About halfway through a 3,755-mile road trip from Orlando to Seattle, I had a little reality check. It happened a few minutes into an hour-long interview with an NPR show in Madison, Wis., when the topic swerved toward unruly kids in a car. “How to survive a road trip with your kids”
Are you a good driver? Serious question.
Don’t answer just yet. Experts say it’s not how you feel about your skills — most surveys suggest people consistently overrate their driving acumen — but how other drivers feel about you. A recent study by CheapCarInsurance.net offers a clue: It says a full 19% of drivers are cut off by another motorist daily. “Are you a good driver?”
Everything seemed fine with the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited that Vitor Soares rented from an independent rental company called Super Car Rentals in Aruba. But it wasn’t.
On the second afternoon of his two-day rental, the vehicle broke down.
“We tried to engage the reverse gear to get back to the correct path; the car simply stopped moving,” he remembers. “After that we immediately called Super Car Rentals, and they sent us a third-party towing truck to take care of the car.”
That’s when the trouble really started. The tow truck driver handed him a bill for $400, which he refused to pay, since he hadn’t dispatched the truck, and he considered it to be the car rental company’s responsibility.
“My rental stopped running and now they want me to pay $6,523!”
Question: We rented a car for our month-long vacation in Baltimore through Dollar Rent-A-Car recently. I was quoted a rate of $872 for an economy car.
When we arrived at the counter, we were told they didn’t have any economy cars but that they would give us a midsize car. Even though the gas mileage would be worse than we had planned, we grudgingly accepted.
“Dollar’s ‘additional driver’ fee that won’t go away”
Question: A couple of weeks ago, my family and I took a trip to Hilton Head Island. We booked a rental car with Enterprise and the fine print in the contract said there would be an additional charge of $5 a day for “each additional authorized driver other than a spouse or domestic partner.”
I checked this language specifically, because my partner and I are partners, not spouses. We live in Canada (though we’re US citizens) and are “common-law spouses” (a domestic partnership category) under Canadian law.
When we arrived to pick up the car at the Savannah, Ga., airport, we were told we had to pay the extra fee because we were not married. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the document with the above language printed out, so I had to choose between signing the paperwork at the counter or finding a car from another agency.
Naturally, I chose to sign the paperwork; I had already waited in line for nearly half an hour, and I would almost certainly have had to pay a substantially higher rate as a last-minute walk-up at another agency.
When we got to Hilton Head, I looked up the information in my email, called Enterprise’s customer service line, and explained the situation. The gentleman with whom I spoke initially told me that “of course” we wouldn’t have to pay the extra fee if we were domestic partners. He then put me on hold to call the Savannah airport counter.
When he came back on, he told me that he had been wrong: the domestic partner exclusion applied only to same-sex domestic partners, not opposite-sex domestic partners.
I explained that the contract they sent to me did not specify “same-sex domestic partners.” It merely said “domestic partners.”
He agreed with me that we should not have to pay the fee, in his opinion, but said there was nothing he could do because that was company policy. He suggested that I register a formal complaint; I did so, but no one has gotten back to me. — Stacey Koprince, Montreal
Answer: If your contract promised domestic partners didn’t have to pay a fee for an additional driver, then Enterprise shouldn’t have charged you an extra $5 a day.
“The Travel Troubleshooter: An unmarried driver fee? How enterprising”