Thursday, January 10, 2013

About That Rental Car

I was in a parking lot, waiting for a Cadillac to pull out of a spot so that I could pull in.  All the handicapped spaces were taken, including one filled with a painter's truck, facing in toward the middle of the lot.  I turned off the radio, rolled up my window, and watched the careful, white haired gentleman maneuver his vehicle out of the space I had my eye on.

And then there was a bump.

It wasn't a big bump.  It didn't make all that much noise.  My car rocked, but just a little.  Something had happened, but I didn't know what.  For a moment, my PTSD-self was seething and tears sprang to my eyes.  I was stuck in the seat, afraid to move, unable to move, not wanting to move.  The moment passed, but it reminded me of how far I have to go to really put this whole getting shot thing away in its proper place.

I got out of the car, leaving the door wide open, when I could move.  I walked to the back right quadrant and there it was, a black mark marring my heretofore pristine rear bumper.  Beneath the discoloration, there was a tear in the plastic of the bumper cover.  The trunk lid didn't meet the corner of the car any more.

That's a lot of damage when one car was stationary and one just getting going, but damaged it was.

"Did you just drive into my car?" I wondered, aloud, over and over again, much to the chagrin of the painter behind the wheel.  He kept reassuring me that he'd heard me the first time, that he had, indeed, begun driving without looking, and that he was sorry.  He was very very very sorry.

He had the insurance card and the registration and I copied down every number and name I could find.  My insurance agent, reached by smartphone with one swipe and two pushes, told me that the police would not come to a parking lot, told me to gather the information I could, and then explained subrogation.

I had two choices.  I could file a claim with my insurance, pay my (huge) deductible, and wait for them to go after the painter's insurance for my reimbursement.  I would get all my money back, but it could take anywhere from three to twelve months.  My second choice was to go directly to the painting company and ask them to file a claim on their own insurance.

I opted for number two, called the employer, explained the situation, and said I would be happy to have them call me back once the receptionist spoke to the owner.  Thirty minutes later, my phone rang.  They didn't want to file a claim.  Would I be willing to get The Schnozz fixed and bring them the bill?  They would be happy to reimburse me.

I laughed, a little and quietly to myself, over "happy"; no one is happy to pay money to repair a mistake.  On the other hand, I felt that I was dealing with a responsible party and that this would be the easiest option.  Though my agent didn't know it, I had a third choice.

My dealership doesn't do body work; they subcontract it out to local shops.  I chose a family owned business and brought them The Schnozz.  Nope, it wouldn't be a problem.  Nope, it wouldn't take too long.  Nope, they didn't have the part in stock.

A week later, they called.  The part - a new bumper and bumper cover - was in.  When did I want to leave my car?  Did I want them to arrange for a rental for me?  Tomorrow and YES were my answers and so, bright and early the next morning, I left my little white car with the repair guys and rode the Enterprise shuttle van to the home location.

I was offered a Mitsubishi of some sort, what the kid behind the counter called "a sports car, like the one you drive."  Sorry, honey, but not really.  I wanted a Honda or a Ford but there weren't any in the lot and I didn't want to hang around until a new shipment of vehicles arrived from their airport location.  I'd take their faux-sports-car and be gone.

The thing made a noise that only a 15 year old boy could love.  It sounded like a sports car, vrroooming and harrumphing as I turned the key in the ignition.  Unfortunately, that sound did not translate to anything the car was doing.... or not doing.  It had no relationship to the operation of the vehicle.  It was just there.  I heard every bump, every imperfection in the road, but I couldn't feel them.  It was the worst of both worlds - noisy and disconnected.

The cowls were so high and the seat so low (even after I cranked the lever as far as it would go) that my side vision was less than wonderful.  I stayed in my lane, not messing with the flow of traffic, so that I wasn't disturbed by my lack of vision.  The window on the driver's side had a support beam that didn't look like it was supporting anything at all.  It was located right before the side mirror; it distracted me every time I tried to see what was on my left.  The instrumentation was ensconced in a deep, dark, canted dashboard; I never could find the clock.

The trunk had a 10" lip between the rear bumper and the trunk floor.  There would be no sliding anything into that space; everything had to be lifted up before going in.  Grocery shopping would get very old very fast if this were my regular vehicle.

There was something rattling around.  I couldn't find it, though it sounded like a giant metal beam hitting the sides of the trunk.  There was nothing there, just the noise and me, tooling down Oracle Road, wondering what new horribleness the vehicle would send my way.

I took that car on my mad adventure yesterday and I was exhausted by the time I drove into the Enterprise parking lot at 5:15pm.  All I wanted was to get out of the car, into their van, and home to my hubby.  Enterprise had other plans for me.

Apparently, I live too far for them to drive me home.  Since I'd been picked up at the body shop, I couldn't fault the van driver for not telling me that my house was out of their delivery area.  But, it seemed to me that someone should have mentioned it to me when I took the car off the lot. The shuttle van was there, the driver looking for something to do, but that something was not going to be taking me home.

Instead, I was told to drive to an Enterprise location closer to my home.

With steam pouring out of my ears, with remarkable restraint, I turned on my heel and walked out. At the doorway, I paused. "For quality and training purposes," I said,"perhaps your staff should alert the patrons if they live too far to be transported home." Then I got back in my noisy car, leaving the twenty-somethings who called me "Miss" when my name was right in front of them, behind.

I sat in traffic, fuming.  I found the second location, walked inside, and was greeted by a smiling young woman who was fully prepared to face my wrath.  The first location had called ahead to warn her.

There was no reason to be mad at her, and I wasn't.  By that time, I was laughing.  Ruefully laughing, but laughing all the same.  In the overall scheme of things, given what I'd been doing and feeling all day, this was a minor inconvenience.  Still and all, it came at the end of a long hard day and it didn't need to happen at all.  I was justifiably peeved, I thought, and I shared my feelings with my new Enterprise representative.

She nodded.  She agreed.  She, too, was flummoxed.  She comped me the gas charge as compensation for my inconvenience... and because she was a genuinely nice person who saw a tired old woman on the verge of a melt down standing before her.  The large young man who drove me home kept up with traffic and agreed with me about the failings of the car they'd rented me.

His take on the whole thing?  The first location did not want that car on their lot, because no one liked driving it.  He thought they just wanted to off-load the vehicle.

I gave him a $5 tip for the three minute ride, collected my belongings, and fled into my house.  I was carless but I was home.  TBG listened to my tale of woe, couldn't figure out a reason for their tossing me out onto the street, and then we turned on the television and watched me talk about Christina-Taylor and GRIN to every newscaster in the greater Tucson area.

It was a mundane problem.  I'm so lucky to be here to have them.

7 comments:

  1. Perspective. It's everything, isn't it?

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  2. Sharon is right. I had a similar problem with that car company. I think they need to change their policies!

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  3. I hate dealing with rental car companies. Any of them. They all act like they are doing you some sort of favor by renting their cars to you. I was hit in my minivan at a light not this past Christmas, but the Christmas before. I didn't even deal with my own insurance because I would have had to pay the deductible. It wasn't my fault. Why should I have to pay a dime for someone else's mistake. The other woman's insurance was with Geico and they were awesome. Took care of everything--including a rental car and covered the purchase of a new car seat for my toddler. The whole thing was done and completed in two weeks.

    Hubby's German car took over three months to get fixed when he was hit. It was a couple of months after the tsunami and parts were hard to come by from Japan. Not sure why his German car needed parts from Japan, but it did. So it sat at the body shop for three months. We did fight with the other person's insurance company about making the car payments for those three months. But we didn't have to pay anything out of pocket. What was even better was the car was a lease and since it had gap insurance, BMW just took it back at the end of the lease. I wouldn't have kept it because it had over $18k worth of damage. I was just so happy my children were not in the car when it happened. http://i46.tinypic.com/14266fr.jpg

    Sorry for the fiasco with the rental car company. You would think they would be a bit more accommodating, but it's been my experience they are not.

    Glad you are home and safe. :)


    Megan xxx

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  4. We also had a bad experience with a car rental company in Tucson but some years back and different company. We returned the auto and it all sounded fine until sometime later when they tried to charge us for damage to the car. It had mud on it and supposedly dents. We had done none of that and contacted our insurance company to deal with it. The rental agency dropped the claim because obviously they should have said something when they came out to check it at the return. What we figured happened is one of their employees used it that next night. Just guessing. What I learned is when you return a car, take photos and then there can be no questions.

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  5. Isn't it nice to be talking about the everyday things? I wish I could be as relaxed as I should be about this, but hearing all of you sharing my angst makes me feel free to let it go: AIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

    Thanks <3
    a/b

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  6. May I recommend AAA Insurance and Hertz Car Rental.

    Your situation with the insurance company gave me the willies. They should have handled that whole situation, getting your car fixed and then going after the other guy. Shouldn't be your job. I had a minor accident and by the time I got over the phone with my AAA person, I had a call from the rental car company, telling me they had a car for me. I didn't need it. My car was drivable. I would take my car to be repaired after school was out and I could leave the car for an extended period while I was out of town. The insurance company also had a repair shop that they recommended and it was excellent. The service was outstanding.

    We have rented Hertz cars for years and the service is impeccable. They were the only car rental company that let us pick up a van in California and drop it off in Oregon with no extra fees. Or i could pick it up in Oregon and drop it off in California. They even drove an hour to bring us a new van when the one we had got a flat tire. Then, the drivers unloaded the van and reloaded our stuff into the replacement van. Good company.

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  7. We all know that there are many car agencies or car rental companies in the market which offers some car rental services.Many of them has their own websites so people can hire a car at online.

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