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Bad service and bogus charges
Posted by on
YELLOWKNIFE, NWT -- Watch out for this bad service, not necessarily on the part of national but one of their licensed agents. To begin with the first car we got was dirty and the "full tank" was not really full, but whatever. The next day we come out of our hotel to go to work and we are greeted by a flat tire. (7am) so I call and get an answering machine and leave a message, when I call back 5 hrs later the response was "oh we are just on our way", nice after having to walk to work in -10. There were also other mechanical issues with the car as well. Fine we get a replacement. The best part is that when we returned the car they have the nerve to charge me 40 bucks for a tire repair in a car we drove less than 10k. So all in all stay clear of National in Yellowknife, they cost a little less than the competition and clearly you get what you pay for, unprofessional shifty business practices.
     
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getoverit on 04/02/2011:
It might be worhwhile to complain to corporate. This doesn't sound like it's up to the standards of a major car rental company.

I would think they'd at least refund the forty bucks.
NationalCarRental on 04/05/2011:
I apologize for any frustration you experienced during your rental and I’d be happy to discuss this with you further. Please email me at care[at]nationalcar.com with the complete details including your full name and the rental agreement number.

When emailing please list reference # 110405-001823 in the subject line.

- Genelle
National Car Rental
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Misled on Gas Fees
Posted by on
I was an Emerald Club member until this last, final incident this past week. At the Phoenix airport, I was persuaded by the agent that I could return the vehicle and any missing gas would be charged at $3.04. I specifically asked "so you're saying that if I bring it back at 3/4 full I will only be charged 1/4 at $3.04." His answer was "Yes". Needless to say, when I returned the vehicle at over half full, I was charged over $60. I was given a nominal refund when I spoke with a manager, and I was in a hurry to catch my plane so I figured I would follow up with the Company directly. I spoke with the, and I use this term very loosely, "Manager" Stephanie. She said that National was not going to refund any additional money. The Company I work for has National listed as the "Preferred" car rental company. I will go out of my way to never rent from them, and persuade all friends, family, and colleagues to do likewise. This is a very shady Company, stay FAR, FAR, away from them.
     
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dan gordon on 02/10/2011:
you most likely used a prepaid gas option and no refund is ever given for 'unused' gas. I think your leaving out some valuable info.
trmn8r on 02/10/2011:
This sounds like a misunderstanding over the prepaid gas option. The last time I rented a car, the details of what I consider to be a scam (but most the rental companies do it) were printed on the contract. In fine print, but it was there.

If anything seems to good to be true, it usually is. As someone who remembers having to return rental cars with a full tank, my antennae were tingling the first time I heard about this "feature".
Anonymous on 02/10/2011:
Dan> Agreeing with you on this one. Something seems to be left out of this story. The OP went out of their way to stress the term "manager", yet never gave any reasons to support why they felt Stephanie wasn't acting like a manager, other than that she woudln't refund their money. Lots of missing info? Please come back and fill in the blanks to help us better understand your frustration with them.
TC Traveler on 02/11/2011:
I will gladly fill in any info you feel is missing. I booked this vehicle on Price Line, and ended up with National. As an Emerald Club Member, I typically go right down and get in the vehicle without going to the counter. However, since it was done through Priceline I was told I needed to go back up to the counter, which I did. While up there, the Agent mentioned that I could go with the prepaid option for $3.04. I have never before even asked about this option, so I asked several very clarifying questions which I put in my prior post. Specifically, would I be charged only $3.04 for any gas missing, he very clearly said "yes". When I returned the vehicle, it was then that I saw the $60 charge even though the tank was more than half full. As I was running late for a plane, I went into the enclosed area at the Phoenix airport and talked with a Manager who credited $25 which wasn't closed to what was owed (balance remaining was still $35). When I told the Manager was happened, he shook his head and said "I'll talk to him" indicating to me that this wasn't the first time this agent had done this. When I called the Customer Service line, I was told I would receive no further credit. I then asked to speak to her "Manager" which means I spoke to a peer of her's who takes escalated calls (I have worked in Call Centers for over 10 years, I know how this works) which is why I called her "Manager" in my prior post. I hope this clears up any missing information. My point is that I was deliberately told something that wasn't true, and even when I asked clarifying questions the information was still not corrected. Then, when I tried to have this rectified, the Customer Service experience was horrible.
trmn8r on 02/11/2011:
In the complaint you wrote "I specifically asked 'so you're saying that if I bring it back at 3/4 full I will only be charged 1/4 at $3.04.'"

That is different than asking "would I be charged only $3.04 for any gas missing"

That is the crux of the complaint in my opinion. By the way, did the fine print on the contract contain a complete description of the policy?
Anonymous on 02/11/2011:
Car rental agencies seem to be very shady anymore. I NEVER opt in any of these additional "benefits" that end up to cause more of a hassle and headache than a convenience. Any time I rent a car, I just be sure to top it off somewhere close to the rental office.
Anonymous on 02/11/2011:
That's a great rule of thumb Prince-Caesar. I totally agree.
Anonymous on 02/11/2011:
oh and ALWAYS be sure to get an agent to inspect the car before and after the rental and provide you with a receipt showing no damage!
PepperElf on 02/11/2011:
you know the last time I was involved in a car/van rental was when my bf rented a truck to help me move... the gas price was... I forget actually, but it included a $30 surcharge.

I am wondering if the OP reviewed his or her paperwork. I sure as heck know our rental agreement specified this.

so of course we made a point of filling it up to past full before returning it. why pay extra if you don't have to?
TC Traveler on 02/11/2011:
I agree with the comments above, in retrospect I should not have taken the agent's word but read the fine print. One would hope you can trust the Agent is telling you the truth.
NationalCarRental on 02/23/2011:
I'd be happy to discuss this with you TC Travler. Please email me at care[at]nationalcar.com with:

- Your full name
- Rental agreement number
- Emerald Club number

When emailing please list reference #110223-002099 in the subject line.

- Elizabeth with National Car Rental
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Westchester County Airport National Car Rental Nightmare
Posted by on
NEW YORK -- I went through Hotwire to rent a car at Westchester County Airport. Hotwire gave me National Car Rental. I have never used National. On arriving at the airport I did the paperwork at the rental counter, one person operation; he was very nice, gave me the keys and I headed out to the car lot. My wife and I put our bags in the trunk and I notice scratches on the driver side bumper. The rental agreement does not have a walk around checklist sheet and there was not an attendant around (very small operation).

When we return the car the employee who did my rental agreement was in the rental car lot talking to some friends. He came over and got the keys from me and he notice the scratches on the bumper. He asked me if we had an accident. I said no, the scratches were there went we picked-up the car. This is when the NIGHTMARE begins; he said he had to do a car history search to see if the scratches were noted. He had another employee do the car history search. The employee made a remark to the other employee that the car history was out of date and he continues to search the records. I stated again that I did not have an accident and that the scratches were there when I picked-up the car. The employee doing the search said I should had come back into the airport and reported the scratches to them. I told him that it was their job to check the car or have someone in the rental lot to do a walk-around. He completed his car history search and could not find a report on the scratches and because I did not come into the airport and report it, then I was at fault. He completed an accident report and I said I was not going to sign the report because I did not have the accident. He told me if I did not sign the accident report then the company would hold me responsible and he was forwarding the report to the claims department. I sign the report under protest.

I call the customer service immediately and filed a statement as I waited for my flight. The lady taking the statement said more the once, that this was a common problem at these small operation and she would document my statement. We will see what happens.
     
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getoverit on 11/03/2010:
I hope you get this straightened out but it pretty much comes down to "he said,she said".

I would have been better if you had mentioned the scratches to the guy at the counter, even though they didn't give you a form. (I don't think they do, most times.)

For what it's worth, this seems like something that could have happened with almost any company.
FlShopper on 11/03/2010:
I think both the rental agency and the customer should be responsible for doing a walk-around and inspection, so both can protect themselves in the event something like this happened.
It may be very hard to prove your case without that checklist; let us know how it turns out.
trmn8r on 11/03/2010:
I have used National, and had no problem. But I don't remember ever having to inspect a car prior to rental. Condition was never an issue (until I ran one off the road, caused significant unseen undercarriage damage, and returned it).

To me, they can hold you responsible for this, but I sure hope they do not. After reading complaints such as this, the next time I rent a car you can bet I am looking closely at it.
NationalCarRental on 11/03/2010:
I'm sorry to hear about this existing damage issue. Per our rental agreement, it is up to the customer to inspect the car for damage and report it to an agent before leaving the lot. However, I understand this is a small rental location and that a employee may not have been available in the lot, however you should have alerted someone to this damage. By signing the agreement and leaving the lot, you are accepting responsibility for the vehicle and condition in which it's returned in.

However, I'd like to have our Damage Recovery Unit look into this for you. Please email me at care[at]nationalcar.com with your full name, rental agreement number and the damage claim number.

When emailing, please list reference #101103-002832 in the subject line.

- Elizabeth with National Car Rental
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Stolen Cam Corder
Posted by on
SEATAC, WASHINGTON -- This is a copy of the email I sent to National Car Rental

Upon return to SeaTac, I dropped off the car in your return area. After passing through the terminal inspection area I noticed that I had left my camcorder in the trunk of the vehicle. I returned immediately to find that the attendant could not locate the car. After twenty minutes of persistent coaxing, I was able to help him find the vehicle which was already in the queue to be rented out again. Interestingly enough, the car was not serviced in any fashion. It was dirty on the outside and still had garbage inside of the vehicle as well as in the trunk. But alas, no camcorder. I continued to ask for assistance and was turned over to the manager, Ryan Matthews. With Ryan, we tried to determine which attendant provided the service to the vehicle in order to ask if the camera had been found and placed in the lost and found box. Again interestingly enough, there was no record of anyone servicing the vehicle. The car had mysteriously moved itself from the return queue to the "TC" Ready for rental queue all by itself.

The camcorder is gone, I realize that and the tracks were covered very well but I want you to understand that on the camcorder were two days of video recordings of competitive soccer play that were going to be used for a group of 16 year girls as college tryout videos. These girls and their families had spent a lot of hard earned money to travel from Sacramento to Tacoma to participate in this unique opportunity. And now, thanks to the honesty and integrity of your workforce, its all gone. I wish there was some way to just recover the memory card that had the soccer games on it. Cameras can be replaced but the expense of sending an entire soccer team and now the disappointment that these young ladies and their families must endure cannot.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the camera was taken from the trunk of the car in your facility. I also wonder why there are no surveillance cameras in place in that specific location of the garage and how the car ended up in that location without being serviced. Can you honestly say that you believe in your heart that one of your employees is not responsible for the theft?
     
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spiderman2 on 05/17/2010:
Maybe it got tossed with the trash you left in the car and in the trunk? I also think you need to own your part of being careless with the camcorder and not place all the blame on National. You left the camcorder in the trunk after they trusted you with the video that they spent their hard earned money on.
NationalCarRental on 05/27/2010:
Bob, I sincerely apologize for any frustration over the camcorder. However, National is not responsible for any items left in the rental vehicles. We do our best to help recover lost items - you may call SEA at (206)433-5501 to see if the camcorder has been found since.

- Elizabeth with National Car Rental
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National Sucks!
Posted by on
I made a reservation with National to compare to others and let me say I am not impressed. To start with I was dropped off at a group of cars that had no sign to show what cars were what (luxury/premium/full size etc.) and most were all dinged up and dirty. After flagging down a lot attendant he was nice and dug out a better car for me in the rear behind all others, hooray for him, didn't get his name tho. The car was hastily washed and was still dirty, the interior smelled of cigarettes. I washed the car on the way home and had the car wash freshen the air. The girl at the exit booth seemed confused and asked if I even had a reservation. Then she said the card on my profile had expired, I gave her the card on my profile to show it had not but that was not the same card or number, I think she may have had another persons profile on the computer. During the trip someone on the road told me my right rear stop light was not working. being LED lights there was not much I could do so I drove 9 days with only one stop light. Are these vehicles inspected before each rental? apparently not. All this I can live with so far. I return the car today and the greeter asked if I had a return authorization, what? what is that? I said no, and he said a receipt will arrive in my email. I get home and the O'Hare manager sent an email stating "you have dropped a car at our location can you give me your name and dates of rental" what is this all about? I have never dealt with this kind of disorganization at Hertz. I sent all of my info to the O'Hare manager and am waiting to hear back. I just checked my National profile and noticed a rental in my profile that I never rented. Somehow, they mixed my reservation with someone elses and charged his credit card for my rental and his. Plus, the receipt sent to me has the wrong vehicle on it. I am still trying to have someone at the joke of a business to return my call and try to talk to a person with higher than a first grade reading level.
I am really scared to use National or Alamo again because of this confusion.
     
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Rip Off Fees Charged For Drop Off
Posted by on
SAN JOSé DEL CABO. B.C.S. MéXICO C.P. 23400 -- On the 10th January 2010 we rented a car from National Car Rental in Tijuana Mexico for return to Tijuana on the 27th January. The first problems started on our drive down to Todos Santos when the windshield broke. After several telephone calls, which were not returned, we had agreement to take the rental to the La Paz central depot for exchange. On arriving they wanted to change the screen only and make us wait several hours for the work to be done.

Eventually after much arguing and telephone calls to Tijuana, they gave us an exchange car on the understanding that we take it back to La Paz and pick up the original rental. We were staying 60 miles away from La paz, but had no option but to agree. 4 days later we returned to La Paz and changed the cars over at our expense. We left Todos on the 24th to return to Tijuana with the car, however over night a storm took out 4 bridges and parts of the road back, the roads were impassable for 5 days.

We were then in Loreto some 4 hours North of La Paz we telephoned National explaining that the rental could not be returned by the due date, because of the road conditions, and asked them what they would like us to do they said to take the car back to La Paz for which we could pay US$741.00 as a one way drop off after 2 days of arguing we agreed on US$350.00 after first agreeing US$250 which they reneged on. As we had deadlines to meet with regards our return we had no option but to pay these rip off charges.

We thought about just abandoning the car in Loreto and let them sort it out, but being responsible people returned the car.

We are a British family and regularly book rentals from the National Group in Europe.

But National Car Rentals Mexico have to be bottom of the league. Their customer services are non existent, and they do not return telephone calls. This rental for 16 days cost us US$1590.00. Beware of Nation Car Rentals Mexico.
     
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Ben There on 02/06/2010:
How are these things National's fault? You are responsible for returning the car to the original location or pay an extra fee to return it somewhere else - this cost is to cover the expense of getting the car back to its home base. If you had abandoned the car they could have come after you through your credit card.
Berolena on 02/08/2010:
It still amazes me how companies disregard customer service in this day and age, that's why I always book through a reputable broker, at least they have more 'influence' with the car rental company. As far as I can see you did everything you could and the surcharges certainly seem 'unreasonable'.

You could always try a letter to the managing director, that often gets results!
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Charged for refueling even when car returned with full tank
Posted by on
SHREVEPORT, LOUISIANA -- I have been renting from National Car Rental for 2 years with no problems or complaints until now. I've never really paid attention to my final receipts because I always thought the totals would be the same as the final receipt I receive when the car is returned. After going over charges on my credit card statements I noticed that on my last 2 rentals I was charged a additiontal 13.98, which the company explained to me were for adding 2 additional gallons of gas at 6.99 a gallon. Outraged, I first contacted the company by email, which in turn told me I needed to contact the Shreveport, Louisiana Airport location. Even after speaking to the Manager I got nowhere fast, according to the explanation I was given: just because the pump clicks and no additional gas is allowed into the tank does not mean the car is full even if the hand reads FULL. What??? So, apparently even if you try to force additional gas into the tank and it spills out all over the ground according to the Manager it does not indicate the tank is full again if inside the hand is clearly on or above F...This is the most absurd thing I have ever heard, the Manager refused to reimburse me or even accept my gas receipts from the station located less than 1 block away from the drop-off location....Basically, it was my word against the serviceman who inspects the car after its returned and measures total gallons with a gas gauge. Needless to say I am upset especially since I've been a customer for 2 years and also an Emerald Club member, to think, the hundreds of dollars I've invested into this company and they refuse to reimburse me for $27 !!!!!
     
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bargod on 04/25/2008:
This seems like a common scheme/scam with car rental companies.
Slimjim on 04/25/2008:
If you topped that car off a block away, that car is full of gas and with exactly the amount they will send it out to the next renter. That's a clearly bogus charge and I would contact the LA. Attorney General's office and file a complaint about that location. This is the kind of stuff AG's tend to investigate.
Anonymous on 04/25/2008:
The state's AG has far more pressing matters than to investigate a single complaint about 13 odd dollars. You'll hurt them far worse by not renting from them again and encouraging co-workers and people you meet to do the same. IF you can find a number of folks who've experienced the same scam, you may get the attention of law enforcement. File your complaint with the local PD, perhaps if they get enough gripes they may investigate. The last time I rented a car, I filled up a few miles away, made sure the gauge read "full" or better than took my brochure inside wrote down the mileage, checked FULL on the gas and got a credit card receipt. Another thing you MUST do when renting a car is give it a good look all over for dents and dings or scratches BEFORE you drive away - report any immediately to protect yourself. Have you tried disputing the charge on your card?
Slimjim on 04/25/2008:
Law enforcement as in the police?? This is a consumer protection issue under the heading of Unfair Business Practices. This is not something the police get involved in at all, but as I ACCURATELY posted, is the job of an AG or Division of Consumer Services. The dollar amount is completely irrelevant, however, the number of complaints maybe. Just as you totally contradicted yourself pirate, the point is to have a single complaint on file to possibly be part of a pattern of similar complaints received.
Anonymous on 04/25/2008:
"not something that police get involved in at all" LOL! But the AG would? OMG are you ever right?
Slimjim on 04/25/2008:
Yes pirate, I'm correct right now. This is a business transaction and a civil matter. The police do not handle these things (duh). It is the jurisdiction of government arms that handle consumer protection. Bizzzzness 101. You're trying to tell the poster to call the police because he believes he was overcharged by the rental company. LMAO!
Anonymous on 04/25/2008:
That's not half as funny as you telling him to call the AG over 13 dollar he says she says thing, LMFAO! What bizzness school did you drop out of?
DigitalCommando on 04/25/2008:
Slim is right here, the police respond to situations where an EXISTING LAW has been broken. There is no law which currently prevents rental companies from tacking on this silly charge. The police have no juridiction here. The states attorney general however, does investigate fraudulent/deceptive business practices which companies engage in. The amount of the rip-off is irrelevant.
Anonymous on 04/25/2008:
Not so DC, they aren't likely to address a single 13 dollar case without proof or evidence.
*Brenda* on 04/25/2008:
Slim and DigitalCommando are correct.
Anonymous on 04/25/2008:
I agree Slim and DC are correct. As many people as possible need to file with the AG to create a paper trail.
squid in taiwan on 06/03/2008:
I had a similar experience last time I was in Seattle. Took the car back to National with a full tank and they charged me for a FULL tank ($65). I didn't notice the charge until I was in the international terminal but National did credit my credit card after I contacted them by email. This could be a good scam for rental companies -overcharge and hope most customers don't notice or care.
trikky on 06/07/2008:
I too was ripped off in fuel charges by National Car Rental. The rental agent recommended pre-paying for the return fill-up to avoid their $6/gallon charge. I was told that at the regular rate it would cost $96 to fill the tank on the minivan we rented. Having never filled a minivan with gas before, I assumed it must have a 30 gallon tank. When we had to fill up halfway through our trip I was surprised to find the cost was only $57! On top of that, we returned the van with the tank at about half full, and of course we were not credited for it. So they ripped us off for about $60!!! (not including all the other hidden charges we were presented with) They're getting away with this every day, and it should not be legal.
Archie2 on 07/24/2008:
Rental company refueling charges are outrageous to begin with. They tell you to fill it before you return and there will be no charge. Rental companies (especially airport operations) know that this is not always as easy as it sounds. The rental companies are exploiting their customers who are typically in a hurry, worrying about their flights, and that gas stations around most airports are not easily accessible. Etc. etc. When you return a car to the airport you usually pull that car in line to be serviced - which is right in front of the gas pumps and wash bays. So where is the extra cost of $3 to $4 or more per gallon coming from? If the car rental companies charged full-service pump prices they would make far more on gas, have almost no complaints, and make many more happy customers.
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Bad Service, Unprofessional Personnel, Error Prone Staff
Posted by on
CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA -- I have used National many times in the past to travel long distances across the U.S., each time taking advantage of the unlimited mileage feature and have had great experiences. Enter Charleston, WV. I am not without some blame here as I made a hurried online reservation, and saw a price estimate that was similar to what I have received in the past and went to the airport expecting that price along with unlimited miles. the national agent "Donny" printed out the rental agreement for me to initial / sign, however the estimate was $300, no unlimited miles. I told "Donny" that I was expecting a price of around $70 with unlimited miles. He said "hmmm, well I am just printing the reservation let me take a look." He then printed a new agreement that indicated a price estimate of $70. He said, "here is what you are looking for unlimited miles and $70 dollars." "Perfect, thanks." I did not review the document closely as I was in a hurry, and neither did "Donny." Upon arrival at my destination, the total cost was up near the $300 range again. I was told to contact the WV office, which I did. They indicated that it was my error and that I had made the wrong reservation. I indicated that I had relied upon "Donny's" indication that I was getting exactly what I was expecting, a $70 price tag and unlimited miles.

The manager went as far as taking off the miles sos that the price was $160 but would not go any lower, despite her agent, "Donny's" indications upon which I had relied. She became agitated with me and complained to me about having to work for an hour on this issue. In all, be weary of National Car Rental personnel, make sure that if you use them that you inspect every document carefully and do not rely upon any indications from their agents.

Furthermore, DO NOT RENT FROM THE CHARLESTON AIRPORT LOCATION!
     
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GothicSmurf on 03/18/2008:
1. It was YOUR mistake for not reading the entire information before signing up for the car. YOU admitted you only looked at price and ASSUMED something.

2. Did you get what Donny said in WRITING?

3. What did the paperwork you signed say? You didn't read it did you?

I think that manager went above and beyond cutting your bill almost in half. It was no one's error but yours.
Ponie on 03/18/2008:
So--you've used 'used National many times in the past' and 'have had great experiences.' Now this one time, where it was completely your fault, you're writing them off? Kind of like cutting off your nose to spite your face, isn't it?
Anonymous on 03/18/2008:
National sucks rocks anyway. There's a lot of competition in the rental car market... and YES one bad experience will send me to your competitors doors. Myself, I'm in love with the Reagan National Enterprise. They are the model of great customer service. Yet if they fail me once I'll be heading to Dollar.
Ponie on 03/18/2008:
Stew, if that one bad experience is because you goofed, do you expect the car rental company to read your mind? Is Rent-A-Wreck still in business?
dan gordon on 03/18/2008:
fyi Entrerprise own National and Alamo. Just like the airlines there are lots of mergers going on.
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Beware of Roadside Assistance
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BILLINGS, MONTANTA -- If you read the fine print carefully, the National Rental Agreement Terms and Conditions specify that driving 'off paved roads' negate the terms of the contract. I would bet that this rental agreement condition is common among the major competing rental car companies. However, I learned the hard-way what this truly means at National Rental Car.

On September 1, 2007 I rented a Chevrolet Suburban from National/Alamo for a week in Montana on a fishing trip to the Boulder River. On the last day of our trip, at approximately the 33rd mile point on Forest Service maintained, well-traveled, unpaved portion of Montana road 298 (running parallel to the Boulder River) the right rear tire blew a flat. We changed the tire, and to our great astonishment the spare tire was also flat!!!

Upon contacting the National Roadside assistance number, we were immediately informed "there is nothing that National can do to help." Receiving the explanation that the onus of the cost of vehicle recovery, repairs, "loss of use", and so forth was mine, was not so much of a setback or concern. The significant impact was the sensation of blatant abandonment when informed that National was going to provide zero assistance or help with our situation. To quote the representative, "you are on your own."

A second representative with whom I spoke appeared deceptively helpful. His advice was to tow the vehicle to a paved road surface (which was about eight miles from where the vehicle was located at that time). He indicated that once the vehicle was on a paved road surface National Roadside Assistance would be able to help. While as ludicrous as this sounded, I felt quite desperate. So I complied.

After repositioning the vehicle, and another conversation with a National Roadside Assistance customer representative, we waited for well over three hours with no sign of help. I then called National Roadside assistance for the fourth time. With as much detail as possible, I pleaded with the representative to help our situation. While the representative appeared compassionate to our circumstances, she was brutally honest and informed me that our contract had been designated as a "Recovery" and that someone would be out within THREE DAYS to tow the vehicle to Missoula (over 260 miles from where were currently located). In a state of disbelief, I asked her about the status of someone coming out to get us, her response was that there was nothing noted in the log about that, and there was nothing she could do to help... again, we were on our own.

At this point of utter dismay and fury at the National customer service treatment, I cannot express how grateful I was to USAA insurance! Their roadside assistance was an absolute opposite experience. They came to our rescue within an hour after my first call to report our situation. A wrecker drove both the vehicle and the four members of our party back to the rental location at the Billings airport. Where, upon which, to add insult to injury, the agent at the National airport counter unconvincingly told me that she had attempted to call me to inform that someone was going to come get us.

My long-standing loyalty to National/Alamo is now terminated. My wife and I have used National for years. Between us, our yearly travel requirements exceed at least a dozen car rentals, if not more. Our experience has always been decent (not spectacular), but we have always enjoyed the convenience of the Emerald Isle where you can by-pass the agent counter and walk straight to a vehicle and drive it off the lot. However, with similar service options available at competing companies (i.e., Avis), the transition to move to another company for regular business is just too inviting. I cannot imagine a worse customer service experience than what National put us through.
     
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Timboss on 10/22/2007:
I think you will find that clause in almost any rental contract "not off paved roads". About a dozen questions here that boil down to one. Why didn't you or somebody put the spare tire on?` Did it have a spare?
CrazyRedHead on 10/22/2007:
That's what I want to know. Why didn't you change the tire yourself? Didn't the truck come with a spare tire and a standard jack? Anyway, I'm glad I found this out, cause I was fixing to rent a truck to go home in, although I would have read the rental agreement first before signing. Most of my family lives on dirt roads up there, which is why I voted this VH.
Anonymous on 10/22/2007:
Thanks hemlock1 for educating the membership about yet another pitfall in the car rental world. I too voted your contribution 'Very Helpful'.
Anonymous on 10/22/2007:
Most rental companies rent vehicles for off highway use, jeeps and such. People need to read their contracts. I agree with Tim and CrazyRedHead and find this post (NH).
FoggyOne on 10/22/2007:
We rented a vehicle to drive on gravel roads and had to pay extra insurance charge. It is certainly something to check on before you rent so you won't be surprised.
hemlock1 on 10/22/2007:
Sorry, the draft that made it to the post did not include the sentence:

"We changed the tire, and to our great astonishment the spare tire was also flat!!!"

...my bad.
WhineX on 10/22/2007:
"Between us, our yearly travel requirements exceed at least a dozen car rentals, if not more."

Then you really need to get in the habit of reading the rental agreements you sign 12 times a year. Few companies want renters beating the snot out of their vehicles off-roading. Particularly when it's so easy to cut a tire. There's no excuse for the flat spare, but if a renter violates the terms of the agreement they sign, National isn't obligated to come through for them.
hemlock1 on 10/22/2007:
Thank you WhineX, your point was made painfully clear by National... I guess your definition of customer service and mine differ. Perhaps it is important to highlight the fact that I was not concerned about the costs associated to the assistance. The point is, National was going to do NOTHING to help.
FoggyOne on 10/22/2007:
I hate to say this because you went through so much hassle but maybe this is why the insurance doesn't cover off pavemnt driving. I'm glad too you had another means of resolving the issue (USAA). And I hope you let them know that if the spare had air there would not have turned out to be a problem.
parkingbob on 07/01/2008:
I rented an Alamo/National Toyota Camry for a business trip in DC just last week. I accidentally dropped my keys while stuffing the GPS under the drivers seat, then locked the door by hand while getting out (thinking the keys were in my purse). Upon return to my car, I couldn't find the keys, couldn't see them in the car (they were under the seat), so I assumed I had dropped and lost them. I phoned Alamo/National, who passed me around and referred me back and forth, put me on hold forever, etc. Finally, they told me they only have one key for each Toyota, and it would cost me $150 to tow the car back to the airport, and $250 to replace the key. Fortunatly, the tow truck driver (who arrived 2.5 hrs later) was able to break-in (only $80), and I found the keys and was able to drive myself back to the airport just in time. I will find out which other rental car company has a duplicate key and would bring it to me if this ever occurs again. I will not rent from Alamo/National again, and I travel a lot.
hemlock1 on 01/28/2009:
Update -- while it has been well over a year since the incident, the sting of the event is as fresh as ever. However, a couple of factors comfort my aggravations. First, after sending my letter of grievance to National for their lack of quality customer service, I was sent a letter of apology, along with the promise of a reimbursement of one day rental (ouch!), which never was fulfilled. Second, over the course of the last fourteen months I have had the opportunity to experience an unexpected increase in car rental usage and I have found exceptional improvement in quality using Avis services over National. Thank you National, for the incentive to move to your competition.
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Car Rental Rip-Off and Customer Service Fraud
Posted by on
MERIDA, MEXICO -- I had reserved a rental car through National Car Rental through their website before I travelled to Merida.

Problem #1:The confirmation page said: Pick-Up Location: Merida Int'l Airport and Drop-Off Location: Merida Int'l Airport. Upon arriving at the airport, there were 5 or 6 auto rental offices within the airport, but no National Car Rental. I inquired, and was told that National Car Rental does not have a location in the airport, yet their information on the confirmation said they did. Though I should have just booked a car from a company that did have an office at the airport, I decided to take a taxi into Merida, approximately 10 miles away, to the National Car Rental office, costing me about $10 USD.

Problem #2: I gave the clerk (Victor) at National's office my confirmation and he looked it up. He had no explanation for the erroneous information about the "airport location" other than to tell me, "We don't have a location at the airport." Great...thanks, Victor. He proceeded to calculate the rates and added the "optional" insurance collision coverage at approximately $20 USD per day. I told him I would waive the coverage because my corporate Diners Club/Mastercard covered it. Six months earlier, I had no problem waiving the insurance at the same location and my corporate card agreement specifically covers it. This time, I was told by Victor that the "optional" coverage was mandatory and that he would not rent me a car if I didn't accept the "optional-mandatory" insurance. We went through this many times and I reiterated that the same office rented me a vehicle six months earlier and I waived the "optional" insurance as I had the right to, but, I suppose being motivated by his personal greed, maintained he would not rent me a car unless I paid the extra $20 USD per day for 16 days. The clerks must be commission-driven to sell the collision insurance and I had every right to waive it. The last time at National Car Rental, they simply ran an imprint of my credit card, then tore it up after inspecting the car when I returned it. After much frustration, I decided to take the car, pay the fee, then address it with National Car Rentals customer service department when I returned.

Problem #3 I wrote to National's customer service through their website's email address and explained the problem. They didn't disagree with the point I was making until they denied my request for a refund two weeks later after I sent all the documentation they asked for (rental agreement, receipts, etc.) and I also sent them a copy of my corporate card terms & conditions, which specifically said that ut covers collision damages. They gave me a bunch of legalese, denying me the refund of the "optional-mandatory" coverage for approximately $250 USD. All they offered was to pay the $10 USD for the taxi from the airport, which was an insult. I got the impression that they were nervous about authorizing the small refund and more concerned about their little refund budget. It's embarrassing for National Car Rental to have to take over 2 weeks to answer a simple question...why was I charged for insurance when I should have been able to waive it??? Then...come up with a bunch of garbage to save themselves a few hundred dollars.

I am a frequent traveler and work in a Top 10 Fortune company and associate with many business travelers. Everyone I have spoken to said that I should have been able to waive the fee and save the $250 USD, including our travel planners. I really feel like I was ripped off by a greedy, commission-driven sales clerk who committed customer service fraud and was supported by the National Car Rental customer service department.
     
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User Replies:
firengine103 on 08/18/2007:
Hi Steve, I fly my private plane with a group of other flyers into Mexico for missionary and medical missions no less than 4 times a year and I have an insurance policy with an umbrella option that would cover me for anything, anywhere. Also a gold card American Express with additional assurances. But believe me, none of us would ever cross the border without Mexican insurance, ever! And by the way, Fortune top 10? Are you saying WalMart? If you were at the same location 6 mo. earlier, then why did you think it was at the airport?
Steve C on 08/18/2007:
Hello and thanks for replying. Many of the rental locations have several locations throughout the city and also within the confines of the airport. I reserved the car via their website and printed it out. Drop-Off and Pick-Up Locations on the confirmation both said Merida Int'l Airport, so I suppose I should have felt confident that thay had a location there. The first time I was at the National Car Rental office back in January, it was because I was staying at the Hyatt across the street and decided at that time to rent a car, then walked over there to that office. No, I don't work for Walmart...actually make that Fortune 15...we must have dropped a few notches. But, regarding your umbrella option...I understand the need for personal injury liability, but does that also provide for collision damage coverage? Have you been able to decline the collision insurance without the issue I dealt with? Thanks again.
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