“Thorough”. Yeah, That’s It.

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.

34 thoughts on ““Thorough”. Yeah, That’s It.

  1. Pingback: Carmageddon Is Coming | Diane Henders

  2. I feel the same with rental cars, Diane, not that I use them that often. I always worry that somebody else damages the car (accidentally or otherwise) and I know nothing about it until it’s pointed out to me on the return. I’m glad I’m not alone!


  3. Just dropping in to see what’s up, (gads, I get so few of these moments anymore) and to say that I am so enjoying #12. I love these characters! While I’m dearly fond of Arnie I can’t help myself, I adore Kane! He was so “super hero” in the previous books and so normal, real man, in this one, mmmm, he’s perfect! LOL Can’t read straight through like I did the others as too many things to take are of with hubby’s therapy etc. A minute here and there is rare. Already getting anxious for #13. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you’re enjoying Book 12 so far! And it’s fun to hear from Team Kane, too. It’s been interesting to watch the poll as the series goes on – Kane had a huge lead in the beginning, but Arnie is slowly catching up. 😉

      Sending good wishes to your Hubby for a speedy recovery, and to you for strength to get both of you through it.


  4. Haha I’m so like that. Always thinking a large rock is planning to attack my windshield. I’m hoping eventually I will chill out on this issue. A decade later and still no sign of easing off. 🙂


    • Hmm, nope, it’s probably not going to ease off. 😉 I guess it comes down to the fact that I just don’t like borrowing other people’s stuff and being responsible for it at the best of times. A scary contract and shifty agents only make the whole thing worse.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I was in a hurry once and accidentally signed up for the insurance. Boy, was THAT an expensive lesson! The filling it with gas before you drop it back off or they’ll top it off for you at about 5 times the pump price in Europe is another pain. And the scratches! Geez, maybe next time I’ll just hitchhike away from the airport.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s tempting, isn’t it? (Except for those pesky laws against hitchhiking.) And the car rental costs are so high, it’d be cheaper to buy a car at your destination and make the first month’s payment. If not for the paperwork and licensing hassle it’d be almost worth it…

      Liked by 2 people

  6. My longest car rental was when I decided it was finally time to take my dream painting trip to the rainforests of Washington State. I had decided to fly to Seattle, do business with Rent A Wreck, drive to my sister’s place in Portland, stay just long enough to be polite, borrow her camping gear and spend a month painting back North on the West coast of the Olympic Peninsula. The car held all the camping and painting gear and a week or more of groceries and it drove just fine to Portland and back.
    The first rainforest I encountered to the south was the Quinault. I got a map of the various campgrounds and I decided upon North Fork. I think I chose it because it was less expensive than those closer to civilization. It was only 19 miles ahead. After driving hundreds of miles, what is another 19? Over an hour, it turned out. The roads to the inner forests are unpaved and wash out frequently. They are narrow and twisty and go up and down every hillock and cliff, and for the most part are only as wide as one vehicle in most places. There were signs posted everywhere that you may not drive a vehicle with a trailer because of the great difficulty backing it up if you meet another vehicle. The signs also mentioned that wide vehicles will need to fold in their side view mirrors. Sure enough. The road was so narrow and twisty that you had to drive slowly with your windows open in hopes that you’d hear oncoming traffic coming before you’d have them emerge in front of you. By the time I got to the campground it was soon going to get dark and I made a circuit to see which site would best fit my needs. As I made the last loop before getting to my chosen site, a terrible sound came from the underside of my rental wreck. It sounded like a piece of the vehicle was dragging on the roadway. I got out to investigate, but between the low carriage and the late hour, I saw nothing. I couldn’t leave the car on the roadway, and my chosen site was quite close, so I continued to my site, parked and set up camp while there was still light. I made my supper and tried the cellular phone my brother had loaned me for just such a situation. I’d never rented a vehicle before and didn’t know what to do if the car breaks down during your trip, so I was trying to read all the fine print on the rental agreement by flashlight too. Now this trip was during the period when swank business people had car phones attached to the console, but hardly anyone else had cell phones. My loaner phone was fondly called a brick by users, since it was about that size. What were we thinking? There were no cell towers outside large metropolitan areas! Of course there was no signal. I worried if I even could call for help, if a tow truck would fit between the trees. Would he chance backing? I decided my dilemma wouldn’t be dealt with that night, so it was best to just get some sleep and try to figure out what to do the next day. The next morning by the time I was dressed and going to fetch water, the almost full campground had become nearly empty. I greeted a woman who was the only other camper on our end of the campground. She asked if it was my car that made such a terrible sound as I came in. When I assented, she said she’d send over her husband after dinner to see if he could help me in any way- he’s a mechanic and would be happy to help. So I painted all day and during the last hour of daylight the husband came by holding a flathead screwdriver, the only tool he had with him. It was abundantly clear that nothing was dragging, so he had me drive a foot to assertain which quadrant the sound came from. We determined it was the left front, so he helped me jack up the car a little and he poked around with his screwdriver then announced it was fixed. A pebble had lodged between the wheel and the shield that is there to prevent just such pebbles from getting where that pebble got to. He wouldn’t accept any payment, so I gave them a small painting I had done that day. I never did find out what you do if your rental car breaks down hours from the nearest phone on a hellish dirt roadway. The whole reason I went out of my way to rent a wreck was I figured the cars would be older, and if it were returned caked in mud with tons of mysterious green fingerprints everywhere, the consequences would be mild to nil. Yup. When I told them I had bothered to go to a car wash to take the worst of the mud off, they told me no one else would have bothered and I shouldn’t have worried about it.


    • Wow, what an adventure! I’ve driven a few roads like that here in BC, so I know exactly what you mean. How lucky for you that it was only a pebble! (I know what you mean about the ‘brick’, too – I had one just like it.)

      I’ve always thought Rent-A-Wreck was a great idea. It’s too bad there aren’t more convenient locations for them – car rentals are so expensive now, and I don’t care what I drive as long as it’s reliable.

      The thought of your painting holiday makes me sigh with wistful envy. You must have created some amazing art during that trip! One of these days (after our construction dust finally settles) I’m going to try something similar: Unplug from everything and spend some uninterrupted time writing, painting, playing the piano; whatever creative endeavor strikes my fancy. Soon… *deep breaths*


  7. Thanks – not! We’re heading to the States in Sept and i was ALREADY having nightmares about the rental car!!!!

    Might walk around the car with a video camera, copy the video onto a usb key (2) and get them to write “ref video” on the existing damage part of the form.

    I think i read all of the forms in depth, but now i have to go back and reread them again!!!


    • Sorry about that! But I like your idea of the video. I hate to admit to further paranoia, but I actually did a similar thing: When they refused to indicate the scratches on their form, I laid the form on the roof beside the scratches and took a picture. It’s pretty sad when I automatically assume a company is out to screw me before we even do business.


  8. Oh Jeez! Only rented a car once. That was enough. My hubby got perturbed because I was reading the contract, the agent got perturbed cause I found 3 ‘problems’ in the first 2 pages, so I put the pen down and went to the door. Attitudes changed quickly it seemed. No one wants me around when contracts get read. Hubby now says to people, when I start reading, “did you bring your lunch, it’s gonna’ be awhile.” I abhor renting anything. Even videos!


    • I’m glad I’m not the only compulsive contract-reader out there! I have serious issues with people who try to force me to sign without reading; or worse, try to tell me the contract clauses mean something other than what they really say. I spent years reviewing and writing contracts as a project manager and I know what I’m reading. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter with rental car contracts – if I want wheels, I’m stuck with the contract the way it’s written. Yep, I really, really hate renting cars!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Diane, I don’t mind professing my love for you in front of all these people…really. Before you, Colleen McCullough was my favorite author, but you’ve surpassed her in my heart! I’m putting off finishing book 12 because I don’t want it to end. So I stall. (You HAVE started on 13 haven’t you?) I’m still trying to wrap my head around the way she gets into brain-wave computer networks. I was a technical writer for 25 years and if things I read aren’t reality-based then I have to think on them longer. (Book 13, how long before you think you’ll finish?) If you’ve finished reading this, shouldn’t you get back to writing Book 13? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! Nice to ‘meet’ a fellow tech writer. Don’t be so subtle; just give me a hint if you’re a teeny bit interested in Book 13. 😉 And wow – I’m honoured to be even mentioned in the same breath as Colleen McCullough! Thank you!

      Book 13 was already swirling around in my head while I was finishing Book 12, and I’m slowly pulling the plot together. I don’t have words on the page yet, but as soon as I have any progress to report I’ll post it on my Books page. Stay tuned! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I feel for you. I don’t drive but I’ve been with my dad when he has hired a car in Spain. With a language barrier and extreme heat it took a while but we got a good car. It was returned in the same state we got it.


    • Nice! Returning the car undamaged is my favorite part of the rental process. And all my dealings have been with agents who speak English – I can’t imagine the frustration of adding a language barrier to the mix!


  11. Paranoid about renting cars? You are not paranoid at all…because they really are out to get you. Had to rent a car recently. Went through the same mess.

    Me: And there’s a scratch over here, too. And several more here, here, and over there…”
    Agent: Yeah, yeah, no problem. We already know about those…
    Me: So mark them on the form, please.
    Agent: Sure, sure, no problem. (makes random scribbles on the form)
    Me: (walking around to the front) Here’s one. And another here and two more there and there…

    An hour and seventeen minutes ooze by with excruciating slowness while I nitpick.

    Agent: Yep, got ’em. Now if you’ll just come with me, please…
    Agent: (brightens visibly) Oh! No problem! Is that all you want? Well, why didn’t you say so in the first place! (draws a big red circle around the whole form) Now, all you have to do is not total it and set it on fire after dipping it in a vat of acid before dropping it from the International Space Station into the ocean! Anything less than that is okay. Now, just sign here!
    Me: (snicker!)

    Of course, I’m not saying that’ll work for *everybody* at every rental place.

    We rented a pretty serious hotrod ATV up in the mountains a few weeks ago. The place where we rented it was already over 9,200 feet, and the road to get there was not exactly velvety smooth, so I was curious as to their policy with regard to damage. Because the only place to go from there was UP, and some of the trails would make mountain goats buy more life insurance.

    Their damage policy? Simple, really. “You break it, you bought it.”

    We’re talking twenty grand for that model, and I was beginning to have second thoughts, but the young man just grinned and continued. “Just the individual parts, sir, not the whole machine, and I won’t charge for the labor. I’ve already replaced all of the ‘soft’ parts with heavy duty aftermarket stuff. If you do manage to break something on the machine, you’ll probably be in worse shape than it is after the dust settles and the smoke clears. So here’s how to operate the GPS Rescue Unit. This button right here operates the ‘We Got Broken Bones, Send A Med-Evac Helicopter’ part of the radio. This button is the ‘I Broke Your Machine, Bring A Tow Rope’ button…”

    Gad, I love dealing with professionals. I really liked that kid. And we didn’t break anything at all. Not even on the machine…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ha! I like that kid, too, and I’ve never even met him. And I’m glad you enjoyed your adventure unscathed!

      I had the opposite experience. A couple of rentals ago, we got off the plane at our destination and bellied up to the car rental counter. Had all the usual paperwork and hassles, plus: “…and no driving on unpaved roads.”

      I knew the place where we were staying was on a gravel road.

      I argued, “It didn’t say anything about unpaved roads anywhere in the contract when I booked online.”
      Agent: “Yes, it did.”
      Me: “No, it didn’t. I printed all the documents. Here they are. You show me where it says that.”
      Agent, shuffling through the papers: “Well, it might not be written down, but that’s our policy.”
      Me: “You can’t just arbitrarily make up stuff and pretend it’s part of the contract.”
      Agent: “Yes, I can. Take it or leave it.”

      It was a small airport and none of the other rental places had cars available, so we didn’t have a choice. And yes, we drove to our destination on the gravel road anyway – fuck ’em. But I’ll NEVER rent from Budget again. Or from Thrifty – they’re the ones that gave me the ashtray-stinker on my last trip. The car was so filthy I didn’t even want to touch the steering wheel. Have I mentioned that I really hate renting cars…?

      Liked by 2 people

      • I hate renting cars, too. But the alternative sometimes makes it necessary.

        Our favorite thing is to travel the remote trails in Colorado. Been doing it for years and years. Do we own a Jeep? Nope. Renting is the better option for us. ‘Way better. Can’t justify spending that kind of money for a vehicle we’ll only need for a few days a year. Sure, you can drive ’em all the time, but Jeeps–even Rubicons–aren’t the ideal everyday ride for either of us.

        And we did the aforementioned ATV this year, too. Years ago when ATVs first came out, we’d drive by them in our Jeep and just shake our heads at people who were foolish enough to do that stuff. Now? ATVs have come a long way, baby! We’re converts. Lots smoother ride, can go more places, and all that. Still some downside–dirt in the face, not highway legal, dirt in the face, dirt in the face, and dirt in the face–but we’re pretty much hooked. But we’ll rent those, too, and for the same reason. Too much money for a few days of use once a year.

        The rest of the time, if I’ve rented a car, it’s because my car is in the shop. Always bad news. Or maybe I’ve had to fly somewhere. Even worse news. Oh, I don’t mind flying at all. It’s just all the crap that goes with it of late. Airports suck, and any time spent there is heinously frustrating drudgery and utterly wasted. And the rude, ill-mannered morons and their screaming kids in the plane…

        A few years ago, we learned the hard way that Miami International is where bad people go when they die. And American Airlines is how they get there. Which is why the next time we go overseas, I’m driving.

        Liked by 1 person

        • LOL! Funny, Hubby and I were just discussing amphibious vehicles the other day.

          Airports definitely suck. ATVs sound like fun, and renting them seems like a smart idea. One of our friends is into ATV-ing and he spends more time fixing his machine than he does riding it. It’s gotten to the point where he has two of them so he’s always got a ride when one is out of commission. But with a track record like that, can you imagine my paranoia if I tried to rent an ATV? 😉

          Liked by 1 person

          • For your friend, here’s my diagnosis. If the ATV breaks that often, he got the wrong brand, he’s using the same weak stock replacement parts for his repairs that broke to begin with, or both. Even the ‘good’ brands of ATVs have certain parts that break with some frequency under heavy use. Those are the ‘safety fuse’ parts that break to keep the really rough shock loads from the more expensive components. For instance, a half-shaft with CV-joints instead of transaxle mainshafts. A hundred bucks vs. a thousand bucks. Granted, it’s inconvenient, but the economics do work.


            Here’s my nano-penny’s worth of free advice to your buddy. Pop for WIDER (not taller!) aftermarket wheels WITH BEAD LOCKS and tires to match. And I do mean NOT TALLER. Taller tires offer more ground clearance, but they also increase the suspension loads…with the square of the diameter. If you’re already breaking parts, taller is not better. Wider is your friend.

            With bead locks, he can air down the tires for a softer ride and less shock loading on the drivetrain and passengers without running the tires off the rims and dumping out the air at an inconvenient time. Instant flat tire when that happens! Axle and CV joint life will AT LEAST double as well. At the VERY least double. Then forget about stock replacement parts for the rest of the stuff that breaks and pop for the good bulletproof aftermarket stuff. His breakage problems will disappear.

            I’m pretty sure about all that. You can tell him the guy who told it to you has a clue. Just sayin’… 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            • Ooh, that’s awesome advice – thank you! I’ll pass it on. Mind you, some of the issues may stem from the fact that he’s well over 6 feet and 290 lbs and he rides hard. No matter how good a suspension system is, it can only take so much abuse. 😉

              Liked by 1 person

  12. I think you are just paranoid enough! But then I always expect the worst from those situations as well. You hear too many stories about people who got screwed; I don’t want to be another one …

    Hilarious but realistic, I’d say 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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