On Renting Cars and the Pros/Cons of Technology

On arriving in Orlando, Liz and I decided to get a car for the day. We saw a ton of rental companies at the airport, but several turned us away saying they didn’t have cars, and they were only giving them to people with reservations. A few places had signs saying “Cars Available.”

We ended up getting quoted something like $75-80 for a one day rental, which seemed way high. So we pulled out my iPad, got onto the airport WiFi, and looked around on Expedia. We found a good rate for a compact car through Enterprise… so we got in line.

At the counter, the girl we spoke with gave us a higher quote on a car. When I asked about the online price, she said they couldn’t match online prices. I asked if I could book online myself, then hop back into line; she was fine with that.

The newer rate from online was about $39. Kudos to Expedia, as I was able to confirm my reservation without having to sign in or enter CC info. I just did it “as a guest,” used an email address, and it was done in seconds.

In line, I gave the girl my card (it was a debit card). She then asked if we had just flown in to Florida. When I confirmed this, she said she needed to see a copy of our return flight info. We ended up stepping aside to track this info down.

Liz booked the tickets, but had problems getting in to her hotmail account to get the details we needed. We tried a few things for what seemed like 10 minutes without success. I finally went back to the girl and asked if it was absolutely necessary for her to see our return info, and she said it was a requirement for debit cards.

I paused, and then asked if I could just use a credit card instead. Apparently I could, and this did not require any return flight info. Not sure why she didn’t think to let us know this other option, as she could see we were struggling… but oh well. A few minutes later, we were off to the garage to pick up our car.

There, we met a nice guy who walked us to a newer Chevy Impala. He asked if this was ok, and we got a nice upgrade for free! I think there was a big backup prior to us arriving, as they guy thanked us for our patience. Liz was wondering later if the guy had been walking behind us, and overheard us talking about the girl at the counter.

Whatever the reasons we found out the guy was one of the bosses there, and he gave us this nicer car: leather interior, way more buttons than I’m used to in a vehicle, and way better than a compact.

As we were driving to our hotel (I think we circled the airport at least once trying to get out), the middle interior light would not shut off. We tried everything, and even went so far as to pull over to the side of the road near a toll booth. Eventually we gave up and drove the rest of the way to the hotel, lit from within.

After checking in at the front desk, we walked back to the car to see… the interior light was still on, after 10+ minutes. Having it on while driving was one thing, having it on while parked would have the battery dead by morning. We drove to the parking lot, parked, then called roadside assistance.

After several failed attempts (and being hung up on after waiting on hold), we got to talk with someone. She was looking through the owner’s manual, but every suggestion she offered we had already tried: turn the car off, lock the doors, shut all the doors, etc.

Eventually she advised us to just take out the lights manually. While we were parked, I tried holding the buttons in… but this ended up causing the buttons to go *into* the ceiling and kind of popped the light out a bit. Due to this, Liz was able to get at the light bulbs, and she essentially pulled out the wire feeding power to the lights.

This seemed to do the trick. But I guess we’ll see for sure, once we walk back out to the car this morning.

But hey – what vacation is fun without a little adventure?

Right now it’s 8:51AM Florida time. I’ve been up since 7, and browsing around for things to do in the area. I’m sitting in bed, Liz is asleep next to me, and I can hear the other rooms on our floor slowly waking to the day.

There is a pool here. There is also a bar a the pool that is here. This is one of the options I may present to my wife, when she wakes. Although if we end up doing this… it makes me question why we got a car in the first place.

I found a few destinations we can look at, over breakfast. Maybe we can save that pool bar for tomorrow.

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