Yet another positive ZipCar experience

By | July 25, 2010

On Monday, July 12, I rented a ZipCar for an hour to go grocery shopping. During the half hour I was in the store, some asshole thief put a grapefruit-sized dent in the bumper of the ZipCar and drove off without leaving any contact information.

I called ZipCar immediately on my cell phone. The rep with whom I spoke first verified that everyone was OK and then went through the “customer was in an accident” script quickly, efficiently, and politely. I received email within minutes of our phone call telling me everything I needed to know and do. It was all quite reasonable.

The next day I received a phone call and followup email message from Gordon, the guy at ZipCar who would be handling the incident. Gordon reminded me on the phone that because I hadn’t paid for ZipCar’s collision damage waiver, I was liable for up to $500 of the cost of repairing the damage. This was not a surprise to me. I was pretty pissed at the hit-and-run driver for sticking me with a $500 repair bill, but that was the driver’s fault, not ZipCar’s. I was resigned to pay the $500 when I read this in the followup email from Gordon:

If you have a credit card with rental collision coverage, now is a good time to start up a claim with them.

I pulled my credit card out of my wallet, observed the word “platinum” on the front which had never mattered before but might now suddenly be important, and gave them a call. Lo and behold, I do in fact have rental collision coverage, and with one more phone call, I was able to open a claim with MasterCard to be reimbursed for the $500.

The claim administrators at MasterCard demanded a whole slew of paperwork to process the claim, much of which had to come from ZipCar. I sent the list of documents to ZipCar later that day, July 13.

Two days later, only three days after the incident, the car was fully repaired and back in service, and Gordon had sent all the necessary paperwork to MasterCard.

Having somebody hit your rental car in a parking lot couldn’t possibly be described as a positive experience, but the folks at ZipCar managed to make it as painless as it could possibly have been. Yet another in a long series of positive ZipCar experiences. This company gets it.

(ZipCars are available in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, London, the NY/NJ Metro Area, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington DC, and more than 100 university campuses across North America. If I’ve convinced you that ZipCar is for you, click the ad in the sidebar of my blog, and you and I will both get some free driving out of the deal!)

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12 thoughts on “Yet another positive ZipCar experience

      1. sam

        Nice. Would you recommend to purchase ZipCar’s Fee Waiver or not? Why Yes or Why Not? thx

        1. jik Post author

          If you pay for your Zipcar rentals with a credit card that provides CDW protection (check the terms of service that you were sent when you got the card, or call the customer service number on the back and ask), then the ZipCar waiver is a waste of money.

          If you don’t have a credit card that provides CDW protection, then get one. šŸ˜‰

          1. sam

            I just called, I have Chase (Sapphire) (VISA) they said I’m cover, and ONLY my rented car is covered. What about if I get into the accident, and I’m at fault, and I damaged other car/cars/person/property, then I would have to pay $1,000 zipcar’s deductible if I wouldn’t purchase Fee Waiver, right? So better I think pay $9 a month and waive it, for the whole year it’s only $108. What do you think Sir?

            1. jik Post author

              I use Zipcar as a second car, i.e., my family also owns a car of our own, so we have auto insurance to cover personal liability. I therefore have not looked carefully at exactly what the insurance covered by Zipcar does and does not cover, since I know that anything it doesn’t cover would be covered by my personal auto insurance policy.

              Your circumstances might differ. I will, however, point out that the deductible on my personal auto insurance policy is $1,000, so I am in essentially the same boat as you are if you don’t pay Zipcar for a waiver. If, God forbid, my wife or I were in a serious accident in our own car or in a Zipcar, we could afford the to pay that deductible, and carrying that deductible on the policy reduces its premium significantly, so we think that’s an acceptable financial trade-off.

              If you would rather pay for the waiver for the peace of mind of knowing you would not be liable for even that deductible if you got into an accident in a Zipcar, that’s a perfectly reasonable decision for you to make, but it’s your decision to make, not mine.

            2. sam

              Yes, I see. I don’t have a car and any personal auto insurance. And in your case if, God forbid, there is accident then your premium will go up? You will pay $1,000 deductible and then higher premium> ? thx

            3. jik Post author

              If I were in an accident in a Zipcar that was my fault, then at least in Massachusetts, my insurance premium could go up regardless of whether my personal insurance ended up paying for the accident. There’s a central database (Google for “Massachusetts SDIP”) used by all insurance companies to report accidents and determine people’s “merit ratings” which affect their premiums.

              I think we’ve explored this topic sufficiently; what we’re discussing now is no longer even tangentially related to the topic of this blog posting. Can we end the discussion here, please?

            4. sam

              As you wish Sir, I think it’s more than related. Many people who will read this article would have some questions in their minds, on some questions they might find answers in the comment section. I manage all my money and always calculate the numbers, but as I see you don’t want to share information how much you are paying for your Personal Car Insurance with deductible and how much do they charge people with ZERO deductible, so people like me would have idea for future, and can do some calculations in whether to purchase ZipCar’s fee waiver or not, or to purchase ZERO deductible Personal Car Insurance (if they have a car) or not. Thanks anyway.

              thanks for tips in regards – ā€œmerit ratingsā€ and ā€œMassachusetts SDIPā€ and “regardless of whether my personal insurance ended up paying for the accident.”

            5. sam

              And the key point here – up to how many percentages your premium CAN go up to after the accident?

  1. Truth

    Just curious. For a 1 hour shopping trip, how much time is spent renting and returning the car? I assume there is some paperwork and grapefruit checks?

    1. jik Post author

      I’ve never heard the term “grapefruit check”. Can you explain what it means?

      The time spent renting and returning the car is the time spent unlocking it at the start of your reservation and locking it at the end. All of the paperwork is taken care of when you join Zipcar. Making a reservation takes a couple of minutes on the Web site.

      At the start of your reservation (actually, you can do it up to 15 minutes before, if no one else has the car), you simply walk up to the car and hold your membership card up to the sensor in the corner of the windshield. The car checks if you have a reservation, and if so, unlocks itself automatically, and you get in and drive. It’s really that simple.

      At the end of your reservation, you hold your membership card up to the sensor again and the car locks itself automatically. Zipcar’s computers record the time at which you did this, so they have a record of when you returned the car (to ding you with a $50 penalty if you returned it late, which is a big, big no-no, and charge you for the extra rental time as well).


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