I arranged for a friend to take me to the car rental office and thankfully, he waited for me. I discovered, to my absolute horror, that they didn't have any cars. Not one! I was told that people had extended their rentals and that there was nothing they could do for me. I asked if they would call around to other rental companies and get me a car and they wouldn't, until after my friend came inside and said that that was the least they could do. The rep called two companies but they couldn't match the rate I got (and Advantage wouldn't pay the difference) and so I was stranded. Imagine how combustible I would have been had I flown in from another state to see the fall foliage and elk bugling, a HUGE tourist attraction for the state of Colorado???! While we were waiting, a gentleman who also had a reservation, came in and left, and a customer called from the airport to be told the same thing. The rep said that there were three more she had to contend with.
We tried calling the customer care line but were told that if we called between 8-5 we couldn't be helped?! Work that one out. There was no reply from the toll-free number to report an accident either. My car was for 6pm (I arrived promptly at 6pm on the dot) and it was now about 6.45pm. We wasted an hour there before leaving empty-handed.
The irony is that a few seconds after I reserved my rental car on September 21st, I received an e-mail with my confirmation number and the status as CONFIRMED. Then, to cap it all, on Friday September 28th, the day I was to pick up the rental, I received another e-mail Reconfirmation Reservation and status, once again, CONFIRMED. How is it that between the time I received the second e-mail on the 28th and 6pm when I arrived to collect the car, they ran out of cars? Howcome I wasn't called to be told about this abomination? What did I do? I e-mailed the CEO of Advantage Rent-A-Car and sent him/her a hard copy of the message on the 29th September. (See a copy of my e-mail/letter below.)
As I post this today, October 3rd (their website says they will reply within three days!), I've not had a response. I'll post the response here if and when I get one.
(Update: September 27, 2008 - Still NO REPLY - FIFTY TWO WEEKS! A whole year has gone by without so much as a peep out of this pathetic company. I'm not spending any more time updating this page - judge for yourself whether or not you want to risk your trip by using Advantage Rent-A-Car. This is really disgusting business practice and way beyond a joke! It seems as though this car rental company does not care about its clients and couldn't give a hoot about what they did. Shocking and appalling!)
This is a warning to all car renters, be sure to call ahead of time to re-re-re-confirm that they have a car for you and that you at least have a backup plan.
I also contacted the Better Business Bureau and have a "case number" - they are looking into the matter on my behalf. I'll keep you posted. (It seems as though they too, have been ignored. As of November 5, 2007, the BBB had also not received a reply. What kind of operation is Advantage Rent-A-Car that they don't have the common decency to reply and/or apologize?)
Update: July 19, 2008 - I wonder why the Better Business Bureau didn't follow this up at all? And perhaps insist on a reply and/or resolution.
This is a transcript of the e-mail/letter I sent:
September 29, 2007 (I sent another copy in January 2008)
Attn: The CEO
6660 First Park Ten Blvd. # 116
San Antonio, Texas 78213-4211
To Whom It May Concern:
I am so angry that I insist this complaint reaches your CEO - I shall send a copy of this to him/her in the mail as well.
I made a reservation on September 21st 2007 (Confirmation Number 821-0221338-RZ received via e-mail on 09/21/07 11:37 CTM) for an economy car for two days - 09/28 - 09/30 - to be picked up at 6pm on the 29th.
I duly arrived at 6pm and was told by Amanda that there weren't any cars. That renters had extended their rentals and that there just weren't any cars to be had. I showed her my confirmation e-mail and number but she said that there wasn't anything she could do about it and offered her apologies. After about 25 minutes I asked my friend who was waiting outside to come into the office and we all talked about it and tried to come to some other arrangement. He tried calling the toll-free number and was told that “if we called between 8-5 (we called at 6.45pm) our call could not be answered”!!! He also couldn’t make contact with the toll-free number for reporting an accident.
My feeling was that Advantage should not have extended or rented out their last cars if they had confirmed reservations. (There were six other renters who were also inconvenienced.) The least that they could do was to get another car for me and pay any charges incurred. After about 45 minutes Amanda tried Enterprise and Alamo at the Colorado Springs airport but they wouldn't match Advantage's weekend rate - Advantage should have picked up the difference. This is not good business practice on your behalf and my arrangements for the very brief window of time to view the fall foliage in Colorado, as well as the bugling elk in the Rocky Mountain National Park, is slim. The other thing is that Saturday the 29th was a free day (otherwise $20) for the park - I have to count all my pennies as I am unemployed and cannot afford to just up and go away for a weekend. This trip was carefully planned and then completely ruined. I am now not able to do a report/story for my travel website nor post my fall foliage photos on my website. However, I shall be sure to post this letter, and any subsequent reply from Advantage, on my Ratings web page (www.geocities.com/pettprojects/ratings.html) as well as on Angie's List website and on MySpace.com for all the world to see.
I am completely floored that I wasn't even called ahead of time to say that there might not be a rental car available so that I could make other arrangements. I am livid because my once in a lifetime weekend was ruined. I am angry because Advantage could do such a thing to customers without due compensation, just an apology. This is NOT good business practice and I am appalled. After about an hour, Amanda tried calling Denver to get them to bring a car down but she couldn't make contact. This of course, was way after I had told her that I was going to send this letter to the CEO and paste it on my web page.
I cannot go to the mountains for another year, which doesn't help me this time around. I have rented from you in the past and thought I was onto a good thing – I liked the reasonable rates and the little cars are quite nice to drive. Now I cannot stress enough how angry I am – I am thankful that I didn’t come in from out of state to view the fall foliage and the wildlife for the weekend only to have even more devastating expenses (hotel and a more expensive car rental) because my reservation was so messed up.
I cannot wait to hear your comments.
Please note that this letter was sent via e-mail to your customer care (firstname.lastname@example.org) department as well as on your feedback web page.
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