I just wanted to let everybody know about my experience with renting a car from Dooley's. I will never rent from them again. My husband and I had arranged for a stick shift car rental from Dooley's. We were to have the car for about 2 weeks and we got the full insurance.
My car in the States is a stick shift. I have been driving stick shift for the past 20 years. I know how to drive a stick.
When we got to Dooley's they told us that they were going to give us a slightly bigger car than we had arranged. Although at first I thought this wasn't such a great thing since the roads are so small, I had no complaints since usually the larger the car is the more expensive and so I figured it was like I'm getting a free upgrade.
Once we got in the car I wanted to drive the car around a little bit in the parking lot, since I don't normally drive on the left hand side of the road. But this wasn't completely strange to me since I have, in the past, driven a stick on the left hand side of the road. In other words, I have some experience with the stick shift being on my left. And never before have I had any problems.
As I drove in the parking lot the car did stall twice, maybe three times. If you drive stick you know this is no big deal. My husband normally drives automatic but sometimes we switch cars and then he drives my stick. He routinely will stall out a couple of times in the beginning. It happens all the time. It is no big deal. It does no major damage to the car at all. It is just what happens if you are a little rusty with a stick.
After driving in the parking lot at Dooley's, even though I had stalled a couple of times, I was ready to exit the parking lot and get on the road. After all, like I said before, I have had many times in my life experienced people stalling out once or twice and then having no more problems. It is just a matter of getting used to the clutch.
As soon as I exited the parking lot we noticed a smell in the car. It didn't seem right so we immediately came back into the parking lot. As we got back in the lot smoke started coming from the front of the car, from under the front hood. A Dooley's employee came out and immediately said we burned the clutch. Just seconds later another employee came up and said the same thing. I did not believe what I was hearing. I told them that this was ridiculous, that I normally drive a stick shift and I have no problems at all with a clutch. I told them there is no way that I could have burned out a clutch in mere minutes. They said they saw me stall out in the parking lot. I said, yes, that was true, I did stall out but no more than twice, maybe three times at the most. They insisted I burned out the clutch. I told them this was ridiculous. They quickly said to me that they would give me another car, but that if I burned out the clutch again that I would be responsible for that or they could give me an automatic, but I would have to pay for that (automatic being more expensive, of course, than stick). They repeated this several times. When I continued to insist that there was nothing that I did to the car that would cause this to happen and when I kept on pointing out that I normally drive a stick shift (something they probably weren't expecting, since not many people from the US drive stick) they then said that this was a diesel stick and not a gas stick and, thus, that made the difference. Honestly, I did not believe them. I felt like I was being conned. I felt like they put me in a car that was already damaged, expecting me not to really know how to drive stick and then expecting me to completely fall for this trick. I felt like they just were trying to get me to upgrade to an automatic ($350 US dollars more).
But neither I nor my husband are mechanics and so we couldn't really know with 100% certainty what was really going on. We felt we were being had, but since we were on the first day of our vacation, we had just landed, we were a little jet-lagged, and we were in a foreign country, we just gave in. We ended up taking the automatic car and paying an extra $350 US dollars. It was not a nice way to start the trip.
Since I've been back in the States I have asked dozens of people about what they think about what happened. Not one person I have asked thinks what happened was legitimate. Everybody I speak with who drives stick knows that you can stall out a couple of times and it does no real serious damage to the car. Not one person has said that the fact it is diesel versus gas should make that big of a difference. Of course, every clutch is a little different and it always takes a couple of minutes to get used to the clutch. But that is just the point, this is typical when you get in a car with a clutch that is not yours. This doesn't burn out the clutch. A car does not start smoking out the front hood when an experienced stick shift driver stalls the car a couple of times.
All in all it was a very unpleasant experience and a terrible way to start a vacation. I feel like we were taken advantage of. Like I said, I will never rent from Dan Dooley's again.