The Rental Car Gas Game

June 17, 2007 5:01 pm

There I was, once again moving towards the counter, anxious that I was going to get beat by those smart people who silently laugh at me as I ask seemingly stupid questions. It is clear that they know what I am going to ask even before I ask. I am convinced that they know just how to answer me in order to confuse me even more.

It is their job and they are damned good at it! You now who they are…

I am talking about the highly trained and very sly counter clerks of the “evil” Rental Car Companies. Let me ask this: is there some specific reason that the various rental car companies try to confuse and confound the end user? (aka. ME) Don’t try to pretend because this had happened to you too.. I am just brave enough to admit it!Here is how the game is played: First, when you rent car there is the process of filling out all of the paperwork that requires an endless number of initials and Rental Car Gas Gamesignatures. This is how they first get you off your guard. Then they look to get you to buy add-ons that, at first, seem innocent enough.Somehow they are not interested in explaining that most major credit cards will cover you if you them to pay for the car. It is also not in their interest to explain that there is the potential for coverage with you current car insurance policy. (Of course the extent of the coverage for both of these points will depend on your card and insurance policy)

None the less, it is very clear that rental companies earn a terrific margin on the insurance coverage. Here is a little know secret… I have a friend that was in the business for many years. She told me that part of the basic training the rental car companies provide to all new sales people is the “positive head shake”. It goes like this: When the agent explains the insurance option, they will shake their head up and down continually to try to have the renter mimic the “YES” gesture. It seems that there are some physiological studies that have shown that a yes or no shake will influence another person to do the same thing.

Trivial…sure, but they really want you to buy those extras! That is the smallest of issues though. What really gets me is what I call the “Rental Car Gas Game.” This is the game that renters (ME again!) always seem to lose. Maybe it is just me, but every time I rent a car, I have to hire a team of math professors to help me figure out my itinerary, the gas mileage of the car, metrological conditions, traffic potential as well as the number and locations of gas stations close to the rental car return.

Once I have all of the information lined up and calculated, then, and only then, can I make an educated decision on which option to take: 1) the fuel up-front or 2) the full tank option. I have come to realize that not matter which I choose, even with all of the best research, I will end up choosing the wrong one. It never fails, the cost will eventually be higher than if I would chooses the other option. (Usually I end up paying an additional $25 in fuel charges..am I alone in this?)

Either I am stupid, or this is intentional by them. Actually, either way I am stupid. I can only believe that by confusing the renter, the rental company will profit. Again, maybe it is just me, but this is one of those things that I just throw up my arms in shamed surrender. Okay, Okay…I lose.. I am a loser…

Does anyone else have this same problem with this or is it just me? BE HONEST!!!!!!

You can leave a response here.

(Disclosure: It cost me an additional $25 in fuel charges today…)

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