Six reasons not to rent from Thrifty Car Rental in Denver Colorado

A photo of the Thrifty Car Rental parking lot at Denver International Airport on Saturday, June 18th.
Note the lack of rental cars at the rental car agency.

Recently, I was coordinating a trip to Denver Colorado for 14 people. I planned ahead, and reserved rental cars through Travelocity, about a year ahead of our trip. Unfortunately, I went with Thrifty Car Rental, and here’s six reasons I came to regret that.

I’m having to post about experience here because despite me making multiple calls, in-reaches via social media, and filling out their customer survey, I have yet to hear back from Thrifty Car Rental about my experience.

So, if you’re renting a car in Denver, Colorado, and you think you may want to choose Thrifty Car Rental (perhaps it’s the cheapest option on Travelocity), here’s 6 reasons to consider going with a different company instead.

As one of my relatives explained: Yes, Thrifty Car Rental may be cheaper, but if costs you 1-3 hours of your vacation time waiting around for your car to be ready, then it’s not worth it.

1) False promises from 1-800 number and social media: I had reached out to Thrifty on the 1-800 number and via social media before the rental to ask if there was anything I could do to ensure the cars were ready.  I was coordinating 14 people flying into Denver and we counted on the cars being ready, based on the promises from both your Twitter team and the 1-800 number.   Both of them assured me they had noted it in my file, but that clearly wasn’t the case.

2) Cars were more than 90 minutes late: We had reserved two minivans for 12pm. Luckily, I was in the long line at Thrifty by 11:30. Unfortunately, neither car was ready by the time we checked out, and nobody wanted to take responsibility- I heard it was the vendor’s fault for not having the cars cleaned, etc. etc. Then I was told that having a reservation for a set time really didn’t mean anything, and I was lucky to even be getting cars at all. That’s an awfully low bar to set. 馃槮

3) There is NO local Denver number provided for the Thrifty Car Rental DIA location.  Why not make communication easy for your customers?

4) Oil change adds to delays: After waiting over 90 minutes for the cars, one of them got “flagged” at the exit booth (meaning we could not leave) because apparently it needed an oil change.  Thankfully a manager magically appeared (in the 90 minutes prior to that, I was unable to find any sort of manager who would take responsibility for the situation) and was able to fix this, but it added yet another 20 minute delay to the trip.

5) Desk agent tried to sneak insurance onto our bill: After an extensive conversation with the desk agent we DECLINED any extra insurance. We were very clear about this with him because I remember talking about the fact that both my sister and I have Geico.  So you can imagine my surprise when I looked at the emailed receipt and found that he had tried to add it on.  I don’t know if he is paid on commission for that, but that’s wildly unethical behavior.   Thankfully, I think the manager I spoke with after returning the cars was able to fix the problem.  

6) We also had an “extra driver” fee tacked on for one of the minivans that I had reserved.  I’m not clear how Thrifty thought I’d be able to drive two cars at the same time, so you can imagine that extra charge was also a big surprise to me.

After filling out the customer experience survey from Thrifty Car Rental, I received a one sentence email from a Hertz representative (Hertz owns Thrifty), not addressing any of these issues. I emailed him back, but never heard back.

As a general note to ALL companies. If you’re going to ask for your customer’s time to fill out a survey, it’s good business practice to actually respond to those surveys. And that doesn’t mean sending a 1 sentence response about “sorry, we’ll take this feedback into consideration.”

Have you also had a terrible rental car experience? If I were in Congress, I’d hold hearings on this yesterday. There are horror stories throughout the US of experiences like mine and it’s high time somebody held these companies to account.

Has Budget Car Rental Also Tried to Upsell You?

Earlier this month, my sister and I traveled to Denver, Colorado for a mini family reunion.聽 Because we were planning on doing a tour of Denver with one of our taller relatives, I made sure to reserve a Full Size rental car from Budget Car rental (using Travelocity, which I’ve used for years) so that he would be comfortable.

Budget rental

When we arrived at Denver International Airport, we took the Budget Car Rental shuttle to pick up our car.聽 While it did not offend us, it did strike us as odd and perhaps off-putting that the shuttle radio was playing Christian rock music.

Once we got to the Budget Car Rental counter, the “upsell” began.

The representative started by telling us that it was supposed to snow that weekend in Denver and we should really consider getting an All Wheel Drive SUV (instead of the full-sized sedan we reserved).聽 He explained he could do it for “only about $20 more a day.”聽 (It did not actually snow that weekend).

We declined that, and he said he had to go back and talk to his colleagues.聽 He came back a few minutes later to announce that, “good news, now we can have the SUV for the聽same price as the car we had reserved.”聽 You know where this story is headed, right?

So, I asked “You don’t have the car we reserved, do you?”

And he admitted that they did not.聽 So, you can imagine how I felt that Budget Car Rental was trying to make聽more money聽off of the fact that they did not have the car ready that I had reserved.聽 Not only are you wasting my time, but you’re also trying to profit off this?

Because we wanted to get going (and this was wasting our time), we took a quick look at the SUV he was pushing us to take.聽 However, it was clear to us it would not have been as comfortable as the full-sized sedan we had originally reserved.

So, we returned back to the rental counter, and explained to him that this wouldn’t work for us and that we wanted the car we had reserved.

Unfortunately, on that particular day, it appeared only one computer could be used to determine which cars were available (I don’t know if that was a problem just that day, or if it’s like that every day you rent a car from Budget in Denver).

So, after about 30 minutes of extra back and forth with the representative, they were able to track down the car we had originally reserved.

Once we left the Budget Car Rental location, we discovered that the car was low on washer fluid (which is dangerous in Colorado during the winter) and that the windshield was fairly pitted (possibly because the car had almost 40,000 miles on it).

Budget Car Rental Low on Fluid

We returned the car to Budget early.聽 Isn’t it funny how rental car companies charge you an arm and a leg if you return it even an hour late, but they don’t give you money back if you turn it in a few hours early?

I contacted both Travelocity and Budget Car Rental to share my experience with them, and I was less than impressed with their responses.聽 Travelocity offered a $25 credit, whereas Budget Car Rental offered me a $10 credit- but I’d have to log-in to their system, create an account, give them my email, etc.聽 Hardly worth $10, right?聽 And I’m guessing they were counting on that.

Have you had an experience of a rental car company trying to upsell you a more expensive car after they made a mistake and didn’t have the car you reserved?

I’d love to hear about it- you can contact me by leaving a comment.