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FlightCar in Los Angeles - Don't Use!

Clearwater, Florida
3 posts
2 reviews
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FlightCar in Los Angeles - Don't Use!

FlightCar is a fairly new car rental service, available at LAX as well as a couple of other cities in the US. Their concept is to sell airport parking and then offer to rent out the parked cars, giving some of the rental money to the car owners. My (bad) experience is as a renter, visiting LA.

I made a reservation about 4 weeks in advance, selecting a "2009-2014 Compact" model car from the flightcar web site. Upon arrival, I was transported to the flightcar office (a two-step process, as first you have to take the airport shuttle to the airport cell phone waiting lot, where you are met by the flightcar driver to take you the rest of the way - which lets them avoid the fees and requirements for airport car rental services).

After a fifteen minute wait, the flightcar attendant pulled up my vehicle - a nasty looking (full of dents) 2003 Kia Sedonna minivan. I complained that this is not what I wanted and was told that it was the last vehicle available - my only choice. The vehicle was filthy inside - vacuumed, but dirty, moldy carpets, grime on the steering wheel and dash, etc. I also didn't want this vehicle as it would be harder to park and cost a lot more in gas mileage than the vehicle I reserved.

I called the toll-free national number to complain. The only answer I got was that the vehicle was an upgrade to a minivan, but they could offer me a 10% discount since I was dissatisfied. I felt stuck with this rental as I had no alternative (and wasn't offered one). I asked for a bigger discount and was told that they would ask a manager for 20%, but it wasn't certain.

I signed out the vehicle - disgruntled, but what choice did I have? As soon as I started driver. I noticed that every time I accelerated the motor made a clicking sound. I drove immediately back into the flightcar lot and complained that the vehicle had mechanical problems. One of the staff took a drive with me, heard the sound, looked at the engine, and agreed that there was a mechanical problem. I negotiated with them and finally got them to agree to hold the rental for me while I hooked up my laptop to their wifi to try to find another rental car with another company.

I found a rental at Dollar, made that reservation, and cancelled my flightcar reservation. I asked for a refund from flightcar and they told me I would have to talk to their national office to get it. But then another staff member piped in (the manager, I think) and said that the he had gotten an email which said I had already received the refund. He read the email, which described the problems with the vehicle and the fact that I wasn't taking the rental, and it said a refund had been made to my credit card. They drove me to Dollar (a half block away), for my more expensive car rental. This whole thing took two hours from the time I arrived at flightcar, causing me to miss a scheduled appointment.

Later in the week, I discovered that the refund from flightcar to my credit card was just the 20% of my rental charge, not the full amount. I called to complain, and was told that I should email them a copy of my Dollar rental car receipt and they would make the full refund plus send me a check to cover the extra amount I paid to Dollar. I sent the email a day after my return from my LA trip, including a synopsis of the entire episode, a copy of the Dollar receipt, a request for a credit card refund of the missing 80% of my rental charges and a request for a check for the difference in price for my Dollar rental. I immediately received their automated acknowledgement email stating that representative would respond with 48 hours.

Three days later I called to follow up, as I hadn't heard anything back from them. The representative, who happened to be the same one I spoke with from their LAX office, checked on my refund and informed me that the 20% refund had been made to my credit card (not finding any info about needing a full 100% refund). I explained to him what happened and that I had sent an email with a copy of my Dollar receipt, and request for the refunds. He put me on hold, and after five minutes came back on having read my email. He put in the request for the missing 80% refund to my credit card and the check to be sent out, both of which had to be "approved by a manager". He said it would take 1 to 2 business days for my refunds to be issued. Three business days have gone by and no refund has shown up on my credit card.

From this experience, I make these conclusions about flightcar:

1. They do not match rental reservations against parking reservations. They will just give you whatever car happens to be available when you arrive, regardless of the car you reserve.

2. They don't care about their customers. (Why didn't the rep tell me on the phone when I called from LA that they would cover a rental car at another car company, since they didn't have the vehicle I had reserved?)

3. Their customer service is terrbile.

4. It is hard to get a refund even when it is their mistake.

Probably 90% or more of those who rent from flightcar don't have such problems, as they simply happen to get a vehicle that matches their reservation. However, know that when you rent from flightcar, nothing is guaranteed and you may be subjected to a horrible experience such as mine. Considering that my Dollar rental came out to only an extra $8 per day (on a same-day reservation!), flightcar is not a good choice. Don't rent from them!

Rancho Santa...
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7,156 posts
8 reviews
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1. Re: FlightCar in Los Angeles - Don't Use!

If you haven't already, put this out on Yelp.

Clearwater, Florida
3 posts
2 reviews
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2. Re: FlightCar in Los Angeles - Don't Use!

Thanks, I did post it on Yelp. Also tried on Google, but had to go with a much shorter version to get it to post.

Dallas, Texas
Destination Expert
for Boston, Orlando, Walt Disney World, Las Vegas
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26,166 posts
99 reviews
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3. Re: FlightCar in Los Angeles - Don't Use!

Bottom line you get what you pay for I will never use those no name rentals give me the major brands Avis,Alamo etc.newer clean cars.

Clearwater, Florida
3 posts
2 reviews
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4. Re: FlightCar in Los Angeles - Don't Use!

I wanted to give it a shot. All the major rental companies at LAX have many bad reviews. I had to wait two hours in line for my Dollar rental, even with the advance reservation (about 150 people with advance reservations in line). So I thought flightcar might have been a pleasant alternatively - not a whole lot cheaper, but possibly with better service, based on the reviews. I've been corrected.

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
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49,984 posts
149 reviews
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5. Re: FlightCar in Los Angeles - Don't Use!

Why don't you search for dollar on the LA forum and see all the complaints and advice to not rent from dollar.

Well you did not heed their advice about not renting from dollar, did you ? Lucky you did not have an issue with them

What I learnt about the OP

The OP was adventurous to try a new service because of a great deal.

OP did not think what issues there could be with such a service. Unlike a rental car company this service does NOT have any clue on what cars they may get and if they may get a car and what condition they may be in All he wanted was a great deal and then tried to get a better deal and failed and is now complaining

The OP did not read reviews of dollar but went ahead and got lucky

The OP did not know that a call to his bankcard company would have sufficed and they would have refunded the money and fought with the car company and he did not have to make all these calls

The OP got what he paid for

If someone is trying a new service, read reviews , understand the model, see the risks and go in with your eyes open. If things work great if not understand it did not pan out and move on

Edited: 21 June 2014, 16:04
Santa Monica, CA
Destination Expert
for Santa Monica
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17,011 posts
247 reviews
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6. Re: FlightCar in Los Angeles - Don't Use!

<Their concept is to sell airport parking and then offer to rent out the parked cars, giving some of the rental money to the car owners. > I have to say, I'm watching this new "sharing" economy with both skepticism and amusement! Any stranger willing to let you use their car or sleep on their sofa for a pittance doesn't value those things, and there's usually a reason!

Edited: 21 June 2014, 16:28
Southern California
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13,022 posts
1 review
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7. Re: FlightCar in Los Angeles - Don't Use!

I'd be concerned about the insurance, does flightcar have insurance on these cars or do they rely on the owners personal insurance? Some people carry the bare minimum.

West Hollywood...
Destination Expert
for Los Angeles
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30,700 posts
64 reviews
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8. Re: FlightCar in Los Angeles - Don't Use!

I'm with Plum. The whole concept of renting a car that belongs to a third party, the condition of which is unknown, is a deal-breaker for me. The assertion that all of the LAX car rental offices have bad reviews is simply not the case. The biggest complaint that customers have about car rental companies is the wait for the car. If you sign up for the car rental company's loyalty program, there is virtually no wait since you go directly to your car upon arrival at the car lot and simply drive it off the lot.

San Francisco
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36,629 posts
27 reviews
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9. Re: FlightCar in Los Angeles - Don't Use!

There are some interesting threads on the SF forum on this new and yet another take on car sharing.

What amazes me is the people who will put their vehicles into this car sharing pool.

By law the vehicle registration and proof of insurance must be in the vehicle and available to the driver. Both those have the address of the vehicle owner. Talk about lack of privacy! Just put a sign on your house that says "rob me."

Additionally, while FlightCar, on its website, indicates that they provide liability insurance, the insurance on the vehicle is primary so FlightCar's would respond as excess. Your insurance company finds out about this and you're toast. (Believe me, I used to be an underwriter. The evil twin in me loved to send out non-renewals.)

Finally, FlightCar will rent to a 22 year old with 3 moving violations! Yep, 3 tickets to a 22 year old. Would you care to hand your keys over to such a driver? Just to save on airport parking?

New economy or not, this is not long for this world.

Edited: 21 June 2014, 23:15
West Hollywood...
Destination Expert
for Los Angeles
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30,700 posts
64 reviews
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10. Re: FlightCar in Los Angeles - Don't Use!

I wonder what happens if the car simply breaks down. Since it's owned by a third party, does that person have to coordinate the repairs? This seems like a nightmare.