Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Two Potential Rental Car Rip-Off’s

I had the rental car delivered to the hotel because I was arriving after their office closed and would be leaving before their office opened. As I was driving out of town I noticed the gas tank was at 3/8ths full. I would have called them, except they weren’t yet open. I pulled out my cellphone and took a picture of the dashboard showing mileage and gas tank reading. When I returned the car I made sure to fill it to the same level and informed them I had documentation about the original level of the gas tank.

Rip-off number one foiled.

We all know that between our credit cards and personal auto insurance there is usually no reason to pay for additional insurance. Rental firms have for years made drivers pay excessively if they don’t return the car with a full tank. Now they offer another option: prepay for the tank at a reasonable price per gallon (in this case $3.159) and you don’t have to pay for not filling the tank.

I immediately declined since I would not use a full tank of gas to drive from Birmingham, AL to Savannah, GA.

Oh, the agent said, you’re returning it in Savannah. The cheapest you can get gas is $3.239. You’ll save eight cents a gallon this way.

I declined again. Here’s the math that I chose not to challenge the agent with. Assuming an eighteen-gallon tank, they would charge $56.82. For that same amount I could purchase 17.56 gallons at the Savannah price. I only win if I can return the car with less than .45 gallons.

That’s not going to happen (I had about 2.5 gallons left), which didn’t stop them from selling the same deal to a young couple who followed me to the counter.

If offered this deal and you won’t use a full tank, in almost all instances you should decline. If you will use a full tank, check their price with what you’ll have to pay and make your decision based on that.

~ Jim

1 comment:

  1. And even if you're just driving around town for a couple of weeks. How do you return the car with an empty tank, without risking running out of gas.