ZipCar is a popular car sharing option. While on the surface it looks like a convenient, cost efficient alternative to owning a car or to traditional car rentals such as Hertz, Avis, etc. However, when you start using it some critical user experience issues come on top making ZipCar no viable option.
Cars barely available
When you need it – ZipCar is not there for you to rent it. Why this happens? This comes from ZipCar goal to maximize rented time. It allows the users to book cars unlimited time in advance. Not just before using it as Car2go for example.
Decreased quality of cars
After ZipCar has been acquired by Avis the quality of cars significantly decreased. Instead of shiny new Mazda or Toyota you can now expect an old used Hyundai.
Booked car – no car
It happened to me twice. I’m booking a car, come to the parking lot to pick it up and there’s no car. ZipCar doesn’t check geo location of the car as Car2Go does. The car could be anywhere and ZipCar still lets you book it without blinking. Your plans are ruined and all you get is free credits equal to your booked time.
Frequent late fees
I suspect this is a major revenue stream for ZipCar. Again, this happens because ZipCar is focused on maximizing booking time and allows advanced bookings even if the car is still on the road. Zipcar has zero padding between bookings so for example if I book the car 3-6pm, next booking can start at 6. If you’re even 5 min late you’re screwed and have to pay $50 late fee.
Helpless and useless support
Despite the fact that I managed to extend my booking and ZipCar acknowledged it in the receipt “sweet you retuned on time” they still charged me $50 late fee (see screenshot). Support@zipcar.com never responds or it takes them weeks to respond. Phone line which is clearly outsourced to somewhere in Mexico say we can’t do anything – the office workers will have to decide.
It doesn’t make sense to use ZipCar and pay crazy rates per a few hours of using a car if I can book a better car with Hertz or Avis for the whole day much cheaper.