Travel Fail

A couple of months ago, I was heading to New Orleans to visit family and friends for a few days. It was a busy weekend and rental car prices were abnormally high. In an attempt to save a few bucks, I booked a car for a 1am pickup with Dollar Car Rental through the Citi Rewards site and split the cost between cash and Citi points. My Southwest flight from Denver to New Orleans was scheduled to land at 12:20am; but unfortunately, we were delayed due to weather. When we finally arrived at MSY at 1:15am, Dollar was closed…

I felt swindled because Citi offered no warning that this location closed at 1:00 (my scheduled pick-up time),  so I headed over to Hertz (who owns Dollar) to see if they could help. They said that because I prepaid through a 3rd party, there was no way to move the reservation over from Dollar to Hertz. I called Dollar’s customer service line, which is off-shored that late at night, only to be told to get comfortable and that they would open again at 4:30am.

Hertz said I could get a Ford Focus for $250 for the day and come back tomorrow to switch out my cars. Unwilling to part with $250, I went down to the National counter and explained the situation. I gave the woman my driver’s license, she looked me up in the system and jokingly commented “I see you have Executive Elite Status with us, why didn’t you just rent from us in the first place?” I laughed and said that I learned my lesson!

National To The Rescue

For some reason, this kind woman working the graveyard shift took pity on my wife and I and gave us a FREE Dodge Ram for the evening by using a couple of vouchers she had behind the counter. I was absolutely shocked. She just asked that I pay $7 in tax and bring the car back by noon the next day when I switched it out for my Dollar rental. National really came to my rescue that night. I’ve rented a dozen or more times from that location and, in my experience, they consistently treat their customers well.

Citi’s travel portal only allows you to make reservations at the top of each hour, which is why I booked at 1am. So a word of caution, before you rent from a smaller shop (like Dollar), make sure they will actually be open by the time you get there, factoring in delays. I frequent that DEN – MSY flight that lands at 12:20, so needless to say, National will be getting my business at that location from now on, even if they are $25 more.

Has something like this ever happened to you?