I moved half of my stuff the other day from Bethesda to Mt. Pleasant, where I’m staying for about a month while I look for a room in the city. I had too much to use the public transport route and no one I knew with a car was free, so I convinced myself, “It’ll be cheaper than a cab!” I decided to try out Zipcar.
It’s a great idea. Rent a car for a few hours with very little prior notice needed (depending on what’s available, but I reserved mine two hours ahead of time) at a reasonable hourly rate.
But I did find some things that irked me:
- The website only mentions the hourly rate of $7.75.
- They might sneak in some asterisks with fine print somewhere, but they certainly don’t make it obvious that most cars are $9.75 or $11.75 (I’ve only seen one listed at $7.75). A difference of two dollars an hour isn’t huge, but it is annoying. I spent $4 more than expected (that equals one slim sandwich at Potbelly’s!)
- You have to return it to the parking spot you got it from
- This is inconvenient to say the least- after I finally got the new-fangled Hybrid I was renting started, I drove to my house, shoved my suitcases into the car, drove back through Bethesda into DC, parked (illegally), threw my stuff inside the new house, drove back to Bethesda during rush hour (of course), finally figured out how to lock the car doors, and then had to hop on the metro to head back into the city.
- Time is limited
- I felt pretty rushed to get all that done in the two hours I reserved, and although it’s possible to call and extend, you’ll probably be out of luck if someone reserved the time slot after yours
- Traffic laws still apply
This last one might be the most annoying. Here I was, minding my own business being overwhelmed with cars turning left on red in front of me and over-sized buses that refused to stay in one lane, when all of a sudden there came a FLASH of light.
I’m from small-town Indiana, so my thought process was something like, “What the h……..? Oh. Damn it.”
Speedometers with cameras, aka evil genius, are new to me. And the last thing on my mind was the speed limit, which is probably why I was going 44 in a 30.
My friends are full of information: I can’t get a ticket if there is another car in the photograph (there weren’t), they can’t prove it was me if my face isn’t visible the photo (I don’t believe that), I can appeal it and some large percentage of appeals go through (it was somewhere between 40-80% but I think they were talking about parking tickets at this point)… in other words, who knows.
I’ve heard it will be $40. I’ve also heard it will $125. Either way, the fact that I was in a Zipcar doesn’t give me immunity. I’m pretty sure they can track me down.
As for now, all I can do is wait for this ominous ticket to arrive in the mail. In the end, I still like Zipcar, will use it again and would suggest all my friends use it instead of owning a car, but in this case I should’ve just cabbed it.
iPhone update: I don’t like how the phone is so fragile. It’s made of glass, so you are forced to buy a case (around $20) and most cases don’t come with a screen protector. Those by themselves are around $20 for 3, so unless you want a broken, scratched phone within weeks, you have to spend an extra, unexpected $40. All part of the plan, Apple?