So, this wild card is a little old, but it’s worth re-visiting because someday you’ll want to rent a car. And when the day comes, I hope to God you don’t have an experience like this one.
I get a call from a good friend of mine. He’s reserved a rental car to drive home for a visit. Of course, he needs my help since he hasn’t quite mastered the art of driving two cars at once (keep trying buddy!). Deciding to travel in style, he’s reserved himself a Chevy Camaro. This requires a special trip to Atlanta Hartsfield International. At the mere mention of the airport, I begin to fear that things may go horribly wrong.
We roll down there, pull into the Avis Rental parking lot, and head inside to the counter. On the way, I can feel the excitement welling up inside my buddy. He’s gleefully checking out all the Camaros on the lot, hoping for one in yellow. For a few minutes, I’m excited for him. For a few minutes, I’ve forgotten that we’ve entered the seventh layer of hell. A place where planes are never on time. Where customer service is a new-age term no one’s heard of. Where being “ghetto” is a pre-requisite for employment.
We get to the counter and my buddy hands over his info. Before the counterperson enters anything into the system, there’s a problem. My buddy has reserved with a debit card, and per company policy, she is unable to rent him a Camaro. All the happy inside him dissipates slowly like pin-pricked balloon. Instantly, he is pissed. Why was he able to make the online reservation with a debit card? Why, when he actually double-check for issues with a live person (he’s slightly anal), there was no mention of said policy? Response: an uninterested shrug followed by, “I don’t know what to tell you, that’s the policy.”
My friend remains calm. He’s disappointed over not getting the car he wants, but hey, a rental car is a rental car and he needs one to get home. The counterperson says she can get him into a Jetta. A Jetta is not a Camaro, but it’s cute. She than quotes him an outrageous price. My friend is like, “Wow, that’s high have your rates changed since I last rented from you in March” to which the counterperson says, “Well, I’m sure they have. This is the in-store rate. If you did it online it would be cheaper.” Undeterred by her flippant retort, my friend whips out his phone, makes an online reservation and saves himself at least $50. He gives her the reservation number and we wait. She enters his info, stares at the screen, and issues a sigh signaling another problem.
“Per company policy, we run a credit check through Equifax for renters using a debit card. They’ve denied you, so we can’t rent you a car.” Now, my deflated balloon of a buddy has been set on fire and stamped out with a size 12 boot. Of course, he’s wondering how could this be? And frankly, at this point so am I. A credit check, while unusual and new for Avis, seemed reasonable. But, barring total identity theft, there was no way my buddy wouldn’t have passed muster. In addition, he had just rented with Avis in March using the exact same card causing the current problem. We tried explaining this to the counterperson who said she couldn’t find any record of my buddy ever renting a car from Avis. Again, we were genuinely shocked, because we knew it happened. You don’t forget a road trip that long. Judging by her lack of interest in our situation and her unwillingness to “try harder,” we just knew we weren’t leaving with a car.
Defeated, we left to have dinner, a few drinks, and a good bitch session. My friend ended up driving his own car, and thankfully, he made it there and back without a hitch. One thing is for certain: He’s never renting a car from Avis again. And, since they show no record of him ever renting one in the first place, he shouldn’t be missed.