Rantopolis

Category — Car drama

Four rental cars in 24 hours. Seriously.

Yeah.  Four.  Not making it up.

The story starts pleasantly enough.  I arrived at Miami’s Thrifty airport counter a week ago.  Lo and behold, they had my full-sized car ready.  A Ford Taurus.

Gasp.  Ready?!  You mean you aren’t going to pull your usual trick?  The one where you try to pawn off an SUV on me?  Wow.  I should buy a lottery ticket.

So, things were going well until midday yesterday.  We were a third of the way to Ft. Lauderdale from the Upper Florida Keys, when we hear chimes alerting us to the low tire pressure indicator.  We find a gas station with an air pump and my cousin,  the automotive electrical engineer, goes to work trouble-shooting the situation.

She adds air to the right front and back tires.  Low pressure indicator still on.  She moves to the left side and tries to do the same.  However, instead of the tires inflating, the air hose was actually causing them to lose air.  The deduction was that the left tires had faulty valves, which weren’t allowing inflation.

We figured that the problem wasn’t dire enough for emergency action, so we decided to continue our drive to Ft. Lauderdale and then deal with the car after lunch.

About four hours later we pull into the Ft. Lauderdale airport and find our way to the Thrifty return lanes.

Hi….there’s a problem with this car.

Okay, do you to switch it with a different car? 

(Really?  That easy?  You didn’t even ask me what the problem was?  What if I had a dead body in the trunk?  Still cool with my swapping it?)

Yes, that would be great.

Okay, let me get the paperwork.

He hands me my original paperwork with a few additional sheets added to the sleeve.  After I bitched a little more, I also received a coupon for 10% the next rental.  Finally I was asked what was wrong with the car.  He then wrote my answer on the windshield. (For a sec, I thought of starting a game of tic tac toe.)

So, off I go to the counter to negotiate the replacement vehicle.

The representative suggests a Crown Victoria as an option.  He asks if I want to see the car first.  Apparently, the low tire pressure affected my brain synapses and I decline.  He then gives me the keys to a car that resembled a  Blues Brothers police cruiser.

Seriously?!  They still make cars like this?!!  Unfreakingbelievable.   This thing had the shift on the column and a bench seat.  OMG!!!!

I drove it to the end of the row and then came back.

Excuse me sir.  I am sorry.  You gave me the option of seeing the car and I declined.  I am an asshat.  I should have taken you up on it.  This car is horrific, you have to give me something else.

With no other full-sized cars available (and my rejecting the ubiquitous SUV), I agree to go down one class to a standard.  He handed me the keys to a dark maroon colored Ford Fusion and off we went.

Within minutes I was being strangled by the seat belt and when I accelerated, the car sounded like it had tuberculosis.  Zero to 60 in three hours.  Peachy.  This was going to be my ride for the next week?!!  Sigh.

So, fast forward to today.  Driving down U.S. 1 this afternoon,  we hear chimes again.  And a low tire pressure warning.

OMG…seriously?!!  Is Thrifty trying to punk me?!!!  Am I in car rental Groundhog Day? Are Fords devoid of any quality control?!!

I quickly look at my watch.  4:50 p.m.  I’m about three miles from the Upper Keys Thrifty location.  Not sure if they close at 5 p.m. so I hit the gas.  More tuberculosis.  (After all this is the Keys.  People take their cocktail hour very seriously so I need to get there before they start hammering brewskis.)

I walk in and explain my current dilemma and the car rental events of the past 24 hours.  The woman behind the desk proceeds to tell me that this sort of thing happens all the time and and I shouldn’t be concerned.

Uh.  No.  I further explain the problem with yesterday’s deflation and I am not comfortable driving a car with a safety warning.

She tells me that if I fill the tires with air and then drive five miles it should adjust itself.  I was pretty sure that the next set of instruction were going to involve me clucking like a chicken, chugging a beer and running around the car ten times.

Instead of following her moronic instructions I politely explained why her theory wasn’t correct and proceeded to ask….once again….for a new car.

Is the current car filled with gas?

Uh.  No.

Okay, well, you are going to have to fill it with gas and the come back.

Sweet mother of god.  Thrifty is going to give me a stroke.  Off I go to the gas station and pump $14.81 worth of regular into this piece of asthmatic, under inflated piece of crap.

I return to the office where the attendant completes the transfer.  She hands me the sleeve stuffed with more paper and all sorts of “returned” notations on the cover.  She hands me the keys.

Can you tell me where it’s parked?

No, I’m not sure where anything is parked. Just use the keys and try to find the car that lights up when you push the open door button.

Fabulous.  As I try to find Car #4, I turn around and snap this photo of the seat belt choking Ford Fusion.

Tuberculosis on four wheels.

Rental car #4.

My new ride, is the last car in the row.  A lovely silver Taurus.  A smile crossed my lips as I realize that I would now be back to driving something comfortable.  I enter, start the car and find my self staring at the following:

Engine oil. Change soon.

Shoot me.  Does Ford make any vehicle that doesn’t display a warning message of any type?

The only one that would be appropriate is, “you are stupid if you buy or rent this car.”

P.S.  Did I mention that I left my Jawbone bluetooth behind in Car #1?

December 21, 2011   Comments Off on Four rental cars in 24 hours. Seriously.

Carducation: I am flunking

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve just downed a glass of white wine in advance of the American Music Awards.  This was prompted by my traumatic Carducation.  So, what I type may or may not make sense.  I’m assuming that I will be amused tomorrow when I read some of this dyslexia.  Or not.

But wait.  This post is not going to be about an egregious grigio.  It’s about how I’m failing my Carducation.  Yes, new word.  Learn it.  Carducation.  It’s what you have to go through when you get a new car.

Fright night.

Rewind to 1969 when I first sat behind the wheel of a new car.  Transmission shift on the column.  Radio push button presets.  Headlights.  Wipers. Manual seat adjustment.  Yeah, that was pretty much it. Took maybe 45 seconds to learn where everything was and how to operate the car.  Other than remembering to put gas in the tank, that was pretty much it.  Key in the ignition, turn it, drive.  The end.

Fast forward to the present.  I have been in possession of my 2012 Mercedes C class for a total of five six days now.  I am now under the assumption that I have to go back to college to complete my Carducation.

Don't let the pretty graphics lull you into a false sense of security. Satan wrote the code for this thing.

I feel like I’ve been living in a cave for two decades eating bats for sustenance. They gave me five different books as part of the new owners package. Five books.  I had fewer books for college algebra.  They don’t even fit in the door compartment.  I am going to need hours of tutorial to figure out how to use the voice command and navigation alone.

And since I’m talking about the voice command,  I don’t think it’s been programmed to understand swear words.   Gross oversight by the manufacturer, IMO. I know this because I told it several times that it was a beotch and a fook pig.  The response?

“I do not understand, please repeat.”

Sure, no problem.  You are a beotch and a fook pig.

“I do not understand, please repeat.”

Once again, you are a beotch and a fook pig.

“Cancelling voice command.”

Yeah, that’s it.  Run away like the little beotch that you are.

Hold on.  Do you realize that you are swearing at a microchip?  Very mature.

That alone send me back indoors and right to the pinot grigio.   I may end up in twelve-step program before this is all over.  Just sayin.

November 20, 2011   3 Comments

The hell chronicles: part 3–the new car

For those of you who have been following my new car purchase saga, I will cut to the chase.  Ta da!

I've waited a long time for this key.

The car is finally in my possession.  I love it!  But lemme tell you, I had a day from hell on Monday.  It went a little something like this.

8:30 a.m.  Dealership calls.  Car was supposed to arrive late Sunday night/first thing Monday morning.  It’ s not there.  Sales person will try to reach the truck driver.

8:45 a.m.  Driver tells salesperson that he is in southern Illinois.  Expects to be dropping my vehicle off in the Chicago suburbs by 2 p.m.

8:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.  I work.

1 p.m.  I put on makeup and Mercedes-buying clothes.  I double check the train schedule to the suburbs.  This is kind of a first since I have a severe allergy to public transportation.

2:15 p.m.  I haven’t heard from the sales person.  I call him.  I get vmail.

2:45 p.m.  I phone again.  This time I get him.  He’s been in a meeting for an hour.  He says he will go to the service department to check on my car and will call me back.

2:55 p.m.  Sales person calls back.  Driver tells him he is way off schedule.  Car won’t arrive until late in the day.  I will not have it until the next day.

2:55:10 p.m.  I have a major meltdown on the phone.  Delivery date of this vehicle has been changed so many times I feel like an extra in Ground Hog’s Day.

2:56 p.m.  Sales person realizes he has a criminally-insane middle-aged woman on the other end of the phone.  That’s when he starts giving me free things.  Like a free protective coating on the entire exterior and interior of the car worth more than $1,000.  I will now be protected against acid rain on the outside and vomit on the inside.  Sweet.  That makes me a little less stabby.

4:15 p.m.  I’m bitching about the day’s events to a friend.

4:16 p.m.  I receive a text with a picture of a car.  My car.  WTF?!

4:17 p.m.  Salesperson calls.  Guess what?  Car has arrived!  I don’t question why.

4:30 p.m.  I’m in my building’s garage with a power screwdriver removing the plates from my old car.  One of the screws holding the rear plate refuses to budge.  Four guys each take turns trying to remove the screw.  Nothing.  I am concerned that I will miss my train to the suburbs.  I suddenly get the idea to slip the plate off by maneuvering the screw hole up and over the screw head.  Success.  Clearly, I am channeling Einstein.

5:00 p.m.  I’m on the bus, headed to the train station.  I am using my iPhone to try to figure out if I can buy a ticket on the train since I will be cutting this close.

5:50 p.m.  I enter the train station.  I head to the ticket area.  Apparently, I have been transported to Victorian England.  No ticket buying kiosks.  You have to stand in line.  There are at least 50 people ahead of me.  That’s not going to happen.

5:55 p.m.  I board the train.  I’m happy to pay the $3 surcharge on the $4 ticket for buying it onboard.

5:59:30 p.m.  Drunk married guy sits next to me on train. I will now mock him on Facebook.  Fabulous way to kill time.

6:15 p.m.  Hunger kicks in.  I have nothing edible on me.  I wonder if drunk married guy might have a spare snack in his pocket.  I resist the urge to ask him.  Don’t want to disturb his catatonic stare.  Plus if he opens his mouth, I may end up inhaling enough booze fumes to fail a breathalyzer test.

6:30 p.m.  Drunk married guy exits train.  I am sad.  I have lost my FB  muse.

6:50 p.m.  I exit the train.  Sales guy picks me up from the station.  He tells me that the reason the truck was delayed this morning was because the driver damaged the first one he drove off the truck.  And I thought I was having a bad day.  Think of that new car owner who’s been waiting for that vehicle for three months.  I wonder how much free shit he’s going to end up with.

7:10 p.m. I meet my new car.   I am in love.  I quickly forget that I have been aggravated for almost three months.

7:15 p.m. The dealership gives me a bouquet of flowers.  (I like the art gallery better.  They give me champagne when I buy something.  Apparently driving out of the dealership drunk is not desirable.)  I give them back the flowers and tell them to put them back in water.  I do not want them to die while we take the next two hours going through formalities.  Are you people sure you don’t have champagne?

7:20 p.m.  We sit down to complete the paperwork.

7:21 p.m.  I am ravenous.  I ask the sales guy if they have a snack area.  I’m thinking they should give me a steak or something.  It’s Mercedes, afterall.  I settle for a bag of pretzels out of the vending machine.  (Okay, if there is no champagne in this joint, maybe someone in the service department has a brewski buried in a tool chest?)

8:00 p.m.  Back to the car for a basic tutorial.

8:30 p.m.  Head is exploding from the tutorial.  Can I please leave now?  (And don’t forget my flowers!)

8:35 p.m.  I leave the dealership driving like an 80 year old.  If anybody even thinks of hitting my car I will rip their head off.  I probably have a button on the console I can push to make that happen.

9:30 p.m. I pull into my building in the city.  I am oddly compelled to sleep in the car.  However, I know that the building staff will gossip if I do.  After almost 20 years of living here, I have a pretty large dossier.  Grudgingly, I say goodbye to my new ride.  Since I owned the last Mercedes for 16 years, I know that I and my new hunk of metal are going to share a ton of grand adventures.

Here’s to the next 16 years!

November 16, 2011   2 Comments

People of Stuttgart. Start building!

So, after 16 years of driving my current car, I’ve ordered a new one.  A 2012 Mercedes Benz C 300, with a bunch of bells and whistles.

Reminder, the current C280 has been trying to kill me for the past three months with its refusal to blow a shred of cold air into the interior.  You don’t know what misery is until you’ve sat on an Chicago expressway in 110 degree temps.

Driver seat memory and lumbar 4-way lumber power support, here I come.

The bad news is that I have to wait for it.  Apparently none of the cars that have just reached the U.S. have the combination of options that I want.

They tell me it’ll be 30 to 60 days until it makes it appearance in Chicago.  (I hope that’s not like home builder speak, where 30 to 60 days is code for “six months, if you’re lucky.”)  I should have a better idea in a couple of weeks when we get a more precise delivery date from MB headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany.

I better have it by Halloween, is all I’m saying.  Check out the sound system.  Cool, right?

In the meantime, the visit to the dealership wasn’t without incident.

Earlier in the week, I received a call from a different dealership telling me the model that I wanted had just arrived.  Through torturous interrogation over the phone, I found out that it hadn’t.  He said he would investigate further and call me back.  That was six days ago.  (Apparently, he has more sales than he knows what to do with because I never heard back.)

Having seen the model/make as “in stock” at another dealership with which I had already been communicating, I called the sales guy.  To protect the guilty, let’s say his name rhymes with Harry.

Me:  Hi.  I understand you’ve got the new C300 luxury sedan in.

‘arry: No, they aren’t here yet.  Probably won’t arrive for another week or two.

Me:  Really?!  Your website says you have one in stock.

‘arry:  No, they are on their way.

Me:  (irritated)  Okay, well something is wrong with this picture ‘arry.  Your website specifically says “in stock.”  You say, you don’t have the car.  Which is it.

‘arry:  I better double check and call you back.

10 minutes later…

‘arry:  You must be psychic.  The car just arrived a few hours ago.

Me:  No ‘arry….not really psychic.  But I can read.  I’d like to come in to test drive the car on Friday.  Will you be there?

‘arry:  Yes. I look forward to seeing you on Friday.

This conversation took place on Wednesday.  On Thursday, I received a pleasant email from ‘arry, letting me know that he was expecting me on Friday.

So, I walk into the dealership at about 2 p.m.  I step up to the information counter where three sales guys were hanging out.  I tell them I have an appointment with ‘arry.

New sales guy Chris:  ‘arry is no longer with our company.

Me:  Okay, that’s funny.  Seriously, where is he.  We have an appointment.

Chris:  No, seriously he is no longer with the company.

Me:  But he sent me an email yesterday.

Chris:  That was an automatically triggered email from his appointment book.  He’s not here.  His last day was Wednesday.

Okay, so according to my calculations, ‘arry hung up the phone with me on Wednesday and then got terminated.  I must have been a boat load of bad luck for the guy.  (But, seriously….he told me he didn’t have a car I wanted to buy.  How lame was that?!)

In the meantime, Chris let me test drive the object of my affection.  And then we sat down to configure and order the new car.

So, there you have it.  Hopefully, my car ordering trauma is behind me and I will have my long-awaited new ride sooner rather than later.

I will keep you posted Rantopolis readers!

September 6, 2011   1 Comment