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I’m usually a pretty savvy traveler, but a recent car rental mishap reminded me that even when you take every precaution, things still can go awry.
While planning a family vacation to Panama, I searched online for rental cars. One lower-cost rental car agency I’d never used before offered a significantly lower rate than the others. Ignoring the little voice in my head, I decided to try them.
Long story short: Although our flight was only one hour late, when I arrived bleary-eyed at the counter I was told that my car had already been given away – but I could upgrade to the next level for twice the price. After getting the runaround from the company’s U.S.-based customer service department and learning that everyone else’s rates had climbed equally high, I was basically stuck.
That experience taught me three lessons: A reservation isn’t necessarily a guarantee; when traveling abroad, use trusted vendors – especially if it sounds too good to be true; and do better due diligence by researching travel columnists and message boards for rental tips, possible pitfalls and customer complaints.
Several car rental methods are available:
• Book directly from a rental agency (usually cheaper online than by phone).
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