Last Updated on August 29, 2023 by Michael
Want to know how to rent a car without feeling fleeced? Stop thinking of counter agents as customer service staff and start thinking of them as salespeople working on commission. That’s the secret to avoiding the upsell at the rental car counter.
This prepares you for what, inevitably, happens when you pick up the car. Upselling is an essential part of a salesperson’s toolbox. They’ll tell you that buying car rental insurance will give you peace of mind. For only a few dollars more, you can have a GPS in your vehicle. You can add satellite radio for a pittance, you’ll hear. Before you know it, your weekend rental just doubled in price—and you aren’t even behind the wheel yet.
Rental car staff are sales agents whose goal is to maximize profits. To insulate yourself somewhat from upsells and hard sells, you should sign up for frequent renter programs, reserve online (rather than speak to an agent), and to always carefully read rules and conditions on a rental.
When you call a reservations line, the staff member is not going to search more than 1,000 rates to find the lowest possible option. If you walk up to the counter without a reservation, the desk agent is trained to gauge the highest price you are willing to pay. The goal is to drive up the total by convincing you to accept products and services that may well be unnecessary. Contrast that experience with getting a quote from AutoSlash, where our goal is to minimize your confirmed total.
Remember, Rental Car Agents are Salespeople
Perusing the career page of a rental car company’s website is like lifting a veil. Counter staff members typically require six to 12 months of previous sales experience.
In the eyes of the rental car company, the counter agent’s job is to bring in more revenue for the company, so that agent gets awarded for convincing everyday renters to add products, services, and upgrades on their reservations. Top rental car agents often earn three to five times their base rate through commissions, incentives, and bonuses. Other agents are actively seeking to increase sales for promotion opportunities. In both cases, there’s a strong financial incentive to push products and services you don’t need at the counter.