Thursday, July 17, 2014

Why you should avoid Alamo Rent-A-Car

This week my family split apart for 25 days so my wife could visit family in the USA.  Because of some fortunate events she was able to travel with friends the whole way making the trip much easier than anticipated. But Alamo Rent-A-Car destroyed any hopes for a happy ending.

I reserved the car on the website, prepaid for 25 days and even paid for the insurance.  I also ordered two car seats and a booster seat.  When my wife arrived, after her 12 hour journey, from El Salvador she was met with Shantell at the SLC Airport Office.  Shantell made it clear to my wife should could not pay the deposit with a debit card and would need to have a credit card with her name on it.  Why may you ask?  Because a debit card can be canceled, she said and we could steal the car.  I guess credit cards can not be canceled?  In addition she said that my wife is a local driver (not really but her license is Utah) and so she could not be trusted with the car with out a major credit card.  Really have defined trust by someones ability to have debt?  But I digress, you see the policy on the Alamo website says if we have a return ticket they will accept a debit card.  Not for Shantell.

Alamo Debit Card Policy
Click on Graphic to Enlarge
Debit Card Policy on the Alamo Website

Our next solution was for me to get on the phone and offer my business credit card to pay the $200+ deposit.  Shantell said she could not except that because they must physically swipe the card.  What is this 1995?  As my wife sat their and wept with 4 screaming children, I began to come up with solutions with Shantell, I quoted her again the policy saying that if I presented a return ticket I would be allowed to use a debit card, she said it is their actually policy to not allow debit cards, even though their website clearly states it.  I offered other credit cards, to have people come down and pay it, etc.  She refused all solutions.  In the end I asked her what I should do with my stranded wife and she responded, "I don't know, because there is nothing I can do for you."

Next step was to jump to customer care, I called Alamo 1-800 line and after 20 min of waiting was transferred BACK to SLC Airport.  No good there, Shantell already doesn't want to help me!  I tried Twitter and Facebook.  I got Rob who kept referring me to call customer support or email care or call Expedia.

Rob and Tweets

Alamo, why do you have a twitter page?  You told me to email care in a DM and I got the same person on twitter--Rob! So I emailed Care aka Rob and his reply?  "I am forwarding this to the manager" what point  "my wife was sitting on the floor crying" did they not understand?

Click on Graphic to Enlarge
Rob and his email...Rob asked me to email him through a DM.

What does this come down too?  Alamo was unwilling to uphold their own policy that is clearly posted on their website and instead left a woman stranded in the airport with crying 1 year old twins.  Refused to answer their customers demands that they simply uphold their policy.  I wasn't a casual user here, I pre-paid 25 days of a 5 passenger car with trip insurance.  All for nothing.  Was I demanding?  Yes.  Was I frustrated? Still am.  But did at anytime I ask them to violate their policy? No!

So thank you Alamo, I am so happy for your level of concern for your customers and for your own policies.  My wife, screaming babies and my wallet all thank you for destroying this vacation.

Wish you the best.

UPDATE: 7/18/2014

The past day I have received tremendous support from friends and strangers about this issue.  But most interestingly it has been Alamo.  They have had 5 separate people reach out to me asking for information all replying that they would have someone contact me or pass the info on.  But the best was the emailed response I got from the Customer Service Website.  According to Bryan, because my wife had a Utah Driver's License and a Utah Credit Union Debit card (even though the website does not say this...see above) she does not qualify for the Debit Card Policy.  Never mind the fact she showed them her El Salvador Residency Card, Passport with El Salvador Stamps and a round trip ticket originating and retuning to El Salvador.  See Bryan's amazing email below and spread the word on this folks:

Click on Graphic to Enlarge
Bryan's email telling my why they denied my wife a car after prepaying.

I replied to Bryan saying I didn't think this was a valid answer since his website doesn't say anything about the local residency requirement.  He replied saying that he will take my feedback into consideration and will use it to make them "The car company of choice"

Click on Graphic to Enlarge
Bryan wants Alamo to be the Car Company of Choice

UPDATE: 7/21/2014

After 3 more emails asking, I received a great answer from Erica.  She feels horrible for the situation and wants to make things right.  She made it clear the reason the policy was not followed was because my wife is a local customer (not true) and that she was not a Flying customer (we showed our round trip ticket).  To help she is giving us 3 FREE days on Alamo, um how am I going to use it if I don't have a Credit Card?  See Email below - Click to Enlarge:

Click on Graphic to Enlarge
Erica explains my wife was not a flying customer (lie) and that I can have 3 free days.
 How will  use this without a credit card?

UPDATE: 7/22/2014

Thanks Marketta from Alamo, your newest excuse to my wife being left to fend for herself with 4 kids and me spending an extra $400+ is because you say my wife's round trip ticket was NOT in and out of Utah.  Um...we flew from El Salvador!  It says it on the itinerary we presented!!!

Click on Graphic to Enlarge
"Your wife presented a local drivers license with a round trip flight and that flight was not for flying in and out of Utah therefore she did not qualify"
So I sent Ms. Marketta an email with my wife's Itinerary she responded, there is nothing I can do for you I will have someone call you...Yeah I have been asking for that for over a week now.

UPDATE 7/24/2014

The regional manager called me to give his deepest sympathies.  He admitted that the website policy is not up to date with the store policies and wanted to know if my wife had received a car and if they could help in anyway (Yeah that was 5 days ago).  I told him we now have a car and I asked for $400 to cover my cost on the car I had to rent so my wife could get home.  He told me he would look into it but that I should have just taken a Taxi.  I explained that a Taxi would have required by law for me to get 4 car seats for my kids, so it would have been more in the end.  Shortly after I received an email confirming that I am to blame and that I should have taken a Taxi.  Seriously?  It is clear from there email the still have no clue what they are talking about since they recommended I go through Enterprise for a refund, but Enterprise rented us the car!

Alamo says I should have taken a Taxi
Click on Graphic to Enlarge


Kelly & Christian said...

OH MY GOSH! I'm at war with them now about a very similar thing. We hired a 7 seater in the UK. On our way back to Heathrow we had a tire blow, 5 hours before our flight so I wasn't too worried. Until they left us there to rot for 4 1/2 of those hours. We called for help at 8:30am, and they didn't come get us till close to 1, and then they only brought us to a local location. We had to rebook our flight at $3400. Fighting with them now, and just grateful everything went on my American Express card so I'm not alone in this.

BenJoe Markland said...


I wish you the best. The saddest part is I run a million dollar international business and we used Alamo for our Limo service. I canceled the contract due to their unwillingness to help me and it cost them thousands. They still did not care at all.