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Talking Rainpocalyse Rental Car Blues
January 5, 2007 9:51 AM   Subscribe

And that's why you always buy the loss damage waiver when you rent a car. Man flies to Seattle, rents a PT Cruiser, drives to Olympic National Park to camp. Then one of the wettest months in regional history happens. The road washes out. While he and his companion are rescued, the car remains in the park, accruing rental charges. Rental company cuts him a deal. After 43 days and $871, the car is retrieved after emergency road repairs, and it's back in service at Sea-Tac.
posted by dw (31 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
If this is a dup, then blame my suddenly craptacular Google-fu.
posted by dw at 9:54 AM on January 5, 2007


I'd check for dents in the bumper, wood chips in the trunk or a burnt-up transmission. No telling (wait for it...) how many miles it logged.
posted by hal9k at 9:57 AM on January 5, 2007


Paul Harvey, is that you?
posted by boo_radley at 9:58 AM on January 5, 2007


I see no problem paying for towing and other service, but there is a problem : why should he pay as much as if he actually rented the car ?

That rests on the assumption the company would have rented the car to somebody else at the same rate applied to him and for as many days as the car was not rentable.

That is not proved, so I don't see why he should pay for something he didn't cause and receiving nothing in exchange.
posted by elpapacito at 10:06 AM on January 5, 2007


If he used a credit card that offers rental protection, he would've been covered. Some (mine does) also offers protection for the loss of rental time charges, which is what he faced.
posted by vannsant at 10:11 AM on January 5, 2007


Paul Harvey, is that you?

GOOD DAY!

(Possibly true story: He went to another high school in my hometown, back when Tulsa was just a Neolithic center for toolmaking and arrowhead production. His class was having a reunion, so they sent him an invite. They received back a letter that Mr. Harvey would be more than happy to come to their reunion -- for an appearance fee. They politely refused.)
posted by dw at 10:12 AM on January 5, 2007


As one of the rotting fish currently floating in the 2006-07 Pacific Northwest Lagoon-'O-Death, let me just say that the "rainpocalyse" tag warmed my soggy little heart.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:22 AM on January 5, 2007


BELIEVE IT OR NOT!
posted by Smart Dalek at 10:23 AM on January 5, 2007


I see no problem paying for towing and other service, but there is a problem : why should he pay as much as if he actually rented the car ?

They didn't, they only charged him $12/day, plus $200 for towing, plus $75 or something for a damaged mirror.

They only charged regular rent for 4 days.
posted by delmoi at 10:48 AM on January 5, 2007


He got off lucky. I can't imagine what they would have charged him had it been raining Florence Henderson.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:52 AM on January 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wood have charged him a bunch. A very Brady Bunch.
posted by hal9k at 11:01 AM on January 5, 2007


I know, I know. I'll stop. Just feel kind of chipper today.
posted by hal9k at 11:03 AM on January 5, 2007


this is a sucky post, kwitcherbitchin. shit happens. a core tenet of decision analysis is that the quality of a decision is evaluated by the premises known to the decisionmaker at the time; a good decision can have a bad outcome and vice versa. contrary to the poster's lead sentence, the prevailing wisdom on this issue dictates that you _not_ buy the collision waiver when renting a car.
posted by bruce at 11:16 AM on January 5, 2007


The prevailing wisdom is the equivalent of "cross your fingers." The prevailing wisdom is dumb.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:22 AM on January 5, 2007


this is a sucky post, kwitcherbitchin.

It's an interesting thing. It's on the Web. What's the problem?
posted by mendel at 11:33 AM on January 5, 2007


If you don't have alternative coverage (credit card, car insurance) then, yes, always get the extra coverage because you never know what can happen.

If you do use your car insurance or credit card coverage, be sure to know the print of what is and is not covered. Some car insurance policies will not cover rental charges for lost rental time (the time spent while the car is in the shop and cannot be rented), but some credit cards do.

Rental cars are an evil necessity and most of these decisions are often made in a split second at the rental counter. Do your homework and you'll be fine.
posted by vannsant at 11:53 AM on January 5, 2007


I'm surprised to note that everyone involved in the situation is being pretty reasonable. The guy who rented the car is not threatening to sue (well, he sort of mentions getting the money back from the park people in one article but clearly doesn't want to) and intends to pay the bill. The people at Thrifty are cutting the guy a pretty significant break on what they could be charging him. The park people did their best to get the car back out, incidental to some more serious work they had to do.

'Bad stuff happens, everyone acts like human beings. Film at 11.'
posted by jacquilynne at 12:07 PM on January 5, 2007


i rented a car for ten days from thrifty at sea-tac a couple of months ago. there were a bunch of "concession" charges to pay for a new car rental facility at the airport. those charges *doubled* the rental rate from what i was told on thrifty's website that i would be paying.

if you are going to fly into seattle and rent a car for any length of time, i would recommend taking a cab or shuttle from the airport to a car rental place in town rather than renting at the airport. you can save about $200 per week. if your shuttle ride into town and bus ride to a rental place comes to $70 round trip, you'll have enough left over for a couple of nice puget sound dinners.
posted by 3.2.3 at 12:20 PM on January 5, 2007


ok florence henderson, the onus shifts to you to justify your position in a rigorous risk-rewards analysis.
right there at the rental car counter, you're offered the option to check some boxes, any of which will cost you more money, and they're offered by insurance companies who have costed out this analysis much better than you or i, and who are not in business to lose money. i will (rarely) enter a casino to have some fun, but anybody who enters a casino thinking they're gonna beat the house is a damn fool.
the one obvious exception is high risk self-selection (hey, i'm a poet too!). he knew he was taking the rental car into the deep olympic n.p. boonies (been there myself, absolutely stunning). i still wouldn't have purchased the waiver. i'm a cautious optimist there (in spite of the memorable time when i stupidly attempted the usul road through n. mendocino county's king range in a 2wd in winter, got stuck, but reached a tow company in redway on my cellphone, bye-bye $250). the difference is, i didn't bitch, i laughed and learned.

mendel, the problem is that it sounds like a baroque whine. nobody's more anti-corporate or anti-insurance company around here than i am (retired plaintiff's lawyer!) but at some point, people just have to take responsibility for their decisions. i hate it when they fail to do this and seek sympathy on the internet.
posted by bruce at 12:41 PM on January 5, 2007


mendel, the problem is that it sounds like a baroque whine.

You're over-reading. It's a mildly wacky human-interest story.
posted by mendel at 12:47 PM on January 5, 2007


the problem is that it sounds like a baroque whine.

I don't see where you get that. I mean, the guy paid his money and took his choice, cut a deal with the rental company when the impossible odds came out against him, and paid up for the rental. No one's whining. I'm certainly not.

The original title for the first link was "A new poster child for buying the collision damage waiver," but I didn't like the way it sounded. I was trying to be ironic or sardonic or sarcastic, but in the end none of these three.
posted by dw at 1:00 PM on January 5, 2007


Never saw you really justify your onus, bruce, but I'll take a stab at mine (Ow!), anyway: The insurance companies make money because - on balance - any individual purchase of insurance will have turned out to be unnecessary. And the risk to the insurance company is precisely low because on the occasions when they do have to pay out, they have plenty of reserves with which to do so.

The consumer, on the other hand, need only be wrong once to put themselves in dire straights.

Obviously, as with all things, the consequences will be of varying degrees of hardship to different people, but on average - and the whole conversation is about averages - I would guess that most people will pay far less in additional fees over their entire rental history than they would likely be charged for a singal unfortunate incident. Hence my "crossing fingers" comment. On any given day, the decision to be unprepared for disaster will probably pay off. On the day you were wrong, though, you can screw things up forever. "Taking responsibility for (one's) decisions" doesn't absolve one from needing to make smart ones in the first place.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:05 PM on January 5, 2007


metafilter:everyone involved in the situation is being pretty reasonable
posted by nola at 1:19 PM on January 5, 2007


thanks delmoi I evidently wasn't paying attention
posted by elpapacito at 1:46 PM on January 5, 2007


Holy cow, $30 a day? What's the trick for getting that great rate? It seems like no matter where I go, cars I rent always clock in at $50/day or more when all's said and done.
posted by hodyoaten at 2:24 PM on January 5, 2007


they're offered by insurance companies who have costed out this analysis much better than you or i,

Yeah, but the insurance company's utility curve is different, and closer to linear, than most renters'. This means expectation value might be a good way for them to price the insurance but a lousy way for the renter to price it.

That, basically, is why there is an insurance market.

Or, in other words, what It's Raining Flo said.
posted by Opposite George at 2:30 PM on January 5, 2007


Holy cow, $30 a day? What's the trick for getting that great rate?

Join AAA. Going through them knocks 30-50% off the list price (we have to rent for family trips since our parents don't have big family cars anymore).
posted by dw at 3:13 PM on January 5, 2007


Holy cow, $30 a day? What's the trick for getting that great rate?

Or get yourself an Entertainment coupon book. Using a "free two class upgrade" coupon in November, I was able to rent a Chevy Monte Carlo from National for $104, or not quite $35 a day, for a Thursday - Sunday weekend, and that includes all of the taxes, fees, ransom to DFW airport and so on. (No insurance or waivers, my personal auto insurance covers me for rentals, as does my AmEx.)
posted by Dreama at 5:12 PM on January 5, 2007


Wait, what, dw? Has anyone else every gotten 30-50% off because of AAA? We ask every time, and AAA only gets us 10% off most times, or they say "Because you're in AAA, you can both drive the car!" Whoopee.
posted by GaelFC at 6:51 PM on January 5, 2007


Wait, what, dw? Has anyone else every gotten 30-50% off because of AAA? We ask every time, and AAA only gets us 10% off most times, or they say "Because you're in AAA, you can both drive the car!" Whoopee.

With AAA Washington/Idaho there's a link to some Hertz reservations website; the rates on that site have run 30-50% under what Expedia was giving me.

We rented an SUV (eevl, I know, but we needed the room) on the Christmas trip to Okieland. Expedia quoted me ~$600, the AAA/Hertz site offered at just over $400. On another trip, I saved nearly 50%. But that might just been a case where the planets were in alignment, YMMV, rotate your tires. But I've found you tend to get better discounts going through AAA than you do just flashing your card at a hotel/rent-a-car counter.
posted by dw at 10:38 PM on January 5, 2007


The airport surcharge in Oklahoma City is 25% or was when I was down there storm chasing which was quite the shock. You better believe we would have picked it up down town if we'd known. On the other hand we were sure to get the extra coverage. Once all the extra fees (extra driver X2, out of state fee, unlimited mileage fee etc.) were added up the rental was double the original quoted price. But we put 6200 miles on in 13 days so it all worked out in the end.
posted by Mitheral at 10:52 PM on January 5, 2007


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