Alamo Car Rentals

I don’t even know where to begin with this one.

We travelled to the US a few months ago, stayed in Chicago for a week, and then planned to drive a hire car from Chicago to Montana, and then go north to Calgary over 10 days.

Being a planney sort of person, I booked an economy car online at Expedia. Simple enough, but noticed that there was not an area to list an additional driver, who we shall call F.M.

Anyway – We arrived at the Alamo at O’Hare Airport and got to the counter fairly quickly. We were greeted by a woman who seemed overly friendly. Then, KAPOW.

She changed. The expression that she was wearing could only be described as “somebody trying to eat their own face.”  I paused. And then asked “Is there something wrong?” She seems to eat her face a bit more, and asks are we sure we want to drive across the country in such a small car?  We say yes, and she continues to make her hideous faces, this time, her tongue looking like it might push through her cheek.  She tries to convince us a bit more, telling us that we were “too scared to drive a car with power” (Us: We booked an economy as its the same that we drive at home); that we would get crushed by a truck on the highway (Us: We have trucks in Australia too); and finally that they drive faster there (true, but eh) – and we  manage to decline her generous offer to upgrade us cheaply.

Now, to Hurdle No.2 Because there was no area to fill in F.M.’s details on the original booking,  he just wasn’t registered anywhere as a potential driver.  This seemed to upset Face-chewer a bit, who insisted that there was an area to add an extra driver. She then threatened me with going to check the website, which I welcomed her to, but for whatever reason she didn’t. Bluff called?  Anyway, somehow, I agree that we will pay an extra $10 a day to have F.M. listed as a driver, if only to get away from her.

Third issue: We get to the bit where we need to pay. This, one would think, would be the easy bit. But noooo… Because I was the one who made the booking on Expedia, they wanted a credit card with my name on it.  Of course at this point all of the money was with F.M. so it was here that I started to lose my temper.  She explained to me that it was in case of fraud.  I pointed out that F.M. was STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO ME HOLDING HIS CREDIT CARD.  She told me that it was in case a cranky wife stole her ex’s credit card to rent a car.  Again, I point out that F.M. is standing right next to me, and in front of her.  At this stage, he is trying to transfer money to using his phone that has no reception.  She is looking at the line building up behind us, and me looking like I might bang her face-chewing head into the counter, and says that she will talk to the manager and could we just step over there.

We go off to the side, still trying to transfer money – its not happening though, and it takes so long that the line clears, and we are summoned to the woman who was next to Face-chewer, Jacqui (we think).

Now, Jacqui having overheard ALL of our issues said that we could pay with F.M.’s card. But firstly, she does her thing and starts trying to get us to upgrade.  At this point Face-chewer doesn’t have a customer, and leans into the conversation.  It goes along the same lines as the other conversation, where they try to shame us into taking a larger car, to which we keep replying that we want an economy.  At this point, they say we can have the upgrade for free.  We say that we still don’t want the upgrade, that we want a small car.  They get their attendant to drive a few cars up to the window, all quite large, and we keep saying that we want a smaller car.  In the end, they bring up a smallish sedan, and we finally agree. We guess that they simply didn’t have any economy cars in stock.

So, we get to the bit where we pay, and Jacqui asks if we were married.  We confirm that we are, and she says that it didn’t matter that F.M. wasn’t on the booking, as spouses don’t have to pay the surcharge.  She started to process our details and payment, and while all of this is happening, Face-chewer is serving another customer, and she asks if the other person that he has nominated as the other driver is his wife.  He confirms, and she says quietly while taking a glance in my direction, that he won’t pay extra, because spouses drive for free!

So – Jacqui, apart from the upgrade shaming, was pretty good, knew how to do her job well, and was very pleasant.  But I still wonder if we will go back to Alamo the next time we are in the US, after the whole thing with Face-chewer.

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