TABLE OF CONTENTS
What is Colusa Rent A Car (addCar, Carwhiz)
The Story Begins
The Con Job of Hidden, Inappropriate, Misrepresented Fees
The Unsafe Car
A Whopper of a Total Bill
Stonewalled by Colusa Rent A Car (addCar, Carwhiz)
Tips for Renting a Car
Capitalism Tells Us to Support Small Businesses
Colusa Rent A Car (aka addCar, Carwhiz): proprietors of deception. A car rental agency that preys on travelers who are not intimately familiar with car rental services and costs. It practices the art of trickery to pry money from vacationers.
Imagine living in northern Illinois. In late December, the temperature routinely dips below freezing. It's cold. Brrrr... Months in advance of this dreary, grey time of year, I like to plan a vacation. Plan: abandon the frostbite of Illinois for a sunnier, warmer destination.
My wife and I mulled over several places, but we picked Florida. I never, ever had a bad time in Florida. It's impossible. Warm weather. Palm trees. Nice people. Good people who want to enjoy themselves in peace. A flight was booked and a car was rented. Destination: Miami, Florida.
For the remainder of this piece, I'll be sticking to the car rental. This rental broke the peace that was my trip to Florida.
I used the website named "Discover Cars." What drove me to the website was the low quote and the promise of no hidden fees. The quote was under $200 for a total of six days. All I had to do was pick up the car after I landed at Miami airport.
At this point, you may be thinking what this has to do with education. This is a piece about a bad car rental not a math or science lesson. No. This is definitely a lesson in the making. Sit tight. Learn how to avoid the misery that I faced and how to deal with a deceitful car rental company.
First of all, Colusa Rent A Car is an offsite car rental company. The business is close to the airport, but not in the airport. That was my first mistake. Never rent a car outside the airport, if you can help it. Never.
The rental agency sent a shuttle to pick us up. The car rental company was a short ride from the Miami airport: 3935 NW 26th St, Miami FL, 33142. An agent of Colusa Rent A Car told us that credit cards no longer offer insurance for issues outside the car, like damage to property or people. I would have to buy supplemental rental insurance. It charged me $35 per day for this purpose. Most car rental companies charge $10, possibly $20 per day maximum for supplemental insurance. So, this was the first of two huge gouges it would take.
The second gouge was related to tolls. The agent presented me with three toll packages. I had three options: a) $19.99/day tolls included, b) $14.99/day tolls not included, and c) a plate scanning option which would cost me the price of tolls plus $25/toll. I swear that is how the last option was explained to me. I teach math. $25/toll can be very expensive. So, I chose the second option.
After doing research on the plate scanning option, I learned car rental companies commonly used this option for all of its renters. They simply charge the cost of the tolls to customers on top of the cost of renting a car. That would be the fair way of doing business.
So, why would Colusa Rent A Car charge me $14.99/day plus the cost of tolls? ...not just the cost of the tolls? What exactly was the $14.99/day for? There is a simple answer to that last question. They wanted to take a dinosaur-sized bite out of my wallet. Epic damage.
Sadly, this is not the end of the horror that was my rental experience. It presented me with a dark sedan that had several scratches and dents. The shocks were nonexistent. The upholstery smelled of smoke. An attendant started the vehicle and it warned of low tire pressure with a repetitive ding and shiny yellow warning light.
I lost it.
Several choice words were spoken. I feel sorry for the attendants, to whom I apologized soon thereafter. It wasn't their fault that Colusa Rent A Car (addCar) is hellbent on using chicanery and horrible business practices on its unwitting customers. An agent swapped out the car for a better car, but it required me temporarily losing my dignity to obtain a vehicle that was safe for Florida roads.
The total for this car rental experience ballooned from the original quote. The original quote was less than $200. The final cost was -- hold onto your hat -- over $500!
I reached out to Colusa Rent A Car after I returned home. Maria Fernanda Mendez, a representative of the crooked car rental company, claimed "We are really sorry you feel that way, we did not do any charge improperly and everything is correct." Clearly, Colusa Rent A Car (addCar) is unrepentant for its evil deed.
I informed Colusa Rent A Car that I will be exploring a multitude of options regarding their improper business practices. That I will be divulging my story to the public using social media, namely Facebook and Twitter. I will be utilizing a variety of review sites, like Yelp, to help the public learn about this Miami car rental company. I will also be contacting Miami-Dade Consumer Protection, Better Business Bureau, and the Federal Trade Commission, if need be.
I will march on.
Meanwhile, here are some tips to follow regarding renting a car:
- Never rent a car from an offsite company when vacationing, if possible. Obtaining a rental car from a company at an airport offers protection. If a company starts to jack up the price with hidden fees, simply walk six feet to the counter of another rental agency. It is easier not to get abused when competitors are close by.
- Never buy a toll package. Car rental companies will provide you with a toll device. It will record your tolls. The rental agency should only bill you for those tolls at no additional cost. If not, move on to a reputable car rental agency.
- When a quote for a car rental is gained through a website, call the company to arrange for payment ahead of time. Discuss the cost of insurance and tolls to get a total cost before you arrive at the car rental agency.
- If a car rental company -- or any company -- charges fees that make the total bill far exceed the original quote, seek restitution by first communicating with the car rental agency. If that does not remedy the situation: a) use social media, b) use car rental review sites by submitting an accurate, detailed account of the experience, c) contact the local government consumer affairs agency in the city, county, or state where the car was rented, d) log your experience with the Better Business Bureau, e) contact the Federal Trade Commission.
- Be accurate and respectful with the narrative of the experience, but do not stop until a fair resolution to the situation is achieved.
Let it be known that I am a strong supporter of local, small businesses. This is exactly why I chose Colusa Rent A Car. I understand how difficult it must be to compete with giants in the industry that have been in existence for decades. Those long-standing companies have a huge market share and it is very difficult for small businesses to gain access to new customers.
Supporting small businesses is smart because they offer low rates and often personable services. Small businesses that learn how to thrive keep prices low to expand their customer base. It keeps the entire market more competitive and better for all customers. This is the foundation of capitalism. Fostering the growth of up-and-coming businesses is important.
On the other hand, it is equally important to keep ruthless, conniving companies at bay by informing other consumers of their existence. This is exactly the case with Colusa Rent A Car, which is why I am pursuing this issue so vigilantly.
If you or someone you know has had a problem with Colusa Rent A Car (addCar), please join me on social media. Follow me via #ColusaRentACar, #addCar, #DiscoverCars, and #carrental, where I will be relentlessly sharing my experience with this Miami car rental company.