Home » Renting A Car From Turo Was Somehow More Convoluted Than Picking Up A Car From The Airport

Renting A Car From Turo Was Somehow More Convoluted Than Picking Up A Car From The Airport

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This week started off with a simple idea. My wife needed to be in Los Angeles for business, so I figured I’d tag along, rent us a cool car, and turn a boring business trip into an impromptu honeymoon. As I sit here stranded in California, I’m reminded that somehow, the only thing that went right was the honeymoon portion. Even renting from Turo was way harder than it needed to be, and not really any cheaper than getting a car from the airport. But the car we got was way cooler than an airport car.

And with me stuck in California a little longer than anticipated, I’m glad it’s here to keep me entertained.

Let me start with how I got here. As I type this, I’m sitting in an uncomfortable chair in a cheap hotel in Ontario, California. Had everything gone right, I’d actually be brewing you a Mercedes’ Marketplace Madness from the comfort of my apartment with a cute bird on my shoulder. A blizzard and other storms are rolling across much of the country, destroying infrastructure and wrecking transportation in its path. Looking at my security camera, there isn’t much snow on the ground at home. However, wind speeds are sustained 25 mph to 35 mph with gusts into 50 mph. Check out this photo from the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Chicago. Brrr! And temperatures have fallen below zero degrees Fahrenheit. Both of Chicago’s major international airports have essentially shuttered for Thursday with little activity happening on Friday. Thus, I’m stuck in California until Saturday. I’ve been stuck in far worse places, but sadly, I will miss my family’s holiday gathering.

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Pictured: Snow, and also Chicago somewhere. National Weather Service

I wish I could say that this was the only thing that went wrong, but things got sideways before our plane even departed on Tuesday. As I wrote earlier this week, I planned on giving the peer-to-peer car rental platform Turo a try.

The appeal of Turo is that rental rates appear low and you can rent far cooler vehicles than you could get at an airport rental counter. Forget about a Dodge Challenger with a V6 when you can get things like a Vanderhall Venice, a Chevy Corvette C8, or all kinds of Teslas—especially in Los Angeles, home to amazing, rust-free rides.

Heck, I even saw someone renting out mint condition Reagan-Era American cars if that’s your kind of jam.

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Turo Host

The first problem arose when our trip changed at the last minute. The cheapest airfare that we found (by hundreds of dollars) required us to fly on Frontier from Chicago’s Midway International Airport to the Ontario International Airport in California. We’d then get a ride into Los Angeles, where we’d pick one of the fantastic cars there. Unfortunately, our ride was canceled, meaning we wouldn’t have a cheap way to get to Los Angeles. And it was far too late to change our flight. So, I changed my location on Turo to the area around Ontario, California. There were far fewer vehicle choices, and none of them were our top picks.

At first, Sheryl and I landed on renting a C7 Corvette convertible. I’d get my open-top experience, my first time in a Corvette, and Sheryl would get to experience a V8 American car just as she likes. It was with this car that I discovered the first oddity with Turo.

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Turo Host

When you choose a car, the site gives you an estimated total cost. For this Corvette, it was $75 a day, adding up to $150 for our two-day rental. It was then another $120 to deliver it to the airport. The estimated total was $270. Great! But when it came time to submit the reservation, Turo added on a “Trip Fee” to make the total $450. I get that estimates are just that, but the difference between the estimate and the actual cost here was huge. So, we passed on the Corvette.

I spent what felt like a few hours trying to get the app to give me cool cars near the airport, but I kept getting stuff like a Toyota Camry or a Nissan Altima. Eventually, I did find a 2018 Dodge Charger SRT 392 and a 2016 Volkswagen Golf GTI SE

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Turo Host

The Charger seemed like more of Sheryl’s speed, while the GTI was mine. But as it turned out, Sheryl was actually way more interested in the GTI than I expected, and she told me to lock it in.

The price was far more reasonable, too. It was $52 a day with an estimated trip total of $157. When Turo added its fees and surcharges the car was $210. Add in the insurance and it was $230. Perfect! I locked it in and got excited about our trip.

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Then disaster struck. Just minutes before our flight was due to start boarding, I received a concerning message from Turo saying that I was unable to book on the platform. This baffled me.

I did all of the verification steps and made sure that my account read as approved for days before I even tried to book the car. I even did the small stuff like connecting my Facebook account and writing a lengthy bio. And it seemed that my booking went through, so what happened?

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Mercedes Streeter

Reading that email, it said that Turo pulled my “auto insurance score” from TransUnion, a credit reporting agency. Wait, what? What is an auto insurance score and how the heck is TransUnion even involved? And what about my driving record? I first went to Turo’s help pages for an explanation, and here is what I got:

An auto insurance score (AIS) assigns a level of insurance risk to each individual. In other words, it tells us how likely it is that you’ll file a claim. Turo considers AIS when evaluating new guests in the US and Canada. Doing so helps us keep our platform safe and affordable for everyone. We receive AIS from the credit reporting agency TransUnion. TransUnion uses some elements of your credit report to come up with your AIS, which is not the same as a credit score. You can learn more about AIS.

This only raised more questions. I’ve been driving for over 15 years. And in that time, I’ve filed exactly zero insurance claims. I’m also usually loyal to my insurer and stick with it for years. It’s been four or five years since my last ticket, and my insurance rates aren’t super low, but they aren’t high, either. I have one motorcycle accident on record, but I wasn’t at fault and my vehicle wasn’t damaged. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I’d think that never filing an insurance claim in over 15 years should mean that I’m unlikely to file a claim.

Further confused, I decided to look at TransUnion. Right from the jump, TransUnion says that your credit history impacts your auto insurance score. And if your auto insurance score or “credit-based insurance score” is low, then companies may conclude that you’re more likely to file an insurance claim. To further drill this down, TransUnion proclaims: “Even more than your driving record, studies have shown that drivers with the worst insurance scores are twice as likely to have an insurance claim as those with the best scores.”

The credit reporting agency cites a 2003 University of Texas study that looks at auto insurance data and credit data and concludes that people with lower credit scores are more likely to incur a loss, and for that loss to be more expensive than a loss incurred by someone with a higher credit score. So, TransUnion and Turo want to say that my credit report is more likely to determine if I’ll file a claim than my over 15 years of never filing a claim. Ok, sure.

I also looked up how companies even come up with an auto insurance score, and it seems that the factors aren’t even related to driving at all. According to Forbes, your insurance score is determined similarly to your credit score. I’ve long paid off my Smarts, don’t have credit cards, don’t really have credit accounts, and pay cash for everything. Basically, I’ve done the opposite of what experts say to do to have good credit. But apparently, this means that I’m at risk of crashing a car soon.

I reached out to Turo for more information, as well as for methods to potentially appeal its decision. So a representative told me, the appeal process is not a quick one. You first have to dispute your score with TransUnion, and if TransUnion gives you a better result, you then give that to Turo. And that will take days.

As a shot in the dark, I asked Sheryl to give it a try. Her driving record has a handful of crashes and insurance claims on it. But it seems Turo doesn’t actually care if you have a rough driving record—just that your credit is good enough. Sure enough, she was approved and was able to carry through the vehicle rental from start to finish. And oddly, the app allowed her to add me as a secondary driver.

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I wasn’t about to question it, but it legitimately made my head hurt. Maybe the platform is just broken because none of this makes any sense to me. And now with the rental done, Turo is, for now, useless for me. I can look at cars and become a Turo Host, but I cannot rent a vehicle from the platform.

In contrast, I can walk up to Enterprise and come out with a car, something that I’ve done a number of times without problems, including earlier this year. I was hoping for Turo to be the killer app for fun cars and a better experience than the airport rental counter. But at least for me, it’s not quite there just yet. The cars are far cooler, and it’s nice to be able to do everything through an app, but I spent far more time worrying about just getting a car from Turo than I would have spent standing in line at Enterprise. And Turo’s seemingly arbitrary Trip Fee also detracts from the experience. Turo says that it can charge up to 100 percent of your estimated Trip Price as an additional Trip fee, meaning that you could easily pay double the estimated price.

As far as the Volkswagen GTI goes, I’m going to have a story on this awesome vehicle soon.

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But I will say that getting this car and the excellent host made the Turo problems feel not so bad, and it made our mini honeymoon so much more fun. I’m not sure I’ve ever driven a vehicle that fits the definition of “all-rounder” better than a GTI.

It’s more than fast enough to put a smile on your face, but it’s also still a practical hatchback that gets decent fuel economy. I’ve long enjoyed stories about the GTI from a distance, but finally, I’ve gotten to experience it for myself. And it’s as good as the stories make it sound.

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Mercedes Streeter

Take this story as a word of caution. If you’re the kind of person who pays cash for everything, or maybe you’ve made some mistakes and your credit isn’t hot, you might not be able to try out your dream car on Turo.

And that honestly sucks, because as our readers have pointed out, Turo is pretty much the only place where many regular people will be able to touch their dream cars. But the credit-related stuff, and fees that can literally double your estimated cost, mean that in some cases renting a V6 Challenger from the airport is a better choice.

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62 Responses

  1. Have used Turo twice. Once in Phoenix and once in Seattle. Both times I chose a car based on the host rather than the car and it went smoothly. AmEx frequently has $50 off Turo rentals so the price came out to quite a bit cheaper than traditional car rentals.

    If the price is equal, I still prefer traditional rental companies for the joy of guilt-free beating on the car.

  2. Why does it seem like all of these services where you rent out something you own always ends up being worse than the already established alternative. I’ve heard enough horror stories regarding Air BnB to make me never want to use it and it sounds like Turo is much of the same. I’ll stick to regular hotels and regular rental car places because I at least have a good idea of what I’m getting myself into with those.

    1. Well most situations like renting an expensive house or car are complicated. Add a 3rd party taking a cut more complicated, add everything is done by computer and you never meet, add in inexperienced parties instead of experts then yes more complicated. If it is done cheaper someone is getting screwed, Uber driver, because the experts really have got it down to a cheap ass science.

      1. Absolutely this. I looked into Turo for my three week road trip but it looked like being a major hassle, wasn’t any cheaper than a traditional rental (and in most cases was more expensive).

        Hotels, rental companies, traditional OEMs. These established business do know what they are doing. If an app based service is offering it cheaper it’s because VC cash is subsidising the price and hiding the true cost, like Uber.

        1. So, the state of Washington says we’ll protect consumers and outlaw the “unfair” use of credit scores for rating auto insurance rates. Guess what? The carriers have upped all the rates, even for good drivers. Just another brick in the wall.

    2. That’s like 95% of tech/vulture capitalism at this point.

      “What if we created (thing that already exists) but with like….TESLAS?!?”

      Other tech dudes: HELL YEAH BRO THAT’S AMAZING

      Venture capitalists: here’s 4 billion dollars lmao

      The product: Turo

      1. The venture capitalists are the ones who perplex me.
        It’s normal for Gen whatever-we’re-up-to-now to be dumb.They’re full of themselves and optimistic -a very bad combo.
        But there is no excuse for the venture capitalists.They’re supposed to be hardened money lenders! When did they get so stupid?

        1. The market doesn’t reward consistent success that brings moderate income. It rewards passing the bag until someone gets stuck with it. The venture capitalists love an exciting idea so they can sell shares to rubes and make the money quick.

          I blame the stock market. When you buy shares in a company, you aren’t really buying a stake in the company as much as buying tickets that may gain or lose you money dependent on investor sentiment.

        2. See the well-documented Theranos saga: bunch of supposedly savvy & experienced money handlers just hand-waved obvious grift & scam signs just so they can be the first in line to “invest”. Greed somehow overrides everything else.

  3. I had a similar experience with Riders Share as far as the advertised price vs. the actual rental cost.
    I only own small bikes and wanted to try a Vstrom 650 for a 3-4 days.
    It was listed for like $50 a day or so. Great, so 150 bucks plus gas? Not quite.
    Some app and other fees here and there, adding a significant percentage towards the total. Ok, whatever, still around a couple hundred.
    Then, final screen, insurance with multiple deductible options. Almost doubling the total yet again.
    For 2-3 weeks worth of renting, I could buy a similar Vstrom. Then sell it if I don’t like it.
    Maybe it’s the wrong conclusion to draw but I really feel like this is only worth it in special circumstances. I guess for exotic bikes or fly and rides.

  4. Credit scores are bullshit. They’re important bullshit that you should learn to get good at dealing with because it’ll affect major parts of your life if you don’t, but they’re still complete and utter bullshit. It’s a shitty, stupid, arbitrary game, but everyone is playing whether they want to or not, so best to suck it up and learn the rules.

    That’s not directed at you in particular Mercedes, more at the world in general and young adults more specifically. If you do a good job at building credit from a young age, it’ll mean so much more money for you when you reach the part of your life when that really matters. It’s not even especially hard to do once you know the rules, which is one of the dumbest things about it—the main thing your credit score measures is how good you are at raising your credit score.

    Think of it like the SATs, kids and not-kids-anymore. It’s a bunch of crap and mostly just says how good you are at playing a very specific and very pointless game, but if you put the work in it’ll open all kinds of doors in your life. Try to accept that stupid things are sometimes important anyway, and get on with it.

    1. my wife and i ended up deciding to play the ‘credit score game’. gamifying credit let us say, ‘eff this system but we’re gonna play along with your rotten game’. made it easier to stomach, also helps we’re dincs.

    2. Yes to all of what you said. I’ve got an 800+ credit score and all the ways to get there were things that seem less responsible. Keep open installment loans, open credit cards with significant credit limits, use those cards so that you show payment history on them, etc.

      The banks don’t want you rewarded for the most fiscal responsibility, just for always owing and paying money. Pay cash, close out credit cards, and pay off loans early and you aren’t profitable enough.

      1. I’d love to hear a different option for this sort of thing though, everyone always just says it should be like the old days when you went to the bank and asked for money and they decided whether they could trust you, but that was even more discriminatory

        1. What some lenders have been giving more weight to is just income and debt-to-income ratio. People are more likely to pay you back if they aren’t choosing between a loan payment and food.

          That said, Turo should just run your payment card and check your driving record and insurance.

      2. FWIW, my wife and I both have 800+ scores. She has never had a car loan and only one credit card which she has paid off in full every month for probably 30 years. I don’t recall what her score was at the time but we had no problem getting our first mortgage 22 years ago.

        None of it really makes sense.

    3. Correct. Instead of cash, use your credit cards and pay the bill in full when due. You’re borrowing money, building your credit score, and, with the right cards, getting cash rewards. Signed: 851.

      1. Seconded. If you’re really worried about it, just pay your balance daily or right after you buy things.

        Annoying, right? Consider that a 1% lower rate on a 30 year mortgage on a $160k house saves you more than $30k. Much less annoying.

        -Signed: 814

        1. I will also note that my wife has been flying back and forth to Japan for several years and we have yet to pay anything other than taxes for business class. Do a little bit of research and it pays off.

  5. Seems weird calling it a vw gti and not specify the type, like calling the other one a dodge str. But yeah if you only can get on type of gti it kinda makes sense.

    1. Are you not in the US? VW USA for whatever dumb reason considered the GTI to be a separate model from the Golf for most if not all the run of the MKVII. But the R was always the Golf R. And since the US never got any of the other models of VW that had GTI versions, there really is no confusion here as to what a GTI is. Now with the MKVIII, they are back to referring to it as the Golf GTI – but you can’t get a non-R/GTI Golf anymore in the US. Completely and utterly baffling.

      I was the very happy owner of a ’17 GTI Sport for four years, but I wasn’t driving it much so I took a ridiculous Carvana offer for it and let it go. I kind of regret that.

    2. VW folks never seem to refer to it as a “Golf GTI,” it’s always just a “GTI.” Come to think of it, all the Golf variants tend to get referred to without the “Golf” part. Sportwagen, Alltrack, GTI, R. The only one that doesn’t get that treatment is the standard Golf, unless it’s a diesel in which case you drive a TDI. There are further breakdowns by trim level, but they seem to be mostly glossed over except when referring to something that’s specific to a particular trim.

      Just what I’ve noticed in my month or so of Golf (Alltrack) ownership.

      1. It’s simple, really: there is no “Golf” written anywhere on a GTI, so seeing how it has at least 4 instances of “GTI” on it (on the front grille, on both front fenders and on the hatch – also on the front calipers if it has the PerfPack brakes) it’s a “GTI”.

        As far as the TDI engines go, those DO have “Golf”, “Jetta”, “SportWagen”, “Passat” badges on the cars with a TDI in them, in addition to the “TDI” badge.

      2. I can see the wagon being helped by it switching between the Jetta and Golf names over the years, so it’s a bit standalone. But for the GTI – I’d chalk that more up to VW itself, they’ve bucketed the GTI on its own for as long as I can remember, at least back to the Mk4. Maybe sometimes “Golf GTI”, but still its own category in brochures and the like.

        GLI never really got bucketed separate from the Jetta name to the same extent, except maybe Mk5 when the Jetta was still much more of a “Golf with a trunk” and they advertised the GTI & GLI together more. I think that gen (Mk5) really cemented it when the Golf switched to the Rabbit name. Mk7 they seemed to unify the lineup more and the full Golf lineup, GTI and all, got marketed together more – plus that’s when the wagon switched to the Golf name like it is everywhere else. But fast forward to the Mk8 and we only get the GTI anyway.

    3. Fair point. I’ve read reviews where it was just called “Volkswagen GTI” but really I should just stick with how the manufacturer calls it!

      1. No sweat the story was about the Turo experience. If you are doing a car review yes exact name and model which you always do. But in this case the exact YMM is superfluous.

      2. VW marketed the MK7 as just the Volkswagen GTI in the US. A separate model from the Golf. Though oddly, the Golf R was always marketed as the Golf R. Baffling. With the MK8, it’s back to Golf GTI.

    1. Yeah, that smells like a load of BS coming from a credit rating agency trying to find new ways of marketing their product using your information. What should matter is your driving record, the coverage your insurance provides for rentals, and the general reputation of the insurance company you have a policy with.
      I’m waiting for the Chinese social credit rating DLC pack to show up any day now. What do you mean I can’t go to Disney World if my social credit rating is too low?

      1. I’m sorry Sir, you missed a payment on that credit card you cancelled five years ago but which still got an $8 finance charge applied to it two weeks after you closed your account. Our university only accepts students whose parents have a SCS of 750 or better, and yours is 744. We’ll be happy to revisit your daughter’s application in two more years, once the delinquent account has dropped off your report.

  6. I’m not sure why you’d expect the experience of borrowing someone’s car using an app would be easier than renting from a business dedicated to offering rental vehicles?

    1. Perhaps it was a bit of my old tech days leaking out. In theory, renting a car from an app should be awesome. No waiting in line, no sheets of paperwork. Just show up, get in, and go.

      But of course, hindsight is 20/20 and so on..

    2. A number of renters are really running small businesses with Turo managing the bookings. A friend of a friend bought 4 used Range Rovers. I’m renting a Model 3 in Orlando tomorrow and it’s clearly from a guy running a small fleet of Teslas. My first Turo experience, triggered by $120/day economy car rentals in Orlando right now. I picked his car because I think (hope) the guy with 2500 trips has it down to a science.

      I bet it goes smoothly for most. The friend above always uses Turo on business trips and loves it. I bet it’s more convenient than a traditional rental at airports where the rental area is miles from the terminals (PHX, for example).

  7. I’m late to the draw on this one, and it’s completely unrelated to the story, but – am I to believe that that extremely clean looking early A-body Century is on Turo somewhere in Nevada? Any more information on that? If it’s in Vegas and I ever have to go again, it could actually make the trip bearable!

  8. Any online “thing” that involves transactions for expensive items like privately-rented automobiles seems to be tied to credit history. Insurance companies have done the same thing with home and auto policies. Somebody with an MBA discovered correlation between lower credit scores and higher insurance claims which increased rental rates and insurance rates. If you play fast and loose with your credit accounts, it’s figured you will probably make other bad decisions that might increase the likelihood for claims. FICO is based on how you use credit. Paying cash and not using much credit doesn’t give you a high credit score. My credit report says I don’t have any home or auto installment loans, so my score is lowered three to five points as a result. I’m sure other correlations will be found if the determining data is easily obtained.

  9. Eww, sorry to hear Turo was such a hassle. That insurance score thing is ridiculous.

    While traditional rental cars are mostly boring and you’ll pay hugely for something they deem “special”, you can often score big when you get to the rental counter because when they run out of Altimas or Corollas they have to put you in SOMETHING which is often a Challenger or Explorer, etc. if you work them a bit.

    The counter people don’t really care what you take at that point since they just need to get you on your way. The free upgrade happens more than half the time in my experience. Asking” What else have you got?” seems to be the way to approach it vs. taking what they offer.

    Prime example:
    Last winter on a trip to Phoenix, we decided to spend $15 per day extra to get a “convertible”. Assuming it would be something boring, it turns out they ran out of their base spec Mustangs, so after some discussion, they handed me the keys to a 5.0 GT convert.

    Sure, no problem. I’ll suffer through a week driving a Mustang convertible with a 460 HP Coyote in the mountains around Sedona, all for the price of a 4cyl. Camry rental.

  10. Your credit score matters for a lot. The reason your own auto insurance rates aren’t so great is because of that credit score, they’ve been using it for several years now. The basic premise is if you aren’t responsible with your money then there is a good chance that you just aren’t responsible. They also figure that the person who is in debt is more likely to try and pull an insurance scam to try and get out of that debt, or just to make ends meet.

    So yeah you need to start building your credit score and to do that you need to use credit and use it regularly. Main factors in your credit score are history length, late payments, credit utilization and number of active accounts. So get those cards, use them, run them up, even though you can pay it off, so they will raise your credit limit. My main credit card had an already high limit and when they upped my limit a good chunk several years back I was rewarded with an even higher credit score since my utilization went down. That said you don’t want too many lines of credit as there is a curve there too few and too many are equally bad. Start today if you want to buy a house in the future. Don’t think that your wife’s credit score will help you, your rate is based on the lowest score of the bunch and if your wife can’t qualify for the loan on her own then it will cost you. Had some clients a few years ago where they had to get the loan in just his name and thankfully at the time they were still unmarried and he could qualify for the loan by himself. If her name hand been on the loan or they had been married it would have meant a higher interest rate. I think she told me it was 3/4% which adds up over the years.

    Speaking of credit scores that is why you never want to rent from someplace like Turo as it is easy for the “host” to scam you with false damages and/or cleaning fees and make a claim against you.

    Yeah don’t rent from Hertz either since they will say you stole the car which brings up the next point always get your full paperwork/receipt when you turn in that car, don’t let them email you a copy later. Wait for them to fully close out the rental and present you with the full and final charges. Otherwise they get busy and may not do that, then Hertz thinks you didn’t return the car because their person didn’t finish putting all of the information into the computer.

    1. Agree except it’s best to run the card up but pay it off when the statement arrives. Every single time, unless absolutely necessary to carry a balance for a very rare occurrence (like the LASIK I had years ago).

      1. Yes in general it is best to pay it off in full every month. However when you are trying to build your score you want to run that balance up to encourage the issuer to up your credit limit, lowering your utilization and increasing your score. A nice bump in your limit can give you a nice bump in your score. It also makes you more attractive to other issuers, who hopefully have better rates, give you balance transfers at even better terms ect. Once you get that then yes immediately go back to paying in full except for that 0% introductory transfer rate.

  11. Here in WA state we recently passed a law which does not allow the use of credit scores in determining your insurance rate. Received a nice letter from my insurer explaining that because of this, my rates went up?! Conservatively over a million miles driven, no at fault accidents, half dozen speeding tickets, two insurance claims (non windshield), 46+ years of driving. I would be curious if the FICO correlation is based on one study, as mentioned by Trans-Union, so easy to have BS correlation if your control volume is not well thought out.

    Looked at Turo a couple of times, by my work travel does not usually take me to places with a large number of vehicles.

    1. Yup and of course it isn’t the great thing that gov’t billed it out to be because to make up for not charging the high risk people more they had to raise the rates on those of us that were lower risk.

  12. I used Turo one time 4-5 years ago on a vacation for similar reasoning – something fun and different. I can’t remember if the process differed then for approval. Experience was fine, car was great, but almost ran into an issue after returning, which I guess got worked out with Turo but did make me skeptical of using it again. A trip earlier this year with a friend, they suggested Sixt (not sure how it actually compares to Turo), but didn’t want to test the waters since there were actually activities planned for the trip and the car was secondary to the whole thing.

    Not to say I haven’t considered using it for something fun and different, just more locally – but easily over half the cars in my area are Teslas, so not all that much variation.

    I wonder the most about ‘regular’ cars that people rent out. I understand the use case from the owner perspective – not using the car or maybe trying to recoup some of its cost. But for a customer, ~$50 a day for a Soul or Malibu isn’t really any better than a rental chain, and I would think someone that might be precluded from renting from one of the chains for whatever reason still has the same issue with Turo.

    Feels all very similar to the Airbnb pushback – fees, limitations, restrictions, potentially fewer protections for the customer.

  13. I had a Turo renter cancel a rental on me shortly before a vacation trip a few years ago. He said that his situation had changed, and he wouldn’t be able to rent the car to me, as he suddenly needed it for commuting.

    He wanted me to cancel on my end, as otherwise it would like bad on him, from the Turo perspective. I didn’t do that, and he canceled from his end.

    Because of the short notice that he gave me, very limited Turo vehicles in the area we were traveling to, and zero help from Turo, we had to really scramble to find a rental vehicle for our trip.

    Quite the PITA and stress that I didn’t want, prior to a vacation. For that, I’ll never consider Turo again.

  14. Mercedes you have far more patience than me!
    Being rejected for badly thought out criteria is bad enough.Having it happen SEVERAL DAYS after the fact is terrible.The bad timing didnt help!
    I have zero patience for badly thought out ideas.Screw you Turo, i’ll go with someone who has a call center.

    Random off-topic thought: Why doesn’t south africa have the biggest call center industry in the world? Those that speak english have the easiest to understand accent ever

  15. The only appeal Turo holds for me is the promise of oddball stuff (I almost rented an R107 380SL in Hawaii for the hell of it), because on normal cars it’s often not cost competitive with the big rental companies (disclosure, I work for one, might be a little biased). Plus, the big companies get interesting stuff too (I’ve seen 392 Challengers on rental lots, Teslas are getting common, depending on the city there’s often plenty of luxury options, and Wranglers used to be popular because of their spectacular depreciation).

  16. I’m so sorry to hear about your issues with Turo, Mercedes. I’ve rented through them 4 times in both Denver, CO and Portland, OR and had nothing but great experiences. I find dealing with their system smooth and painless, unlike traditional rental companies.

    For those decrying the use of credit agencies, etc., I’d be interested in knowing how you’d decide on a person’s rental-worthiness in such a situation? I mean, the country isn’t a small town where we all know each other. Can you imagine letting some stranger rent your car without some verification that they have some degree of trustworthiness? I get that it doesn’t work in all cases, as in Mercedes’ case. One of my sons had no credit for a long time for similar reasons – he decided he never wanted any debt, and he worked hard and paid for everything in cash, but then when he wanted to buy a house, he was S.O.L. from a credit standpoint. Anyway, the current system is problematic in some ways and inherently biased in other ways, but how would you improve it? I’m just curious, because I personally have no ideas about how to make it better than it is right now.

  17. Yes the problem is them using a credit company. After 2 years of no credit you have no history. So zero history translates no go. New driver or fake driver doesnt matter. Frankly tge same borrowing money no history no loan owe several companies because you are poor welcome aboard. Also maybe the amount of vehicles you own are a red flag.

    1. “Also maybe the amount of vehicles you own are a red flag.”

      Ha! Somewhere, some Turo person is like “oh god, she must be shopping for ANOTHER car, can’t have that.”

  18. Yet another amazing article from Mercedes. You coming over here was one of the main reasons I left the Orange site and I have 0 regrets. This is some fantastic automotive journalism.

    That aside, I’m sorry you had to deal with this. I’ve encountered nothing but horror stories about Turo…naturally my initial reaction was “wow this seems like a fun and comparatively affordable way to experience more cars” but between this, a story I read about a host tracking the speed of their car and calling the renter every time they exceeded their limit, and lots of other tales of bogus fees and the like, I’m not touching it with a ten foot pole.

    And what this is is classist. It’s really that simple. It’s using a flawed (and I say this as someone with excellent credit) assessment of someone’s financial means to determine how “safe” of a driver they are. It’s ridiculous but unsurprising that it works this way. I’ll absolutely not be giving the company any of my money now.

    Also, in my experience it’s not that hard to rent a V8 pony car through normal rental companies…and with how good the current Camaro/Mustang platforms are that option checks an awful lot of enthusiast car boxes. Granted, it isn’t cheap…but there’s less red tape than what you’ve had to deal with here.

    And in regards to the GTI…I owned a DSG MK7.5. They’re definitely good cars, but the driving experience gets old pretty quick and mine had a ton of problems. Mine had an unscheduled visit to the service department pretty much every 4-5 months and I bought it brand new. I had issues with the spark plugs, misfires, the cruise control malfunctioning, it was a nightmare. I got out of it after 12,000 miles. They’re cool, but not cool enough to put up with the headaches that inevitably come with them.

    1. Yet the driving experience with the 6-speed manual never gets old. My wife had her MK5 GTI for over 110,000 miles with only the need to replace the thermostat. We probably would still be driving it if I didn’t burn it to the ground with a faulty solar battery tender…

  19. “in some cases renting a V6 Challenger from the airport is a better choice”

    Rental V6 Challengers have their moments. I rented one when I was in Albuquerque for a friend’s wedding about 10 years ago. I didn’t specifically choose the Challenger, but it was the cheapest car available, so I took it. It was a thoroughly adequate car. However, at some point I decided it was a good idea to explore the mountains east of the city which involved driving on some sketchy rarely-traveled dirt roads/mountain trails (nothing too severe, but 4 wheel drive and high ground clearance would have been a good idea). I scraped the undercarriage of the car maybe 20 times and almost rolled over once, but I managed to get up the mountains and see some great scenery. Unfortunately, at some point (when I was about 15 miles from anything resembling civilization), it started to snow heavily. While the Challenger is an adequate transportation device, it is not designed for exploring mountain roads during a snowstorm. However, that car was an absolute beast. It required some of effort to conserve momentum in deep snow/mud and the rear wheels spun constantly, but I didn’t get stuck even once. My favorite part of the trip was when I passed a heavily modified Jeep on a particularly treacherous snow covered dirt road. The white-knuckled gentleman driving the Jeep looked incredibly confused. I just did a Jeep wave and kept going like it was normal to off road a Challenger. All told, it was a fun day, although it was scary at more than a few points (I should also mention that it was 15 degrees and, because I was very stupid at the time, didn’t think to bring anything warmer than a sweatshirt along in the car). While the Challenger was up to the task, I probably would rent something with four wheel drive and high ground clearance if I were to do it again.

    Sorry for the semi off topic reply, but I had to defend the honor of the rental Challenger. Sometimes the best rental car is the one that is available, particularly if you paid the extra money for the damage waiver.

  20. Sounds like I will stick with Enterprise and their choose anything from the lot approach. Pay a bit more for the higher end cars.

    Toro has promise, but delivery is a challenge. The few times I had problems with Enterprise, they got me a car, usually a 2 or 3 level upgrade on them. I would rather not deal with the headache.

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