Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Rental Car Pricing Weirdness I ... Hertz likes Irish drivers...

Living in Ireland and thinking of renting a car in the US? It pays to shop around. Even when dealing with the same vendor

I had to rent a car in Washington DC and was doing the rounds of the rental websites. I discovered this somewhat startling anomaly:

Depending on whether you use hertz.ie or hertz.com you will be offered different prices for the exact same rental.

Since this is more than a bit odd I have screenshots of both offers of a rental at Washington Dulles:

Using www.hertz.com I was offered US$2674.80:

And the same rental at www.hertz.ie was EUR1387.72:

Even assuming a back of the envelope exchange rate of 1.25 that's still only US$1734....

From what I can tell the issue is with the additional insurance(s) that I selected - CDW or LDW.

My guess is it works like this:
  • Almost all US rentals are domestic. Www.hertz.com works on this assumption.
  • US Drivers almost always insure rental cars on their own car insurance.
Those who don't/won't/can't are either:
  • Too rich to care (price insensitive)
  • Don't own a car (A bit of a red flag from an automobile insurance viewpoint...)
  • Don't pay attention (ditto)
As a result Hertz's US site prices LDW/CDW aggressively, even if the prospective renter needs CDW/LDW because he's not a US resident and his car insurance won't cover him there. But the dot ie website 'www.hertz.ie' makes the starting assumption that anyone looking to rent in the US must be an Irish driver who will need CDW because his insurance won't cover him outside Europe and is thus a reasonable risk compared to Americans who need LDW/CDW.

Note to People who know about this as opposed to having opinions: Am I right? If not, correct me!

So if you're Irish consider this: The next time you spend 8 hours on a plane into Dulles, get to the rental counter at around 2am Irish time, rent a car and  trundle nervously out of the Hertz lot in your Buick Zipcode or whatever-the-hell-it-is-they-are-renting-this-week while  simultaneously trying to disarm the radio which is stuck on something called the 'Kojo Nnamdi Show', get the mirrors to show something other than sky without opening the trunk (again), identify which of the 12 different Marriotts in your destination city you are actually staying in and find your driver's license for the dude at the exit  consider this:

Hertz corporation regards you as a safer bet  than a US driver who buys CDW....

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