Last year, I wrote an extended rant after arriving at a Budget Car Rental and being told that, despite the fact I had reserved a car, there weren’t any cars available.
I swore at the time that I’d never use Budget again, but I reneged on that promise and stupidly booked one for our recent trip to Canada. Upon arriving in Toronto, the clerk at the desk told me I might have to wait up to an hour because he had no vehicles. I had joined Budget’s Fastbreak program to avoid this eventuality, but it didn’t matter because the word “fast” means nothing in this environment.
This was not on a busy holiday weekend, so there was no overriding reason why the agency should have been overbooked. Even so, you’d think Budget has some sort of algorithm to stop taking reservations once it knows they won’t be able to fulfill them. I have never shown up for a dinner reservation at a restaurant and been told it didn’t have any food to serve us.
After a couple of minutes, the clerk — who acted like nothing out of the ordinary was taking place — said there were some Teslas, and I could have one of those at the same rate. I refused, since I want nothing to do with anything associated with Elon Musk. Moreover, I doubted the hotel we were headed to would have a Tesla charging station and, since we were going to be out looking at waterfalls all weekend, we might not come across one in the wild, either.
So, we stood around for ten more minutes until the clerk finally decided he did have a VW Tiguan (what the industry calls a Mid-Size Sporty SUV). How he knew this I don’t know, since he didn’t look at the computer on the counter and no other Budget employee brought him the keys or appeared anywhere in the vicinity. He printed out the paperwork, gave me the keys, and we headed for the garage — where I instantly spotted at least two dozen vehicles in the Budget area, ready to go.
Were these special rides being held for others? Is this a standard lie Budget clerks tell in order to upsell customers to pricier models? Can’t be, since the Tiguan was a bigger model than I had reserved, and we weren’t charged anything extra.
I don’t know the answers, but I do know that I won’t ever fall into this trap with Budget again, because from now on, other car rental agencies will get my business.