Boy, do I wish I had read these reviews before I undertook to rent from Advantage. If I had, it would have undoubtedly saved me from one of . . . no, make that the worst, travel experience of my life.
My saga begins with my decision to take my first "just guys" trip with my son. We'd done the family thing to Williamsburg, Orlando, and the like but, because of my daughter's school schedule, this trip was going to be just the two of us. Because of the "special" nature of it, we decided to try an exotic locale -- Costa Rica.
Now, understand, when I travel -- and I do a lot of it on business -- I plan things out pretty carefully. I read the guides, look at maps, create an itinerary, the whole bit. The way I figure it, if you're going to drop a lot of money on the trip, you don't want to get there and then have to burn your time figuring out what to do. That thoroughness makes me really question why I didn't look into this company sooner . . . but that's my problem.
Anyway, I went to orbitz.com, and searched for cars in Costa Rica. I knew I wanted a 4 wheel drive (bad roads), and I knew I wanted automatic transmission (lots of hills). Finally, I didn't want some unreliable piece of junk like a Kia, so I focused on getting something like a Jeep or a Toyota. My search led me to Advantage, which had the best price, and which promised a newer model (by picture) Jeep "or similar" with automatic transmission. Done deal, right? WRONG!!
Armed with my written confirmation, I arrived at the San Jose Airport at about 12:30. I was directed to "Economy Rental Car," which apparently contracts with Advantage. The timing was important because my first hotel was about 3.5 hours away, and you don't want to be driving in Costa Rica at night if you can avoid it. When I got to the counter, the clerk told me they didn't have my car, and had no idea when they might. More troubling, though, was the fact that he had a very rotten attitude about it . . . kinda' like, "Tough. Deal with it." I explained that I was traveling with my son, and that I really needed the car they had promised me, or something similar. Everywhere around me, people were complaining to the other clerks. Some people's reservations had been lost, some people said their cars were "junk," others complained about being overcharged. It was, in a word, pandemonium.
Well, you know, sometimes you have to "go with the flow," so I decided to wait for my car to arrive, since the clerk said it should be there "any time." Besides, what else could I do? Ultimately, after waiting for an two and a half hours (during which I tried several other rental companies by phone to see if they had cars -- they didn't), and still no car, I asked (note, I said "asked," not "demanded", since I tried to stay cool inasmuch as I was in a foreign country, and don't speak the language) to see a manager, the woman who "helped" me turned out to be even more surly than the clerk. She simply could not have cared less.
After essentially pleading with her to help us, she said that she could give us a two-door Daewoo compact, standard transmission. And, here's the best part, it would cost the same amount!! When I questioned that, her explanation was, "Hey, at least you're getting a car."
Well, I had no confidence in Daewoo, didn't want a stick (and no a/c), and from everything I'd read, NEEDED a four wheel drive, so I declined and, instead, asked for a ride back to the Airport so that I could contact some of the other companies to see if they had any cars. (Oh, by the way, she explained that, even if a Jeep were to arrive, they were the 2000 models, not the new ones pictured on the website). At this point, the manager told me that the shuttle was only for customers, and that I'd have to get a taxi. Oh, and by the way, by now it was 4:00 p.m., and it gets dark around 5:30. And, I almost forgot . . . you did NOT want to be in this area of town after dark.
Of course, during all of this, my son was alternating between being really scared, and otherwise just plain anxious. So, having been thoroughly screwed over by Advantage, we took a taxi back to the Airport and, long story short, were able to get a suitable Toyota truck with ALAMO. That's the good news . . . the bad is that it cost me $400 more than the car I had supposedly "reserved" with Advantage but, at this point, you know, "any port in a storm," so I took it.
Well, that might be the end of my story, but as John Belushi used to say, " But . . . NOOOOOOOO!!" A couple of days into my trip, my credit card was "frozen." When I called in, they had multiple charges (for amounts way in excess of my rental rate) from . . . drumroll, please . . . Advantage Rental Car. I promptly disputed the charges, and got my card unfrozen, but you can only imagine my reaction.
My bottom line is that I would sooner walk the Death March of Battan than rent from these people, i.e. Advantage OR Economy Rental Car. They broke their contract, treated my son and I like dirt, and are patently shifty. Do yourself a HUGE favor and avoid them at all costs.
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