There is a major shortage of rental cars that disrupts the vacation. And travelers desperate for a rental car are finding new ways to get one, for example with a car sharing app. But our I-Team learned that a popular car sharing app could blow your budget.
Meghan Price-Wlodarczyk planned a Hawaii vacation for her family months ago.
“With Covid-19 and everything, we were just ready to go anywhere,” she said.
When booking the two rental cars the family needed for their two-island trip, Price-Wlodarczyk chose the Turo car-sharing company, where travelers rent a car directly from the owner, or host, as the company calls them.
“We are happy to support the local population,” said Price-Wlodarczyk. “And Turo enables us to support a local family.”
But just days before their trip, a host canceled Price-Wlodarczyk’s reservation. Shortly afterwards, the other host also canceled. Price-Wlodarczyk did his best to find replacements, but given the country-wide shortage of rental cars, it wasn’t easy … or cheap. Price-Wlodarczyk says Turo gave her a few hundred dollars in credits, but the new rentals are still costing her an additional $ 1,200.
“I always thought that not every family is capable of what we are in,” said Price-Wlodarczyk. “What if another family had this happened and didn’t have the money?”
Turo confirmed to the I-Team that one of the hosts canceled Price-Wlodarczyk’s reservation in order to rebook another. As per company policy, this move cost the host a $ 25 cancellation fee. Price-Wlodarczyk wonders why the cancellation cost her so much, but the hostess so little. A problem she probably wouldn’t have faced with a traditional car rental company.
“I’m just not interested in doing business with a company that doesn’t protect the buyer at all,” she said.
Travel advocate Christophe Elliott says the cancellation fee is not enough.
“It’s just not enough, it’s not daunting enough,” said Elliott.
Instead, Elliott says Turo should stand behind their product, and if a cancellation costs a traveler extra money, Turo should pay the cost.
“Turo made this mess, Turo needs to clean it up,” Elliott said. “You should have covered the difference between your first car and your second car.”
The I-Team asked Turo if they were considering this. It didn’t answer the question, but said the company had just announced a new policy: if a host cancels at the last minute, they will now issue the traveler with a credit equal to the cost of the original booking.
Although the policy is an improvement, Price-Wlodarczyk says it still wouldn’t have been enough to cover the cost of their rentals. And she wants fellow travelers to know that a Turo host could break their vacation budget.
“I’m not saying you shouldn’t use Turo, but be aware that this could happen to you and your family as well,” said Price-Wlodarczyk.
Turo also said if a host cancels a reservation to book another, the host could pay penalties or be banned from the app.