20 Things You Didn’t Know about Alamo Car Rental

Alamo Rental Car is a company that you have probably heard of, even if you have never rented a car from them once in your life. People see the commercials and they know the name, but for the most part, most people don’t know a lot more about the company than what they see on the surface. If you really want to dig deeper and find out more, consider these 20 things that are listed below.

1. They don’t just do business in the United States

If you think the only place this company does business is the United States, think again. In fact, the Florida-based company actually does business in places like Oceana, North and South America, Africa, and Europe. As you can see, they are truly a global company that operates in most of the continents throughout the world.

2. They have been renting cars to customers since the 1970s

This company was first developed in 1974 and it’s been doing business in one capacity or another ever since. The name of the current company might have changed over the years, but that doesn’t mean that they haven’t been renting cars out to customers for more than 40 years now.

3. They and Enterprise are now one company, even though it may not seem like it

For many years, Alamo and Enterprise were two car rental companies that were going neck-and-neck in competition with each other. These days, it’s actually all the same company or at least it’s operated by the same parent company. Many customers aren’t aware of that because Alamo still has its own rental kiosks that are operating under the Alamo name. Despite that fact, both they and Enterprise are in essence the same company these days.

4. Been through a number of parent companies

As it turns out, Alamo has actually had several parent companies over the years. They found themselves in financial trouble two or three times over and during that time, they would somehow always end up coming out on top because another parent company would purchase them, providing new life and new funds in the process. Eventually, a few years ago, the same company that operates Enterprise Rent-A-Car ended up purchasing them and is now their parent company.

5. For many years, they were the main competitor with Enterprise

Before that happened, Alamo was easily the main competitor with Enterprise. As a matter of fact, if you ask people on the streets to name the top rental car companies, it is very likely that Enterprise and Alamo will be the only two they can come up with. There just aren’t that many of them to begin with.

6. They’ve often advertised cheaper rates than their competition

During the years they were in direct competition with Enterprise, they tried to attract customers buy advertising cheaper rates than their competition, saying that you could always get a better deal by renting with Alamo. In some cases this was true and in other cases, not so much. Nevertheless, that was something that they lured a lot of customers in with and it was an effective advertising campaign for a number of years.

7. They also advertised better, cleaner automobiles that appealed to more customers

When it got to the point that simply advertising cheaper rates wasn’t getting the job done quite as well as it had in the past, they decided to begin advertising better products. Those ads focused on saying that their automobiles were in better shape and were far cleaner than any of the products offered by their competitors. They claimed that you could always find a superior product and even used advertising to show a nice clean performance-based automobile next to a very outdated and dirty compact car in order to illustrate the supposed differences.

8. After a while, they came up with installing rental kiosks right there at airport terminals

Eventually, they came up with the idea of maintaining rental kiosks right at the airport, usually right next to the terminal. The idea was to get as many customers as possible. That way, people that were flying into a particular city could just walk a couple of feet and rent a car, then be on their way. It was a brilliant idea and it was one that is still widely used today.

9. The idea was to make things as easy for the customer as possible

They came up with the idea of making the rental process as easy as possible for customers because they wanted to get as many customers as they possibly could. Part of that process involved not only streamlining renting a car to begin with, but making it easier so they wouldn’t have to go from one location to the next. Keeping a kiosk right at the terminal eliminated that problem and it got them a great deal of extra business.

10. In reality, it was all about giving the company a chance to make as much money as possible

In the end, that’s what it was all about. The company wanted to get as many customers as they possibly could, just like virtually everybody else that’s out there doing business. They kept coming up with unique ways to do that and if they couldn’t achieve the number of customers they wanted through traditional advertising, they could certainly achieve it by putting rental kiosks at airport terminals and in other places where a person might need to rent a car in a hurry. After that, they started showing up in most major cities and the company grew quickly.

11. They actually got in trouble with the United States Department of Justice

It’s not uncommon to hear about major corporations that end up going to court over some type of legal battle, but it’s a little more uncommon to hear that they ended up in trouble with the United States Department of Justice. That might leave you wondering what on earth they did to get into that kind of trouble to begin with. More on that will be discussed in the next paragraph but it definitely does provide some food for thought. If they were doing something to get in that much trouble to begin with, perhaps they weren’t being completely honest with their customers about other things as well.

12. It was all about not providing adequate access for physically handicapped customers

As it turns out, the reason they got in trouble was because they weren’t providing adequate access to customers who were in wheelchairs or had other mobility issues. It seems as though they automatically assumed that anyone in a wheelchair was somehow incapable of driving a car. At least that’s the way they made it appear because they didn’t provide any effective means for people that couldn’t walk to make it to their kiosks and get in a car, completely excluding that entire demographic. Even after the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, they made no changes whatsoever. This is precisely what got them in trouble and once the Justice Department found out about it, they made the necessary measures to go after them because they weren’t doing what they should have been doing all along.

13. As a direct result, they ended up providing shuttle services

Because of all the trouble they found themselves in, they ended up providing shuttle services from the airport terminals to their kiosk even though it was only a few feet away. This was supposed to have solved the problem about not providing any access to wheelchair-bound customers. The interesting thing about this is that those shuttles they were using were nothing but large buses that were designed just like the school bus you rode as a kid. You had to climb the steps to get on the bus and there was certainly no room for a wheelchair even if you could have gotten it on there. In other words, that didn’t do anything to solve the problem. They were just hoping that it would look good on paper.

14. Most of those shuttle services were still not accessible to handicapped individuals

As you might have guessed, it didn’t take very long for people to figure out that their shuttle service for handicapped individuals was not, in fact, handicapped-accessible. Eventually, they were forced to incorporate special wheelchair accessible vehicles but they only did it when they had no other options available to them, short of shutting down operations.

15. They also came under fire for claiming that cars had been returned damaged when in fact they had not been

They also got in trouble for being less than honest when it came to some of the rentals returned by their customers. For a time, they allowed customers to return cars after hours and drop the keys in a box so that the return could be processed the next day. However, they had a habit of claiming that cars that had been returned without any damage whatsoever had been significantly damaged in a crash, strongly implying that the customer that returned it was trying to get away with something. This happened more than once and in every case, they ended up dropping those claims as soon as the consumers threaten to sue them.

16. Eventually, they were ordered to pay up in both a class action lawsuit and in fines

The problem is, they just kept doing these kinds of things and eventually, they were forced to pay some rather large fines to the Justice Department as well as settling a number of these lawsuits out of court. Eventually, things progressed to a class action lawsuit against the company for false claims and they were forced to pay all of those customers a certain, undisclosed amount of money.

17. They got in trouble for price gouging, too

These aren’t the only things they got in trouble for. They were also determined to participate in price gouging, mainly when rental cars were scarce and they found out that they could charge virtually anything they wanted for them and get away with it. They did this a lot at busy times of year such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as when people word trying to rent a car and there wasn’t much of anything left on the lot but the individual in question was desperate. All of a sudden, the price would go up exponentially.

18. If you’re going to rent a car, make sure you’re clear on insurance rates first

They also had a habit of failing to disclose insurance rates on cars, leaving people to believe they would only have to pay whatever amount they were advertising per day and that the car would be fully insured at that rate. In reality, the car wasn’t insured unless the individual purchased an additional policy and the company had a nasty habit of not disclosing all of the rates until it was time to pay up. That left a lot of people with a bill that was much bigger than what they had anticipated.

19. They were featured in the news for allowing customers to rent out cars that had been recalled

More recently, they found themselves in trouble again because they were renting cars out to customers that had been recalled, some of them for potentially dangerous issues. For example, they rented out a lot of Toyota and Lexus automobiles that had already come under fire for unexpectedly accelerating and causing serious, sometimes fatal, accidents. Other cars that they rented were found to have been recalled for having issues with the fuel tank spontaneously combusting or for airbags that would spontaneously deploy while the vehicle was driving down the road. As it turns out, they knew about all of these issues but simply chose not to get the vehicles fixed even though they could have simply taken them back to the manufacturer and have the problems corrected, free of charge.

20. They ended up in court over that one, too

As you might have guessed, they definitely ended up in court over that issue. In fact, there is some litigation related to those issues that are still not settled and may not be for several years to come. In reality, all of this serves as an example to be an educated consumer and know exactly what you’re getting and how much it’s going to cost you before you ever sign your name to anything. You can say this about Alamo or virtually any other company out there.


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