Tough times call for tough measures and car rental companies are now contemplating on issuing stiffer requirements. Normally, customers can book car rentals online for free and are not required to provide their credit card information. Clients also will not get penalized or fined if they fail to show up on the designated day of pick-up. Car rental companies did not find it necessary to institute such policies when times were good. However, in today's weak economic climate, they are beginning to consider changing some time-honoured customs and practices.
Customers can prepay car rentals and enjoy discounts when it is time for them to pick-up their vehicles. However, if they renege on their commitment, car rental companies can penalize them for fees that can go as high $50. Now, car rental businesses are also exploring the possibility of charging customers who book online for free and do not show-up.
One industry mammoth, Avis Budget Group, announced that they will be installing a new technology in place that would allow for the registration of credit card information for online bookings. They expect to finish installing the system this month.
John Barrows, a spokesman for Avis Budget said that the recent upgrade would allow for a better and more streamlined inventory monitoring. He, however, refused to answer questions directly regarding the timeline as to when Avis Budget would require customers to register their credit card information for online bookings.
He predicts however that the industry may pretty soon start charging no show fees for high-demand vehicles like hybrid cars. He added that eventually the policy will spread to all car models.
Analysts offered an explanation as to why Avis Budget was coy in disclosing any specified timelines for no-show fees. They said that competition in the car rental industry is fierce and that Avis Budget was careful not to make announcements that may jeopardize operations and give competitors a leg up. Car rental companies are afraid to make the first move regarding no show fees and would rather feel out the market first.
Bob Barton, the current president of the nation's car rental association, hailed the Avis Budget Group and said that it is about time that car rental companies follow the lead of hotels and airlines in penalizing customers who register, but fail to show up.
The car rental industry is among those directly hit by the recent collapse of large companies. These firms can no longer rely on cheap surplus cars from car companies and have to make do with smaller fleets. With narrowing margins, they are pressed to come up with ingenious ways to lift profitability levels up.