Car rental web sites again

(Previous rant)

Trying to hire a car in Adelaide for a single day, a Sunday. I’d really rather not have it overnight, so I don’t have to park it somewhere. As it turns out, it looks like none of the car rental places are open beyond 4pm on Sundays, but the problem with their web sites is how they tell you this:

Budget: “Your return time is after the location’s closing time.” — So what’s the location’s closing time? Surely you’re not going to make me guess? Wait, check the Locations page. OK, found the list of nearby branches. Click on the chosen one. No opening hours shown. … (sometime later) … Wait, if I mouse over the location on the map, it tells me the opening hours! Not that there’s any prompt to the user to say that’s how it works.

Hertz: “Return Date or Time – This location is closed at the time indicated. Please adjust your return or select an alternate location. [DE357]” — But at least there on the screen it’s showing me what the times are.

Thrifty: “Your rental details could not be processed because the return time is outside the opening hours for the return location. The return time has been changed to be the location closing time.” — Better, but why didn’t you tell me the opening hours when I was checking what your locations are?

Europcar: “Your Return Time could not be accepted because the operating hours for our Adelaide City Branch on 10/28/2007 7:00:00 PM are between the hours of 09:00 and 16:00.” Bravo!

Avis: tells as I click through where the branch is and what its hours are, but ignores it for another screen or two. But when it does notice, it eventually tells me everything I need to know in one message: “The Return Location selected is closed at the time requested. The Return Location operates from Sun 08:00AM-02:00PM; Mon-Fri 07:30AM-06:00PM; Sat 08:00AM-02:00PM. The Return Location Service may be available after hours. Please call this number (61) 08-84105727 to contact this location for further details.” — Bravo Avis, you win.

Of course, the aggregator sites like VroomVroomVroom don’t do too well out of this either. Oh well. SimilarlyDriveNow.

I ended up booking with Avis (closest to the hotel) via DriveNow (the best mix of good prices and nice web interface). And when I discovered (after placing the booking) that I’d entered the wrong dates, I went to and changed them. Neato.