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Renting A Car Can Be So Tiring

, , , , , | Working | January 17, 2022

I recently rented a car for a cross-country trip. One morning, after having camped by the ocean, over 2,000 miles from where we started, I noticed that one of the front tires looked quite bald. At first, I thought it was covered in mud from our parking area. But on closer inspection, it was actually pretty treadless. I looked at the other front tire. It wasn’t bald but it didn’t look great. As we left, the tire pressure light came on the dash.

Once we got to a stopping point up the coast a bit, I called the car rental agency.

Me: “The tire pressure light is on and there is a message on the dash that says, ‘Requires Maintenance’.”

Agent: “Can I have the rental number?”

I rattled that off.

Agent: “Yes, it looks like the car is due for maintenance. You’ll have to bring it back to where you got it.”

Me: “That’s not really possible. I’m several thousand miles away from there and still have several thousand miles planned for this trip.”

Agent: “Well, you can bring it to a shop and save the receipts.”

Me: “I don’t think so. This isn’t my car. I’m not going to authorize service, pay for it, and hope that your company reimburses me.”

Agent: “You can trade the car in at a rental location.”

Me: “That works. Where is the nearest one?”

Agent: “What is the zip code where you are?”

Me: “I don’t know. I’m traveling. I am in [Town in Northern California].”

Agent: “You can drop it off at the LA airport and get another car.”

Me: “I’m pretty sure LA is about 500 miles from here. This tire won’t make it that far and I’m driving north.”

Agent: “Well, there is an office in [Town about 100 miles south].”

Me: “That isn’t as bad. Is it open?”

Agent: “No. Since this is Saturday, it is closed. It reopens Monday at 9:00 am.”

Me: “Okay, again, that won’t do. I’m heading north. The tire is very bad. It needs to be replaced today. Quickly. Nearby.”

Agent: “You can go to a tire shop, pay for the tires, and keep the receipt.”

Me: “Again, I don’t really feel like giving your company a loan. Already, when reserving my car for noon on pickup day, I was called sixteen hours before pickup time and told no car would be available until 4:00 pm that day. I lost half a day’s driving and missed out on plans. Now I am going to have to sit in a tire store, missing out on plans.”

Agent: “You can go to one of our partnering shops and we will pay for the tire.”

Me: “That sounds better. Which tire shop should I go to? One that is open and within at most fifty miles of me?”

She found a shop, called them to make sure they’d take the payment by phone, and gave me the address.

I drove there, got two new tires — as the other front tire did not pass inspection — and then I sat for THREE hours while the tire shop sat on hold trying to get paid.

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