Rent and Bait and Switch


Car-rental companies are the worst bait and switch people I’ve ever encountered. I’m not going to specify the company, because in my experience, they’re all like this. I reserved a Mustang convertible (or similar). I even paid in advance so you might think that I’d get preferential treatment, but no. I got a Chrysler 200. Now that car is better than the last Sebring I rented. It’s got a smoother engine and it doesn’t shake as much on rough roads. But I don’t consider it similar at all.

The base model Chrysler is $800 cheaper than the Mustang, MSRP. It’s heavier, but it has a four cylinder engine as opposed to the Mustang’s six. The Chrysler has about 57% as much power, it’s a lot slower, and it gets slightly worse gas mileage too. It’s hard to believe the Mustang has worse rear seat legroom because the Chrysler doesn’t have much. I wouldn’t be able to sit in back if someone as tall as me was driving.

Worse, the company was willing to rent me a Camaro hardtop for $15 a day more than the 2012 “Or Similar” convertible they did have for me because the Camaro is a premium car, implying that the Chrysler isn’t. Now, I’d consider that if it was a V-8 with a manual transmission, but it was a six with a slushbox. I do think the Camaro is pretty similar to the Mustang, except that it’s $15 a day extra and it isn’t a convertible, but they did have some of those.

In fact, I don’t think they had any intention of providing me with a Mustang this week and I don’t believe I’ve ever gotten the car I reserved. Last year in San Francisco, I wanted a big Caddy sedan for its big trunk’s ability to contain and conceal the stuff my son brought home from China. I got a Lincoln Town Car which is about as big, but the Town Car was really out of date technically to such an extent that Ford stopped making them at the end of that model year. Before I got the Town Car, they offered me a Caddy Escalade. I don’t want an SUV on vacation because I want to keep my stuff out of sight in a car’s trunk and an SUV doesn’t have one of those. Twice I reserved Jeep Grand Cherokees (not on vacation and in places I wanted four-wheel drive). On one of those occasions, I got a Chrysler Pacifica (not four-wheel drive) and on the other I got a Subaru Outback (four wheel drive, but smaller). Once I reserved a Chevy Blazer and got a smaller Mitsubishi SUV. I reserved a Nissan Altima and was offered a Dodge Magnum. The Altima’s a sedan. The Magnum is a station wagon. That time I complained and got a Honda Accord. Again, they told me it was really an upgrade. So I guess they think that on a rental car a trunk is an upgrade. By the way, I’m not saying I have anything against the other cars. I’m just saying I don’t consider them similar to what the rental company advertised.

At least the Chrysler 200 (as inferior as I consider it to the Mustang) is the same body style. I’d really like to know the ratio of advertised cars to ‘Or Similars” in each rental car fleet. I doubt that my rental car company of choice had any Mustang convertibles at the Orlando International Airport. Have you ever gotten the rental car that was advertised to you?

Author: Tom

I know my ABC's, I can write my name and I can count to a hundred.