25 August 2017

Budget Car Rental - a not-so-budget-friendly experience

I am recently returned from a whirlwind trip to the Okanagan Region of British Columbia, Canada. My friend Tami and I traveled to this area to cheer on my friend, Deb, as she participated in the World Championships for the Sprint Duathlon (Run-Bike-Run) in Penticton, British Columbia. Deb was amazing!
Deb and I - best friends since high school.
I'll write more about my extended weekend in Peachland, British Columbia later but right now I have to write about the shady tactics of the Vancouver International Airport Budget Car Rental...

When I planned my trip to Deb's event, I did everything online - lodging, air and car rental.  I stuck with Budget for the car rental because they usually have the best prices and I've always received very good customer service and dependable cars.  I found a good rate and locked in my reservation, not to worry about it again - or so I thought.

Tami and I arrived in Vancouver late on a Friday night and we still had a four hour drive so we just wanted to get to the car, load up and head out. Everything was moving along smoothly in the plan until it came time to sign the contract, provide my credit card and get the key.  I was quite surprised when the estimated total came out CA$120 more than the total I received when I booked the car. I asked the customer service representative, Dylan, what the deal was with the additional charge. He told me that because I booked through USAA, they added the "Loss Damage Waiver" (at CA$25 additional per day) and that because USAA added it, he could not remove it.  I questioned him on this, even argued with him but he insisted that there was nothing he could do.  I either signed the contract with the added charge or I wouldn't get the car.

I signed the contract, got the keys and off we went.  We had an amazing weekend (more on that to follow) and I decided I would contact Budget when I got back to see what they could, or would do.

3 days after I sent my email explaining the situation, I received a very nice email from Maria H who sent me her kindest regards while explaining that the service I received was unprofessional and I could rest assured that the situation would be corrected for future renters.  And then I got to the part in the email when she tells me that I'm basically SOL because, "The renter authorizes additional coverage and that decision is noted on the rental agreement when the customer signs for the coverage. We have checked our records carefully and find that additional coverage was offered to you, and you indeed signed the agreement...therefore no adjustment is due."  She didn't even address the issue of me being told that I either sign for it or don't get the car.  I'm a little peeved, a lot disgusted and pretty irritated with myself for not standing by my guns stronger.

Needless to say, I will NOT be renting from Budget again and I advise you, as a renter, to not give in - if you don't want the additional coverage, don't take it.  No matter what the little customer service dude threatens you, you do NOT have to take the additional insurance if you don't want it.  I wish I had stood my ground a little bit more.  Learn from my mistake, friends.  And don't look to a company to do what's right.