Archive for category Technology

While car rental companies provide services, you should know what to do in cases like a theft

Let’s hope the following never happens. You’re on a business trip or a long-anticipated vacation and you rent a car the local airport. This is something that millions of people do each year. But then, you return to the airport, and your rental car is missing. What can happen next might not be so simple to deal with. Your rental car agreement may, or may not, hold you liable for the cost of the car. They will need to examine the circumstances surrounding the theft. The rental car is likely to be valued at $10,000 to $20,000. And that’s on the low end. What if you rented a luxury vehicle from one of the car rental companies?

Will You Receive a Replacement Car?

You’ve reported your car stolen, and while the details are being ironed out, your rental car agency appears to be reluctant to give you a replacement car. This can happen if even if you’ve paid for collision and loss waivers. An investigation by the rental agency can take up to a week or more to complete. Over a million vehicles are stolen each year, and rental cars are no exception. In fact, they may even be easier to steal because they quite often lack sophisticated security devices.

If Your Rental Car Is Stolen

Take action. Call the police first. If you know your vehicle’s identification number, give it to the police. If your credit cards and personal identification were in the stolen car, notify your bank immediately. Next, contact a local car rental agency or call their toll-free number. If a company rental agency is close by, you may get a replacement car and be on your way in a relatively short amount of time. Next, call your own insurance company and report the theft.

Be Informed

Take time to become familiar with rental car companies and their policies and procedures. Know what their insurance will or won’t cover. What are the policies that govern stolen or damaged rental vehicles? Does an authorized person want to drive your rental? Say no. If there’s damage or theft, you can be held liable. Lock your windows and doors when exiting your rental car and never leave the engine running if the car is unattended. And most importantly, never drive if you’re under the influence of alcohol or any illegal substance.

Remember, when you rent a vehicle from car rental companies, you’re obligated to return it safely. If your rental car is stolen and it’s damaged, you may have to prove the damage occurred after it was stolen. There’s a big difference between a rental car being stolen and your own car being stolen. If it’s your car, it only affects you. If it’s a rental car, your credit and good name can be affected for years to come. Remember, there are steps you should take if your rental car is stolen. The police should be notified first. Rental car companies should be contacted second. And your insurance provider should be contacted third (call a nationwide number).

Tarmac delays and cheap air tickets

In 2010, there were some high-profile incidents with passengers forced to sit in airplanes on the tarmac without food and water for up to ten hours. In one incident at Rochester, MN, an airplane landed at 1230 am and the airport staff refused to open the terminal to allow the passengers off the plane. To put it mildly, this was a stunning failure to provide even basic levels of humanitarian care. New rules were brought in that require airlines to allow passengers to disembark the plane if it has been stuck on the ground for three hours and the airlines and airport operator were fined $175,000 by the Transport Department as a result of the six-hour delay.

As a result of this rule change, airlines responded positively with the number of runways delays reduced to a tiny fraction of flights, but with a slight increase in the number of cancellations. The Transport Department is not clear whether the increase in cancellation is due to the new rules. All that can be said with any confidence is that airlines are returning planes to the gates if there are delays. This is a trade-off. Passengers who stay on the plane are entitled to food and drinks, must be allowed to use toilets and, if necessary, given access to medical treatment. Assuming no safety issues, passengers must also be allowed off the plane after three hours even if on cheap air tickets. If the airlines default, the fines are up to $27,500 per passenger. Obviously this is a substantial penalty and the airlines have been anxious to avoid paying. Even so, some delays have been unavoidable. For example, a severe thunderstorm can hold flights on the ground as priority is given to getting incoming flights on the ground. These flights take the gates and leave the waiting planes on the tarmac.

In part, there’s also a problem with a shortage of gates at some airports and a lack of people in the control tower. The issue is always whether returning an airplane to a gate will disrupt the operation of the airport. Since the fine falls disproportionately on the airlines, there’s possible unfairness but, so far, passengers holding both full-price and cheap air tickets are winning.