Today, I was again reminded how important it is to be diligent to prevent being overcharged. Among the strategies for saving money on goods and services, this is by far the most important. This time, I was able to save money by not overpaying for a car rental from last weekend. There are a few lessons learned here, and some caution, for future third-party initiated travel purchases. Here’s the story that ultimately had a positive outcome.
This past weekend/part of this week, I was traveling for fun. We rented a car for five days which usually means you can get a discounted week-long rate. Rather than going directly to MAJOR CAR RENTAL company’s site, I used a third party site, Car Rental Savers (like an Orbitz) which I have used for saving money on car rentals before and had nothing but positive experiences in this past with them; so they are only part of the story, but not THE story. The rate I was quoted was about $180 for the 5 days we were there. Maine is pretty high demand this time of year, so those are the breaks because it was going to be about $40/day for an economy car.
Fast forward to yesterday. We return the car and get the receipt for $310! What? We didn’t get a fuel option, extra insurance, GPS, or anything like that. We were trying to catch a plane, so I didn’t have time to argue with the price but knew I could call and straighten it out. Today, I called MAJOR RENTAL CAR company and asked them what the deal was. They were very appreciative of the situation and worked with me to diagnose the problem. I had my original reservation quote in front of me, which is always helpful for these types of negotiations. I noted the rate, reservation number, and through whom I booked the car. The customer service rep was baffled as to why my rate went up ~$20/day. And, he even thought the rate was too high to begin with that I was originally quoted. After some research, the only conclusion he had was to notate that I was overcharged and that I’d be refunded the difference. Sweet! Somewhere in the transaction threat there could have been a glitch, software update, something. The point is, don’t assume that what you were told you were going to pay is what you will ultimately end up paying. Trust, but verify.
My bottom line here is this: ALWAYS check your statements, daily, if you are making larger, abnormal purchases, and be quick to call, write, Tweet, email, Facebook, etc. customer service to straighten out a problem. Saving money for me meant not overpaying $130.