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Review: My First Zipcar Experience

8/05/2008 06:00:00 AM
As some of you may know, I was approved for the Zipcar Low-Car Diet event (here). After receiving my Zipcar card for a couple weeks now, I finally got my chance to use it. As I had previously vowed, I started T'ing it or walking to a bunch of places so I didn't really need a car for a while.
Finally the day came, when I needed to go to Costco and also wanted to satisfy my curiosity about what all the hype was around the Prius. Soooo, I reserved a Prius for three hours yesterday and made my way to the Costco in Stoughton (I usually goto the one in Everett because it's way closer, but the Everett one doesn't sell alcohol).

Pros:
1. It was quite easy to reserve the car and find it inside the Ritz Carlton Parking Lot.
2. The Prius has this really cool touchscreen display that shows what sort of mpg you're getting.
3. The Prius is actually pretty roomy, it fit all my groceries (read: alcohol) quite nicely.
4. It was fairly cost effective, I believe the Prius was $8 an hour, and I reserved it for 3 hours.

Cons:
1. Driving under time constraints is nerve-racking. I was constantly watching the clock while I was driving and also while I was shopping as I wanted to make sure I was back within the 3 hours.
2. Whoever drove the Prius before me should be shot because he/she left me with no gas. Good thing I rented a hybrid which can go thousands of miles on gasoline fumes.
3. I drove to two separate stations (Gulf and Shell) to try to fill the car up and neither would accept the gas card. I ended up calling customer service and was told that I should pay for it myself, and then Zipcar will reimburse my credit card for the amount after I mail them my receipt. So I put in 5 gallons - that should last the Prius 3000 miles, right?


Conclusion:
Driving the Zipcar was really cool. It is definitely nice to be able to rent a car for a time period shorter than a day. I hate you, Avis. With the price of gas and the price of parking in downtown Boston where they are today (here) - Zipcar makes a lot of sense.

In addition, the Prius is quite the fun car to drive. Feels kinda space-agey because of the the huge touchscreen (can the screen do GPS? that would be awesome) and the strange gear shift box. It was an enjoyable test run and now I wish my Yukon could do 40 mpg.



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5 Response to "Review: My First Zipcar Experience"

  1. Dan Dan Said,

    I;m glad your Low-Car Diet is going well!

    I've used ZipCar 4 times, and besides the one time where I reserved a car from the Dartmouth Street Garage where the car (and my cell phone) got no reception so I couldn't unlock the car and had to cancel my trip, every other trip has been really convenient. In fact, as long as no one has the car after you, extending your reservation if you're running late is really easy.

    And the best part of your trip is that now I can come over and help drink the alcohol! Right??

    Posted on 8/5/08, 10:43 AM

     
  2. Pierce Said,

    I have been using zipcar for over 4 years and have never had the above mentioned problem of it getting no reception. Also I've gassed up zipcars at myriad stations in 4 states, town and country, with nary a problem. Sometimes gas station owners say they don't take it, but they've always been wrong. Use the pay at the pump anyway and it has always worked for me.

    Zipcar has the best customer service of any company i've ever done business with, it is incredible.

    Posted on 8/5/08, 11:43 AM

     
  3. Beantown Bloggery Said,

    Hi Pierce,
    I agree with you, the girl I spoke with with customer service was super nice on the phone. She mentioned that it may have been that the card was not working properly and not actually the fault of the gas stations. Both pumps would prompt me to enter my driver pin and my odomoter reading and after that I'd get the "see attendant" warning. No biggie, I've emailed zipcar asking where I'm supposed to mail my receipt so hopefully I'll be reimbursed soon.

    Posted on 8/5/08, 11:47 AM

     
  4. hybrid rental car Said,

    well you were smart enough to put in a minimal amount of gas. I've thought about that -- how you can drive it until you are on fumes and then shove the car back to the next sucker to have it out. I rented a prius from Budget the other day, and they wanted to tack on a $15 fee for gas if I drove less than 75 miles and didn't present a receipt to them upon return. The whole travel industry is kinda getting kookie if you ask me... That said, congrats on giving up your car. If more people gave up their cars in the way you did, we'd worry less about gas prices and importing so much foreign oil.

    Posted on 8/10/08, 1:08 AM

     
  5. joe Said,

    Yea it has reached a tipping point - I am a 4 year member that is hanging it up this year - it is cheaper now that insurance has come down and cars are cheaper than ever - we bought a used subaru and it will cost us half the price that zipcar cost us in the last 3 years... there goes their "model" - it's mostly college kids using the cars and they do all the things they are not supposed like smoking and cat hair all over the car or the trash they leave behind and NOW MORE THAN EVER I get into a car to find it on "E" - then I fill it up and the next time I use the same car it's empty again - thanks for the fun zipcar but our time has come to say goodbye...

    Posted on 8/27/08, 11:44 AM

     
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