Want to know the key to escaping a rental car office without feeling fleeced? Stop thinking of counter agents as customer service staff and start thinking of them as salespeople working on commission.
This lets you be better prepared for what, inevitably, happens when you pick up the car. Upselling is an essential part of a salesperson's toolbox. Buying car rental insurance will give you peace of mind in case there's an accident, you'll be told. For only a few dollars more, you can have a GPS in your vehicle. Satellite radio can be added for a pittance, you'll hear. Before you know it, your weekend rental just doubled in price—and you haven't even gotten behind the wheel yet.
Rental car staff are sales agents whose goal is to maximize profits. To insulate yourself somewhat from upsells and hard sells, you should sign up for frequent renter programs, reserve online (rather than speak to an agent), and to always carefully read rules and conditions on a rental.
When you call a reservations line, the staff member is not going to search more than 1,000 rates to find the lowest possible option. If you walk up to the counter without a reservation, the desk agent is trained to gauge the highest price you are willing to pay. The goal is to drive up the total by convincing you to accept products and services that may well be unnecessary. Contrast that experience with getting a quote from AutoSlash, where our goal is to minimize your confirmed total.
Remember, Rental Car Agents are Salespeople
Perusing the career page of a rental car company's website is like lifting a veil. Counter staff members typically require six to 12 months of previous sales experience. Avis Budget Group is the most transparent when it comes to its job listings for rental sales associates, seeking staff that is 100 percent sales-focused. Enterprise Holdings seeks Rental Sales Agents and Hertz Global Holdings advertises for Counter Sales staff. Make no mistake about the desired skill set.
In the eyes of the rental car company, the counter agent's job is to bring in more revenue for the company, so that agent gets awarded for convincing everyday renters to add products, services, and upgrades on their reservations. Top rental car agents often earn three to five times their base rate through commissions, incentives, and bonuses. Other agents are actively seeking to increase sales for promotion opportunities. In both cases, there's a strong financial incentive to push products and services you don't need at the counter.