On a recent trip to Florida, I was planning on renting a car, but then I stupidly lost my driver’s license a few days before. So I had to cancel the reservation. What really hurt was the fact that, like a fool, I’d made a “Pay Now” reservation with Avis to save about $15. Well, I learned to never do that again as Avis charged me $50 to cancel the reservation within 24 hours of the scheduled pick-up time. If I didn’t pay that, I would’ve been stuck with the whole fee ($107).
The tip I bring you from that story is to seriously weigh the advantages of pay-in-advance rates. Even when you think you’re 100% going on a trip, or you’re 100% going to need a rental car, things happen. You get sick, there’s bad weather, you lose your license, etc. I don’t think pay-in-advance rates are worth it, especially if you’re only saving a few dollars.
As for my troubles with Avis, I initially tried calling and pleading with a representative but the agent, based in Mexico City, wouldn’t waive the fee and told me that she couldn’t care less if Avis lost me as a customer. (If you ask me, big corporations trying to save money by outsourcing call centers and, even worse, giving them no power, is backfiring.) But when I tweeted my displeasure, the savvy folks on the Avis social media team reached out and refunded me the $50, which was nice. I’m not sure if they would’ve done that for anyone or if it was simply because I have a large following, but in any case the second lesson here is that it’s always worth taking your case to social media. You can also file a claim with your travel insurance provider (I have a yearly plan with Allianz and am one of their global ambassadors).
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- The Trackable Wallet That’s Difficult to Lose
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