Why I Do Not Like Alamo Better Than Other Rental Car Companies
J eanne Marie Hoffman of Le Chic Geek professes in this article her “love” for Alamo Rent a Car based on her experiences — to which I must respectfully disagree based on my experiences.
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.
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.
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.
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.