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Car Rental Companies - Summary of Experiences

Nowhere
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Car Rental Companies - Summary of Experiences

A while ago, I started a thread encouraging travelers to post their experiences with various car rental agencies in Costa Rica. Many people responded with reports that ranged from extremely positive to outright horrible.

As it often goes with threads, there is a lot of clutter to cut through and it can be tedious for those doing research to get to the actual "meat." Thus, I have summarized people's responses to provide a more succinct way to get an overall impression.

I tried to be as accurate as possible but omitted posts that were unclear, reported mediocre or luke-warm experiences, as well as those that simply reported a positive/negative experience before actually beginning or completing a rental (For example: "I've booked a car with x and it's been great so far. Hope all goes well when we arrive.").

I also did not assess whether a complaint about a given company seemed valid. Regular readers are aware that many bad reviews are the result of renters being unaware that they must purchase mandatory liability insurance. Thus, car rental companies are often accused of "scamming" or of "bait and switch" when, in fact, these companies simply adhere to the law.

I have also tried to avoid counting a person's recommendation/complain twice when, for example, they simply reiterated a previous comment.

The original thread can be found here:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g291982-i813-k5931…

Below is a summary of the number of people who recommended/complained about a given company:

Positive Experiences/Recommendations:

Alamo 6

Wild Rider 8

Mapache 3

Adobe 5

Thrifty 3

Dollar 7

TriColor 1

Toyota 11

Vamos 18

Hola/Ace 1

National 3

Solid 3

Service 4

Payless 1

autorental4x4costarica 1

Budget 2

Economy 1

RioJa 1

bestpricerentacarcr 1

Zuma 2

mrmagnum 1

Negative:

Economy 8

Europcar 2

Alamo 3

Trebol 2

Hola/Ace 1

Vamos 1

Poas 1

Budget 1

Thrifty 1

Payless 1

National 1

Target 1

Edited: 18 April 2014, 18:40
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Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Central America
Nowhere
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for Playa Samara
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1. Re: Car Rental Companies - Summary of Experiences

Please note that TA did not allow me to insert a noticeable gap between the positive and negative reviews. Thus, please be aware that the last 12 on this list are negative experience with a given company.

Slovenia
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for Costa Rica
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2. Re: Car Rental Companies - Summary of Experiences

Quite a statistic. Thanks for your effort. yes, it is great when a thread stats to grow, yet at certain point it just outgrows itself. Anyway, it is a great resource for whoever has enough patience.

Grecia, Costa Rica
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3. Re: Car Rental Companies - Summary of Experiences

Thanks for the breakdown Framp. I am a hardcore Adobe fan, used them for years but recently I decided to try my hand at driving my own car again... I was happy to not own a car for 10 + years, but I cant deny the freedom you get with a car, glad to be driving again. As always thanks for the insights.

Cheers

Cahuita, Costa Rica
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4. Re: Car Rental Companies - Summary of Experiences

The thread had become cumbersome so thanks for your efforts to summarize the reviews that were given. I think the results are useful as a guide to which car rental companies to consider and which to avoid--an invaluable starting point for any potential renter planning their Costa Rican vacation.

San Francisco...
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5. Re: Car Rental Companies - Summary of Experiences

The problem with your approach is that you count one negative comment on par with a dozen negative comments and you have too small a sample to be relevant. When you do not have enough data to produce relevant results you should wait until you do and not regurgitate what little you do have.

I prefer to read the actual reviews and see if they are relevant to my situation. Someone may complain about a particular car or having trouble using the GPS or the nation's $20 per day charge to tourists for insurance, and these do not relate to the car rental agency.

Vamos with 18 responses appears to be the "best" but the reader has no idea as to the average rating or problems. On our first trip where I priced out the cost of a car rental Vamos was by far the highest of the bunch.

Better to advise people to take their own GPS and buy a GPS micro chip ahead of their trip. Advise them to take a quadband cell phone and buy a SIM at the airport before going through customs. Better to let people know that a larger 4-door Daihatsu Terrios rents for the same daily rate as the smaller 2-door Jimny, and that there is a RAV4 Plus in Costa Rica with a lot more space for luggage, though this model is only available from a few of the agencies.

For pricing and convenience after 4 trips we settled on Budget where we can take a quick shuttle to their location 5 minutes away and from there it is a 100 meter drive to either the Holiday Inn Express or the Hampton Inn and spend the first night there. Dropping off the car at the end of the trip it is a short walk back to these hotels and then we take the shuttle the following morning to the airport. As a repeat customer we get a 10% discount with Budget which is minor but something.

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Costa Rica
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6. Re: Car Rental Companies - Summary of Experiences

"...Vamos with 18 responses appears to be the "best" but the reader has no idea as to the average rating or problems. On our first trip where I priced out the cost of a car rental Vamos was by far the highest of the bunch. ..." Maybe because you are comparing apples and oranges. One thing that can make Vamos look more expensive is that they include the mandatory insurance with their quotes and others do not, leaving a bad taste in the mouth of those who show up at the rental desk to find out that the price quoted is not the "bottom line." Vamos is one of the best rental car agencies in Costa Rica with a solid reputation here.

Of course, Budget is good also and convenient, as pointed out. But Vamos -- and others -- provide shuttle service to/from the airport so really not a big deal.

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Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Central America
Nowhere
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7. Re: Car Rental Companies - Summary of Experiences

You know, elkhornsun - I was really not trying to create a longitudinal factor analysis that allows for statistical significance while weighing various factors according to an established list of perceived relevance to customer satisfaction. I am not paid to do this nor do I have the interest in creating and/or conducting such a study.

This is simply a list of positive versus negative reports. Take it or leave it. If you want to read through 33 pages of people's experiences, you can - that's why I provided the link to the original thread. Others don't have the time to do so - and this above summary might just be helpful to them.

North Carolina
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8. Re: Car Rental Companies - Summary of Experiences

Thank you framptonian! I find your list helpful.

Portland, Oregon
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9. Re: Car Rental Companies - Summary of Experiences

I thank you also, framptonian, as I did try to wade through the original thread but gave up. Often times people went off on a tangent regarding a trip report, road conditions, etc. I gather others do the same as you see the same questions posted individually on the forum all the time when the search function works pretty well.

I have a question: we need a rental out of Liberia but need to return it by 6am the day we leave. I can't find an agency that is open that early. Anyone have an idea of the best thing to do? We are staying in Playa del Coco and I don't want to leave a night early to stay near the airport.

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Playa Manuel Antonio
Playa Manuel Antonio
10,613 Reviews
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
Liberia
Liberia
Province of Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Costa Rica
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10. Re: Car Rental Companies - Summary of Experiences

National car rental is open at 6 am -- they are in the same complex with Budget and a couple of others. I know because they have long-term airport parking and I've left my car there that early.