The One Thing You Should NOT Do When Rental Cars Are Not Available When You Arrive
…which has caused this scenario to occur significantly more often than in the past: you arrive at the rental car facility — whether you are renting at the airport or in a neighborhood location — and no vehicles are available despite you having a reservation.
The one thing you should not do is cancel your reservation, as canceling your reservation basically releases the rental car company from fulfilling its obligation of providing you with a rental vehicle, which you went through the trouble of securing. You did not expect that scenario to happen; and it is not your fault.
Although nothing is guaranteed, you can try exercising your rights as a customer, as the worst that can happen is that your requests are denied:
Have Them Provide You an Alternative — You went through the trouble of booking the reservation and arriving at the rental car facility — only to not be provided with a car. Ask the agent to provide you with an alternative — even if it means renting from a nearby rental car company; and even if it means that the difference in cost is covered.
Get an Upgraded Vehicle at No Extra Cost — You might be told that no more vehicles are available; but that might only be in the class of vehicle which you reserved. If a better vehicle is available, ask for it at no additional charge. Just keep in mind that as the vehicle model increases in size and weight, that usually means that it will consume more fuel and may cost you more money.
Ask For Expenses to Be Paid — If the supply of rental vehicles is expected to be replenished in several hours due to customers returning vehicles, you may try asking for modest expenses to be covered. One expense might be transportation to and from the hotel at which you are staying or the restaurant at which you are dining instead of waiting several hours in the rental car facility.
Secure a Discount — Ask for a discount for the effort you went through. This could be in the form of less money on the current rental or a coupon which is valid towards a future rental.
If You Have Elite Status — One of the benefits with the elite status which you earned with the frequent renter loyalty program of the rental car company might be that you must be supplied with a vehicle if you booked your reservation in advance. If you have that benefit, use it to your advantage.
Contact the Corporate Office — If all else fails and you are dealing with a stubborn agent or employee who does not seem to care about your plight and giving you proper customer service, contact the corporate office via Twitter or some other form of social media. You can also call the corporate office via telephone or send an e-mail message; but social media usually leads to faster results — and the entire exchange is in writing in case you need to refer to it later..
Final Boarding Call
You have some rights as a customer. When a rental car company is unable to keep its end of an agreement with you, be creative about some sort of compensation for your troubles…
…but remember to remain polite and patient with the agent or employee with whom you are dealing, as the situation is usually not his or her fault. Losing your temper will not help resolve the issue — and may only exacerbate it.