission statement. I am guessing the BUDGET/AVIS mission statement is just a bunch corporate speak that clearly is not executed by its employees or its management. The mission statement, management, the employees have all failed, like the brakes on their cars.
NORTHEAST, PENNSYLVANIA -- I'd like to explain some policies and offer some advice to those who have problems or just do not understand. First, Debit Cards. When using a debit card at a location that takes them, at the time of this writing, it will first run a credit check (which I believe minimum score has to be 550), if that passes we will put a $400 hold on the card (funds no longer available for use) or if the rental is greater than $400 total, the hold is $400 then a percentage of the rental cost. Also, if the card is an Access card we do not take it period.
If location does not take debit cards, please do not throw a fit and scream that the card is also a credit card. Just because it says Visa does not mean it's a credit card. If it says anywhere on the card it cannot be used and the computer will reject it. Reason for not taking debits is not stupid, there needs to be some way to take funds off the card if you don't return the car on time or return it all. Please stop giving the employee behind the car a hard time since it is not their fault at all.
Second, Reservations and Cars: We can only guarantee that you have a reservation, we cannot guarantee the make or model of any car. People just assume we have access to whatever cars we want and that we have an infinite amount. Please do not get angry and scream and tell the rental agent that you reserved a certain model, because you did not. The website clearly says that the make and model car you're looking at is just an example of types of vehicles available in that car class. When you tell the agent you were told you were getting a certain model, you sound foolish.
The people on the 1-800 reservations number will tell you anything since they don't have to actually deal with it. If you have an SUV, Van, Luxury, Premium, or Convertible reserved, you NEED to show up at the time you have on your reservation, not 4 hours later. If it gets too busy we may have no choice but to give your car out because you did not show up on time. Many times locations run very short on cars.
Also, when renting from a location that isn't open 24 hours (airport locations), it is crucial to put your flight information in your reservation. You cannot get mad when you get off your delayed late flight and find that the counter is closed, because how are they supposed to know you were on a flight. Also, when renting from smaller locations who have small selection of vehicles, don't get picky and start complaining about what car you got, you aren't buying it. And PLEASE do NOT book a reservation after finding out your flight is going to late after we've closed. We do have lives and would like to go home instead of working 14 hours.
Third, Making Reservations. It is generally and almost always cheaper than booking online or through the 800 number rather than calling location directly. At my airport location there is only one person on at a time working the counter, not only is it very aggravating when a flight lands and you're busy when the phone starts ringing, but likely you'll get a very high rate because of it.
Also, when you come up to the counter and ask if there are cars available and they say no, then you go and book one on the phone or online, it is extremely frowned upon. No, we are not lying to you, let me explain: We do not have the ability to sell ourselves out of cars, that is controlled by upper management in the locations main zone (Example: Philadelphia Zone controls whole northeast branches). And they are very, very stingy about doing it. So when you do that, you're almost positively likely to get the worst car.
One last bit of advice: Please do not immediately walk into the back room and start screaming hello if you don't see someone at the counter 2 seconds after arriving. We do have paperwork to do. We do need to go to the bathroom or eat. Please be patient.
NEW JERSEY -- My wife and I flew from Mewark to Pittsburgh on 10/12/07 to avoid a long drive to attend her 50yr High School Reunion. I rented a Budget car on the internet for two days, estimated total $76.22. RA Document **. It was a Maine car. My wife has occasional nerve problems in one leg, it gave way on her early on the morning of 10/14/07 and she fell against the nightstand in the motel room, breaking three ribs as it turned out.
Due to her pain, we decided to drive back to NJ rather than go through the airport routine. I called Budget and inquired about driving this car to NJ. "There will be no Destination Charge sir, your total will be $114.++". This was acceptable and seemingly routine so I did not get his employee number. There was no way to get a paper confirmation at the motel, an hour the wrong way from the airport.
Upon returning the car that night to Newark Airport, the charge was $343.28, which I disputed on the spot. "Don't argue with us, call customer service in the morning. Here's the number. We are a franchise, not corporate, we have nothing to do with their rates." I even immediately cancelled the credit card account so that they could not charge more than the $200 that Budget blocked out. That didn't make any difference. The charge was on the bill when the statement arrived a week later.
The morning after delivering the car I called Budget Customer Service. Ricky **, he was sarcastic and snotty. He said I could not expect to take a car from a corporate site to a franchise site and not pay a lot more. He apologized for any misunderstanding that I may have had, but the rate is the rate. He had a record of the contract change when I made it, would not tell me what it said. He gave me a case number, said he would send this to District Administration and get back to me with their final and un-appealable decision in one to two days. This was 10/15/07.
On 10/26/07, having heard nothing, I called and had a message left for him. He called back at 5 pm on the 29th. He was supercilious and overbearing, kept talking over me, would not confirm that he sent the matter to District Administration, but kept repeating that there was nothing wrong with the rate. However, he knew the exact amount of the alteration quote, which I had never told him, so I believe he was looking at it on his screen. He offered me $50 off on a future rental in final settlement which I of course declined.
If you have to deal with Budget, always get employee numbers and transaction numbers and ask about any charges not listed on the rental contract. I am also pursuing this fraudulent charge with Citibank. I appreciate reading the other similar accounts of being cheated by Budget. This is obviously their modus operandi.
VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON -- I have already written down the events in this format, so I just copied and pasted, sorry it's so long! 1/2/07 - Spoke to Sarah at Budget location re: $9.50 error charged on car rental from December 29, 2006. Sarah said it was too late to credit my card, so she would tape a note on the desk for a free day rental. (Sarah knows me by sight from my continuing patronage, and has never been rude to me.)
1/18/07 - Rented vehicle from Budget car rental (with Sarah), since I was getting an Explorer, which cost more per day than my normal rentals, I verified that it was OK to use the free day (along with an extra day, that I would pay for), to which Sarah said "absolutely." 1/20/07 - Returned to Budget, spoke to Sarah and extended the rental an additional day, to make it 3 days (paying for 2 days, and getting the one free day to repay their error), again Sarah was amiable, and said "you're all set."
1/21/07 - noticed I had a coupon for Budget for a free day ("Rent a budget car for a minimum of 3 weekend days and enjoy the third day free") I called Budget, spoke to a man, not sure of the name, told him that I already have a free rental day because of an overcharge on their part, and asked if I could use the coupon, since the rental started on a Thursday, and I would keep it through Monday if they would accept it, paying for 2 days, getting a third free, and the fourth being free for the error.
He said yes, and took the coupon code down, and said I was set. Let me add here that if they had said that I could not use this coupon, I would have returned the vehicle that day, paying for 2 days, and getting the one comp day. 1/22/07 - returned vehicle at around 4:30. I made sure to tell him to take off the 9.50 refueling charge, because I filled it with gas. Eddie helped me, and I asked if he needed the coupon, and he said yes. At this point he tried to tell me I was an hour late, and the total would be 200 something!
I calmly explained that Sarah had arranged a free day rental prior to my renting this vehicle because of an erroneous charge on my previous rental, and that with the coupon which, I explained, I got an OK from the employee yesterday to use, I should only owe for 2 days (which clearly falls within the coupons requirements).
To this, Eddie said (in a rude tone of voice, I might add) "I'm not giving you 2 free days." He also said that the employee I spoke to was a temp. I tried to explain that the person I spoke to yesterday took down the coupon code, and asked specifically for the "bcd" number from the coupon, so he must know something about the business, as there are two codes on the coupon, one starting with "bcd #" and one starting with "coupon #".
He (Eddie) continued to argue and first tried to say that the coupon did not apply, since I kept it longer than 3 days, then when he realized that the coupon would still be good, he reverted to "you're not getting 2 free days." In the end he gave me a receipt that charged me $190.11. (As far as I could tell, this amount, again, included the 9.50 refueling service charge, and $1.80 Fuel services charge!) I was so angry at this point, and told him I wanted to speak to Sarah, he said she wasn't there, so I told him that I would be contesting the bill, and left. I came back 10 minutes later to get the original paperwork from when I rented on the 18th.
1/22/07, later at home, I know I did nothing wrong here, and made every effort to be sure that the free rental from their error could be used on the Explorer, and then calling for confirmation that I would be able to use the coupon. I really am just very confused as to why Eddie (I assume he is the manager) would behave in such a rude fashion to a semi-regular customer! And to reverse the other persons statement with his reason being that the guy was a "temp" in my eyes he was representing Budget, and if he is allowed to answer the phone, then what he tells the customer should be honored!
If I had come in on Thursday, got a rental, and used the comp day, then return it, then come back on later that day and rent until Monday and use the coupon, this would not even be an issue, so again I am extremely confused at what the problem was!
After thinking this over, I called (Eddie) and stated my case again saying that I was giving him another chance to rectify the situation before I take action, mentioning the bit about renting Thursday, using the comp, returning Friday, and come back later in the day, renting through Monday, and he said "no, you still would not have gotten 2 days free!" So from what I can tell, he would not have let me use the coupon no matter what, but he still ASKED for the coupon when I first returned the car - again, very confusing.
1/23/07 - Called Budget customer service, told her (Nicole) the story, and told her she could speak to Sarah at that location to confirm the comp day. When Nicole came back on the line, she said that Sarah said she didn't authorize that! I called Sarah, and she was very cold (this I couldn't believe, as she is normally very nice, and accommodating, a true customer service star), and told me that she gave me a coupon (which she did NOT)!
So now it looks like I was trying to double use the coupon I had from before! I called Nicole back, and in the end, I DID get my credit for the day and the gas charge, but at the expense of being forced to first visit the Twilight Zone! I couldn't help but call Sarah back and tell her that their attempt to screw me had failed, and that they lost a good returning customer to boot.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA -- Budget Rent a Car dramatically overcharged me for a rental in November of 2005. While the company holds that this charge is valid, no consumer could possibly expect this outcome, given the circumstances. As part of a family trip over this recent Thanksgiving, I needed a rental car beginning Nov 24, returning Nov 28. The reservation was made through Southwest Airlines website in combination with my flight. The estimate for the entire rental was provided by Southwest to be under $150.
I picked up the car from Orange County/SNA on November 24th as scheduled, rental agreement #**. At the counter in Orange County, the estimate provided by Budget was $131.40 and was also written on the rental paperwork. The original route plan was to begin in Orange County, tour Disneyland with family, drive to my second home in Las Vegas for a meeting, then drive back to Orange County, return the car and fly home. As a result of the unanticipated Thanksgiving traffic we encountered on the Sunday the 27th drive to Las Vegas, it became clear that we would not be able to drive back to Orange County in time to catch the flight scheduled.
The next morning, Monday, I immediately contacted the Budget office I rented the car from to see if the rental could be changed. I was forced to leave a message, where I explained my situation and requested a call back with recommendations. I received no call back from Budget, so I made another call. I was again forced to leave a message where I again explained my situation.
After not hearing from Budget Orange County, I located the number for Budget Las Vegas. I spoke to a lady there and explained my situation, asking if I could return the car to the Las Vegas location. She simply said that was fine, and said so in a way that made it seem as though it was a silly question. I figured that the situation must come up often, and was relieved to know that I would be able to return the car locally. I thanked her and told her I'd be by to return the car on the agreed upon time. I then contacted Southwest Airlines, and was able to rebook my flight leaving from Las Vegas rather than Orange County.
When I returned the car later that day, a courteous gentleman checked the car in and gave me a slip showing the car had been returned and inspected, but not the receipt I usually receive. I went inside to the counter to get my receipt, and waited for 10 minutes, when I was told “you're all done, we'll send you the bill”. Although odd, I was focused on making my plane, and didn't inquire further. As a frequent business traveler, I rent cars often and have until this occasion, never had a problem, so I had gained a comfort and trust for rental car companies. I caught my plane home, on time, and figured that I had another successful trip.
No communication or receipt was ever sent to me by Budget after the return. I was shocked when I then received my American Express bill and found that Budget had charged me $1,101.45 (nearly 10 times the estimate, and an overcharge of $970.05). I immediately contacted Budget to report the error. I spoke to a nice woman named Jean in customer service and was told she could likely fix it, and gave me a file #**. She said it would take a few days and she'd get back to me.
Several days went by without a return call, and I contacted Budget once again. I was asked to give an account of what happened all over again to a man, who later told me that I had returned the car “without authorization”, so my rental contract was invalid and had been re-cast at Budget's highest rates. I explained that I had called both Orange County and Las Vegas offices and that the representative at the Las Vegas location not only told me it was fine to return the car, but did not mention there would be any additional fees involved. I was then told that the Las Vegas location is a “special location” in that it's a franchise or something, as though I should have known that.
I explained that no one at the Las Vegas location told me that on the phone nor did they tell me that I would face these high charges when I returned the car, because if they did, it would have cost me less to simply drive the car back to Orange County and catch a flight the next day. When I asked the Budget Customer Service Rep. what I could do further, I was told Budget would not budge, and to handle it through my credit card company, American Express. I've contacted American Express, and they agreed with me that Budget overcharged me and charged them back. Now Budget is threatening to send my bill to collections and hurt my credit.
Consumers need to know that even if they do all they can (as I did), unscrupulous vendors can still try to bilk them with hidden rules and charges. As a marketing professional for over 20 years, I know this is the right route to take to give broad visibility to a truly unfair practice.