I landed at SFO and, rolling into the Rent-a-car center after the usual stupidity, saw this big green sign: “Rent a hybrid and get $15 off!” Since Avis more often than not foists an oversized misshapen thirst-crazed Detroit Mistake on me, I thought it sounded good. So I bounced up to the counter and said “It says $15 less for a hybrid, I’ll take one.” They looked surprised and, after consulting their computers, informed me that the hybrid was a $30/day upgrade, and the $15 a one-time rebate for the whole rental of however many days. Then they sent me on my way in another pathetic SUV.



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From: Pat (Jan 24 2009, at 22:00)

I work for a competitor to Avis (won't shill, though). Most of the other rental car companies are phasing in hybrids into their fleets, without the premium. If you get a choice of which company next time, I recommend a little legwork. Of course, you'll get a better deal through your employer most times, and don't go through Travelocity or Expedia or the like -- the rental car company websites are cheaper.

Also, some companies allow their employees to waive fees. Make a stink and you're more likely to get something like that.

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From: Mark Armednariz (Jan 24 2009, at 22:49)

As an addition to what Pat said [1], if your company doesn't have a deal with a specific rental company, most of them allow you to sign up for their business membership on your own. And the business deals tend to be better than advertised and even discounted rates.

1: http://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/200x/2009/01/24/Avis-SFO#c1232863200.700923

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From: dr2chase (Jan 25 2009, at 06:18)

I've been working up to it in the last few visits to Silly Valley, but last time I went, I skipped the rental car, borrowed a friend's beater bike (a really nice beater bike), commuted 11 miles to Santa Clara, and it all worked.

If we could stash a not-so-nice beater bike at Menlo Park and/or Santa Clara, do you think that would help? (Beater bikes are available at Burlington, but the commute and the weather are not as favorable.)

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From: d.w. (Jan 25 2009, at 12:16)

I usually rent from Enterprise, but they never stick me with SUVs -- I always ask for an economy car and usually end up with something reasonable and efficient (Aveo, Cobalt, etc.) since I'm pretty much never hauling around a bunch of junk.

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From: Elaine (Jan 26 2009, at 17:12)

to dr2chase: I don't know about Silly Valley, but the two times I've been to SXSW, I rented a bike and was very happy for it. (I took the bus from the airport into town.)

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From: Leonard Lin (Feb 08 2009, at 21:22)

Why not just request a compact or economy car? A hybrid would be nice, but on the flip side I've never been *forced* to take an SUV (I can't imagine there isn't anything else in the lot)...

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