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Car Rentals for the Modern Age

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On: Thu, Oct 24, 2013 at 1:54PM | By: Karen Cook

Car Rentals for the Modern Age

Most of us depend on our vehicles for daily transportation to and from work and to run errands. Most towns are not small enough to handle everyday tasks on foot or bicycle. What do you do if you don’t need a car every day? Maybe you work from home, have no children, and the expense of a personal vehicle is just not worth it. You could use public transportation, taxis, or impose on a friend. Or you could rent a Zipcar. This is not really a new concept. It’s been around for years, but recent mergers have now given the convenient automobiles nationwide availability.

Zipcars are not your common rental car. There’s no need to go to an office, fill out paperwork, sign a contract, and get the keys. Now all this can be done online or from your cell phone. After you sign up, the website will tell you where the nearest available vehicle is and, voila, you have your transportation!

The process works like this:
Go to the website and fill out the application. It will cost $8-$10 per hour, depending on where you live, or you can get a yearly membership for $60. This price includes gas and even insurance coverage. There is a deductible, but you pay only if you are at fault. There is also a one-time application fee and a reservation fee. You will receive a card in the mail which is encoded to open the vehicle. The keys are inside, so once you pick and find your car, you are on your way. The car must be returned to the place you got it when your time is up. Cars can be rented by the hour or by the day.

There are several makes and models available, including hybrids. Available models come from BMW, Audi, MINI Cooper, and Honda. There are even pick-up trucks and some all-electric vehicles on the west coast.

There are a few downsides though. Even though gas is included and you get a gas card from the company, if you have to fill up at a station that doesn’t accept the card, you will have to pay out of pocket and wait for a reimbursement. The same goes for any minor maintenance like wiper fluids or car washes. There have also been complaints because the company has a service fee for any calls you make to customer service. Most issues can be resolved via the website, but if you run into a problem that requires conversation it will cost you.

It’s not a perfect system yet, but if you need your own transportation only every now and then, this could be a cost effective solution.


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