Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A "Little" Budget Rent A Car Gotcha!

I'm always open to a deal if one is offered. So while looking through Expedia.ca to get a rental car, it was quite striking to see Budget offering a Midsize car for $130 while everyone else was charging $190 or $210 or more. So naturally I went with Budget.

Then last night I remembered that with a past rental I had to pay a daily surcharge if taking the car into the U.S. I absolutely know that this is not the case with other rental companies such as Avis.

So I carefully read through the Budget Terms and Conditions. There was no mention of any specific surcharge, though there was an item that said I had to inform the company that I was taking it into the U.S. Still, I was suspicious. So I wrote them, asking them for details. It's now the next day and there's no word back from them. So I called their office.

Sure enough, the following surcharges apply if the car is taken out of B.C.:

  • $10 per day if taken into Washington
  • $15 per day if taken into Oregon
Immediately that $130 "great" rate doesn't seem so great anymore! Question: Why couldn't these rates be included in their terms and conditions? Is it too much suggest that their exclusion is very much deliberate? Many consumers have been trapped by "lost leaders" before. I don't see this as much different.

I immediately canceled the Budget reservation and am going with Avis. A bit more at first glance but not when the final bill comes. Besides, the Avis people in Vancouver are the very nicest & most professional of any car rental agency.

Update: One week after I got home, I received this e-mail from Budget, followed by my response back to them:

Hello Mr. Werner,

Thank you for contacting Budget.

We apologize for the delay in responding to your question. The amount of
$130.76 CAD would have been the final amount you would have paid unless
you accepted any of the additional insurance, prepay gas, additional
driver, added any additional days to the rental etc. All of those items
would have increased your rate.

Again, we apologize for the delay in response and thanks for choosing Budget.

Joni M./Budget Customer Service Email Dept.


Not only have you contacted me over a week after I returned but your information is actually incorrect. Perhaps you're not aware, but there is a hidden cost never mentioned in any of your literature that renters taking your Vancouver vehicles down to Washington State have to pay an additional $10.00 per day or $15.00 per day if taken into Oregon.

I mean no personal offence to you but if you were in my shoes, would you ever deal with Budget again?

Robert W.

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