Rental Car Companies
Photograph ©2023 by Brian Cohen.

What to Do If Rental Car Facility Is Sold Out When You Arrive

Do not cancel the contract or dispute the case with your credit card.

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic caused rental car companies to reduce the inventory of vehicles in their fleets — including Hertz Corporation, which ultimately filed voluntary petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware on Monday, April 27, 2020 — but as travel has been recovering at a quick pace, the inventory of many rental car facilities still cannot meet the demand for rental vehicles, which leads to the question of what to do if rental car facility is sold out when you arrive.

What to Do If Rental Car Facility Is Sold Out When You Arrive

Rental Car Companies
Photograph ©2023 by Brian Cohen.

Unlike hotel and resort properties who “walk” their customers in an oversold situation, the employees at rental car companies can simply tell a customer that no vehicles are available at the time they arrive — and the wait can be as long as six hours.

The rental car company is technically not breaking its end of the contract if a vehicle is not available when a customer arrives — as long as a vehicle is eventually provided…

…but who wants to wait around at a rental car facility for up to six hours — whether traveling on business or vacation?

If you are left scrambling when a rental company branch is sold out, the last thing you should do is cancel your reservation because doing so solves the problem of the rental car company, as it relieves them of their obligation to resolve your situation.

Instead, consider following the advice in this article from the official weblog of AutoSlash pertaining to what to do if no vehicles are available once you arrive at the rental car facility — specifically as your reservation represents an obligation that a rental company is required to fulfill.

Leverage your options and hold the rental car company accountable with the following strategies to use when you find yourself having to wait hours for a vehicle. Request from a manager that the rental car company:

  • Give you a free upgrade. If larger or more luxurious vehicles are available than the one you reserved, negotiate to snag an upgrade at no additional cost.
  • Cover interim travel for you. If the manager expects to have a car for you within a few hours, get them to pay for a ride to and from where you are staying so that you can at least check in and get settled.
  • Pay you the difference for another rental vehicle. If another rental car company in the vicinity has vehicles available, get the rental car company from which you originally rented to pay the difference in cost to switch you to a competitor.
  • Give you a discount. Do not be timid about being blunt with the facts of the situation and asking for some money back in your pocket, as you are on firm ground to get a discount. Ask for a reduced rate on your rental as compensation for your inconvenience.
  • Ask for a credit toward a future rental — that is, if you plan on using that rental car company again in the future.

Reaching out to a rental car company on Twitter or another social media channel can be an effective way to get fast, effective help”, according to the aforementioned article. “Social media administrators deal with customer issues on a daily basis. It’s a time-efficient way to get on a company’s radar, timestamped and in writing.”

If all else fails, you can escalate the matter up to the corporate office with a telephone call or e-mail message. Better yet, call out the rental car company on social media — particularly on Twitter — in a pleasant, civil, and reasonable manner. This often works because rental car companies really do not like unhappy customers to vent in public forums.

Whatever you do, do not file a dispute with your credit card company, as you could likely end up on the Do Not Rent list of the rental car company.

Final Boarding Call

Rental car companies strive to utilize the vehicles in their fleet at 100 percent for the most revenue — but that means more of a chance of creating an oversold situation, which is unfair to the innocent customer.

You should not have to arrive at a rental car facility — especially after traveling on a long flight — only to find that you cannot immediately pick up a vehicle to leave to your final destination. You have rights as a consumer; and you should exercise your rights accordingly.

All photographs ©2023 by Brian Cohen.

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