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Rental car booking : online vs counter?

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Old 29-12-2013, 12:31 AM   #1
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Rental car booking : online vs counter?

I wonder if it is generally cheaper to book direct at the counter rather than online? I think by doing online booking, we're paying the premium for certainty that we will get the desired car type at the time that we want, vs direct at counter where we will just get whatever that is available. Is this correct?
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Old 29-12-2013, 12:42 AM   #2
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Is it a lot cheaper? I think I rather reserve first and know that I will be able to get the car when I arrive. Else the rest of my plans may be affected...
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Old 29-12-2013, 09:46 PM   #3
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That's why, I'm trying to hear the experience of people here I personally only ever experienced once, with Avis in Frankfurt. Rate at counter is a bit cheaper than website. Not sure if it's exception or common.
But if we're only going to use the car at the 3rd or 4th day upon arrival in that city, maybe worth a gamble to just drop by the counter on 1st day of arrival?
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Old 02-01-2014, 01:46 AM   #4
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I wonder if it is generally cheaper to book direct at the counter rather than online? I think by doing online booking, we're paying the premium for certainty that we will get the desired car type at the time that we want, vs direct at counter where we will just get whatever that is available. Is this correct?
Online. ALWAYS ONLINE. If you rock up to the counter without a reservation, the assumption is that you need a car right now, and that you don't have any alternative, and thus that you'll pay whatever price they quote you (and, worse, that you can't comparison-shop, so you can't see what other car-rental places are charging).
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Old 02-01-2014, 01:30 PM   #5
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My experience in Melbourne just last month.

I checked online first, there are quite a few of them in the city, i found about 4-5.
I would only need car 5 days later, thus i check the availability of the car online first.

Please note that you cant choose the cars, you can only choose by category, for example, Honda Accord (Large Sedan) or similar. So you might get a Toyota Camry instead.

Walked around the city and decided to pop in a few of the rental, since it is along my city sightseeing. Online price for most website for the car i wanted (Large Sedan) cost about 160 AUD after all taxes and misc fees. But going to the shop, i can ask specifically what are the cars available and i booked at 145 AUD instead.

Did saved a little, but i am not sure if other cities have the same rules. Always go for bigger company, unless your local buddy tell you it is reliable. Know the price, do your homework!
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Old 02-01-2014, 10:51 PM   #6
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Online. ALWAYS ONLINE. If you rock up to the counter without a reservation, the assumption is that you need a car right now, and that you don't have any alternative, and thus that you'll pay whatever price they quote you (and, worse, that you can't comparison-shop, so you can't see what other car-rental places are charging).
Agree with you; if we need the car immediately, very likely we'll end up paying high price. But I wonder if we need it only a few days later, like what iCuteCube is saying above, we have better bargaining position, don't we?
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Old 02-01-2014, 10:56 PM   #7
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My experience in Melbourne just last month.

I checked online first, there are quite a few of them in the city, i found about 4-5.
I would only need car 5 days later, thus i check the availability of the car online first.

Please note that you cant choose the cars, you can only choose by category, for example, Honda Accord (Large Sedan) or similar. So you might get a Toyota Camry instead.

Walked around the city and decided to pop in a few of the rental, since it is along my city sightseeing. Online price for most website for the car i wanted (Large Sedan) cost about 160 AUD after all taxes and misc fees. But going to the shop, i can ask specifically what are the cars available and i booked at 145 AUD instead.

Did saved a little, but i am not sure if other cities have the same rules. Always go for bigger company, unless your local buddy tell you it is reliable. Know the price, do your homework!
So this is the price range indeed. I'm looking around (online) for similar car type, with extra options of GPS, 2 child seat, excess reduction - always end up around that price (AUD 150-180) among the big players
I also trawled for AWD codes in FlyerTalk forum, but somehow among the few codes that I found working, the discount given are just very small/insignificant. Maybe they're more good for rentals in USA, not sure.
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Old 05-01-2014, 07:27 AM   #8
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I wonder if it is generally cheaper to book direct at the counter rather than online? I think by doing online booking, we're paying the premium for certainty that we will get the desired car type at the time that we want, vs direct at counter where we will just get whatever that is available. Is this correct?
I'd rather turn up to the counter and book
Have gotten free upgrades many times when the vehicle requested for wasn't available.
If you visit a rental company located where competitors are nearby, the rates are usually very competitive. Anyway can always get a mobile data plan and check online rates on-the-spot with your phone/tablet
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Old 05-01-2014, 08:11 PM   #9
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I'd rather turn up to the counter and book
Have gotten free upgrades many times when the vehicle requested for wasn't available.
If you visit a rental company located where competitors are nearby, the rates are usually very competitive. Anyway can always get a mobile data plan and check online rates on-the-spot with your phone/tablet
Good point! I notice that there are a few places (in Melbourne) where a few of them are located nearby. In fact, according to the Melbourne Airport map, 6 of them are just beside each other at the arrival hall
I'm now thinking, if I check rate (to actually book and pay) at the airport counter, but for car pick up a few days later at the downtown outlet, will they happily entertain me? Or just llst must serve me?
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Old 07-01-2014, 10:03 AM   #10
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Good point! I notice that there are a few places (in Melbourne) where a few of them are located nearby. In fact, according to the Melbourne Airport map, 6 of them are just beside each other at the arrival hall
I'm now thinking, if I check rate (to actually book and pay) at the airport counter, but for car pick up a few days later at the downtown outlet, will they happily entertain me? Or just llst must serve me?
sorry I am a little confused about your question.
Do you mean that you wish to confirm the booking (by paying) at the airport counter, but then only pick up the car in the city office a few days later? Then probably the airport terminal can help you to make the booking, but would not collect any $ from you.
I have not done such a thing before, so cannot be absolutely certain.
You could either make the booking online or by phone, or by turning up at the city outlet on the day itself.
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Old 08-01-2014, 12:41 AM   #11
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sorry I am a little confused about your question.
Do you mean that you wish to confirm the booking (by paying) at the airport counter, but then only pick up the car in the city office a few days later? Then probably the airport terminal can help you to make the booking, but would not collect any $ from you.
I have not done such a thing before, so cannot be absolutely certain.
You could either make the booking online or by phone, or by turning up at the city outlet on the day itself.
Hm, right.. I guess payment will normally be upon car pick up (city), and as such the sales will go to the city outlet. Then in that case, probably it's not in the interest of the airport counter to give me the best deal? Maybe if I pay in advance in airport, then it will count as their sales number, and they will give me better deal to secure sales? Not sure how it works..
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Old 08-01-2014, 09:50 AM   #12
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Hm, right.. I guess payment will normally be upon car pick up (city), and as such the sales will go to the city outlet. Then in that case, probably it's not in the interest of the airport counter to give me the best deal? Maybe if I pay in advance in airport, then it will count as their sales number, and they will give me better deal to secure sales? Not sure how it works..
So far I have not done such a thing, so I cannot answer your question
Have mostly booked and paid on the spot. I recall calling ahead to reserve a vehicle, and they accepted the booking at the agreed rate without taking any deposit.
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Old 19-01-2014, 10:28 PM   #13
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i just made a reservation online with Budget and they did not even ask me for my cc number. So that means I can hold a reservation and actually don't honour that reservation if I find a better deal at the airport itself?
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Old 20-01-2014, 01:24 PM   #14
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i just made a reservation online with Budget and they did not even ask me for my cc number. So that means I can hold a reservation and actually don't honour that reservation if I find a better deal at the airport itself?
I suppose so, eh?
But don't give Asians a bad name la Some people and companies in Australia still work on the trust model.

Maybe if you get a better deal you can contact Budget to let them know.
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Old 20-01-2014, 02:41 PM   #15
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it depends when you are travelling there! If it's during their summer time its better to book everything asap as its super peak. If its winter (june-Aug) I would say it's alright to take a gamble.
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