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Don't Remember the Alamo - Comments

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As a [soon-to-be-former -- better job came along] rental agent for a company that competes with Avis and Alamo, I can affirm that we, too, cannot install car seats for liability reasons. We actually used to be nice and help our customers, but one actually did sue us over a car seat. Fortunately, I believe they lost the case. Still, we no longer offer this service to our customers, because some cranky customer decided to sue us over something that wasn't even our fault.

So, you cannot hold anything against Alamo for not installing the car seat. Avis has chosen to hire and train someone to professionally install the seats for you, but their rate is higher. If you're willing to pay more for that service, then go ahead -- but there's a place for the budget renter who'd rather deal with it themselves and pay a lower rate. Alamo caters to that type of customer, and don't blame them for that. I know, because I go for the cheap rate -- I don't care if I have to install my own car seat. It's not an awful policy -- it's a policy made necessary by today's litigious society. Tort reform, anyone? Then we can be friendly again.

However, that doesn't excuse Alamo's handling of the situation. The car seat should not have been filthy, and the CSRs' and managers' attitudes should have been much more helpful. It is possible to be friendly and be helpful within the limits of policies and potential lawsuits. I know, because that's what my company does. While we may not be able to install the car seat for you, we can be helpful, provide clean car seats, and go out of our way to take care of you. And if we screw up, we'll take the onus. (But if it's not our screw up -- like when the customer drives over a nail and gets a flat -- it really bugs me when they blame us for that and say they'll never rent from us again because we made them pay for the tire...grr...)

Alamo should have been friendly, helpful, provided clean seats, and accepted the blame when they didn't. I know our managers have run all the way over to WalMart before to buy a new car seat for a customer if we've run out. And we've given a discount and not charged the customer the car seat rental fee on top of that because we had to make them wait for that service. Alamo should have done that.

"cannot... for liability reasons"

A common thread in many of these stories is the filthiest four-letter word in the English language: "Can't!" In most situations where someone says "I can't" or "You can't" they are lying. What they would say if they were being honest is, "I don't want to" or "I don't want you to."

While "can't" may not be strictly true, as anyone with two hands, two legs, and an IQ above 50 can probably install a car seat — and maybe even correctly — the truer "I won't install it because I would lose my job if I did, which means I'll be evicted and my children will go hungry" is close enough to "I can't install it for liability reasons" that I don't see a point in differentiating between the two.

Several years ago, I frequently used Alamo at the Albuquerque airport. They were off site, and somewhat less convenient, but the rates were lower. Then one day I returned the car about an hour and a half before flight time (this was before 9/11, so it was plenty of time), and they were so slow, they made me miss my flight. I have not used them since, and have never gotten such poor service from any of the other companies I have used.

I'm a nurse, and even at the hospital when a new mom is leaving with her baby, we aren't allowed to put the car seat in the car for them, or even put the baby in the car seat. Again, because of the potential liability.

My newest pet peeve is with Budget rent a car. For "my convenience" if I drive less than 75 miles, they will add $9.50 to my bill so that I don't have to refuel. And if I do refuel, the $9.50 is still there, I have to wait in line to get somebody to remove the charge.

Sorry Budget, you have always been my second choice if you are $25 per day less than Hertz (Whom I have never had a crank with), but not anymore.

How absolutely awful!!

I can understand that the company might have liability issues -- those are the breaks in a society where lawsuits are all-too-common and where one-too-many worthless lawsuits go through.

However, I am absolutely horrified that they would provide a dirty child safety seat and then decide to provide you what is a barely clean booster seat when it is patently obvious your child isn't a toddler who walks and talks. Who trains these people?

So who put the car seat in your personal vehicle? Just asking if Alamo came to your house and installed that one for you? Well there is no excuse for a filthy car seat, I just don't see the problem with putting the car seat in yourself. Avis may still do it for you, but just wait till they get sued.

My first, and last, experience with Alamo was many years ago: I rented a car at the Tampa airport to drive to St. Pete Beach. It was about 10 at night and I had a sick child with me. (She got sick on the plane.) About half way across the causeway, every light on the dash lit up. There was no place to pull over or exit obviously until across the causeway. By sheer luck I just made it to the only open service station I could find before it died totally. They recharged the battery at my expense and I made it to the motel. Alamo refused to pick up the car so I had to drive this lemon quite a distance for an exchange. It was a horrible experience.

Although I generally think this site does not deserve its title (i.e. most of the posts are from people who are, actually, not cranky), you made it live up to its name expectations! Let me read again, aloud (maybe you should do that too): "a well-trained, state-certified installer make sure the infant seat was properly seated and secured". What the heck?! Aren't these seats removable?! Aren't they designed (at least in theory) to be installed by mothers, women who (without being sexist) make up for the generally less technically-minded pool of the population? Does someone really need some state-certified dude to have the belt run through the 3-4 slots on the child seat? I live in Germany and here (as, if I am correct, is the case in the States), it's illegal to have a child in the car without a child's seat. I have seen so many people nonchalantly removing and installing the seats by themselves that I have a problem thinking you would really ask for someone to do it for you. I would have accepted such an excuse if it were the first time you would travel with an infant (picking your distant relative, your newborn etc.), if the installation instructions would be missing, but not like this. And especially in a society where there's always a lawyer ready to help you sue the poor guy who installed the seat, the company who rented the car, the car manufacturing company and the child seat company, all at the same time.

Sure, the second part of the story is no pride, you're supposed to have a clean seat and for the proper age.

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(Read the article that everyone's commenting on.)