Today at Budget Rent-a-Car: Living a Seinfeld Episode

Remember the Seinfeld episode when Jerry and Elaine go to the car rental place?  Here’s a refresher.  Well, today I lived my own version of Seinfeld; but I actually think that my experience topped his.

I won’t mention the name of of rental company.  I would hate for them to lose any business over my bad experience.  Oh darn!  I already put their name in the title of this post and I have plum forgotten how to edit the title field.  Dang selective memory!

So this morning, I made a reservation for a standard-sized car from a certain car rental company.  The woman gladly took my reservation and asked me when I would like to pick up the car.  I asked if 1:30 today would work and she assured me that it would.   So at 1:30, I pulled up to the store with my 19 year-old daughter to pick up the rental.  There were three other customers in the store when I entered, and another woman came in a few seconds after us.  The store manager then informed us that they did not have a single car at that time.  When I told him that we had a reservation, his response was, “Sorry, we’re waiting for them to bring us cars from the airport.”  I asked him if he thought there might be a car available if we came back in an hour.  His response, “Maybe, but I can’t guarantee it.”

So my daughter and I left and came back an hour later.

Upon our return, we noticed three cars pulling up to the store; three Budget employees then dropped off the keys to the employee working the counter and left.  At the counter, there was one guy in front of us.  His conversation with the female employee went something like this:

Man: Do you think you could upgrade me from the compact car I reserved to that four-door Ford outside for free?

Female Employee:  Sure!

So after they completed their transaction, and the man left with the four-door Ford, it was my turn.  My conversation with the female employee went something like this:

Female Employee:  So here are the keys to the VW Beetle

Me:  But wait, I reserved a standard-sized car, and the Beetle is a compact car.

Female Employee:  Sorry, but that’s all I have.

Me:  But I reserved a standard-sized car.

Female Employee:  Well, if you need to get from Point A to Point B, the Beetle will get you there.

Me:  As cute as that Beetle is, I have teenagers and a compact is too small for us.

Female Employee:  Sorry, it’s not my fault.  This is all I have.  That will be $270.05.

Me:  But wait.  Isn’t the rental on a compact car a lot less than the standard-sized car?

Female Employee:  Yes, and I can offer you a 10% discount if you would like.

Me:  But wouldn’t the price difference between the compact and standard be more than 10%?

Female Employee:  Yes, it’s a lot more than 10%.

Me:  But you’re only giving me a 10% discount?

Female Employee: (after tinkering around with her computer for a minute)  Sorry!  The system won’t let me change your reservation from a standard to a compact.

Me:  So, you are seriously going to make me pay for a standard  – minus 10% – but only give me a compact to drive?

Female Employee:  I can put a note on your reservation and my manager might be able to change it when you bring the car back in a week.

Me:  But you can’t guarantee that he will make the change?

Female Employee:  No. Sorry, there is nothing else I can do for you.

Whereupon, I left the store without a rental car, but smiling as I remembered that classic Seinfeld episode.

So thank you Budget, for leaving my kids and me in a lurch.  We appreciate doing business with you and we look forward to many more happy exchanges with your company.

Or maybe not.

3 thoughts on “Today at Budget Rent-a-Car: Living a Seinfeld Episode

  1. First – I love following your blog. Second – I have experienced this at Budget, too! We used to go to the one in Orem all the time. When we moved here three years ago, we always had great cars. We usually got upgraded – once we even had a fully loaded Dodge Charger, it was SO nice. But for the past year or so, they always have issues. No vehicles, wrong vehicles. We had the same downgraded vehicle without a discount experience. So we went to the Enterprise in Provo. Not much better. They have a habit of not checking the vehicles in and then renting them out again. Then they will call the first renter and threaten to charge them daily until the car is returned because the return was not recorded. Sigh.

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