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InACents: Save Money, Travel More

AutoSlash Loses Vehicle Rental Availability from Dollar, Thrifty, Hertz, and Advantage

I was shocked this morning when I went to sign into my AutoSlash account to run the numbers on our rentals for Hawaii, only to find that Dollar/Thrifty, and Hertz/Advantage are no longer part of the inventory.

AutoSlash Loses Big Players

According to the official comment from AutoSlash:

To our loyal customers:

We regret to inform you that Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, Inc. – the corporate parent of Dollar and Thrifty, and Hertz Corporation which also owns Advantage – took action to prevent our customers from booking rentals from these brands through AutoSlash.

This action came on the heels of this February 18, 2012 New York Times article, which encouraged the renting public to “make a statement” by “booking through AutoSlash and patronizing Hertz, Thrifty and the other companies that play along.” We’re disappointed that these companies have now chosen to reverse course and adopt this anti-consumer position, after having participated in this site since its launch in mid-2010. Apparently, with more customers booking reservations through our service, they felt they could no longer support our consumer-friendly model of automatically finding the best discount codes and re-booking when rates drop.

AutoSlash will not waver in our objective to help people get a great deal on their rentals. We have exciting product plans on the horizon to make our site even more useful to you, and we look forward to sharing details with you when the time comes. If you’d like to stay up-to-date on new developments, please enter your email address below.

I find this fascinating because ultimately, the consumer was being provided a potentially very valuable service from AutoSlash (even though I had my doubts). Reserving a rental vehicle at the best rate is a completely daunting challenge. Prices change constantly based on supply and demand. In addition, rental car companies put out potentially hundreds of discount code rates and coupons that can save the consumer money. Finding the codes and coupons that each consumer qualified for was frustrating when one needs to check the prices so frequently.

Enterprise/National/Alamo, already would not allow AutoSlash to book their vehicles. In addition, Avis/Budget pulled the plug on inventory. Now the remaining big players (Hertz/Advantage and Dollar/Thrifty) will no longer allow guest to book vehicles using AutoSlash.

As much as I question the AutoSlash service, I do not like to see valuable tools taken away from the consumer. I have no interest in renting a vehicle from a questionable car rental company (E-Z Rent-a-Car, Fox Rent-a-Car, Payless or Sixt) since when we are on vacation, I need the least amount of potential hassles. That is why I prefer to deal with a reputable, name-brand company. Our family can not afford to have an older vehicle die on the side of the road when on vacation.

The whole issue really comes down to one thing. The car rental companies no longer held the upper hand on pricing when a computer automatically rebooks for the consumer. The car rental companies will try and paint a picture that AutoSlash is using questionable discount codes and coupons that the consumer may not be entitled. Then when the traveler shows up for their vehicle and is asked for proof to validate the discount, the consumer is left without a possible valid reservation.

I do not buy the car rental companies depiction since AutoSlash would not risk losing their clients by using questionable booking practices, although it would have been nice if AutoSlash disclosed which discount code/coupons were used for the reservation. On the contrary, in my experience, and the several other people I have talked with, I doubt AutoSlash was doing much at all with rebooking reservations, as I never have had a reservation reprice except for within the first 24 hours.

Regardless, AutoSlash has lost a major market share on vehicle rentals. I hate to see consumer options diminish, and I still wonder why the vehicle rental companies even can have a say in who books their vehicles. It baffles me why Enterprise, Hertz, or any other company can have the power to say you are not allowed to monitor our inventory and book for the consumer. The problem might have more to do with AutoSlash using Travelocity’s booking algorithms and agreements between the car rental companies.

Keep in mind if you have an existing reservation through AutoSlash and Dollar/Thrifty or Hertz/Advantage, your reservation MAY be in jeopardy, and I recommend checking with the respective company to make sure the reservation is still valid.

© 2012, inacents.com. All rights reserved.

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Comments (8)

  1. While the rental companies are no longer committed to working with AutoSlash, AutoSlash is committed to doing right by it’s customers. We understand that in its current form, the service is of limited use to most folks. We’re working on a new improved service that we hope will be even more useful to people that the much loved original site. Stay tuned…

    Please note that all existing reservations are secure and will be honored by the rental car companies. Existing reservations can be looked up directly on the rental site you booked with using your rental confirmation number if there are any concerns.

    Also note that AutoSlash continues to monitor rates for all existing reservations, and we’ll be in touch with our customers if we find further savings.

  2. [...] Via InACents, several rental car companies — Dollar, Thrifty, Hertz, and Advantage — have pulled out of allowing their cars to be listed at AutoSlash.com. This follows on Avis’ early refusal to allow AutoSlash to display their availability and pricing. [...]

  3. Andrew

    Whilst I applaud the innovative concept that Autoslash developed on behalf of consumers (and naturally their own profit – they are a business after all), it was only a matter of time before the major companies refused to offer inventory via the site for a couple of reasons.

    First, management of fleet is a HUGE headache for these companies particularly during busy periods. Having a single source of business cancel bookings on mass and moving them to one of their competitors because they are priced a bit cheaper leaving them with unsold cars that could have been sold days or weeks earlier had Autoslash not had them reserved is terrible for business.

    Second, car rental is a commodity like any other. Airlines, hotels and even grocery stores offer heavily discounted last minute deals on “left over” seats, rooms or soon to be out of date produce. The Autoslash concept meant that, say your booking was already with Hertz and then 48 hours before you pick up a car, they run a last minute sale offering say 25% off. Autoslash would cancel your original booking and rebook it at the lower price…..with the same company. I have seen writeups of this happening. Can you go back to the grocery story the day before the sell/freeze by date on the chicken thats now discounted and demand the difference in price refunded? Not on your life. This practice could literally put a car rental company out of business depending on the percentage of bookings provided by Autoslash. Imagine if 20% of your stock that you had already sold at a reasonable price was returned and resold to the same people for 25% less.

    • InACents

      @Andrew: Excellent points, and some very good reasoning on why the AutoSlash business plan may not work over the long term in its current state. What will be interesting to see though is how the car companies can ultimately stop AutoSlash from booking reservations. I think right now their hands are tied because of agreements with Travelocity, but once they are able to get out on their own with no deals with other companies, I am not quite sure the rental car companies can stop them.

  4. Andrew

    Technically there is nothing to stop them from making the bookings on the behalf of their customers today, the problem is that they would be doing it for free. The developers of Autoslash didn’t do it out of the goodness of their hearts. They did it to make money. They don’t charge their customers, they get paid commission by the car rental companies for the bookings. If the rental companies won’t work with them, they won’t have accounts with them, they won’t get commissions. They would be providing the service to customers for free. Never going to happen. I am very interested to see how they will adapt the business model to still provide a valuable service to consumers whilst somehow generating more of a win/win scenario with the rental companies. The current model is a win for the consumer, a win for Autoslash’s back pocket and big nasty loss for the companies that are actually providing the end product/service.

  5. Laura

    Already there is a huge change with Autoslash. In May I booked two cars in two different cities that wound up costing about $7 a day without taxes and fees. Payless is who they directed me too. I am now looking to book in September and Payless is also who they are directing me too, but the rate is the same as if I booked through Southwest. Their site says that they continally look to see if the price went down, but I called India, where the customer service is located, and the agent there informed me that the price I got will be the price. So, Autoslash…which is it? Did you make a deal to keep Payless which promises you will not drop and re-book?

  6. […] had a bit of a falling out with most major rental car agencies over this business model.  What remains are all the best parts […]

  7. […] had a bit of a falling out with most major rental car agencies over this business model.  What remains are all the best parts […]

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