Did I lie/cheat the car rental company

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Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
Here's the scenario:

- This week I travelled with my family out of state to visit my dad. We needed a rental car from Tuesday evening through Friday afternoon (3-day rental). When I went online to book a reservation, the rental company's computer quoted a rate of $130/day, for a total of $390. That was in line with what competitors were quoting, but looked awfully steep.

-Knowing that weekly rates (usually quoted on rentals of 5 days or more) and rentals that span weekends are often cheaper, I revised the reservation parameters to Tuesday through Monday... and the computer gave me a rate of $285 for the week for the same car. I booked a reservation based on that.

- When I arrived with my family in tow to pick up the car, I asked the rental agent, "What if I have to return the car early?" She told me I could bring it back anytime and they would prorate the charges. Sure enough, when I returned the car on Friday the charges were adjusted to $171, or 60% percent of the weekly (5-day) rate.

Did I lie? Did I steal? Am I obligated to give the rental company a good-faith statement about when I really expect to return the car? Or did I merely do what the rental company expects a cost-sensitive customer like myself to do—find and use a loophole they expect me to find so that they can capture my business while simultaneously charging high prices to business travellers, and effectively negotiate with their agent for a reasonable deal?
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
No, you didn't lie or steal. They're the ones who designed their price scheme. You merely took the best deal which they presented to you.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
Yeah, I've done this before and have pretty much decided it's okay... but I DID fill in on the form that I planned to return the car on Monday when I actually knew all along that I'd be bringing it in on Friday. That isn't fully truthful, even if they don't seem to mind much.
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
If it bothers you, then perhaps you should just be honest and tell them you only need it for three days, but would rather pay the cheaper weekly rate. They will likely have no problem with it.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
If it bothers you, then perhaps you should just be honest and tell them you only need it for three days, but would rather pay the cheaper weekly rate. They will likely have no problem with it.

That comment belongs in the 'humor' forum.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
I think what bothers me (a little, at least) is how easily I think to say whatever will save me the most money and only later consider whether or not it was fully honest. In this case, I chose my words carefully to give them an opportunity to provide me with friendly terms, which they did (and probably should have), but I didn't have being truthful top of mind at the time. I just figured I could work the system and did it without much further thought.
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
If it bothers you, then perhaps you should just be honest and tell them you only need it for three days, but would rather pay the cheaper weekly rate. They will likely have no problem with it.

That comment belongs in the 'humor' forum.

Perhaps I am wrong and the rental car company will laugh in his face, but sometimes that is the price of honesty, just as enduring rude comments is sometimes the price of engaging in online forums.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
Perhaps I am wrong and the rental car company will laugh in his face, but sometimes that is the price of honesty, just as enduring rude comments is sometimes the price of engaging in online forums.

My apologies if I offended you. That was not my intent. But I do not think it reasonable that a slightly above minimum wage counter worker would be able to modify corporate policy even if they wanted to. I rent on the average of a couple of times a month, and it's always a bit of a surprise if I actually end up with what I reserve.
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
Perhaps I am wrong and the rental car company will laugh in his face, but sometimes that is the price of honesty, just as enduring rude comments is sometimes the price of engaging in online forums.

My apologies if I offended you. That was not my intent. But I do not think it reasonable that a slightly above minimum wage counter worker would be able to modify corporate policy even if they wanted to. I rent on the average of a couple of times a month, and it's always a bit of a surprise if I actually end up with what I reserve.

I probably misread the intent of your post, and for that I apologize too. My point was simply that if this is something that truly bothers him, than it might be better to just go ahead and ask even if it likely means paying more.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Jack, it's good you have such a transparent heart. If it were to happen again, same situation, then you might say, "I'll be bringing it back early, though I like the weekly rental rates better." When you later asked, "What if I have to return the car early?" you modified your earlier statement.

I have done the same sort of thing -- and I asked forgiveness from the Lord for having a basically larcenous . . . no, covetous heart (is the right word), even though I technically/actually didn't lie or steal.
 
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Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I don't think you either lied or cheated to the rental car company. If you ask them if you're permitted to rent a car for a week and turn it in early with a prorated discount then you get the prorated rate. If you ask them to pay the daily rate then they'll be happy to charge you that rate. Companies that don't want to refund a weekly rate can choose to do so. The only dishonest thing would be if you signed up for a weekly rate and it was not normally the case that they would refund at a prorated rate unless you met some clause. If you then lied to them that you met some condition that you did not meet to qualify for a refund then that would be dishonest. If a company permits a prorated refund with no questions asked then this is not dishonest when a person takes advantage of a discount.

An example of being "honest" in this case might be those travel sites where you are given the option to specify dates you wish to travel or that you are flexible about dates. You'll get better rates if you click "I'm flexible". You'll then find rates for the days you wish to depart/return. Some might state that you "lied" to the computer system because you weren't really flexible but what you're really exposing is the full set of rates that they have available that the system won't show you unless you enter some Boolean condition.

Taken to extreme, let's say that you're forced to pay the weekly rate at $285 (no prorated refund) instead of $390. Is it "dishonest" to tell the system that you want to rent the car for 1 week when you only want to use it for 3 days? Are you force to use the car for 7 days even though you only need it for 3 days if you want to save the $95?
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
I do not think it reasonable that a slightly above minimum wage counter worker would be able to modify corporate policy even if they wanted to.
Actually, my understanding is that the agents at the counter often have a fair amount of latitude to make deals in order to sell the company's service and keep customers happy.


An example of being "honest" in this case might be those travel sites where you are given the option to specify dates you wish to travel or that you are flexible about dates. You'll get better rates if you click "I'm flexible". You'll then find rates for the days you wish to depart/return. Some might state that you "lied" to the computer system because you weren't really flexible but what you're really exposing is the full set of rates that they have available that the system won't show you unless you enter some Boolean condition.
That's a good example. I too think it's okay to navigate the system with shrewdness, but I want to be careful not to make that such a priority that my heart practically forgets honesty.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
How about the ethics of this scenario: on Amazon they offered an Amazon credit card and if you applied and were accepted they gave you a $70 gift card. So I applied and got it (there were two things I wanted to buy, but didn't have the money), though I had no intention of using the credit card. I'd done this once before with a different offer. It's a temptation -- getting something for free. Did I do wrong? I think it's too late to cancel, as one item has shipped.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
How about the ethics of this scenario: on Amazon they offered an Amazon credit card and if you applied and were accepted they gave you a $70 gift card. So I applied and got it (there were two things I wanted to buy, but didn't have the money), though I had no intention of using the credit card. I'd done this once before with a different offer. It's a temptation -- getting something for free. Did I do wrong? I think it's too late to cancel, as one item has shipped.

Oh, I have no problem at all with that one. I figure they know that some people will intend to never use the card, and they are hoping that you will change your mind, or end up liking the card, or maybe use the card a few times out of a sense of obligation and then get used to it. If they want to take that chance and you want to accept that chance, that's a fair business deal.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
How about the ethics of this scenario: on Amazon they offered an Amazon credit card and if you applied and were accepted they gave you a $70 gift card. So I applied and got it (there were two things I wanted to buy, but didn't have the money), though I had no intention of using the credit card. I'd done this once before with a different offer. It's a temptation -- getting something for free. Did I do wrong? I think it's too late to cancel, as one item has shipped.

Smart, as long as there isn't an annual fee on the card. Or some hidden trap.

And you've boosted your FICO score.
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Graduate
Did I lie? Did I steal? Am I obligated to give the rental company a good-faith statement about when I really expect to return the car? Or did I merely do what the rental company expects a cost-sensitive customer like myself to do—find and use a loophole they expect me to find so that they can capture my business while simultaneously charging high prices to business travellers, and effectively negotiate with their agent for a reasonable deal?

I've done something similar when purchasing plane tickets. Even if you're only going one-way, the round-trip ticket is often cheaper. So I'll buy the round-trip ticket and just not use the second half. That's not dishonest, its just shrewd.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Having thought and prayed about it (and corrected my post above re "larcenous"), I see that although I was not dishonest I was covetous. My wife and I are (by necessity) very disciplined with money, and especially with how we use our cards. We are debt-free, and always use cash (or, with the cards, pay them quickly, accruing no interest). What distressed me was going against my discipline of not buying if I have no money. I have bartered or sold stuff to raise cash when I needed it, and if otherwise not available.

So it just bothered me that I desired something so strongly I got a card I didn't need, and entangled myself in some tentacles of an unscrupulous bank, which had poor security a while back and gave up many millions of its customers' information. I'll be glad when I don't have to endure (and fight) the remaining corruption of my heart any longer, and am free in perfect holiness. And in the meanwhile really thankful for the cleansing blood and restoring grace of my Saviour, "the chief Shepherd" (1 Pet 5:4). What a joy His longsuffering and tender mercies are to wretched but repentant sinners!
 
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