A few weeks ago, after a long and frustrating airport car rental experience, I wondered if anyone had the chutzpah (chutzpah, from the Yiddish, shameless audacity; impudence) to take on the practically identical car rental behemoths that service almost every airport. Well, yesterday Techcrunch reported that one company has: Silvercar. Though currently only eight airports, it seems that Silvercar has banished many of the frustrations (and long lines) of airport car rental.
First, most of the information for the reservation is entered before the rental, including payment and very clear insurance options. This avoids the lengthy upsell at the counter where agents mumble hard-to-understand acronyms to define the different layers of insurance coverage. In fact the entire airport pickup consists of going over to a car, scanning it’s QR code with the Silvercar app and heading out the gate. No standing in line, no talking to an agent. That’s it.
Second, they’ve streamlined the pickup process by offering only one car type and color to rent: an Audi A4. Though I do hope they’ll offer a simpler (read: cheaper) car in the future, offering only one car makes the entire checkout process much faster as there is no need to choose specific car.
Third, sensors and electronic gates make leaving the airport and returning the car fast as well.
Finally, they’ve gotten rid of the pesky gas gouging rental companies usually tack on in a very efficient way. According to Techcrunch: “Once you’ve pulled in, the car wirelessly signals back to the home base how much gas is left in the tank and determines the cost of refilling it based on market rates from GasBuddy and other sources. That way there’s no exorbitant price gouging on gas upon return, although there is a $5 service fee attached when refilled.” According to their site, they’ve also gotten rid of gouging on toll road fees. Great!
Anyway, I’m a fan and I hope they succeed and expand to other airports soon.