National "choose any car" rental is garbage, right?

Every time I see their “choose any car” commercials, I mean to post this question. Why is it good to be able to choose any car that they have in the lot when you get there? Isn’t this just a trick way of saying that they don’t handle reservations? If I land at some airport with a bunch of instrument cases in tow, I don’t care how cute the Mini Coopers are, I need a damn wagon.

Or, am I missing something?

You chose a car in the category that you reserved. If you reserved a mini van, you pick from the mini vans. If you reserved a compact, you pick from the compacts.

I like it. I want a car with a license plate that is from the same state I’m visiting. I’ll also look for one with satellite radio.

Yes, that’s how it works. They put all of the compact cars in one row, all of the midsize ones in another and you choose from the level you’ve reserved.

You’ll have to take the issue up with our Rental Manager, Mr. Hobson.


Actually, you choose a car in the category they “upgrade” you to because there aren’t any f&cking cars left in the category you “reserved.”

Yeah, I was once “upgraded” to a mid-size. But I didn’t want a flippin’ mid-size, I wanted a compact, which is why I reserved a compact. Getting something I do not want is not an upgrade, even though I was assured by the lady at the desk that it was, and I was getting a super-swell deal since I wasn’t even being charged anything extra. Of course I wasn’t. Why would I be charged extra because they screwed up? Oh, wait, come to think of it, this happens all the time.

U-Haul is bad about this, too. Or at least, they were as of 10 years ago, which is the last time I gave them any of my business. We reserved a 10-foot truck, more than sufficient to carry all my possessions halfway across the country. We were “upgraded” to a 14-foot truck, which had a big overhang that made visibility and navigation more difficult. And there was too much space in the back, so it was a lot harder to secure my stuff so it wouldn’t slide around all over the place. Also, the gas mileage was worse. But we had no alternative, because my apartment lease was up that day and we had to take what they gave us. I guess I should just feel lucky they had a damn truck for us at all.

Oh, Christ, don’t get me started. I once transported approximately one room’s worth of furniture in a Kenilworth sleeper-cab double tractor-trailer* because they didn’t have anything smaller. Despite my having reserved the size I needed two weeks in advance.

*Time may have exaggerated the size of this in my memory somewhat.

OK, this is my last contribution to this hijack, I swear (someone should start a “Bitch about U-Haul” thread), but that 14-foot truck was a brand new truck, and we returned it with a gaping 9-foot gash down the side because we accidentally drove it too close to the steel awning of a Subway restaurant. (BECAUSE THE VISIBILITY IN THAT TRUCK WAS TOTAL ASS AND NEITHER OF US HAD ANY EXPERIENCE DRIVING LARGE TRUCKS, WHICH IS WHY WE RESERVED A 10-FOOT TRUCK.) However, since we had paid for the damage waiver, it cost us nothing. Strangely, this did nothing to lessen my annoyance at the whole situation.

Beautiful. I always wondered why somebody would want “Adventure in moving”, anyway. With my furniture in a truck and the roof over my head depending on a schedule, adventure is the last thing I crave.

My question is: in the commercials they say you “roll right past the counter” and choose any car on the lot. Why do they have a damn counter then?

a) for when you return the car.
b) for when you find something is wrong with the car you got. Like a dead body in the trunk, or whatever.


Okay, serious question this time. I’ve seen two commercials - I’ll assume since I haven’t seen any more, they don’t exist. One features John McEnroe, the other some guy I don’t recognize. Who is that?

See my sig. :wink:

You can prevent this two ways. One is to book two rental car reservations. On the day you are supposed to pick up the car, you call the pickup location and confirm that they will have a compact car for you. Tell them that if they can’t confirm that you have another reservation waiting. Then get the agents name.

The other is that you book through Hotwire. If I arrive and they try to upgrade me, I call hotwire and tell them that the car class I requested isn’t available, what can they do? Miraculously, they get someone to run their asses in the back and clean up one of the returns for me.

Neither option is great. With the first you reserve two cars and someone gets screwed out of some business.

With the second method, you make someone at the rental car company actually do work. One of these days I am going to get stopped by the cops and find out that the rental agent stuffed his stash of cocaine underneath the driver’s seat.

But I always drive compacts and I can’t afford to shell out more money for gas when the rental agents overbook.

Of course, this all reminds me of a scene from Seinfeld:

Why do you want a local plate? I hate having a local plate - I want to be obviously foreign so people are more patient when I don’t know where the hell I’m going. Especially in Pittsburgh.

In some areas, dudes target tourists for thefts.

The horror!