Day 1: Car Rental Hell, and a happy ending

by Heligirl on October 26, 2010

in Daily Ramblings

I took the family to Maui for five days in conjunction with a meeting I needed to attend. It was a massive adventure I’m sharing in parts. If you missed the plane ride from hell, you can check it out here.

When we last left our heroes, they’d finally gotten their luggage and were looking forward to getting their car and retreating to a hotel room, pool and Mai Tais.

After getting our luggage, we rented a $4 cart and hauled everything down the sidewalk to the car rental area. All cars were off site. You just needed to check in and wait for the shuttle. Since we decided to get a car at the last minute, my options were limited, but I thought I was very fortunate to get the deal I did with Thrifty. Turns out there was a reason they had cars left.

First sign was the fact that everyone except for Thrifty and Dollar had a person at the airport. Those two had signs saying call for a shuttle.

In the shuttle waiting area, each car rental agency had its own shuttle. Incidentally, they all came and went twice while we waited. Thrifty and Dollar however shared a shuttle. It pulled up to the Dollar area and everyone in that line piled on. I got on with the kids, lifted on a car seat (that had a backpack strapped in it), the stroller and my purse. When I turned to see where Hubby was, a bunch of people had cut him off and now he couldn’t get on with me because the shuttle was full.

“I’ll catch the next one. Get the car,” he yelled as the doors closed. I tried not to panic. How was I going to get the kids, their stuff and myself off before the shuttle raced off to Dollar?

I did it with the help of a nice lady passenger who noticed I was leaving my husband behind. However, once we unloaded everything we had to carry it all into the building and stand in line. Needless to say, I was the last one in line and needed that same lady to help me haul the car sear into the building.

Then we waited. And waited. And waited. There were three agents working on Hawaiian time plus some. It was taking 15-20 minutes or more for each person to get their car. What the hell? Hubby arrived, took the kids and went outside to entertain them. Forty minutes later I finally got to the front of the line thanks to the kindness of the lady in front of me who let me go ahead of her.

“How are you today?” the agent asked. I really wanted to comment about how that was a loaded question. She took the required name, credit card number, driver’s license info. Then came the sales pitches.

“We have a great deal on upgrades today. Let me show you what we have.”

“No, I’m fine.”

“Are you sure? It isn’t much more and you’ll be far more comfortable.”

“I’m sure.”

She didn’t ask if I wanted insurance. She told me what kind of insurance was recommended, showed me a list of choices and said she’d go ahead and put me down for the best deal.

“No, I have insurance.”

“Are you sure? Most people say that, but the law is different in Hawaii. Did you check with your insurance company to assure you’re covered here? You might not be.”

I had a long talk with an insurance friend about the car rental insurance scam and know very well I’m covered everywhere. I told her I was fine. She made me give her my insurance information and sign a waiver.

She started to look annoyed. She then pulled out the list of choices I had for refueling the car. If I did it in town, it was about $3.95 a gallon. If I returned it with less than full, they charged me $5.40 a gallon. Or I could take advantage of their excellent deal and buy a full tank now at $3.60. She’ll just put me down for that.

“NO! I’ll gas up myself.”

“Are you sure? We’re very strict about that. We’ll require you to bring a receipt the gas was bought within 10 miles within the hour of dripping off the car to assure it’s a full tank. If you don’t have a receipt we will charge you $5.40 a gallon for a full tank of gas.”

Now I lost my patience. I’d never heard of this before.

“Are you serious? Whatever happened to checking the gage when you drop off the car?”

“You could have filled it up on the other side of the island and when the next person gets the car, it reads full for a few miles then drops down.”

“Whatever, I’ll fill it when I return.”

“You have to have that receipt. If you don’t produce it, you’ll get charged. We won’t ask to see it.”

“I.Will. Fill. The. Car.”

“Ok then. I’ll go get your keys. Be right back.”

She wasn’t gone more than 10 seconds when another woman comes up and asks how I’m doing. I give her a look. I can hear my children screaming in the parking lot as they’re now past hungry and tired. We landed almost 2 hours ago.

“Are you here with your family?”

“Yes, that’s them, screaming in the parking lot because this is taking forever.”

“Well, then, today’s your lucky day. We have some great deals and discounts for your family to enjoy the island.”

I glanced at her nametag. She wasn’t with the car rental agency. She was a freaking timeshare sales person. She was hitting me up for a timeshare presentation before I’d left the airport property.

“Are you kidding? You’re trying to sell me a timeshare presentation after I’ve flown 6 hours and waited in line 40 minutes then endured a car rental sales pitch for 10 more while my children scream in the parking lot?!” I yelled to the group of hot, tired folks standing in line looking very frustrated with the process: “This is taking so long because they’re trying to sell us timeshare presentations!”

Finally my car keys came and the lady told me I didn’t need to be so rude, they were just asking and I had every right to say no.

“Give me my car.”

She gave me the keys and my receipt. I left.

It wasn’t until I was on the road that I realized they didn’t give me a map. And nowhere in their small print did it say anything about getting a receipt within 10 miles and within an hour of dropping it off. Bastards.

We grabbed lunch and hit Safeway for diapers, milk, cereal and whatnot then ran to the hotel.

When we got to Wailea things got much better. The reception lady at the resort took pity on me and upgraded us to a suite so the kids had a separate room to nap. They had a portable crib standing by for Mr. Man. And when we got to the room we saw we got a partial ocean view to boot!

Chilling by the pool after our travel ordeal. My expression says it all.

Then we went in search of the pool. They have an amazing kiddy pool with sand in the water at one end Mr. Man could crawl around in and a water park area on the other. The water came to Sweetness’ waist in the water park area. The kids were thrilled and loved it. It was easier for us too as all we needed to do was stand nearby rather than hold the kids for fear they’d fall and drown.

By dinner we were in much better moods and the reality sank in. We made it. We were in Hawaii together. Now it had to be seen if the kids would sleep”¦


Carol @ Knee Deep October 26, 2010 at 8:54 am

Girl! What an ordeal! We honeymooned on Maui. I imagine it was worth every second of frustration and irritation. How awesome that you all got to go, some people wait a lifetime to go to Hawaii!
Carol @ Knee Deep recently posted: Little Girl Lost – My Nightmare

Twitter: Heligirl
October 26, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Thanks for the reality check, Carol. You’re so right. Yes, we were in fact very lucky to have this trip where our hotel, my plane ticket and my meals were covered. We certainly would not have made the trip together otherwise. There were some really great parts too. Stay tuned. It was just the first day that sucked big time. 🙂

Twitter: solarchief
October 26, 2010 at 11:57 am

Did you forget the extra charge for the extra driver? The special insurance that has to do with the ‘other uninsured’ driver on the Island? If you don’t get it and there’s an accident and you don’t have their insurance coverage, then YOU CAN’T LEAVE THE ISLAND! Not to mention that the car you ordered on line won’t have automatic windows (YOU WILL HAVE TO ROLL DOWN YOUR OWN WINDOW!)… I reported them to the DA’s office for scamming and fraud. Waiting for hearing date.

So glad you had a good time, once you were able to enjoy the trip. Traveling with small children is masochistic… but that minute and a half of fun is well worth it, don’t you think?
SharleneT recently posted: Opening Night for Is He Dead and NC Fair Entry Follow-Up

Twitter: Heligirl
October 26, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Seriously, Sharlene? That happened to you too? I feel like they hire con artists to work for that company. Luckily, the chair of the organization that was meeting on Maui is also on the board for the Maui Chamber of Commerce. She was very interested in my story and was going to bring it up with them.

And yes, once we got to the pool and the kids got soooooo excited about playing in the water it was all worth it. 🙂

Momma Drama October 26, 2010 at 6:27 pm

oh my. that sounds way worse that the airplane ride… I would have been ready to KILL someone! Sounds like you were too. That’s ridiculous about the gas stuff… I’ve rented cars plenty of times (every other month for 3 years). They’re just trying to take advantage of travelers that have probably never been to Hawaii before!

Glad you had fun once you guys got to the pool. Carol’s right… some of us wait our whole lives to get to go there! 🙂
Momma Drama recently posted: Im a Teen Mom

Deb in W Sea October 31, 2010 at 11:27 pm

Oh how I know rental car scams. I just got through one from Hertz who charged me 6 months later for a flat tire on a car with 23000 miles. And they tried to slip in an oil change charge. The night it happened just outside Detroit I called their number for naught since I did not buy extra coverage, waited on a busy road with a child for over an hour for AAA as it was getting dark. No accident, no extreme driving conditions, just didn’t buy their insurance-and hidden in their latest 40 page contract is a clause that makes you responsible for about everything. My insurance finally got them to back off, but what a headache, I hate car rental companies!

Twitter: Heligirl
November 1, 2010 at 6:37 am

Yikes, that’s terrible Deb! I had a long chat with my insurance company and they assured me my insurance covers a car I’m driving in an accident, even the rental car. Nothing gets my hackles up when it comes to being a consumer like a company that lies to you about that stuff, meaning the rental car companies. Enterprise really is the only one I’ve dealt with that has been courteous, focused on the customer, no heavy sales pitches (they ask, you say no, they say OK rather than lay in on the guilt trips), and I love that they walk you out to help assure you’re happy with the car. Thank for stopping by Deb and sharing your experience. 🙂

HiLLjO August 2, 2011 at 10:24 am

Sweet love of jeeze… I can’t believe the idiocy of people that call a rental-car line a sales-pitch platform.

“You don’t need to be so rude…”
I would have shown them how rude a Danish needs to be… oh yah. You are an angel or something for dealing with this sans profanity.

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