Further to my post earlier this week, you might be interested in this article published in this morning’s Independent.
Hertz withdraws from Israeli airline deal
By Stina Backer Saturday, 17 January 2009
The world’s largest car hire firm last night called on the Israeli airline EL AL to withdraw an internet advert which offered free Hertz rental to British passengers who flew to to Israel to show their “solidarity” with the country, The Independent has learnt.
A Hertz Corporation spokeswoman said it had not been aware of the promotion being run by EL AL and their Israeli franchise operator who trades under the Hertz brand. He added that the offer was designed, run and managed by EL AL.
“We regret if any individuals were offended by the language that EL AL used to promote this offer,” said Hertz’s spokesperson.
I recently drove a car for some thirty miles on empty. It was a brand new Vauxhall Zafira – a very intelligent, utterly sensible yet quite enjoyable family car which delivers its most impressive trick shot in the boot. The middle row of seats fold upwards and slide forward against the back of the front seats to reveal two additional seats that are folded flat into the floor. A deft pull of a handle and a satisfactory selection of clunks lifts these seats upright and turns the Zafria into a compact seven seater.
Being a) too sensible and b) too poor to own a car, I rely on discounted weekend rentals to satisfy my motoring needs. This Zafria cost me £50 for a weekend of moving stuff around the country, and was delivered to me brand spanking new – with a zingy new car smell, paper sheets in the footwells and just fourteen miles on the clock. It also came with precisely diddly squat in the fuel tank, leading to a nervous lurch to the nearest fuel station to have my wallet gutted by regular unleaded at £1.13 a litre (that’s about $8.50 / gallon for all you whining American readers who think $4.50 / gallon is expensive).
Returning the car a few days a later, I was obliged to follow the golden rule of rental cars – return it with the same amount of fuel as you received it with. I had a nerve racking rush hour pelt into Sheffield as the fuel warning light first illuminated and then began to flash and beep loudly. In the past I’ve got this badly wrong, needlessly donating as much as £10 worth of fuel to the next renter by over estimating the range of the car. I made it however – despite nose to tail Monday morning traffic on Sheffield’s unforgiving hard-shoulder-less Parkway… the worst possible place to shudder to a petrol-less halt during the rush hour.
Not knowing your rental car’s fuel tank capacity or fuel consumption are two downsides to living with rental cars. Another which most renters will be familiar with is that moment of panic that arrives when you make your first fuel stop. Pulling on to the forecourt, you realise that you have no idea which side of the car the filler cap is on. Cue much awkward reversing and turning as you get it wrong and then have to turn out and back in again to get the cap on the right side. And you could be as dumb as me and flummox a full service petrol station attendant (as I did once in the States) by failing to get the cap on the right side three times in a row by successfully turning the car but then returning to the other side of the pump each time, so repeatedly getting it on the wrong side.
Meanwhile, a simple trick I want to share with any of you who, like me, regularly drive unfamiliar vehicles. If the fuel gauge doesn’t have a triangle or arrow indicating which side of the car the filler cap is on (and some do) look closely at the little icon of the fuel pump on the gauge.
The filler cap will be on the same side of the car as the hose on the icon; in this case it’s on the right.