This Is So Not A Luxury Vehicle

, , , , , | Working | November 24, 2020

I want to fly home to see my family for Christmas, but after seeing how expensive flights are and that only middle seats are available, I rent a car to drive the 800 miles. About 500 miles in, my rental makes an alarming sound and displays a message that reads, “SYSTEM FAILURE – POWER REDUCED – SERVICE NOW.” There are also several symbols lit up, indicating several things have gone wrong. I pull over and call the roadside assistance included with the rental.

Agent: “Thank you for calling roadside assistance. How can I help you?”

I explain my long drive, the alert, and all the symbols.

Agent: “What lights are displayed on the dashboard?”

Me: “Um… there’s a yellow triangle with an exclamation point in it, a car that—”

Agent: “I don’t see that one in my system. Are you sure?”

Me: “Yes. I can take a picture and send it to you, if you’d like.”

Agent: “No, I’ll just make a note. What else?”

Me: “The second light looks like it’s a car bumper-to-bumper with another car.”

Agent: “Hmm, I’m not seeing that one, either. Anything else?”

Me: “The third looks like a car and a traffic cone.”

Agent: “Are you sure you have a [Make and Model] car?”

Me: “Yes, I’m looking at my rental agreement and the book in the glovebox.”

Agent: “Hmm, I’m not seeing any of these. You’re certain?”

Me: *Getting annoyed* “Are you sure you’re looking at the right car?”

Agent: *With an attitude* “Yes. Now, you should take the car to be checked out before continuing.”

Me: “How long will that take? I still have a long drive—”

Agent: “There is a place fifteen miles from you. I will notify them that you are coming. The address is [address].”

Me: “That’s the opposite direction of where I’m going. Is there one between me and [Destination hundreds of miles away]?”

Agent: “No.”

I’m highly doubtful, but I just want to keep going.

Me: “Okay. Can you send someone with a new car so I don’t have to wait?”

Agent: “Until we know what is wrong with this car, we cannot send another.”

Me: “Okay…”

I backtrack fifteen miles, worried the entire time that the car will give up on the road and I’ll be stuck. It does not, thankfully, but the shop didn’t know I was coming and I nearly have to pay for them to look at the car. Eventually, they agree to bill the rental agency, for which I am grateful.

I sit in the waiting room for two hours, only to be told that they found nothing wrong with the car. I get back on the road. I make it less than twenty miles, and the same alert comes up. I call again and get the same person.

Agent: “Thank you for calling roadside assistance. How can I help you?”

I explain everything again, adding the details of my first call.

Agent: “Yes, I am the one you spoke with. You can get it looked at again—”

Me: “No. I’m sorry, but no. I need a different car.”

Agent: “Unless we know what is—”

Me: “I took it to a shop. I wasted two hours. They said nothing was wrong, but it happened again.”

Agent: *Heavy sigh* “Fine. Hold, please.”

I hear him muttering about my attitude while he types.

Me: “I’m not on hold, you know.”

Hold music suddenly starts.

Agent: “Okay, I’ve arranged for you to swap your car for one at our location in [Town fifty miles away].”

I put the town into my GPS.

Me: “That’s further back than the shop you sent me to.”

Agent: “You can get the car checked out again or you can go back to our location in [Town].”

Me: “And they’ll know I’m coming?”

Agent: “Yes. The address is [new address]. Goodbye.”

I drove back and, surprise, they didn’t know I was coming either. I wasted another hour while they tried to find someone who knew what I was talking about and a car I could take. The next car was the same as before, just a year older.

I drove about 150 miles and the same alarm went off. By that time, all offices were closed for the night and I couldn’t get a hold of anyone. I called my parents, who drove the remaining miles and picked me up.

The next day, we went back for the car and had it towed to my parent’s mechanic. The mechanic determined that there was an issue with a sensor related to cruise control. The car was drivable; it just would not have cruise control.

When I returned the car after my trip, I told the staff about all my issues with the cars and the roadside assistance representative. They looked entirely uninterested, thanked me for my feedback, and ushered me out the door.

I guess next time I’ll suck it up and sit in the middle seat.

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