Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Rental car insanity

Friday night I booked a trip to Oklahoma. (My mom had surgery and I wanted to help her for a few days. ) To my shock, I found a cheap flight for the very next day. I do not understand airline logic, but for some reason, I saved four hundred dollars by booking a flight twelve hours in advance as opposed to booking it three days or a week in advance. Go figure. I also booked a rental car through one of the major rental car agencies. Apparently I hit the wrong button while making my rental car reservation because when I walked up to the rental car counter they had no record of my reservation, and neither did my computer. No harm no foul, I thought. Since I made the reservation the night before, I figured this major company had lots and lots of cars just waiting for me to rent. The rental car company had other ideas. "We're all out of cars," I was told, "except for minivans." I knew minivans were much more expensive than the compact car I'd reserved the night before, so I told the guy thanks, but no thanks. With five other rental car counters in the baggage claim area of the airport, I thought I could get a car from someone else. How wrong I was. Over the course of the next hour, I went from one counter to the next, and each one told me the same thing: We have no cars available to rent. Some big horse show was in town, which made all the cars disappear. After going back to the original rental car counter and asking the guy how much for one of his minvans (sixty-five dollars a day, way too much for me), I sulked over to a chair next to an abandoned baggage carousel and fumed over finding myself stuck in a hick airport. Then it hit me. I popped open my trusty Macbook, logged onto my Yahoo account, and clicked the "travel" tab. I then proceeded to reserve a rental car from one of the companies who had just informed me that the horses in town for a show had taken all of their cars away. Five minutes later I was behind the wheel of my midsize car (a free upgrade from the compact I reserved) on my way to my mother's house. The company that had no cars when I asked a human being if I could rent one, suddenly had anything and everything I wanted. What the human being could not produce, my trusty laptop did. The moral of the story, as far as I can tell, is this: The government must run rental car companies. I don't know how else to explain such a screwy, messed up, illogical way of doing business.