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Buyer Beware of Alamo Rental Car in Liberia!

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Cypress, Texas
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Buyer Beware of Alamo Rental Car in Liberia!

My family and I booked a vacation for just after Christmas to Costa Rica (Hacienda Pinilla) and we booked an SUV through AMEX and selected Alamo Rental Car in Liberia. The vehicle was booked several months in advance and was verified several days prior to the trip. When we landed in Liberia we met the representative with Alamo and I handed him my reservation sheet. He got on his hand held radio to the off site office. He notified us that Alamo was out of vehicles and we needed to take a taxi to our resort (over 1 1/2 away). I showed him my reservation again and asked why didn't I have a vehicle waiting for me and why wasn't I notified of this prior to me landing in Costa Rica with my family. His response was "you had a really good price, so if someone is willing to pay more we give them the car". I was shocked and ticked off, then several representatives from other companies started to approach me and my family offering "their last available vehicle" but for a much higher price (more than double) then I had reserved through AMEX with Alamo. I felt like I was duped, I needed a vehicle so my family could start our vacation but I had to by a ransom to get it. The representative from Budget Rental Car was very polite and explained to me that they had several vehicles but the price would be significantly higher because it was the market rate at the time. We decided to go with Budget, they workers there knew I was fit to be tied and were so gracious because they didn't want us to ruin our vacation. I can't say enough good things about Budget and I can tell you that I will NEVER us Alamo rental car again - anywhere in the world. Buyer Beware in Costa Rica-- Don't use Alamo!

P.S. When I returned I sent the bill from Budget to American Express and in turn they helped me get to a customer service representative at Alamo in Costa Rica. They did offer to credit it me 69.00 for my inconvenience. Unbelievable, I had to pay double the amount waste at least 2 hours of my family's vacation and for less than one day's rental is their consideration. Literally, that is less that 6% of the rental bill! Remember I had to pay double the amount of my negotiated rate with AMEX. Salt in the wound.

Costa Rica
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1. Re: Buyer Beware of Alamo Rental Car in Liberia!

Booking with third parties is always a mistake when renting a car in Costa Rica. ALWAYS book direct with the Costa Rican agency. That is your best chance of getting what you booked and at the price you booked.

Lots of people had problems with rental car agencies around the Christmas holidays - so don't feel alone. Glad that the Budget people took care of you.

Budget, Toyota and National share an office near the airport and they also offer long-term parking which I use now and then when I am flying out of LIR. I have always found them to be courteous and helpful when dealing with customers -- I'm just an observer -- so this is not surprising to me.

Atlanta, Georgia
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2. Re: Buyer Beware of Alamo Rental Car in Liberia!

you would not think AMEX would be a third party, they are of course , but a reputable one.

I dont think that is the root cause of this problem.

is there a business license group in CR that this should be reported to?

Maybe companies doing this should be banned from the airport property?

Costa Rica
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3. Re: Buyer Beware of Alamo Rental Car in Liberia!

tanquero: You may not THINK that booking with a third party is a problem...... but it is. Maybe not the "root" of your particular problem because that was twofold: 1. they didn't honor your booking and 2. they didn't help you find an alternative. It could be that part of the problem was a booking that was way below the "normal" price for the holiday time and the company just decided to maximize their returns. Not a great way to do business, but one of the reasons not to book with a third party.

As I said, many people had problems with their car rentals around Christmas time. Not a good thing, of course, but at least you were not alone! Even really good and highly recommended agencies had problems with overbooking. It's kind of like the airline experience: I have seen people write "NEVER FLY WITH XXXX AIRLINES!" but even though I have had bad experiences with pretty much every airline, I fly whatever airline has the best schedule and ticket price.

Still....... it's totally aggravating to arrive and feel confident that you have a car waiting for you and your family to find out that's not the case.

As for reporting it - yeah, you could, but it would probably be a waste of time.

As for banning companies from airport property..... if you think about it for a few minutes, it's really kind of unworkable for many reasons.

London, England...
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4. Re: Buyer Beware of Alamo Rental Car in Liberia!

The best BUYER BEWARE advice is for people to come on here FIRST before they sign up to expensive transactions in countries they clearly know little about.

Costa Rica
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5. Re: Buyer Beware of Alamo Rental Car in Liberia!

Good point, David. We see so many first posts that describe problems encountered that probably could have been avoided if people had checked this forum first.

Berkeley, California
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156 posts
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6. Re: Buyer Beware of Alamo Rental Car in Liberia!

I had the same problem with Alamo in SJ although I booked directly with them.

What this means is that the third part booking is not the problem - it's the way the company deals with reservations that is the problem.

I find it interesting that the OP was told "you had a really good price, so if someone is willing to pay more we give them the car". I felt that is exactly what happened with my reservation: I had a CR discount card discount, and I had asked Alamo to take off the supplemental insurance that comes automatic on their booking forms (I don't mean the mandatory insurance).

I think it is becoming clear from the number of posts on the topic that Alamo CR reservations are not reliable in high season: this is a pattern. Not only will they not honor your booking, but you'll be on your own trying to find a car at the last minute. I don't see how the OP would have been able to avoid this problem with advice from TA (since Alamo used to be a general TA recommendation) - unless it is by not using Alamo CR :-)

So let's give them the right advice here: don't book Alamo in high season if you want to be sure to have a car.

FYI for the OP: Alamo CR seems to be a different corporate entity altogether from Alamo, some kind of a franchise. Your experience with Alamo CR should have no bearing on your experience with Alamo US.

London, England...
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7. Re: Buyer Beware of Alamo Rental Car in Liberia!

This forum is a GOLD MINE of information.

I even went with a 'disreputable' firm (Thrifty San Jose) but thank to all the info and warnings on here I was fully prepared, knew what was coming, was able to negotiate a bit and had no nasty surprises or hits to my budget.

Berkeley, California
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8. Re: Buyer Beware of Alamo Rental Car in Liberia!

I second the GOLD mine, and kudos for taking on Thrifty! I would not have dared, I am becoming trigger-shy with car rental agencies :-)

Cahuita, Costa Rica
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for Cahuita
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9. Re: Buyer Beware of Alamo Rental Car in Liberia!

'Alamo CR seems to be a different corporate entity altogether from Alamo, some kind of a franchise. Your experience with Alamo CR should have no bearing on your experience with Alamo US.' I think your observation hits the nail on the head, kasual observer. The unfortunate assumption that many travelers make is that the big names are the same in CR as they are in the rest of the world, but they are simply franchises and more and more the smaller, local firms seem to be more reliable in terms of their customer service and pricing.

Sorry to hear of your horrible start to your vacation, Tom. I hope that the rest of your trip was wonderful.

10. Re: Buyer Beware of Alamo Rental Car in Liberia!

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