The great car rip off

IF there’s one thing I really, really can’t stand, it’s being ripped off.

The only thing worse is when you feel like you’re being taken for a ride, and you don’t have any choice but to go along with it.

Case in point: I’m trying to book a rental car. I’d like to hire said car for an upcoming holiday, for a period of eight days.


Truth be told, it’s a fraction longer than eight days. My inbound flight arrives at midday, and my departing flight takes off at 6pm.

When you allow for customs and check-in and traipsing around the airport collecting bags etc, I’ll lose a couple of hours each end. So ideally, I’ll want to collect a hire car at around 2pm, and I’ll be ready to drop it back at the tail of my trip, at roughly 4pm.

Therefore, I require a car for precisely eight days and two hours.

According to car rental companies, however, I require a car for nine days, because that’s the rate they’re charging me.

I thought they might throw in a couple of hours free of charge, as a gesture of goodwill. At the very least, I thought I’d be charged a small, pro-rata fee for the additional time.

But it seems that rental car companies don’t do hourly rates anymore.

I checked about a dozen different companies at various websites, and found the same thing time and time again: an extra two hours equals and extra full day’s rental.

I even called one car company, Hertz, to double check with a real live person that their policy did in fact mean that a two extra hours generates a full day’s charge.

“Correct,” the operator told me. “If you wish to book one additional hour, the fee is reduced, but any extra time beyond that is considered an extra full day’s rental.”

Sigh. Look, we’re not talking big bucks here – it’s a matter of $70.

But it’s the principal! Why should I have to pay for hours and hours of car hire time that I have no intention of ever using?!

Surely they should introduce a ‘half rate’ if you only require the vehicle for a few extra hours, before slugging customers with the full daily fee?

But, they won’t. They don’t have to. It’s just one of those things that customers have to put up with. So I’ll suck it up. And I’ll comfort myself in the knowledge that by venting my spleen here, I’ve earnt fifty bucks, which makes the extra cost a little easier to cop!

[signoff icon=”icon-thumbs-up”]The Meddler

Here’s your chance to get your opinion in front of a larger audience. And earn a dollar! Anything from the minutiae to the meaningful, the heartfelt to the humorous, if you’ve got an issue or a rant you think Gold Coasters need to read submit it to The Meddler. There’s $50 for each contribution published. Contributions should be under 400 words, please supply contact details including a phone number. The Meddler reserves the right to edit articles submitted. Please send to [/signoff]