Auto Focus

Beware of the Rental Car Rally

June 9, 2009

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Listen up, San Francisco area rental car companies: the Rental Car Rally starts June 12 at 9 pm at an undisclosed location in your City by the Bay. The rally, in the spirit of Cannonball Run and Gumball Rally, ends in Yuma, Ariz. the next day.

Are you scanning your reservations as we speak to see if any of your renters might be involved? Or have you been contacted by the organizers? According to the Web site, they're negotiating discounts with car rental companies. They better do this quick; the race starts in three days. But would any rental car company want to give a discount to someone guaranteed to put 1,300 miles on your rental unit, or pick up a one-way rental in Yuma?

On the face of it, you shouldn't have anything to worry about--there is no prize for getting there first and drivers must obey all traffic rules.

But what may give rental car operators heartburn, in addition to the heavy mileage, are the ways to garner points. Team Style includes the vehicle, so your rental unit may be in store for a "costume." And the Freelance category looks a bit dodgier: "Whether jumping a canyon or robbing a bank, spectacular feats of daring-do will earn your team up to 10pts."

Be sure to check your car's alignment and suspension upon return.

I'm not condoning profiling, but if having a gang of hipsters using your rental on a quest for weekend adventure is not part of your business plan, then you might consider working these questions into your reservations script:

- Do you watch Robot Chicken and Family Guy religiously?

- Do you call friends "brah" and "dude?"

- How many times have you seen "Slacker," and can you repeat three classic lines from "Garden State?"

- Do you pick up info on where to eat/what to buy from hip Web portals like Thrillist?

- How long do you sit at Starbucks with your laptop and newspaper?

- Do you think it's cool to be all retro and read an actual newspaper?

- Would you describe yourself opinionated, regardless of actual knowledge?

- Had you considered a career in "something creative" but are settling into white collar cubicle life, begrudgingly?

- Did you play Dungeons and Dragons, but gave it up when you started liking girls?

- Did you voted for Obama, but secretly flirted with Ron Paul?

- Do you constantly update Facebook from your iPhone?

- Do you go by your middle name of Dashielle, Wood or Kingston because it's more distinctive?

- Would you consider yourself "thrift store trendy," but at least know that Ed Hardy is no longer cool?

- If you smoke, do you smoke American Spirit cigarettes?

- Would you consider John Cusack a hero?

 

This is an impartial list, but I realize you only have so much time on the phone. Rental car operators: let me know how this works. And if it doesn't, I hope your car comes back in one piece and you're not self insured.

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Author Bio

Chris Brown

Executive Editor

Chris Brown is the executive editor of Business Fleet Magazine and Auto Rental News for Bobit Business Media. Through these publications, online newsletters, trade events and associations, Chris covers all aspects of the fleet world, including fleet management, manufacturer fleet activities, the fleet leasing industry, vehicle remarketing, rental industry news, car rental taxation and legislation as well as automotive environmental initiatives and trends.

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