Hotwire.com - Renter Beware and Be Warned
Auto Renting on-line
The Summer is Upon Us – Renters Beware
To begin with, I want to make it perfectly clear that I am writing this editorial as a promise to a certain manager for a national travel company that boasts customer service. I am also writing as a service to anyone who is thinking about making the most of an opportunity to enjoy some family time together in what they are thinking is an affordable way to “get away” as the corporate agencies so portray.
With the coming Memorial Day holiday approaching, I as many of you reading this thought of different ways to entertain the family while making the most of what is available. Together, my wife and I came up with the idea of renting a nice car and taking a short outing to North Carolina’s Outer Banks. My goal was simple, to watch my kids while my wife and I watched the sun rising over the Atlantic. So to work we went. Trip planned, motel reservations made and securing the car. Easy enough: My wife is used to making needed motel reservations from my old days of racing on tour. Me: Not so much and the reservation of the car of course fell to me. So I immediately jumped online and soon was “chatting” with a salesman for a national travel website. Lets call them “Warm Cable”.com.
The customer service I thought at the time was excellent. He helped me through the rental agreement and before I knew it, the rental agreement had been clicked and the money was deducted from my account. No problem; that is until we found out at work that contrary to what we were told earlier, the company would be down longer so in an effort to take advantage of the longer length of time, I attempted to extend my car rental reservations.
This is where things get a bit ugly. After several attempts to get through to “WarmCable”, I finally got through to a customer service representative and found out that the traditional definition of customer service meant something entirely different to her. I am not sure which was more offensive. Her belittling attitude or her matter of fact stance that there was nothing she could do, I would need to contact the car rental agency themselves. This went back and forth between “WarmCable” and Hertz until finally; my wife was more worried about my blood pressure than the car or vacation. After a 35 minute wait, I was finally connected to a manager at “WarmCable”. Apparently having read the notes about my attempts to extend the rental agreement, he calmly explained that the rental contract did not allow them or the rental company to make any changes to the contract. Then of course came the inevitable “Didn’t you read the terms of the agreement”? This, in case you do not know, is the little box that you have to check in order to complete the agreement when you do anything online. Generally beside it is a comment to “Click Here to Read the Terms of the Agreement”. OK: So I didn’t. After all, I was online with a helpful chap who was guiding me through the agreement. At this point, a slight chuckle came from the other end as I was informed that the agreement clearly states that the agreement cannot be cancelled or changed at all and by clicking, you are agreeing to this. What kind of idiot would agree to something like this? ME! And anyone else who feels that they are doing something special for their family.
So take it from me. Read the terms and understand them before you get railroaded yourself. Make sure you know what you are clicking and have everything planned out and in stone before spending the money you have allotted for your vacation. As for me, against my wife’s better judgment I wrote the fee for the initial agreement off as an investment. Like I told Sam after being laughed at by him, I considered the money lost and am making it my purpose to make sure that as many people as possible are aware of what they are doing and who what kind of businesses they are dealing with before agreeing to do business with them. If one person reads this and takes the time to look at the information and is educated and makes the right decision, then it was money well spent. So don’t let me down. Think before you rent anything.