Alamo Rent A Car / alamo early return policy can triple your costs!
Alamo has a clever way to double or triple the bill of unsuspecting customers. Over the web, I arranged to rent a car from Alamo for 5 days and received a special weekly rate of $149. My return plans changed and I had to return the car on the fourth day. I fully expected to pay the entire $149 as I agreed and wasn't looking for a pro-rated charge - in fact the confirmation email states that early returns on special weekly rates are not entitled to a proportionate refund. Fine. What I wasn't expecting was that for returning the car *early* my bill jumped from $149 to $288. When you return a car early Alamo considers the contract specifying the special weekly rate to be terminated and instead charges you its default daily rate. Although this claus apparently exists deep in the rental agreement, there was no mention of this in my confirmation email and the when I rented the car the rental agent only mentioned a $15 early return fee, nothing about doubling my bill. When you rent a house at the beach for a week and decide to leave on Friday instead of Saturday, do you expect to pay double for leaving early?
I've tried to figure out any coherent rationale for a company treating its customers like this and can think of none.
As a footnote, after one angry exchange with a customer service rep who scolded me that it is my "responsibility to read the contract" (maybe I need to bring my attorney next time) and a second follow up call, Alamo did agree to charge me only the original weekly rate.
See http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18964550 for another story on the same topic.
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