When There Is No Fine Print: Adventures in Car Rentals

On Saturday, I was slated to leave Tennessee at around 1 p.m. to drive to Florida so I can visit my parents before I head back to California. The plan was to go to the airport, pick up the rental car, drive the car to Florida, and then return the rental car to the airport in Florida the next day.

Reader, that is not what happened.

First, we were a little late to the airport because my friend had to pick up the grocery order. That part was fine except that she forgot some of the groceries in the car, which meant my daughter and I were out of some of our road snacks. This was not entirely my friend’s fault because it wasn’t until we were almost to the airport that I realized I had forgotten the fruit. So that was sad, but you know. Easy enough to deal with.

Then, once I got to the airport I discovered that they wouldn’t rent me the car.

As I have mentioned before, I am committed to getting out of debt. Part of that commitment means that I cut up my credit card over a year ago and have gone cash/debit only. Now, on the rental car company’s website it says that they take debit cards. The website even says to double check that the location you are using takes debit cards. So I double checked, and the location does indeed take debit cards. Yet, NOWHERE on the ENTIRE SITE does it say that you cannot use a debit card for the security hold thing if you’re going airport to airport UNLESS you are scheduled on a flight FROM the airport you are returning the car to. And I know it doesn’t because I read through the fine print AND double checked the debit card policy.

So obviously I didn’t find that out until I got to the actual counter of the rental car company.

The explanation seems to be two-fold. One: it’s some kind of airport policy. Two: Because they have to put an additional hold on the debit card, I guess they don’t want to because it’s a financial thing. Which…okay, I planned for the latter and also THE FORMER SHOULD BE PLAINLY STATED ON THE CAR AGENCY WEBSITE. I mean, honestly, it’s not that hard.

Anyway, the guy at the counter told me that he thought maybe one car rental agency or perhaps another might let me rent using a debit car. I knew the one car rental agency wouldn’t–but only because they were out of cars since they were my first choice anyway. The other one–Thrifty–I had never used before so I went and stood in line for the very nice agent to tell me that, yes, I could rent using my debit card, but I could only go to Georgia, not Florida.

HAHAHAHAHA OF COURSE.

I thanked her for her time, went to find my friend, and told her what was up. She decided we go get some food and then brainstorm some solutions, which was a great idea because I was starving and all I could think was that my parents were going to have to drive to Tennessee to come get me.

After eating (and consulting with my mom and friend), I decided to rent the car to Georgia, and my parents said they would drive up there to get us. There were two options for airports, so I chose the one further south, which meant I had to drive for about six hours so my parents could drive three hours to meet us and then drive the three hours back.

Now, the original car I requested was a Toyota Corolla (or similar). What I got was Dodge Ram pick up truck with a quad cab because that was literally all that was left. It was HUGE, but also a delight to drive. For one thing, I love sitting up high when I drive, and also it was just a smooth ride.

The point is that eventually we made it, but, man, what a deviation from the plan. I couldn’t do anything I planned to do on the drive (call into my book club meeting, mostly, but also call my friend) because I had to completely focus on driving that ginormous truck. I only swerved a few times, but it was about one time too many for my daughter who admonished me to keep both hands on the wheel at all times.

(The truck was SO NICE. It only had 735 miles on it, which means it was basically brand new. SO GREAT.)

it's me, standing in front of a truck!
Me, with the actual truck. You can’t tell but I’m giving a thumbs up.

So, yes, we made it. But when I dropped off the rental car in Georgia, there was a couple at the counter in front of me going through the exact same thing. No credit card, debit card only, needed to get to Virginia, but Virginia was out of the rental car agency’s service area. I have no idea what happened with them, but what a nightmare all around.

These rental car companies really need to make these policies clear. There’s literally no excuse–especially if it’s a known issue.

F is for Flight #PandemicAlphabet

I decided to leave California.

If you’ve been following the news, you know the wildfires are very intense there, and the air quality is terrible. The one closest to me–the Bobcat Fire–caused smoke bad enough that several friends of mine in a neighboring city were put under an evacuation warning last Wednesday night, and my job closed the campus last Thursday. Because I am an idiot (no, really this time), even after getting the alert that my job (which is down the street from my house) was closed because of extremely poor air quality, I still attempted to go to the pool. I wound up lasting all of ten minutes before I started coughing because, you know, the smoke was so bad. Oh, and Thursday night, my city was also put under an evacuation warning, though it was for the northern part of the city closer to the mountains.

On Thursday night, I finally packed my evacuation bag.

On Friday morning, I could smell the smoke in my apartment, so immediately ordered an air purifier on Amazon to be delivered the next day (they were sold out locally).

By Friday afternoon, I had booked a plane ticket for Sunday to Tennessee with plans to stay there for two weeks and then to drive to Florida and stay for two to three more weeks. My return flight is currently booked for five weeks from now.

Here’s what got me to decide to leave:

Continue reading “F is for Flight #PandemicAlphabet”

10 Random Things: Summer Edition

Ugh, I hate starting blog posts by pointing out how long it’s been since my last post, but, well, it’s been over a month since my last post, so there is a lot to cover, which means that every time I think about updating my blog, I get overwhelmed by the fact that there’s so much to cover, so I just…don’t. This has been a terrible plan because it just gets me farther and farther behind. So, let’s get to it.

Since my last post, the following happened:

1. I turned 40 and celebrated my birthday by having dinner with a friend of mine, my daughter, and some of her friends. I also went to see Toy Story 4 and enjoyed a cupcake.

2. I shipped my daughter off to China for a Buddhist boot camp that she has described as a “hell realm.”

3. I attended the Rocaberti Writers Retreat for screenwriters in The Dordogne, France for  a week. It was held at Marouatte Castle, which is an honest to god medieval castle in France.

Continue reading “10 Random Things: Summer Edition”

On trains and books and grandmothers

In trying to remember the title of a book I am sure is by Agatha Christie, I remembered that I read the book on the train, which then led me to thinking about how much I used to ride the Amtrak. I have fond memories of riding the train, mostly because I would ride it to go visit my grandmother. But also because, of course, I did so much reading while on those train rides.

soul train
source

(As an aside, there are so many amazing Soul Train GIFs. God bless the internet.)

I’m going to Oakland for Thanksgiving by plane, but now I’m wishing I had explored taking the train. (It’s not realistic for Thanksgiving, but still.) (Also, I did look into doing my cross-country move via train as a way to transport my car, but there is only one auto train route and it’s from DC to Orlando.)

My point is, I think, that I’m going to make an effort to ride the train more when I travel. I will also keep in mind that I only rode the train from Maryland to Connecticut, so I’m not sure I could handle a much longer trip. Also, I can no longer read in the car anymore, so I wonder if that also applies to trains. That would mean using audiobooks, which is fine, but not quite the same. Also, I have nowhere to go at the time, so that’s a thing. (Maybe I should add “take a train ride somewhere” to my things to do before I turn 40 list.)

Memories are tricky.

I can’t remember any of the titles of books I’ve read on trains, but I can remember scenes from them or impressions of them. One book, for example, prominently featured a chandelier.

I wonder what it would be like if I could remember all the books I’ve read in my lifetime.  That would be wild, especially considering I can barely remember the books I’ve read this year.

Lots of things are reminding me of my grandmother lately. Probably because the holidays are coming, and I almost always spent them with her. There was an art piece at the studio I went to on Saturday titled “Lucy” (my grandmother’s name was Lucille); the artist was a sassy elderly lady. And now Agatha Christie and train rides. Not to mention my Sophia and Dorothy dolls on my TV stand (my grandmother loved The Golden Girls. And TV. Someone asked how I could watch so much TV–which, honestly, this isn’t even a lot of TV for me. I feel like I’m not watching enough–and the answer is that I learned from my grandmother who LOVED TV. I mean, most of the TV I watched, I watched with or because of her. So she is also to thank for my vast array of pop culture knowledge.)

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