Friday, June 12, 2009

Rental Car Debacle

The rental car for this trip has been the only difficulty in the planning process. Originally, we had planned to drive all of the way from Indianapolis to California. We were going to rent a car to avoid putting the miles on our personal vehicles. I checked prices then and even though we were renting it for over three weeks, the prices weren't bad. Ultimately, we decided to change our plans, fly into Phoenix and fly home from San Francisco. This cut WAY down on the driving and gave us a lot more time to spend on the things that really interested us. I booked the flights and looked into rental cars afterwards. I was blown away by the price difference. The hit came from all of the fees, including a major drop fee charged for picking up the rental car in one city and returning it in another. The flights were already booked and we had no other choice but to rent the car for the three weeks or be stranded in a single city. I checked prices almost every day until I found an acceptable one. After that, I checked back and the price continued to drop as the trip got closer. I cancelled and re-booked the reservation at least 3 times, but it saved over $260 from the original price. By the time it was done, the rental car price dropped from over $1000 to $763. Still more than I had expected to pay, but better than the original amount. When we picked up the rental car, they of course tried to talk us into upgrading from a small car to a mid-size or small SUV. While Steven wasn't thrilled about the prospect of driving a PT Cruiser for 3 weeks, we were less thrilled with the idea of paying $200 more to drive something different.

We noticed almost immediately that the alignment in the car was off and it pulled to the right. Not a big deal, but annoying if we were going to be driving it for three solid weeks. We were too exhausted to do anything about it that night, but in the morning we decided to go ahead and return it and hope they would swap it out for a similar vehicle. Funny enough, they were out of PT Cruisers and ended up giving us a Jeep Compass for the same price. This was the car that the representative had tried to upgrade us to the previous night for $200! We left there with a car that Steven is now not embarrassed to drive. Neither of us were fans of it at first, but it is growing on us and now we like it. I really like the slate blue color and it is great to drive a vehicle that has four doors!

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