After a delicious Mexican meal at a family run restaurant last night, I’d woke a little later than planned. I got dressed and headed to reception to find out where the promised ‘hot breakfast’ was served. There. Right there in reception.
It was a single table with 4 chairs and a choice of 2 cereals. The ‘hot’ aspect, I guess, was toast. Never one to complain (!), I had a bowl of corn flakes and hit the road for a 5 hour haul to Houston.
HOUSTON AIRPORT, TEXAS
When I first arrived, the car rental company upgraded me from a Toyota Corolla to a Toyota Rav4 for an extra $100 (currently £76.33). I wouldn’t have got to some of the locations I’d planned without a 4×4 although it would have been cheaper if I’d booked a 4×4 in advance online instead of upgrading at the counter.
They also upsold me a tank of fuel for $40 (currently £30.53) telling me this was a crazy bargain as the Rav4 would cost around $60 to $70 to fill at today’s petrol costs, and it would save me the hassle of returning with a full tank; just return to them empty at the end of the hire.
It didn’t cost $60 – $70 to fill as I soon found out, it was actually $26 (currently £19.85) to fill. I felt raped and bitter every time I filled it up.
So before leaving Junction for my final drive back, I did some calculations on a notepad; exactly how many miles was Houston Airport and what was my average miles per gallon? I calculated how much I’d need for my final journey to the milli-litre and put exactly that amount in my tank.
I must admit as I hit traffic jams in San Antonio and Houston, my bottom was twitching a little but I ploughed on, trusting my maths.
Louise called me at one point and I missed a turning on Google Maps which added a mile or two, so I had to drive extra carefully for the final distance.
I watched the trip computer getting lower and lower and it hit 0 miles just over a mile from the drop off. The Rav4 ploughed on however and I pulled into the drop off area running on fumes.
The guy came to check in the car and I told him that he said a tank was over $60 on this car when I collected, and he sold me the fuel package for $40. “Yup” he said.
“But it’s actually $26 to fill the tank from empty, I know I’ve filled it 9 times!”, I explained.
“You win some, you loose some”, he said with a tone that told me he really didn’t care. I signed the box to agree no damage to the car, thankfully he hadn’t checked the roof for footprints! At that point the engine spluttered and cut out. “What’s happened?”, he asked panicing.
“it’s probably run out of fuel”, I said. “You told me to return it empty.”
“Yes but when we say ’empty’ we don’t mean EMPTY!“, he protested.
“You win some, you loose some.”, I said gathering my cases and walking away.
I headed down the escalator to the rental desk, and asked to see a manager. I explained the situation, showed her the fuel tank capacity of a Rav4 online and multiplied by the going rate for fuel in Texas (currently $2.19 to $2.55 per gallon, that’s only £0.38 to £0.44 a litre).
She didn’t have a leg to stand on and apologised profusely. She refunded the $40 I was charged for the tank of fuel I’d used, plus another $35 goodwill to my credit card. Chris won.
Once refunded, I made a sharp exit before the guy from the drop off came down to request a tow truck or a lift to the nearest gas station!