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National Car DO NOT RENT from

Vancouver, Canada
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National Car DO NOT RENT from

Beware of shady rental practices. If you get a flat tire outside of Vancouver Island and are stuck in another BC town with a National Car rental agency, 1) they won't help you!, 2) they will charge you for a brand matching replacement tire after you've returned the vehicle a 2nd time!! While in Smithers, BC this summer driving on a pre-arranged tour with advanced inner-passage ferry tickets and hotels booked, the rear tire on our rental blew out. We spent/wasted a full day at OK Tire, while on the phone to 1-800 with National in the US (yes, there's no Canadian hotline), and the National car rental Nanaimo office trying to determine the best course of action. OK Tire, or any other tire shop in town, did not have the matching brand but they did have the matching specifications for that car. It was a Good Year instead of Continental tire. So I paid for it and returned the car at the end of our journey, still out of pocket for an extra hotel night that wasn't planned. 1 month later, sneaky National in Nanaimo charges us double the original amount paid plus $25 "admin" fees for a "Continental" tire. Their current BBB rating is an "F".

Vancouver, Canada
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1. Re: National Car DO NOT RENT from

That was a pretty unfortunate and disruptive thing to happen in your planned vacation.

This could happen with any rental car company, so reading the T&Cs to find out what is involved if something goes wrong with the car while you are renting it is always a good idea. You did the only thing you could in a small town to buy a replacement tire and get on your way.

You might try your trip interruption travel insurance to claim the extra hotel room cost back. If the rental T&Cs actually do not state that if something goes wrong you will be responsible for a replacement whatever and a $25 administration fee, then you could file a dispute with your credit card company.

There are no "beware of" threads about National that I can find on the Canada forums. But with some other companies get threads like yours. It is becoming very clear that recommending people check BBB before they decide to rent is a good idea.

Vancouver, Canada
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2. Re: National Car DO NOT RENT from

I don't use travel agencies, I book my own hotels & transportation. No recoup there. Filed dispute with Credit Card and BBB both in Victoria and National Car HQ (is now owned by Enterprise) in Ontario only to be routed back to BBB in Vancouver.

Trust me, I've turned over every stone. I've rented hundreds of cars on 3 continents over 20 years and not a single complaint until this summer. So while CBC is currently blasting Budget Rent-a-car in Vancouver, I can chime in about National. Seems business is not as good as it used to be in the rental industry and they rather screw a customer over $210, than to retain repeat business.

I went thru their T&C with a tooth comb and there's no condition in there about returning the car with a matching *brand* tire. BBB agreed with me! VISA has graciously refunded $200 as a good-will, but without claiming that back from National.

I usually photograph the car before departing the lot, but forgot to check the tires and tire pressure., which I will do from now on.

Vancouver, Canada
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3. Re: National Car DO NOT RENT from

<<I don't use travel agencies, I book my own hotels & transportation. No recoup there.>>

I'm not sure how this fits in with any of my comments?

Yes, CBC is currently on to Budget. There are at least 3 threads on the Vancouver forum going back to 2010 about Budget, so the festering boil has finally popped.

I'm glad you got your money back.

Vancouver BC
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4. Re: National Car DO NOT RENT from

I don't have a comment about National but despite the negative coverage of Budget YVR, Budget Nanaimo is absolutely excellent.

Toronto
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5. Re: National Car DO NOT RENT from

With free credit card rental car insurance, this would never be a problem. Some of those credit cards even have no annual fee.

Anyone with basic automotive knowledge knows it's never a good idea (and sometimes even dangerous) to mix different tire patterns (not to mention different brands) on a car, and may void warranties.

Edited: 20 November 2012, 14:11
Toronto
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6. Re: National Car DO NOT RENT from

.. and because of that, your single continental tire is virtually useless to them.

If YOU were the next renter and finds out the car has 1 non-matching tire, would you rent it?

Vancouver, Canada
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7. Re: National Car DO NOT RENT from

I think that's a bit harsh, bibimbob. These days, it's common knowledge that radials need to be used in matching pairs. You can't even rotate the tires around the wheels, just front or back.The OP would have had to wait perhaps 3 days to a week (if a weekend was involved) for a matching brand tire to be delivered to Smithers, probably from Prince George. PG is about 400 km from Smithers and about 4 hours drive. If PG had a matching brand radial it would have been on the next regular run along Hwy 16. No special delivery in that part of the province. IMO, the OP did exactly what he had to do to continue on that vacation with all the prepaid tix for tour, inside passage and hotels.

IMO, it's the rental car company that should have authorized a pair of new tires to be mounted. No question in my mind.

Vancouver, Canada
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8. Re: National Car DO NOT RENT from

thanks MuftiMix! you got it.

I even suggested to them that the local National agency in Smithers could've swapped the car out and waited the 3 days that OK Tire needed to receive the "right" tire. Yes, it happened at 5pm on a Saturday. The local franchisee basically told me point blank on the phone that it's not his problem. Why then advertise a "National" car rental brand, when they don't even help each other out within the same province, never mind "nationwide".

Bbibimbob,

you're quick to judge without knowing the whole story.

The rental car wasn't my choice to begin with! It was provided by a collision company that had *MY* car in for a repair due to an accident with another motorist that wasn't my fault. That accident happened during the first hour of our trip and I had to rebook 10 days and the ferry already once before! We lost 3 days until the ICBC adjuster had everything arranged. Not that ICBC would cover the trip rebooking costs. I had a visitor from Europe with a return flight deadline, so I couldn't just cancel the whole trip. He had paid for half the journey and this was planned 6 months in advance!

As far as National goes, they knew the whole story, but I was 1) never offered a "bumper-2-bumper" insurance, nor did I use a credit card. ICBC insurance was simply transferred. National had a choice, wait 3 days and change the car so I could continue the journey, or accept an alternate brand tire. They DID accept at first, but then billed me a month later without bothering to call me first.

Please, spare me further "advice".

Toronto
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9. Re: National Car DO NOT RENT from

Trip Interruption Insurance.

Vancouver, Canada
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10. Re: National Car DO NOT RENT from

Thanks for the review.