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My mother often rents a car to drive to the casino. She wrote to the rental car company about her latest experience and allowed me to share her letter. (I took out the specific company.) I couldn’t stop laughing. Please be kind; she’s my sweet mother, after all.


This is Susan Barnhart, and I rent from you frequently.

Through no fault of the rental agent, who was charming and professional, I experienced some issues that I want to share with you regarding this rental, which has been my least favorite over the years.

The first one is that when I got home to my driveway, I noticed that a hubcap on the front passenger side is missing. I do not have any knowledge of where and when this happened. The only thing I can think of is that when I got off 390 north, there was a patch of rough road on my way home in the dark, with no signage that it is being prepared for construction or pavement. I was going at normal speed over the bumps before I realized that I needed to slow down. In any case, if I need to pay for this I do understand.

Now to the other issues. And I think these are important points when you rent a car to an “elderly” woman traveling alone, who is technologically challenged, and only knows cars as something you drive when you need to drive.

The first thing was that when I drove off, I was in something called M instead of D, and after a block of driving, I couldn’t seem to increase speed., so I went back to the car rental, and the nice rental agent was apologetic and explained to me how to do the D instead of the M.

The next thing that happened is that while on the thruway, I was uncomfortable and I couldn’t find the gadget to lower the steering wheel. In hindsight I should have gotten myself situated while I was still stationary at the rental site, as my husband showed me where the gadget was when I got home, but I just couldn’t find it.

The next thing that happened was at the hotel, when I couldn’t figure out how to unlock the passenger side back door, where I had put my suitcase. I was just about to lean back from the front seat to get it out, when a nice young man also checking in to the hotel helped me, and together we figured out that you had to unlock the back door by reaching over from the front door and unlocking it. There was no obvious button, so you had to look at the door handle to see it… or maybe there was another way which we didn’t see, The young man and I relocked the car using the key and checked to see that all the doors were locked.

The next thing is that the car keys were not remote keys. I should have asked for a different car, because what happened was predictable. At night, it took me a little poking around the parking lot of the casino to find the car, as I couldn’t beep it to hear a noise or click it to get headlights on. When I did find the car, it wasn’t lit so it took me a minute or two to get the key in the right angle to unlock the car. Now this is not a good thing for a woman alone in a casino parking lot, although I have never had problems with safety there. If there had been a thief, he would have found an empty wallet.. lol…no luck with poker.

When I got into the car, there was no automatic light that turned on, and I couldn’t see to put on a light on the overhead. There was a tiny light telling you where to insert the key to start the ignition, but I couldn’t see to get the right angle of the key, so that took a minute or two as well.

I used the scan for the radio but if you didn’t scan and click immediately, and I mean immediately, the station kept changing. Again, I probably should have been more thorough with my questions to the rental agent. In any case I drove home with my steering wheel too high and returned safely. I did figure out the AC and the high beam without difficulty.. lol.

I mean no disrespect to your excellent organization, but I think you may benefit form my experience. First , make sure that women alone have remote keys, and second, please anticipate the questions that someone like me will have. Be sure that the seat and wheel are adjusted before the person leaves the site and all gadgets are shown and demonstrated. The tank was ¾ full and I have returned it at that level.


Susan Barnhart

7 Responses to Dear Rental Car Company….

  1. I have rented cars on several out-of-town trips as well and am a red-blooded American male. I have often been totally confused by the gadgets and gizmos on the newer car driving a 1988 model myself. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone took the time not only to go around the car with you to document scratches and missing hubcaps but also to give you a two minute lesson on how to operate the vehicle?

  2. Seems like she got the lowest model possible, one with no bells and whistles. Upgrade if at all possible. I remember, though, a time we were in a Mazda 2000 model and couldn’t figure out how to raise the window!

  3. My favorite part is “… lol … no luck with poker.”

  4. Very funny!! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  5. I once rented a car in WV while on businesss. I probably drove it less than 40 miles . When I stopped to fill it up, I couldn’t get the gas cap off. And I didn’t have time to waste to wait for help.. So the company charged me for the whole tank, in spite of my explanation. Needless to say, I changed rental car agencies. Your mom has great insight and a wonderful sense of humor. thanks for sharing her letter.

  6. October 14, 2013 at 3:44 pm Lee Drake responds:

    LOL – I so understand this. I’m certainly NOT technologically challenged but the first time I was confronted with a prius I was constantly shifting it into something other than what I wanted, leaving it running (it has no key at all) and other things. I spent the entire rental week swearing at that car.

    I think the fault actually has more to do with car companies trying to “distinguish” themselves by inventing “something new” rather than conforming to the expected driver experience. Software and operating systems also suffer from this marketing driven (rather than user driven) design. Sometimes it’s better, but usually it’s just different.

  7. October 18, 2013 at 1:57 am La Moore responds:

    Has she ever thought about taking those casino bus shuttles? Like $30-$40 gets her a round-trip ticket, some slot vouchers and maybe food comps.

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