Question: I have a car rental predicament and need your help. My friend and I recently reserved a car through Dollar Rent A Car in Austin, Texas using Hotwire.com. We were quoted a rate of $37 per day. We arrived a week after a hurricane had hit Texas, only to find that they’d given away all their cars.

The Dollar representative was really rude. She acted as if this wasn’t her problem. Even though we had the confirmation printed out, no one from Hotwire or the rental car company had contacted us to tell us we wouldn’t have a car.

The Dollar agent pointed to the Advantage counter, saying, “They’ll honor your reservation, but not your rate.” So we rented one of their cars. But instead of paying $155 for a three-day rental, we ended up being out nearly $400. Shouldn’t Dollar have paid the difference in price, since it was their fault and not ours? — Kristin Luna, San Francisco

Answer: Dollar should have paid for a comparable rental from one of its competitors. If it couldn’t make this happen, or if it wouldn’t, then Hotwire should have helped you.

Bottom line? You shouldn’t have paid an extra $245 to get the car that Hotwire and Dollar confirmed — hurricane or not.

At the same time, I think your negative car rental experience was completely preventable. You could have called your online travel agency or the car rental company to confirm your reservation. Chances are, one of them might have known about the vehicle shortage in Austin.

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Comments by other travellers

Any reputable, or indeed respectful, car hire company would have arranged a vehicle from another company for you, at a comparable rate.

Should Dollar have done that? Yes

Could they be forced to? No

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  • Elliott

    Christopher Elliott has been called one of the world’s leading travel experts. But his focus isn’t on the destination, or ev…

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