Johnny D Reviewed on Jan 2, 2019, 6:55 PM
I made a reservation on carrentals.com for a compact car to take one-way from Ohio back to NYC after the holidays - simple enough. Well, when I got to the counter, the Budget employee informed me there were no compact cars available but for an additional cost, I could have an SUV. I was a bit stunned at how normal this seemed to be to the counter person. She'd obviously gone down this shifty road before. I responded with the fact that I had once worked for Budget many years ago and our policy back then was to give a free upgrade if we were unable to fill a customer’s reservation. Not so today, the counter woman sternly told me that the SUVs were too nice an upgrade to pass along with no fee. She then explained there were 3 other customers in the same boat as me as if it made it ok somehow. I was agitated but needed the car to get home so I agreed to the extra expense. I noted they make you initial the extra cost on your contract to cover their gangster practice. I took the SUV (which was very nice, by the way) and went on my way. I called the Budget “customer service” line and was treated like a complete annoyance. “You signed the upgrade fee on the contract” the man on the line told me (I knew they’d use it against me). At this point I realized it was corporate policy to overbook cars and gouge desperate customers with no real choice. But the nightmare doesn’t end there. After driving 7 hrs from Ohio to New York City, I pulled into the downtown Budget location I’d agreed to when I rented the car. Of course it was closed as it was New Year’s Eve and the hours were different. Thanks for the heads up - and for not having after hours drop-off. It’s the holidays after all, and nobody travels during the holidays (eye roll). Feeling dejected by Budget again, I pulled the car out into the busy NYC traffic and stopped to call the dreaded “customer service” number to see what my options were. I wish I had recorded the call. I wondered to myself if the call center was being run out of a foreign prison. I asked the man on the phone where I could bring the car and he replied, “they’re probably all closed, you know, it’s the holidays”. Well no I didn’t know and it was shocking to me there wasn’t one open Budget car rental in all of Manhattan on New Year’s Eve. He had two suggestions; keep the car till Jan 2 and return it then - of course that would include the gangster vig of an extra two days. Or, drive it to JFK airport and return it there, “I THINK they should be open” he guessed. Well, I opted for the latter which took me another hour in NYC traffic. I unloaded the car to a very annoyed attendant - someone higher up at Budget needs to explain to their workers that customers aren’t supposed to be treated like pests. Just saying. NEVER AGAIN.