Phoenix, Arizona – Car Rental Options

I have been truly negligent in keeping up my end of the blog, so here it goes.

Arizona, our next destination. We had thought to go in September when we had a large stretch of time available. We intended to drive and see some territory neither of us have visited but that option evaporated and we are now flying. It is a minor change in some ways but it does require preparation not necessary had we driven. Renting a car, for instance.

We don’t rent many cars so it is time to learn something new. Big lesson; DON’T rent a car from an airport location. I spend the better part of week checking out what it would cost to rent a car for 10 days in Arizona. The logical place to pick up the car would be at the Phoenix airport where we are going to land. It would also be convenient to drop it off there since that is where our plane leaves from. I look at all the possibilities and they seem, at least to me, to be quite expense but also something did not sit right. First off, car rental prices change like airfares. Also, like airfares, there does not seem to any rhyme or reason to the change in costs. Really is it worth the time to have some employee or even a computer figuring out which particular model of car is worth how much at this or that instance in time. Come on! it’s a car!

The cost to rent a compact car from the airport location today, October 13,2014, is (I’ll work in Canadian funds where I can) $449.37 plus $246.46 in taxes and surcharges to total $695.84. Like I said, seems a little excessive. There is a discount to ‘pay now’ on the website. It amounts to about 10%. $404.44 plus $232.21 in taxes totaling $636.65. These taxes are “concession recovery, facility maintenance, ENERGY RECOVERY FEE (caps are used on the website price breakdown???), county surcharge, customer facility, and taxes”. Except for the taxes, all of the charges are airport specific and account for a significant portion of what the car is being tendered for.

Simply by using a little bit of lateral thinking I am able to save a large percentage by renting from a location not on airport property . What if I rent the car from a Scottsdale location? Bingo. The cost drops over $300, less that 50% of what I was originally quoted. If I want to book the car it will cost $299.92 plus $56.22 in taxes equaling $356.15, but by paying immediately the cost drops to $269.93 + $51.37 = $321.30. (As I mentioned the prices change and I actually paid $293.62 a couple of days ago.) These savings are a bit greater due to the fact that we do not really need a car on the evening we arrive and we save one day’s rental by not booking the car until the next morning. Just by the by, the car rental agency is directly across the street from our hotel but some agencies will pick you up from the hotel on the day you rent and drop you off after you return the car.

We now have another problem. How to get to the hotel on the night we arrive and how to return to the airport on the day we are to leave. Before I pay for the car rental I check out the cost of a cab ride with the hotel front desk. The fellow tells me it is around $50 US ($56 Cad). So even with the expense of a taxi we save over $200 on the cost of renting a car from the airport and I will have the luxury of being chauffeured to my hotel. Upon further investigation I found the SuperShuttle which provides airport to hotel door service for the two of us costing $84 US ($94.22 Cad) return fare.

By not renting at the airport we save over $200 about 1/3 of the cost of renting a car.
I am beginning to dislike airports as much as I generally dislike airlines. They seem be in business solely for the purpose of making money. Unfortunately, both are missing the same point. They are in the customer service industry and by taking care of the customer, the bottom line will take care of itself. A leap of faith is required to adopt this idea and make it a company cornerstone but as best as I can make, neither the airports or the airlines are willing to take that leap and because they have a market with little or no choice they chose the ‘safe’ route and dictate cost and quality of service to their users.

Airports that charge stupid high fees to the car rental companies and have them pass the cost onto the potential customers caused me to look for alternatives. I will do my best to spread the word. It may only cost airports a few nickels but it is a few nickels they could have had. More important they will loose customers. Customers that could have been loyal customers. Ones that would tout the benefits of using airport services and how valuable they are to travelers rather than spew off blogging about how they are self centered, egocentric, bloated organizations.

PS. The car rental companies should not get off scott free either. You will note that the base cost of the car from the Scottsdale location is lower than the cost of the car from the airport. An instance of supply and demand I am sure but supply and demand to a rental company is sort of a mute point as they shuffle cars around from site to site to meet demand.

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