Friday, 6 March 2009

Adventures in car hire

I have a bad habit of leaving some things to the last minute. Those things usually include filling in forms or making phone calls. And so, needing to pick up a hire car for the weekend tomorrow it was only today did I get around to trying to organise this. In the UK this, I suspect, what not present much of an issue – I say I suspect as I’ve never actually hired a car myself in the UK. However, based on observation and my one experience of car hire – in Las Vegas – I decided that a well know franchise had to be the way to go.

I’ve seen two names I recognised in Mostar: Budget and Sixt. Two things were not in Budget’s favour: the need for a bigger budget for the same class of rental and the fact they conspicuously decal their vehicles. The Sixt website came out with a better price but wasn’t clear on whether the car could be driven into Croatia. A local friend called to confirm it could and find the location of their office. It was not in Hotel Ero as they said. Nor was it in the office I stumbled into on the directions of Ero’s receptionist, although the building still bore their logo – admittedly in a slightly defaced state.

Their office was in a travel agent, one who when confronted with the phrase ‘car hire?’ said ‘I don’t understand what you are talking about!’ When I pointed to the brochure on the desk I was told they don’t actually keep cars in Mostar, they’re all in Sarajevo...but there’s another car hire company round the corner. Brand credibility destroyed in one fell swoop! I passed on their recommendation and headed for the station where we’ve seen the cars sitting outside the hire company. My conversation there was going really well until we started to talk about the hire period.

‘I want to pick up the car tomorrow at 9am and bring it back on Tuesday at 9am’.

‘So you want it to the 12th – five days’

‘No, til the 10th...’

‘Thursday’

‘No Tuesday’

‘The 12th?’

I think we both sensed we were circling. It was time to resort to pointing.

‘Look you want it to Thursday. [pointing along his week planner] Monday, Thursday, Wednesday, Tuesday’

‘Yes, til Thursday!’

Until then I'll be driving a Hyundai!

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