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Orlando rental cars - high demand weeks - lesson to remember

mdurette

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Remember this folks. We flew into MCO for week 52 vacation. I had repriced cars throughout the last few months as prices dropped. I cancelled all of them prior to, with the exception of the 2 lowest cost).

Budget was best price, I go down to the rental floor and holy moly....the line has got to be around 150 people long, wrapped all the way through the terminal. People in line were stating they were there the night before for hours and gave up only to come back to the same thing. They ran out of cars.

I quickly switched over to my Alamo reservation, checked in on the app and went to the garage to pick up the car. It cost me an extra $50 for the rental.....but saved hours in airport.

Lesson: for busy weeks, keep 2 reservations, just in case you need a fall back one..
 

NboroGirl

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That happened to my son in Orlando for February vacation week. We arrived earlier in the day and got our rental car no problem. He arrived around 7 p.m. and there were no cars left. (Not positive but I think it was Hertz.) He (and others) had to wait until people returned cars. We had to go pick up his family because he was traveling with his wife and one-year old. He didn't get his rental car until 11 p.m. I guess another lesson would be to travel so you arrive fairly early in the day.
 

TheTimeTraveler

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That happened to my son in Orlando for February vacation week. We arrived earlier in the day and got our rental car no problem. He arrived around 7 p.m. and there were no cars left. (Not positive but I think it was Hertz.) He (and others) had to wait until people returned cars. We had to go pick up his family because he was traveling with his wife and one-year old. He didn't get his rental car until 11 p.m. I guess another lesson would be to travel so you arrive fairly early in the day.




This isn't the first time I have heard of this. The rental car agencies charge excessive charges and many times provide very poor service..




.
 

PigsDad

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But, can the rental car company charge you if you don't rent through them???
Almost all car rental reservations have no penalty for not picking up your car, unless you made a pre-paid reservation.

Kurt
 

mdurette

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Almost all car rental reservations have no penalty for not picking up your car, unless you made a pre-paid reservation.

Kurt

I think that was the main issue why people stayed in the line and dealt with it. Budget was chepest by $50 for me. But, I also could have saved an additional $40 by paying in advance. When I mentioned to people in line around me that there appeared to be no problem with Alamo since they allowed me to check in on the app and go to the garage....they all mentioned the fact that they didn't want to be out the money already paid and they didn't know if they could cancel.
 

bbodb1

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Just for grins: I've had better experience (and lower prices) flying into Tampa rather than Orlando.
 

Sea Six

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I've noticed the past few years that the companies offer you a cheaper rate if you pre-pay part of the cost. If you don't pre-pay, you pay quite a bit more. I don't recall if the pre-pay is refundable or not.
 

CanuckTravlr

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It indeed can be a problem, especially in high demand areas or more remote locations where cars can't easily be shifted. Peak season weeks and certain days of the week also can make this more likely. There are basically three things that can exacerbate this issue at high demand times/locations:
  1. No penalty for not showing up for a non-prepaid reservation. The rental companies tend to overbook to compensate for this practice.
  2. People booking more than one reservation with different companies to try and protect themselves. The rental companies tend to overbook to compensate for this practice, too.
  3. People not returning their cars on time, so the car that the rental agency overbooked isn't available to anyone.
I have no idea why they don't follow the lead of the hotel companies to help manage their inventory better. Many hotels now charge a minimum one-night charge if a non-prepaid reservation is not cancelled within 24 hours (and in some cases as much as 72 hours) prior to the check-in date. Most rental car companies already assess penalties for #3, but should consider assessing penalties if people don't cancel at least 24 or 48 hours ahead. That would also hopefully allow them to reduce the amount of "overbooking percentage" they use in managing their inventory.

I don't like overbooking practices, whether by rental car agencies or airlines, but it is at least partly a response to practices #1 and #2. As much as I hate overbooking, I certainly understand why they do it and also why people double-book to protect themselves. There is nothing more frustrating than arriving to start your vacation and the rental car you were counting on is not available. It is unfortunately a bit of a vicious circle, but it is not always fully the fault of the rental car company.
 

rickandcindy23

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Maui is a nightmare for rentals with Budget, Thrifty and Dollar. We have had great luck with Alamo on Maui. Rick won't let me book any other cars but Alamo. We waited 3 hours for a car at Thrifty on Maui. It was the worst experience.
 
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Another fall-back would be a non-airport one. For instance, if you want to do Budget, rent both airport and a local one. If the airport is empty, take a LYFT (should be there within 5 minutes) to the neighborhood one. That way, you will still get any frequent renter perks.

I don't own a car, I drive a semi 4-5 weeks per month, and I rent from Enterprise in Zephyrhills FL when I go home. If they don't have a car/truck available, I can rent at another location 15 minutes away (either Dade City or Wesley Chapel). Always have a second option ready to go.

TS
 

Bailey#1

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I learned something new today. Thank you OP for bringing this up!
 

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Sometimes I’ll pay more and use hertz just so I can go and pick my car and leave
 

bbodb1

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With an upcoming vacation on TBI, I have a Hertz reservation at the Kona airport location. I've seen some offers at lower prices with other rental companies but we have a pretty good exprience with Hertz (albeit at other locations). It will likely take a sizable markdown to make us change those reservation plans.
 
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CanuckTravlr

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With an upcoming vacation on TBI, I have a Hertz reservation at the Kona airport location. I've seen some offers at lower prices with other rental companies but we have a pretty good exprience with Hertz (albeit at other locations). It will likely take a sizable markdown to make us change those reservation plans.

We are the same. We are Hertz Gold members and usually use Hertz, including at the Kona airport location, even if they are not always the cheapest. It's great arriving at busy tourist airports, like Kona or Las Vegas, and be able to ignore the line, go straight to our car (or even change the car) and just drive to the check-out gate. The time and convenience makes up for any slight price difference, IMO.
 

CPNY

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Most of the biggie companies have this now.
True. I guess since I almost always check Priceline first, I’ll pay slightly more direct with hertz. But usually I’m all in on Priceline. They have great rates for rental cars.
 

bbodb1

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Most of the biggie companies have this now.

I have seen this noted by others as well, but I have also seen it noted that on some occasions they still had to wait for a vehicle in the high demand areas due to car rental companies overselling their available inventory. I am not suggesting Hertz is spotless on that front, but I don't think I have read nearly as many accounts about having to wait for cars one has a prepaid rental arrangement for with Hertz as I have the other car rental companies.

As an aside, I recall flying into Phoenix recently and seeing a considerable line at the Fox counter. I will not risk vacation time with a Fox rental after seeing something like that.

Here's wishing to a speedy interaction with whatever car rental companies one chooses for their next vacation.
 

louisianab

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My BIL works for Enterprise (national, etc they are all one) and this sometimes doesn't work the way you would think... The airport lots (which is his primary location) can't always control how many cars they have, due to extensions, transfers, deep cleaning things like that. He has had to literally ride with all his co-workers to a different location and drive cars back. He hates it just as much as you do. Now, can they see when they need cars - yes. Can they control how many people brought theirs back filthy and three hours late? Nope. I can't even imagine how MCO would be with all of the crackers ground into the seats and people running behind.
 

bbodb1

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My BIL works for Enterprise (national, etc they are all one) and this sometimes doesn't work the way you would think... The airport lots (which is his primary location) can't always control how many cars they have, due to extensions, transfers, deep cleaning things like that. He has had to literally ride with all his co-workers to a different location and drive cars back. He hates it just as much as you do. Now, can they see when they need cars - yes. Can they control how many people brought theirs back filthy and three hours late? Nope. I can't even imagine how MCO would be with all of the crackers ground into the seats and people running behind.

...and sand from the beaches....
 

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I was in Palm Springs two weeks ago. Had a car rental through Budget that I made via Costco. Same thing - an mind-blowing line that I estimated would take 1.5 hours to get through NO WAY. I abandoned the reservation and took a taxi to my hotel. While eating lunch outside in the sun I called Enterprise and they delivered a car to my hotel and they agreed to let me drop it off at the airport on my way back. Cost me $50 more but well worth it.
 
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