What Would You Expect? Rental Car Gone Awry

Updated on August 14, 2012
T.F. asks from Pleasanton, CA
7 answers

Just wondering what others think. I rented a car yesterday to go 1 1/2 hours North to visit my Sister, niece and nephew for a family event. I didn't take my car because it is going in the shop tomorrow because the brakes need work.

I picked up the car and about 35 miles later the car started making a groaning noise. Immediately got off the highway and parked. So this is how the timeline went from there.

11:25 - call the car company to report the issue. they transferred me to a mechanic. He verified I didn't have the parking break on, was infact in Drive and had me drive around. My daughter was holding the cel phone on speaker and hehe could hear the groaning said "Oh Yeah, that's the brakes, park it and I'll transfer you back to get roadside service and a car exchange. The agent questioned this after their own mechanic said not to drive the car! He grudgingly agreed to call for service and an exchange with a "Well you know maam, this is going to take atleast 90 minutes." (attitude suggesting I was frivoulously requesting a new car)

12:03 p.m. agent calls back to let me know they had contracted a towing company to come out. It would be there 2 hours later and he would call to make sure service had been completed after 2:11 p.m..
2:20 p.m.receive an automated call from rental car company and was connected to an agent who questioned the fact that I had not received service,
2:25p.m.. Receive a call from the tow truck dispatcher as I see the flatbed truck with a car on it entering the parking lot asking me "Where I was because the tow truck driver has been looking all over for me?"
2:50p.m. cars finally exchanged and we are on our way but have missed seeing my neice and nephew and will only have time for dinner with my sister before heading back.

On the way home the tire pressure warning light came on in the car. At this point there is nowhere to pull off safely so I had my daughter call my husband and look up the light on the internet because at first I had no idea what it meant. We basically decided at that point if the car broke down he would come get me.

Got home safely.....Anyway, The time I was on the phone dealing with this I was respectful and patient. I know these aren't the people who made the policies are set up the system. HOWEVER, their attitude wasn't so great towards me as if I was inconveniencing them with such a silly request to get an exchange. Yeah I'd like to be able to STOP rather than crash!

I turned the car in this morning and let the agent know what happend. She gave me the discount she could $15 off of $45. Should I expect more? Shouldn't I expect to get a better serviced car from them? Ironic the whole point was to make sure we were safe on the road and we get this wonderful experience. I know I'm not the most objective because the whole point of the trip was negated by the breakdown of the car, slow response and attitude of the agents (not the towtruck diver or mechanic mind you!)

Opinions please? Guess the era of good customer service is over and it's buyer beware because if something goes wrong, you're screwed?

ETA - One of the major car rental companies and a couple of miles from the Bay Bridge (San Francisco, CA) Initial car had less than 10K miles on it, Replacement about 25k.

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So What Happened?

8/23/2012 - called to followup on the case and the rep apologized for me having to call and follow-up as no one had followed through with the discount. She put me on hold for a little bit and then let me know that all the charges had been reversed. YEAH!

More Answers



answers from Pittsburgh on

I would not expect to pay for the car. Period. I would express that to the supervisor and if they will not agree, I would dispute it with my credit card company. They will almost always stop the charge while they investigate and they usually find in favor of the customer, not the merchant. I would certainly let the company know that you will be reviewing your experience on their website (if it takes reviews, many do) as well as on the travel sites you follow.

Since your car broke down 35 miles from the car rental agency, it should only take them the time it took you to get that far to get you another car (um, someone can drive another car off their lot to where you are). Then it's their problem to wait for the tow truck and take care of the non-functioning car.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

It sounds like they gave you a percentage of the cost of rental based upon the amount of time it was out of service or something like that.

Personally, I would be irate. Particularly with the attitude of the employees at the agency being less than apologetic. Stuff happens, though. Maybe the person before you did something to it that went undetected. Or maybe the car was just a lemon. Who knows. But, the whole thing could have been handled better by the rental agency.
I'm just a layperson with no work experience in auto rental (from the inside perspective anyway), but it sounds like you were 30 minutes (miles?) from where you picked up the car from them. And it would seem to me that, knowing it would take 2 HOURS for you to get a replacement vehicle through the method they used, they would send out someone IN a replacement vehicle and let THEM wait for the tow truck. Maybe there are reasons that that wouldn't be a viable way for them to handle it, but that is was I would have REQUESTED from them.
Curious who the company was though. A national company? Daily rates are typically much more than $45, even for a subcompact, around here.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Unfortunately, it's pretty much a done deal as you took the percentage off & left the shop. I'd say writing a letter to the supervisor of that branch would be a good next step. I would've immedialtey asked to speak to a supervisor & skipped the desk person. For a car w/low mileage like that, it shouldn't have had any problems & since you were also so close, they should've gotten to you sooner. I would've wanted more off the cost based on the time you lost.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I would expect more but wouldn't expect the agent could necessarily authorize that. I had a similar incident with Avis many years ago in New Mexico and then didn't do much for me and were so slow like your incident ruined all the plans I had for vacation that day because we were going to do a scenic drive and then the brakes started burning up. Sometimes I just think it's bad maintenance on their part and they should be able to get someone out to you much sooner. Write a letter to corporate.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Redding on

Read what you signed. All the answers will be there.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I'm an insurance agent. We don't know details like if you were in a rural area or not, or how old the car was. It also depends on if you used a known rental company or a hole-in-the-wall. It sounds like they did the best they could to get you another car. None of know when our cars will break down, even new ones. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I would expect at least a 50% discount - after all, they made you miss most of what you rented the car to get to!

I doubt that the agent could give you that discount, but I would write to the company. If it is a major company, they will probably refund more or give you a nice discount on your next rental.

1 mom found this helpful

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