Friday, June 16, 2017

Rental Car Blues

Last year Payless Rentals did a job on me.  They charged me for the collision coverage even though I declined it, and caused me to miss my flight because their shuttle was slow and they apparently only have one shuttle.  I have to share the blame on the missed flight, though: the navigation feature on my smartphone routed me to a funeral parlor instead of the rental place.

This year I'm using Avis which is connected to the airport, no waiting for infrequent shuttle vans.  But, the car check out line was unbelievable, about 30 people ahead of me, took an hour to get my car.  Wait.  It get's worse.

Found my rental car, radio blaring some Latino gibberish.  Punched every button on the info screen trying to turn it off.   No luck.  Did manage to turn the volume down.  The rental car garage is deep in the bowels of the airport.  It's dark, can't see crap, no idea where the dome light switch might be.  I turn on my smartphone to shed some light on the subject, and enter the address of my hotel.  No luck. Phone signal is blocked by a zillion tons of reinforced concrete.

Keys?  Where are the damned keys?  The rental desk gave me paperwork but no keys.  Turns out the ignition is keyless, just push the 'start/stop engine' button.  Okay, got it started.  But, hold on: how do I unlock the car later, without a key?  Turned the phone on again, looked around, finally found a key fob cleverly hidden in the console.  

There are 3 exits, the car ahead of me takes the right exit so I follow it - and 3 cars follow me.  Lady in booth at middle exit hollers, "No!  Over here!"  She comes out of the booth and directs traffic, backing up each car in turn until I can maneuver over to the middle exit.

Next challenge is the rat maze of sharp turns to access the highway.  The signage sucks, arrows pointing every which way for rental car returns and various exits.  I make a wrong turn - right into the Avis car return area.  Shortest car rental ever!  5 cars pull in right behind me.  Now I'm totally surrounded by parked cars.  The check-in lady is 8 cars ahead of me; I walk up to her and relate my sad story.  She's distraught, dozens of cars to check in and this bozo comes along, messes up everything.  She doesn't have a radio to call for help, directs me back to the rental counter.

The guy at the rental counter gets on his radio, calls another guy, tells him to move the cars that have me surrounded - which he does in short order.  Oh boy, now I get to chat with exit booth woman again!  The one that hollered at me.  The one that already regards me as the village idiot.

I find the correct exit this time, head out of the airport onto the freeway, clueless about the route I need to take.  So, I take the first exit, park on a side street, get the navigation going on the smartphone.  By now, I'm 2 hours behind schedule, into rush hour traffic.

Finally, I arrive at the hotel, hop out of the car to check in.  Something's beeping in the car, don't know why.  I hit the door lock button on the key fob.  Nothing happens.  Beep, beep.  Door doesn't lock.  Hit the lock button several more times.  Nothing.  Beep, beep.  The hell with it!  I enter the hotel and check in, then retrieve my bag and backpack from the car.  Beep, beep.

Went back out to the car a bit later, discovered lock/unlock symbols on the door.  Pressed the lock button.  Voila!  The doors lock.  No beep, beep.

I have really bad rental car karma.

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