TRAVEL with pat and lew

changing rental cars in Mexico

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 13, 2007

                        

I reserved our car in Ajijic, Mexico, with Budget car rental, rather than one of the local operators, specifically because I felt more comfortable being able to talk to someone if there was a problem or a question. But it didn’t work out the way I had hoped.

The original car rental was from March 14 to March 24, 10 days. Then we decided to go to Puerto Vallarta for two days. I could park the car at the Guadalajara airport (~ $50.00 USD) or return the car and get a new rental upon our return to Guadalajara.

I called Budget’s international reservations number in the US (using Skype) to find out how much I would save, if anything, by splitting the rental into two, for 5 days and 3 days, rather than the original 10 days.

Unfortunately, Budget could not give me the answer. “We can’t get into your open contract.” Very frustrating. The Budget person was polite and apologetic, but not helpful.

“You’ll have to call the Budget counter at the Guadalajara airport,” she concluded.

“They speak Spanish, and I don’t,” I said.

“I’m very sorry,” she said.

I tried to call the Budget counter at the airport but I didn’t get through, so I don’t know if I would have found an English-speaking agent, but I doubt it. In any case, I had to solve the problem myself.

First, I reserved a car for the 3 days after our return from Puerto Vallarta. Now I knew that price. NOTE: You can always cancel a car reservation without penalty.

Then I entered dates for a 5 day rental, to learn what the charge would be, although I did not actually make that rental reservation. Adding the two rentals together, there was a savings of another $50.00. No parking, less car rental, $100.00 savings.

When I returned the car to Budget prior to our flight to Puerto Vallarta, the charge was exactly what the web site had calculated for a 5 day rental. We picked up the new car (which turned out to be the same car), upon our return.

Now, why couldn’t Budget, on the phone, have done the same calculations I did on their web site?

This small incident points out how important the internet is to the way we travel. You plan in advance, but you can also modify your arrangements as your plans change.

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