Looking Unlucky

The last time we rented a car, Sparky and I ended up with flea bites and had to completely decontaminate our clothes and luggage. It was awful not to mention uncomfortable. We swore that we’d never rent a car from that company ever again – even with the paltry $100 in coupons good toward our next (never going to happen) rental. The plan for the vacation to Florida was to rent a car that was a little bigger than my Prius C or his Honda Fit. We had hoped to get a Honda RAV4 or maybe a Subaru Forester. We reserved a vehicle. All was going as planned. The rental company contacted us to see if we could pick up the car earlier than we had planned and it was completely doable. I drove Sparky to the airport and dropped him off at the rental desk and headed home.

He drove the car back home on a Saturday late afternoon and upon entering the house his first words were, “You are not going to be happy.” His second announcement was that the rental company had given us a “free” upgrade to a Chevy Impala. By then I was looking at him with a foreboding in my heart. The tale of woe unfolded. He was given the key, signed papers and they pointed him out the door. By the time he walked from the door to the parking area and realized there was a problem, the rental desk was closed, dark and not a soul to be found. He drove the car home with the window down in below freezing temperatures because the car stunk of cigarette smoke. He was very unhappy. He mentioned that maybe I should check it out as it might be that he’s overly sensitive to smoke. Just to be clear, he cannot smell a natural gas leak. His sense of smell is deficient when it comes to most cooking odors. He asks me to sniff milk cartons and lunchmeat since he can’t detect if they’ve gone bad. So I went to the rental and opened the door. It reeked in a gagging, struggling for breath, turning green kind of way. He tried to call the rental company at the airport. No answer. He called the corporate number. He had some difficulty making it clear what the problem was. The response from corporate was that “The employees responsible would be harshly reprimanded.” We really didn’t care about their internal amercement policy, we just wanted to know how we could get a different, non-stinky car. The bottom line was the car was the car and we were stuck. We put the car in the garage and left the windows down over night in hopes we could air it out. Fat chance.

We drove from 6:00 AM to 5:00 PM the first day and 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM the second day. We both had headaches. I had to wash my hair before I could go to bed to get the stench out. Our coats and clothes smelled of smoke. Going back was just as bad. At least during the quarantine I managed to was all our clothes, Febreeze the daylights out of the suitcases, air out the coats, and freshen the backpacks and geobags. They made the mistake of sending us a customer satisfaction survey. Needless to say I had a strongly worded review. That makes 2 car rental companies that are off the list.

72 thoughts on “Looking Unlucky

    1. I was very put out! They mentioned that we could turn it in and get another on Monday but by then we’d be in Florida. Of course since the hurricanes went through the bridge to the island is out and it is an hour detour to get to the mainland and then another hour to the airport. Just not worth it – especially since the rental office at the airport in Florida didn’t have any smaller cars (nor any Impalas). A complaint has been filed. I’m not holding my breath (anymore since I basically did that all the way and back from FL).

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  1. Maybe when you returned the car you could of sprayed some cheap perfume before you turned in the keys. Customer service has gone to hell in a handbasket as Grandma would of said. To bad you couldn’t name the companies.

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    1. Ha! I can name the companies! National has fleas and Avis stinks like cigarettes. We did have a really good experience with Budget rental but there isn’t one here. They are on the short list of good experiences! I hope the next person to get that car is a smoker because anyone else will me miserable!

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        1. If our cars were not so old we’d probably not rent but for a cross country trip we figured renting was a safer option… of course I’m revising that opinion after this last debacle.

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                    1. The modern trucks body style and brand we like has not changed much in twenty years. Plus emissions motors are very expensive to repair and are known for problems. Elmo is paid off so we are ok with keeping and fixing.

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                    2. I would not say we are ahead but we have our house paid off also. We live within our means the few small loans we have are to keep business relationships open and we could have bought outright.

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                    3. I disagree! Most couples your age are just starting to pay their mortgages and have another 20 years before they can say they own their homes! And to have bought and paid off Elmo is quite the achievement!! You two make a good team and whatever you are doing financially is wonderful!

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    1. I’m happy to amuse! You know if we didn’t laugh we’d have to cry. I think you posted about the stolen camper and then about your new one… I’m glad you were able to recover it but it would have been better if it hadn’t been trashed!

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  2. I was a heavy 40 a day smoker by the time Hubby and I met. We never smoked in the car, nor the rented flat, and cut down consideraby, giving up completely in 1991 when we got married. We cannot abide the smell of cigarettes
    and have been know to come home, strip and showere because we had been in close proximity to someone for some time. We aksed for a different htel room because the one we were given smelt of tobacco, and we had said we wanted a non smoking room when we made our booking. The rental company was out of order and over here,
    you are not allowed to smoke or have pets in rental vehicles.

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    1. I would have never pegged you for a smoker! I suppose back in the day, I was the anomaly being a non-smoker… I wish there were more rules against smoking and pets in rentals. My parents both smoked for many years. When my father quit it took another 5 years before my mother was able to kick the habit. Once she did she realized how stinky cigarette smoke was. She still apologizes for subjecting us kids to the smoke!!

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      1. I’m glad we quit, and don’t miss it. My nerves were so bad at the time, I couldn;t believe I was getting through 2 pack a day, but then a lot of my friends smoked, so maybe it wasn’t all me. Can’t stand the smell now at all.

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    1. We didn’t have much choice as our timeline wasn’t very flexible… In the future We will both go to get the car and I’ll check it out before Sparky leaves the rental counter. No way will there be a repeat!

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  3. That is awful! I can empathize since I also have trouble with smoking odors. I definitely wouldn’t want to deal with those car companies again – especially after experiencing the way that they didn’t make it right for you! I hope that you never experience anything like that again.

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    1. Hi Carolyn! I haven’t heard from you is so long!! It was awful but we survived and complained… We haven’t heard anything from the rental company but I guess they aren’t concerned with building customer loyalty. Thanks for commenting!

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      1. I got so busy, I just didn’t get over here at all; but I’m trying to change that this year…. a resolution, if you will. šŸ˜‰ Good to catch up some again! šŸ™‚

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    1. I mentioned the names in a comment and I definitely mentioned names in the online review. I just didn’t think most would be interested… National Car Rental had fleas and Avis Car Rental was the car with the smoke stench. I gave them “both barrels” when I reviewed them on tripadvisor.

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          1. and hopefully a lot more if they read your reviews … I’m a very intermittent customer for most things but I sure check those reviews before I spend my dosh!

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  4. Since the car stunk of cigarette smoke, they absolutely should have let you have a different car, and apologized to you as well. We had a problem with a stinky rental car once, but it stank of body odor, not smoke. It wasn’t too noticable at first first, but after you were in the car a while, you could really smell it. Now the first thing we do before we drive a rental car off the lot is to sniff the interior thoroughly!

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    1. Absolutely – Avis by name… I was very unhappy. I complained. I wrote a bad review. Silence on their end. I suppose they just don’t care. One customer doesn’t make any difference!

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        1. We’ve used Budget with out an issue but they don’t have a presence in our town… Enterprise is okay too but their hours are goofy and since we couldn’t get the car by noon they were out of the running. I think next time I’ll get some one to take me to Enterprise in the morning!

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