Thursday, July 23, 2015

Portugal, continued...

If you should ever find yourself in Lisbon and in need of a rental car, I am going to suggest that you not go to Budget Rent a Car. In fact, I would strongly encourage you to crawl on your hands and knees, dragging your luggage behind you, all the way to your beach rental house, before you even consider renting a car from Budget. It will ultimately be easier, faster, and far less painful.

I originally reserved a rental car beginning a day and a half after we arrived, figuring we wouldn't need it while we were in the city. But Bart thought it would be a pain to go back to the airport to pick up a vehicle, so he wanted to get the car right when we arrived. Okay, fine. Only I couldn't change the reservation through their website. So I decided to simply stop by the rental car desk when we arrived and ask them if we could change the reservation.

The rental car employee looked up our reservation and said that no, unfortunately, there were no cars available.

No problem, I said, thanks for checking. Can you direct me to the taxi stand?

Well, she replied, hang on, let me check with my manager.

After a lengthy conversation in Portuguese, she told me they did have one car available, but the price might be a bit different. How much different?, I inquired. Well, she said, there's no way to know until we process the sale. We can go ahead and change the reservation, and if you don't like the price, we'll just revert back to the original reservation.

Seemed weird, but okay.

We spent the next hour going through the process. First, I had to choose a car (turns out, they went from zero cars to 4, which should've been my first clue something was wrong). Then we had to choose all of the options. Then we had to find a GPS and load it up in English. And on and on. But finally we had a car, and for only $1000 dollars. $1000 for an entire week? Not bad, and pretty much the same price we'd originally gotten.

But wait, it was $1000 for the additional 1 1/2 days. That works out to more than $500 per day. Per day.

Needless to say, I was pretty pissed that they'd wasted my first hour of vacation. We cancelled the transaction and went to find the taxi stand instead.

That was the easy part. When we went back 2 days later, it took us THREE AND A HALF HOURS to get a car from them. That's three and a half hours when I was not lying on a beach in Portugal. Three and a half hours when I was arguing with them about whether they were cheating us on the size of the car, and whether they should've mentioned that they only stock standard shift vehicles, which I can't drive. Three and a half hours of arguing with an employee about whether we were responsible for a scratch on a car that we hadn't even driven away in yet. Three and a half hours of trying to locate a GPS. Three and a half hours of moving luggage in and out of three separate cars.

It was an absolute nightmare.

The only thing that made it remotely tolerable was that Uncle Sean was with us, which meant the kids were entertained the entire time and we had a willing victim to keep our airport Starbucks mugs topped off.

But no. Avoid Budget Rent a Car at all costs. Disaster from beginning to end.

Eventually, we did make it to the beach house (no thanks to Budget's GPS, which didn't actually work properly and kept trying to force us off the highway at random). The rest of the family showed up shortly afterwards, and the real vacation commenced.

The cousins played, the siblings were too busy to fight, the mom (that'd be me) drank glass after glass of vino verde and sampled every kind of cheese the Portuguese grocery store had on offer. Sand got everywhere. Naps were taken. Pool toys were inflated and then popped.

It was lovely.









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