Ah Bugger

The vapid utterings of a neurotic mind.

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Location: DC, United States

I ain't too proud to bug.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The last time I ever use Budget Rental cars.

I went to Panama for my birthday. I was so excited! Got my hotel booked. Flights were booked. All I needed to do was get a car. I vacillated between renting a car, taking taxis, and hiring a driver to take us to the sights! (Yeah, I think I am high-faluten).  Reality set in which scratched the hired driver off of my list. Taxi costs looked prohibitive, plus my mom's (my date for the trip) gentle reminder that I drove without incident through the maddening streets of Copenhagen, made my choice for me.

Now to choose a car rental place!

The deal breaker for me was no navigator. I had read that Panama City is in a state of disarray as they are tearing the city up to put in an underground subway system. Also, my mom said that it was crazy driving there in the 60s, can't imagine it changed much. Budget had a navigator and a good rate. Woo-hoo. Sold. I made my reservation online and then just had to wait for the day of the trip.

Two days before we leave, my mom calls me to tell me she thinks she broke her foot. Whaa? She went to the doctor and received a pretty intense brace for what turned out to be a solid strain. I asked if she still wanted to go. She said yes. So off we went!

We got to Panama without ado. Headed to the Budget counter with my hobbling mom. I sat her down in some chairs and stood in line. (Me thinking: Why a line? None of the other car rental places had a line. Must be the best!) I noticed that of the two people behind the counter, the lady looked frazzled and the young man looked useless. He was just kind wandering around, randomly picking up pieces of paper and putting them back down. I shall call her "frazzled" and him "feckless". So Frazzled keeps saying stuff to Feckless and he does not react. My Spanish is non-existent, so I just had to go on how they were acting, and not what they were saying.

The two guys who were being taken care of also looked annoyed and frustrated (and sweaty. Was that because of Budget, or the heat? I'll never know). I stood in line behind the guy in front of me for 20 minutes. Nothing was happening. So I moved over to the National Car rental where they had no line and spoke English to me. I was about to rent from them, but Budget called me over because they were suddenly ready for me. I figured I should stick with them since I made the reservation there.

Feckless is helping me. His English is almost as bad as my Spanish. Okay, I know I am a foreigner in a land where the language is Spanish. I don't really need much, except assurances that what I requested is what I am getting. I have even recruited the help of a translator who is very helpful. Wow I sound awful. I don't mean to be that American. It would not have been a problem except he accused me of stealing. That was a problem. BIG!PROBLEM!

After about an hour of shuffling papers, looking for pens and staples and forms, playing with little canvas bags, Feckless gives me my car. I go out with a Budget Rep to look at the car. It's a banged up old white Yaris with an after-market stereo jammed into the dash. I made sure to notate every scratch and ding (because I read that they will charge you a lot for any additional damage to the car. In fact they make you fill out two credit card slips so they can use one for the car and the other for the damage).

The navigator is not inside the car, so I go back inside and ask about it. Feckless says he gave it to me. I say nope. You never even showed it to me. He gets upset and says, I gave it to you! I just continue to shake my head. He goes out to the Yaris with me to look for it there. Not there. We return inside where he asks, where is your stuff? I show him what I have in my hands and in my bag. Not there. He tells me he's going to have to look through my luggage. I say, you can look through everything I have, but you never gave me the navigator. He makes asides to Frazzled. He starts to look through each of the canvas bags he looked through before. Turns out those are the navigators. He calls his supervisor and tells me that the supervisor will be reviewing the surveillance footage to see what happened. I say, bring it! In fact, let me watch, too.

He is getting increasingly upset and Frazzled is helping someone else. As he continues to examine the navigators and tell me that he already gave it to me, his face turns white. Yeah, he found the unit "he gave to me". He takes it out of the bag and shows it to me. No apology.

There is a piece of tape on the power switch. I ask him to notate that it was already there so I don't get charged for it. He tells me it's fine. I say, no. I want you to write it on my receipt. He says "I will remember". I raise an eyebrow. "Write it down". Feckless shakes his head as he writes it down. "You are not a trusting Mrs." DAMN STRAIGHT I'M NOT! "Now sign it!" I command.

I take the navigator and gather my mother and our suitcases. I put all of them in the Yaris. I set the navigator up. It turns on.... then shuts off. I try several more times. Same thing. Leaving my Mama in the air-conditioning, I return. When I pop up again, like Groundhog Day, Frazzled actually laughs. I feel her. Seriously, I'm like a cold sore at this point. I wave the navigator at Feckless.

"It doesn't stay on".

He tells me it's fine. The battery is just low. I tell him I am not leaving without a Navi that works. So they send me out with another guy who tests it in a new car. Works fine. Tests it in the Yaris. Nope. So the cigarette charger is broken. Inside I go again. This time Frazzled comes out with me. She puts me into a new Kia and off I go (with suitcases, Mama, and a working Navi).

This took 3 hours!!