Now that we’ve moved to Vancouver Island I’ll likely end up flying instead of driving to visit other provinces. And that means… *cue ominous music* …I’ll have to rent a car when I arrive.
I hate renting cars.
Despite the fact that our vehicle insurance policy includes full coverage for rental cars, my hand always trembles when I initial the “I decline insurance” box on the rental contract.
I just know that if I crack up the rental car and submit a claim, my insurance company will smugly point out the microscopic print where it says, “Coverage only for green-and-purple polka-dotted vehicles rented on the second Tuesday of the sixth week of any month beginning with ‘Z’.”
And if that’s not enough to stress me out, there are the spine-chilling threats in the rental contract itself: “If you fail to return the car within 72 hours of the return date you may be liable for criminal prosecution and fines up to $150,000.”
I have nightmares about accidentally putting the wrong date on the contract. I imagine a cadre of malevolent car-rental agents clustered around a large ticking clock: “Seventy-one hours and fifty-eight minutes… fifty-nine… Seventy-two hours! Send out the enforcers! Muwahahahaha!!!!”
And don’t even get me started about the form that itemizes the existing damage on the rental car. The agent always makes me sign it before I even see the car. When I object, they wave a casual hand and say, “Oh, don’t worry. Check over the car before you drive away and if you need to add anything to the form, just bring it back and we’ll update it.”
I always find more damage on the car than what’s shown on the form.
So I make the long hike back to the office. Car rental agents are trained to flee the area as soon as they’ve handed over the keys, so when I get back the desk is abandoned. After a lengthy wait and a few calls on the “courtesy phone” (a complete misnomer), an agent grudgingly returns to the counter.
Then they walk with me to the car, eyeball the long scratches on the roof, and say, “Oh, don’t worry about those. We know those are from the car wash so we don’t need to mark them on the form.”
I argue that the form shows all damage, not just the damage they feel like reporting; they argue that “everybody knows” they never worry about “those” scratches.
At last I prevail and they sullenly update the form and stalk away, leaving me to slide into a car that reeks like a 30-year-old ashtray despite being designated “non-smoking”. Though I guess technically the car is non-smoking; it’s just that its drivers weren’t.
Then I spend the whole trip worrying that somebody will hit/steal/vandalize the damn thing and/or I’ll run afoul of some other fine-print wording that “everybody” but me knows.
At last I return the car with immense relief, and then spend the next month watching my credit card statement for damage charges in case somebody vandalized the car in their lot after I parked it but before they inspected it. I can’t decide whether I’m freakishly paranoid or only extremely thorough…
Okay, never mind; I know the answer to that.
But I still hate renting cars.