Don't Remember the Alamo

by Greg Bulmash

In February I rented a car from Alamo at Burbank Airport in California. I normally go with Avis, but Alamo was offering a much cheaper rate and I was stupid enough to take the bait.

When we've travelled with our infant son in the past, Avis has always had a well-trained, state-certified installer make sure the infant seat was properly seated and secured in the back seat of the vehicle.

As we rolled our baggage cart to our assigned space, an Alamo employee dumped an infant seat on our cart. We asked if the installation person would meet us at the car and were told that we had to install it ourselves.

Upon inspection of the seat, we found it to be filthy.

We asked for a replacement and to talk to the manager. The manager came out and stood by the policy of not installing child seats, claiming that it was to avoid liability. He would not back down and insisted it was our responsibility to install the seat.

Any lawyer could easily argue that putting this crucial safety operation into the hands of tired travellers with little or no child seat installation training (as opposed to having a trained and experienced installer do it) is negligent. And it's agonizing to think that Alamo will wait until a baby dies a terrible death in one of their cars, and a jury punishes them for it, before they'll change this awful policy. But I digress.

The replacement for the dirty infant seat was a somewhat clean toddler booster seat, totally inappropriate for our 11-month-old. When we asked for a proper replacement, we received an infant seat with twisted straps and missing installation instructions.

We had learned less than 48 hours earlier that my wife's father had died and we needed to come to Los Angeles for the funeral. Tired and grieving, having had a travel day where everything that could go wrong did, Alamo put the icing on the cake.

This wasn't just one bad employee screwing up. It took multiple employees and Alamo's lot manager, all doing the bare minimum their jobs called for, to make this experience as truly awful as it was.

I walked across the lot, grabbed an Avis manager, got him started on the paperwork for a rental, and then went to cancel my contract with Alamo. By the time I got back, the Avis manager had pulled their car up near the Alamo one, transferred our luggage, professionally installed the infant safety seat, and had the contract brought out to us so I could just sign it and get on the road.

Avis lived up to their claim that they try harder. Alamo, on the other hand, doesn't merely fail to try harder, they don't try at all.


Greg Bulmash runs and

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Alamo has been a horrible experience for us. After getting in late at night, we were given a "full size" Subaru Legacy--clearly listed as a mid-sized car on Edmunds, US News & World Report, and the Subaru site itself.

I complained, but the foreign-speaking "manager" was of no help as we had to cram our kids unsafely next to suitcases in the back seat since the trunk would only take one large and one medium sized suitcase. We were facing an hour drive in the rain that night, and those unsafe conditions for my family really angered me.

Then in the light of the following day, I discovered that our temporary tag was expired before we had ever even picked up the car. I called the Alamo office in Denver that day and was told not to worry about it.

I just finished writing the company, but I am thus far NOT impressed with anything about Alamo.

We will never rent from Alamo again. Let me paint a picture, I am 64, had been up over 24 hours with hardly any sleep, taken a 9 hour flight, frustrated with delays and I approached the booking in desk for Alamo car rental.
On producing my reservation documents I was straight away informed by the young lady I was dealing with, that the car I had booked which was an economy auto with A/C would be too small for my wife and myself our two cases and two carry on bags, she was very insistent on this and told me that if I upgraded to a compact she would give me a mid range at compact price. As I have said I was very tired and just wanted to get to our hotel and get to bed so I believed her and signed on the dotted line.

Had I been more alert I would have realised that if I got all our cases in my little Fiat I should be able to get them into anything small they had to offer. The documents were put into a wallet where they stayed until the day before I returned the car. I wanted to find out the returning procedure and to my surprise I found I had been given a mid range and charged for a mid range. On booking the car back in I stated my case and asked to see a manager, I was told that all the managers were in a meeting. I insisted on seeing someone and a young lady came out and after explaining my complaint the first words out of her mouth was “you did sign for it” she was not interested on my comments that I had been conned and went away to speak to someone else. On her return she offered me $50 off. This was the last insult and I hit the roof. It did not end there and I did get my money back but I will not go into that. So the bottom line is, if you deal with Alamo be alert and do not get conned like I was.

We will never rent from Alamo again. They are the rudest, unfriendlist people ever. We rented what was suppose to be a full size car at Honolulu, Hi. We got a Chevy Malibu, which is a mid size car according to both General Motors and the Federal Safety regulations. Alamo says "we consider it a full size car". The car was filthy inside and out, the remote key lock didn't work. When we used the manual lock on the inside of the door, sometimes it would work, sometimes not. The car had several dents and scratches, which we noted on the paper work, but it was not a car that other rentals would even consider using. The engine or transmission made a loud growling noise.

Then to top things off, when we returned the car we filled it up 13 miles from the car rental. We filled it until it clicked off, then drove the 13 miles to the rental yard. When we checked the car in we were charged $20 for gas. They claimed it was only 7/8's full. So we used 1/8th of a tank to go 13 miles? I don't think so. They charged us for more than 4 gals. It didn't even take a gal to go that distance. If we used over 4 gals to go 13 miles, they have a huge problem with that car. But all they will do is stand there and argue with you because you drove it 13 miles after you filled it. There's not even anyone higher up that you can talk too. At least according to the rude clerk. Never again for Alamo.

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