Thrifty? For whom?

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So, this one's not about eating, either. It's a cranky rant about a car renter's price-gouging policy, and I want to use my scintilla of social-media influence to embarrass them.

My family and I flew into Denver en route to Wyoming, and chose Thrifty to save a couple of dollars over Hertz. Bad move on my part. One of its policies is to charge a flat $36 fee to use E-470, which I understand to be a private toll road that collects its fees electronically only. I'm told that it would have cost us $6 to use the road if we had a transponder, but without one, we could only pay through Thrifty.

The policy is, you pay Thrifty $36 and you can use the road as much as you want during the rental. We used it once, to save an hour from our drive north, which already was to be almost four hours, with our 20-month-old, after a four-hour flight. That means that of the $36, the road operator got $6, and Thrifty got $30. That's a cool 500 percent premium. Loan-sharking should pay so well.

Very similar to the Southwest Airline ads that mock competitors' charging $150 change fees, all Thrifty did was have the gate guard point a scanner at our contract, then at our car's ID number, and ka-ching, $30. 

It could be that Thrifty is led by earnest, well-meaning, consumer-focused managers who only want to do what's best for everyone. Or, Thrifty could be a typically rapacious, bottom-line-blindered corporate "person" that will do whatever it thinks it can get away with. Either way, if a disapproving din reaches company ears, it may be motivated to change, so please tweet it or otherwise share it around.  Another way to reach them is via e-mail.

Even if they won't change, perhaps some people who see the comment will just rent from someone else. I wish we had.

For the record: the desk clerk ended up giving us "second-driver" access for "free" when we balked, but part of that, to me, was tacit recognition that our complaint had justification. We had already decided we weren't going to pay for that, so while we did get an option we'd decided not to pay for, we still spent more than we had decided to. The quoted base rate was $234, the final bill was over $400, not including gas.

Author and wellness innovator Michael Prager helps smart companies
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