After reading No Vacation Required’s blog post entitled, It’s all about the Journey, I realized we had not yet shared the frustrating part of our journey in Yellowstone.
Just another reminder of how travel can keep you humble.
We arrived at Bozeman’s tiny airport in Montana at 1:00pm on June 23rd. We were greeted with a glorious blue sky and temperatures in the mid seventies. I was having second thoughts about wearing jeans, a long sleeve shirt and Ugg boots.
We sat outside, in front of the airport, while we gathered our car rental paperwork to make a few calls.
While researching for this trip, we found a car rental company in the town of Bozeman, Montana who had significantly cheaper rental rates than the same company at the airport. We had been told that they would not come pick us up at the airport, but even with the $40 quoted cab ride each way, it was still worth the savings.
The representative at the rental agency asked for my last name while she looked up our reservation.
A few moments later, I hear the voice on the other end of the line.
“Didn’t you get the message we left for you this morning?”
“No we did not. We have been on a plane, flying from San Diego to Bozeman.”
“Well, we called you this morning about this reservation and left you a message.”
There was a short pause before she continued.
At this point, I wasn’t extremely worried. I figured they would figure out a way to get us a car because of their mistake.
My response was, “Well, how do you plan to fix this? You can’t expect that a phone call the day of a reservation to suffice. We have a camping reservation tonight in West Yellowstone, 2 hours from here.”
“That’s the risk you take when you don’t make a reservation at an airport.”
“I wish I was told this before I booked a reservation a month ahead of time or that it was stated somewhere on your reservation confirmation which was emailed to me.”
I was informed they would put us on a waiting list and let us know when a car became available. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day. She really had no idea when we could expect to begin our vacation that we had booked for Scott’s birthday.
“We only have 5 days here, so you are suggesting I sit around and waste my trip waiting for a car that I had a reservation for?”
“Your other option is to go inside the airport and see if Dollar or Thrifty have any cars available for you.”
“Can I get a car through your branch at the airport?”
“They are booked up too.”
“Ok, so how do you plan to make up for your mistake? Are you going to pay the difference in price that I’m most certainly going to have to pay at another rental company?”
“No, we are not.”
“The only thing I can do is put you on a waiting list.”
At this point, I gave the phone to Scott because I was seeing red. He asked her the same questions and got nowhere. We asked for a manager and she said she was the manager. Her attitude and lack of empathy only made us feel more and more frustrated. The worst part is that she never even said she was sorry or acted like she gave a shit!
Here’s the kicker. We searched for days before we booked this trip because there were four different airports we could fly into. We had originally decided on Cody, WY because everywhere else the rentals cars were $80/day. We were not willing to pay close to $500 dollars just to rent a car.
But we found this one car rental agency with an affordable rate and that was the only reason we decided to fly into Bozeman.
Dollar Rent-a-Car offered to let us rent a car they had just bought and were currently picking up from the Ford lot. It was $150 more and it wasn’t exactly ideal because it was a pick-up with limited space to put all the bags and camping gear we had to bring for camping in Yellowstone.
It rained frequently, so putting our things in the bed of the truck was not an option.
Other than occasionally finding myself feeling jealous of other travelers who had a backseat to put all of their camping gear in, rather than spending a great deal of time packing and unpacking their bags, we made the best of it and told each other that at least we had a vehicle and didn’t have to pay $500!
Some of you may be wondering who the evil car rental company is in this post. I left the company’s name blank because after returning home, we contacted their corporate office and corporate was extremely apologetic for the way we were treated and sent us a check for the overages we had to pay.
They also said their policy is not to leave people stranded if they do not book at an airport.
Have you had an experience like this? If so, what did you do?