Monday, June 30, 2014

Small Town Hours

You definitely have your choices when you want to rent a car. And if you're like my father, these companies are all a commodity and you would rent based on the best price (assuming they're not a total joke of a company).

So on his 2 day trip to Columbus, Ohio for work meetings, he went to and looked for the lowest cost option. It came up Enterprise for $45/day.

So back in early May, he booked a reservation online and added his Enterprise loyalty #.
Enterprise Plus Member Number: ******NS
Car and Rate Information: Intermediate SUV Toyota Rav 4, Ford Escape or similar
Pick Up Date: Sunday, June 29, 2014 at 8:30 pm
Drop Off Date: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at 6:30 pm
Pick Up Location Address and Phone Number: PORT COLUMBUS INTL ARPT 4600 INTERNATIONAL GTWY COLUMBUS, OH 43219-1779 Tel.: (614) 239-3200
Pick Up Location Hours for the week of : June 23, 2014
Monday-Friday 7:00 am 11:00 pm
Saturday 9:00 am 8:00 pm
Sunday 9:00 am 9:00 pm 
Fast forward to last evening, where my father's 6:09PM United 1196 flight was scheduled to arrive in Columbus, Ohio at 8:29PM. But due to late arriving aircraft, the flight was delayed until 7PM...then 7:30PM...then 8PM. Even after boarding in his customary Row 8 seat, the flight didn't actually depart until 8:20PM.

Frustrated with the fact that he spent an extra 2.5 hours at O'Hare Airport, he just fell asleep on the hour long minute flight. But due to Ohio being an Eastern time zone (1 hour ahead of Chicago), the flight arrived at 10:29PM.

Unfortunately, if you scroll up to the Enterprise location hours, the counter closed at 9PM.

My father, being used to 24/7 type of staffing at "international" airports in major cities, completely overlooked the fact that no one would be at the Enterprise desk to rent him his vehicle. So when he landed, he panicked a bit, but was soon calmed down by the fact that he had Enterprise elite status. Perhaps his reserved car would be ready and waiting for him with the keys and paperwork already...

Nope. This was Columbus, Ohio.

At 10:30PM.

On a Sunday night.

The Enterprise desk just had a sign saying "Sorry, we're closed." (Note: this photo was taken when I returned the car a few days later)

Thankfully, the Enterprise desk was in the same area as the Hertz Rental desk. And Hertz had 3 staff members ready and waiting to "pick him up" (note: in order for the reference to be funny, you need to know that Enterprise' slogan is "We'll pick you up.")

If you're not familiar, Hertz and Avis are the premium rental car agencies. They usually have new cars and offer top tier services for their members (i.e., having your car with paperwork waiting for you so you can skip the counter). But of course, for premium service, you pay premium prices.

The other mid-tier car rental companies (Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, National) offer some of those services, but not always depending on the location. Additionally, their cars are typically used (a few years older) and have some moderate wear and tear.

Then you have the bottom feeders (Fox, Advantage, Payless) where my father doesn't even know what happens at those companies, because we've never had a reason to be so desperate. But I digress...

So the Columbus Airport Hertz was ready to rent my father a car as a walk-in. Now, he knew Hertz was going to be pricier, but when they quoted him $147 for 2 days for "the lowest priced car available," my father rolled his eyes. That was about $60 more than the was going to pay for Enterprise.

My father told the young Hertz representative that the price was too high. So the agent went back into his computer and found a $135 option. Really? This lower priced option just came out of no where? Now my father smelled blood in the water.

My father: "Enterprise was going to give me an Intermediate SUV for $89..." while showing him the email confirmation from Enterprise.

Hertz: "Like a RAV4?"

My father: "Yeah, sure."

Hertz:  "OK, let me see what I can do...OK, I have a brand new Chevy Malibu for $97 for 2 days."

My father: "OK, I'll take that."

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