When the manager of the Budget Rent-A-Car told me that my two passengers vans may be an hour late for pickup on Saturday morning, I started thinking of doing something drastic. This reservation was made back in November. They are taking 16 people to North Carolina, people who have been instructed to arrive promptly so that we can begin (and, thus, end) our day-long drive on time. So when the Budget manager nonchalantly stated, “Oh, they may be an hour late,” my mind started spinning.
“What do you mean?” I asked. “My reservation is for an 8:00 pickup. That has always been my reservation.”
“I know,” he answered. “But if the vans don’t get here on Friday night, nobody starts working before 8:00, so it’ll be closer to 9:00 before they get here.”
I pressed the question. “Can you give me any assurance that they’ll get there on time?”
Nope. Done. I’m out.
This isn’t the first spot of trouble I’ve had with Budget. Just the day before I’d called to confirm the reservation and was told by a junior staffer that, sure, my reservation is in the system, but he can’t really confirm I’ll have the vans. That requires a call back the next day to speak to the manager. So I have to speak directly to a manager to confirm that the reservation I made eight months ago is actually a thing? The ground was already very shaky.
I make these calls to Budget to confirm reservations because they burned me once before, badly.
Seconds after hanging up the they-may-be-late call I dialed my X Factor, the piece of the puzzle I did not have the last time Budget burned me. It’s a local place that only rents these vans and moving trucks. I tried them out for our Detroit mission trip in June and thought they were great (their vans have TV’s in them, which I don’t love, but whatever). They cost a smidge more, but they call me to confirm reservations. They. Call. Me. I explain my situation and the dates I need. The guy asks, “So you need, like, a backup plan?” No. If you have the vans I’ll take them. He has them. Done.
This is my rental company going forward, full stop.
Cancelling the Budget reservation will cost me $50. That’s the best money I’ve ever paid Budget.