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Entries in Rental Cars (4)

Friday
Jul192013

5 Tips to Save Big on Car Rentals

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- On Good Morning America Friday, ABC News’ Becky Worley offered up some suggestions for how to save big on car rentals. Here are a few more tips.

1. Check blind booking sites like Hotwire and Priceline.

They may not tell you who you’re renting from but they will tell you what class of car you’re looking at. And after all, a sedan is a sedan. The last booking Worley made this way, she saved $45 over the travel sites or directly from the rental company. The only downside is you have to prepay in full with penalties if you cancel. So this only makes sense of the trip is set in stone.

2. Use a price-tracking service.

If you do rent from a mainstream rental company, enter your trip details into Autoslash.com. It’s a free tracking service that follows the fluctuating prices from the rental sites for your dates and alerts you if the prices goes down.

3. Try a car sharing service. They’re now at the airport.

Zipcar has 14 airport locations in the U.S. with more rolling out all the time. These cost between $69 and $89 a day for existing Zipcar members and can be very competitive because it also includes gas, insurance and tolls. Also, Zipcar has found a niche renting to the 21 to 25 age group -- people who are usually charged exorbitant fees by traditional rental companies, so this option makes a lot of sense for them and for anyone who regularly travels to the airports serviced by Zipcar.

4. Rent outside of the airport.

On average, renting at the airport adds 10 percent to your overall rental fee, and 20 percent in Europe. So if you can, get a shuttle to your hotel and rent remotely. Also some rental companies -- such as Enterprise -- will come pick you up within certain distances to their offices. So if the cost of a shuttle is minimal, the rental savings could be significant.

5. Use the sharing economy.

Relayrides.com lets you rent directly from a car owner. It’s like VRBO for cars. Worley priced SUVs in San Diego and Jason’s SUV was $120 cheaper than the lowest priced SUV she could find on Orbitz.com. Granted, you take the risk of an unreliable car owner or a dirty car, but reviews from previous rentals all claimed Jason was prompt in delivering the car and kept a very tidy Honda CRV.

Flightcar.com is trying a different tack on the direct rental idea. People parking at the airport rent their vehicle out to other travelers. If you’re the car owner, not only do you avoid parking fees, you can make up to $20 a day. The service is still in early days — with only two airports and limited membership, but Worley can imagine a day when paying to park at the airport is purely optional.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun122012

Sen. Boxer: Avis, Enterprise, Dollar Won't Sign Pledge to Stop Renting Recalled Cars

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Sen. Barbara Boxer (D.-California) today joined the mother of two daughters who died in a rental car crash to ask why three of the nation's four major rental car companies have declined to sign a pledge promising not to rent or sell cars under safety recall until those cars are fixed.

Boxer said that only Hertz agreed to the pledge, but that Enterprise, Avis and Dollar Thrifty had not. "I want to say to America's families: You demand that all these companies sign this simple pledge. . . Tell your families that Hertz is the only one that signed this pledge."

Callie Houck, whose daughters Jacqui and Raechel died in the fiery crash of an Enterprise rental car, added that the law that Sen. Boxer and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D.-New York) are proposing that would ban the rental of recalled cars is necessary because "we cannot depend on the industry to do the right thing."

"You don't rent or sell a car under safety recall," said Houck. "That's all Sen. Boxer and Sen. Schumer are asking for."

Representatives of Enterprise, Avis and Dollar Thrifty all responded to Boxer's press conference by saying their companies address safety recalls in a timely fashion. An Enterprise spokesperson said categorically that the company "does NOT rent any vehicles under recall that have not been repaired first." An Avis spokesperson said the company "[does] not and will not rent a vehicle" under recall, while Dollar Thrifty released a June 5 letter to Boxer in which the company asserted that "Dollar Thrifty has an outstanding safety record . . . specifically with respect to the timely repair of safety recalls."

Boxer charged that the companies still sought "loopholes." Said Boxer, "I know when people are using words they can walk away from."

In a letter to Boxer's office, Enterprise noted that it wanted to continue renting cars in some instances when customers could be notified of any risk, as in the case of minivans with stickers showing inaccurate weight limits. The company did not want to sideline the cars while waiting for accurate stickers.

Boxer's office also said that Avis "makes exceptions for the sale of salvage vehicles on the wholesale market," and that Dollar Thrifty "gives no clarity at all on their rental policies." A June 11 letter from Avis to Boxer says "our longstanding general practice is to not dispose of vehicles in retail or wholesale markets without having the recalled item repaired or taking the steps necessary aimed at keeping the car out of the stream of commerce as a driveable car until the repair is completed."

All three companies, however, say they support federal legislation to ensure rental car safety. "We have advised Senator Boxer that we support appropriate legislation on fleet safety," said Anna Bootenhoff of Dollar Thrifty. "We do not think pledges are a substitute for legislation."

The companies believe that any legislation should also cover other business that transport passengers, like limousine and taxi companies. In a letter to Sen. Boxer, John Barrows of Avis Budget wrote, "We strongly urge you to make similar inquiry and pledge request from other for-hire transportation companies, passenger vehicle fleet operators and passenger car fleet owners, as safety must apply equally to all."

At the press conference, Boxer said she thought those points could be dealt with eventually, but said she was working on a bill that could be ready "in three weeks."

Callie Houck's daughters Raechel and Jacqui died in 2004 when the Chrysler PT Cruiser they rented from Enterprise apparently began leaking steering fluid and caught fire before crashing into a truck. As detailed in a 2010 ABC News report, the car had been under safety recall for the potential fire hazard, but had still been rented to the sisters.

The Houck family sued Enterprise, and after a lengthy legal fight, the company admitted negligence and was required to pay $15 million in damages to the family. After the ABC News report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched an investigation to see how quickly rental car companies repair vehicles that have been recalled.

The nation's rental car companies together own more than 1.5 million vehicles, with hundreds of thousands subject to recall in any given year. Hertz, Avis Budget, Enterprise and Dollar Thrifty together account for more than 90 percent of the U.S. rental market.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct062011

GM Partners with Car-Sharing Business

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- When RelayRides, a "peer-to-peer" car-sharing marketplace, started in San Francisco last year, Caterina Rindi was the first person to sign up. She rents out her Prius for $7 an hour.

"I make about $200 to $250 a month," she told ABC News, enough to cover her insurance and car expenses.

Now, thanks to a new, exclusive deal with General Motors, RelayRides is hoping to connect more car owners looking to make extra money with those in need of a temporary ride -- and watch its business really take off across the country.

GM announced Wednesday that it was partnering with the company and allowing millions of its vehicle owners to use the OnStar system to rent out their idle cars.

RelayRides' purpose is simple: "We're like a car matchmaker," says the start-up company's YouTube video, "bringing people who have cars and those who need them together. We help both!"

The service, currently available only in San Francisco and Boston, is similar to the popular Zipcar, except that RelayRides rents out people's personal cars, as opposed to cars owned by the company.

RelayRides, which started last year, currently has about 200 cars and 3,000 users enrolled in San Francisco and Boston, said Shelby Clark, founder of RelayRides.

"So far, the average car owner has made about $250 a month in their pocket, but we've seen those numbers go up to $600 to $1,000 a month," Clark said.

RelayRides provides an online site where car owners can choose to rent out their vehicles. The owners control the rates and availability and the company offers a $1 million insurance policy to secure the transaction.

The OnStar service will allow borrowers to unlock GM cars with their mobile phones -- eliminating the need for extra keys or equipment. RelayRides will install a small device inside vehicles without OnStar to provide access to renters.

With a mobile application, the OnStar technology will also let RelayRides customers search for available cars, reserve them online and locate them using a global positioning service.

The partnership between GM and RelayRides will get rolling next year in Northern California.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar082011

Rental Car Agencies Band Together Against NHTSA Study

Thinkstock Images/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Three major car rental companies have sent a joint letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration calling into question the results of a NHTSA survey that helped lead to the recent introduction of the proposed Safe Rental Car Act.

Representatives from Enterprise, which owns National and Alamo, Hertz and Avis/Budget said in the March 3 letter, "The information... does not accurately reflect the performance of our respective companies in this area."

A day before the letter was sent to NHTSA, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer said he was inspired in part by the NHTSA study when he announced the Safe Rental Car Act, which would make it illegal for rental car agencies to rent out cars that are subject to a recall notice.

Under current law, auto dealers cannot sell cars that have been recalled, but the restriction does not extend to rental car agencies. The lack of regulation, he said, "boggles the mind."

"Rental car companies should be immediately barred from renting cars that would be pulled from showrooms and car dealer lots because of safety recall concerns," Schumer, D-New York, told reporters. "It's wrong, it's dangerous and it must be stopped."

In a study of 10 General Motors and Chrysler recalls launched by NHTSA between June 2006 and July 2010, after 90 days, Enterprise had fixed an average of 65 percent of the cars subject to the recall. For Avis/Budget, 53 percent of the cars were fixed within 90 days of the recall. At Hertz, only 34 percent of the recalled cars had been fixed within 90 days.

The agencies said in the letter that the data provided to the NHTSA by auto manufacturers was not correct because the information was not up to date.

"The inaccuracies in the data reported by the manufacturers are, in part, a function of an inherent limitation in the timeliness of vehicle owner data reported to the manufacturer," the letter said.

The letter does not directly address the issue of renting out cars that are under recall, but a spokesman for Enterprise told ABC News last week that under current company policy "virtually all" cars under recall are grounded until they're fixed -- except for rare exceptions in which the company chooses not to fix certain recalled cars.

"The safety of our customers is our top priority and it is the most fundamental aspect of our commitment to do business responsibly," Enterprise spokesperson Laura Bryant said. "[The NHTSA survey] is not indicative of where the industry is today."

Bryant said rental car companies receive thousands of recalls issued every year with no differentiation for the severity of the issue. Enterprise bases the rare exceptions in which cars under recall on not grounded on information provided by the car manufacturer. After the survey, Hertz told ABC News it dramatically changed its policy to ground all cars under recall.

A NHTSA spokesperson did not dispute the claims of inaccuracy in the letter, but told ABC News, "NHTSA is concerned about rental vehicles not being repaired. Through our audit query, we hope to obtain information to better understand how widespread the problem is."

The letter said that manufacturers rarely have an accurate count of the particular vehicles in a rental car fleet because they are often sold quickly and the new ownership is sometimes not registered until months later. Therefore, the letter says, the total numbers of vehicles reportedly owned by the companies while under recall will always be higher -- at times significantly -- than the actual number.

The letter also noted that sometimes an inspection or repair of a vehicle under recall goes inadvertently unreported, lowering the number of fixed cars.

But to Clarence Ditlow, executive director for the Center for Auto Safety, any percentage of fixed cars rented out under 100 percent is unacceptable.

"They cannot pick and choose," Ditlow said. "They're gambling with your life."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 







ABC News Radio