Why I Do Not Like Alamo Better Than Other Rental Car Companies
Exactly one year ago today, I reported in this article pertaining to the changes of the terms and conditions of the Alamo Insiders frequent renter loyalty program, which became effective as of Monday, June 16, 2014. The purpose of the changes is to update the member discount to five percent off of the retail rates for vehicle rentals in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, and Latin America — the discount for members used to be ten percent — and to remove the free “Additional Authorized Driver.”
I concluded that article with this statement: “As for me, I have avoided using Alamo Rent a Car for many years since they reneged on the terms of a deal I contracted with them; and they would not relent. It appears as though I have not really missed anything…”
Of course, there is always the saying “never say never” — and who knows if I will ever again rent a vehicle from Alamo Rent a Car — but note that the title of the article is Why I Do Not Like Alamo Better Than Other Rental Car Companies and not Why I Dislike Alamo More Than Other Rental Car Companies. It is similar to the statement by pharmaceutical companies that “no pain reliever is more effective” because they cannot claim that “our pain reliever is stronger and far more effective” if it is not true…
…so please allow me to go through the list by Jeanne, where I can impart my experiences.
1. They tend to have cheaper rates than most of the big players.
That has not necessarily been my experience. With special offers and promotions — such as this one on which I reported yesterday pertaining to earning 1,000 Hyatt Gold Passport frequent guest loyalty program points, a one-class car group upgrade, and up to 25 percent off of the cost of the vehicle rental — I have found by personal experience that less expensive rates vary by a variety of factors — too varied to arrive at a conclusion. Sometimes it is Avis. Sometimes it is Europcar. Even Hertz — which is typically more expensive — has sometimes been either the least expensive or the best value overall. Go figure…
2. You can choose your car off the lot
Like Jeanne, I have elite level status with National Car Rental; and I believe that they are the best company when it comes to choosing any car you like from the designated Emerald Aisle section on the lot. Other times at other rental car companies, I am usually satisfied with the car which had been assigned to me.
3. You can check in on the kiosk
“Rental car companies = long lines”, Jeanne wrote. “And I have status with National, but I can’t justify the cost of their rentals to skip the lines.”
I have to confess a disclaimer: I use a corporate code whenever I rent from National Car Rental — and yes, I have permission to use that code from the company for whom I have been contracted to do work over the years — so my rates are usually competitive with other rental car companies. However, for a variety of reasons — such as no facility at a destination where I need a rental car, for example — I have not rented vehicles with National Car Rental nearly as often as I have in the past; although I do have one upcoming rental reservation.
As for skipping lines, I have rented from a variety of rental car companies in recent years; and I honestly cannot recall the last time I waited in line.
That is not to say that kiosks are useless. I think they are a great idea. I use kiosks whenever possible for flights operated by Delta Air Lines. They are quick and easy to use, with virtually never a line. I just have not found myself in a line at a rental car facility in recent years. Perhaps I have been fortunate.
4. Gas prices are so much cheaper
“I don’t worry about bringing a car back to Alamo with not enough gas in it. There’s no significant up-charge to it.”
That is a good feature; but I suppose that I have been so conditioned over the years to fill up the car before returning it to the facility that I do not even think about it anymore — I just do it. I have rarely had to go out of my way to stop at a service station for fuel; and when I do stop at one, the gasoline is usually at a lower price per gallon than most of its competitors.
Losing a Customer: Is it Really Worth It?
Although Jeanne has found their customer service has been “really easy to work with,” the aforementioned poor customer experience from years ago has kept me from returning — meaning that I have not rented a car from Alamo Rent a Car in years.
Was it really worth it to them to have lost me as a customer over something they should have honored? Who knows how many thousands of dollars in business they have lost from me alone? There are times where employees of companies really need to offer better service to their customers — especially when it involves reneging on a deal, which can erode trust.
Although it was an error, I will not forget when Thrifty Car Rental offered its customers a free rental car day — only to revoke it with nothing more than an apology:
I will not mention the name Fuddrucker’s, but there was a fast-food restaurant chain which committed a similar error just a few days ago, proclaiming a special offer at two locations in Nebraska — and I am based in Georgia. That anonymous restaurant chain then sent a follow-up e-mail message to me saying that that offer was only good for those residents in Nebraska and that it was sent to me by mistake — not that the offer was anything great anyway.
I promptly removed myself from their e-mail list as a result, as they lost me as a customer — and I will most likely do the same with Thrifty Car Rental even though I have not been a customer for years. Companies need to be more careful pertaining to their e-mail communications with their customers and be more diligent about preventing such boneheaded mistakes from happening in the first place as a result of their “eagerness.” Mistakes happen, sure — but to send out an e-mail message like the one above by mistake and then not at least offer the customer a token of good will other than “sorry” is just plain wrong.
In addition to Thrifty Car Rental and Alamo Rent a Car, I also no longer rent from Enterprise Rent A Car as a result of this policy pertaining to returning a car after hours, which cost me an extra day to rent a car which I only needed for one day. Management would not budge. Fine. They do not need me as a customer anyway.
By the way — before anyone points this out to me — yes, I know that for all intents and purposes, there are basically only three rental car companies in the United States; and that Enterprise, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent a Car are all part of the same company, as I reported back on Saturday, March 31, 2007…
Then again, it certainly does not hurt that all three rental car companies are owned by the same company known as Enterprise Holdings — so the only question I have about this “alliance” is why it was not launched sooner.
Did you know that there are actually only three major rental car companies serving the United States after Hertz Global Holdings acquired Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group in 2012? Perhaps Hertz Global Holdings and Avis Budget Group should follow the lead of Enterprise Holdings and form their own “alliances” between the rental car companies in their respective portfolios — but I digress.
…but I still have plenty of rental car companies from which to choose — so I am fine.
To reiterate, I am not blasting Jeanne or criticizing her opinion; rather, I am simply relating my experiences, which are different than hers…
…and it is all of us having different experiences and opinions which keep the world interesting.
By the way, Jeanne and I have an agreement in place where we intend to be “guest bloggers” at each others’ weblogs. I truly look forward to that, as that should be quite interesting!
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.