Thrifty Car Rental: Bait and Switch!
POMPANO FL, FLORIDA -- Before our winter vacation trip to FL, I shopped for rental car deals.
A great promotion from Thrifty offered me a minivan for our week in FL at a rate lower than what most dealers were charging for compact cars.
When I made the reservation in advance, I was surprised by the price and was not sure how valid, so I called the Pompano Fl location and inquired. They assured me the promotion was good and that they would have my car or an upgrade avail on my date. They also told me a spouse was included in the rental rate.
When we got there, the manager of the Thrifty Car Rental Pompano FL location (Mr. Oddy) told me that my reserved Van was not avail (supposedly Thrifty in FL was "all out" of vans), and the only option was a tiny compact. We are a family of 5 and luggage, on vacation. He offered me no options except to call other locations myself, and hope for the best. We spent over 4 hours on the phone with customer service, being passed from representative to representative and getting hung-up on. Their only option was to make a new reservation at a higher rate and a different pickup location. It was apparently a Bait-and-Switch Promotion!
I reached the off-property Ft Lauderdale Airport location, explained our dilemma, and they said they had no vans. When I asked to speak to the manager, they hung up on me. The second call I was patched to his voicemail! I called back from another phone and asked about renting a minivan that day. The agent (Paul) assured me they had vans and gave me the rate (much higher than our reservation). When I said I would be right there to pick it up, and I already had a reservation, he suddenly claimed he made a mistake and they had NO vans. I asked for the manager and they disconnected the call. I called back, and got the manager, a VERY nice man (Leaman), who said he would go get a car for me and have it ready. We got there in the dark, and they were waiting. We did agree to take the insurance, even tho we are covered on our own policy and through the credit card, but felt we wanted to give them something for their help. We did not agree to pay the $10/day extra for the spouse to drive. That was an unexpected turn!
In any case, the van was realtively new and shiny on the outside. Only after we got in and drove a bit, did we realize it smelled like it had been used for a sex and Pot smoking festival, with a heavy dose of cheap aftershave. The next day we tried to air it out in the sun, but it was really dity inside, and many parts broken or rusty. Also, the gas mileage was AWFUL! The 20 mile trip to the airport used almost 1/4 tank!
When we returned the car, I was careful to fill up near the airport. I even filled over the line. At vehicle check-in, the agent demanded to see my gas receipt (I never take one) and I told him just to look at the gauge. It was tough to communicate, but he finally agreed to settle it. Apparently, you need to prove you filled less than 10 miles from the airport!
All in all, the Pompano manager is awful at customer service. He made NO effort to plan ahead and have the proper cars, nor did he help us secure another car. The Ft. Lauderdale/Port Everglades manager, Leamon, is a gentleman and truly represents Thrifty in how he fulfils customer service.
NEVER, in 25 years of renting cars in Florida, has a rental company ever told me: "We have no cars for you, too bad, go away", when I had a reservation in advance. I think the BBB should look into the promo and how many people got ripped off... Thrifty's telephone customer service agents need better training. If I can't be assured that the car I rented will be available, if not an upgrade, then why would I want to rent from Thrifty? I don't need the aggravation.