Alamo Prepaid Gas- Do the Math Before You Buy -Recent (May 2012) experience

Discussion in 'Transportation' started by Iheoma, May 9, 2012.

  1. Iheoma

    Iheoma Mouseketeer

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    Hi Everyone,

    We just got back from a GREAT trip to Universal. I wanted to share my experiences regarding Alamo and prepaid gas. Here's a little background - I reserved a standard car for 5/1/12 -5/8/12 for $99.33. This was a fantastic rate!! When we were checking in to get the car, the desk agent didn't give me the typical discussion about the car insurance but she did ask me several, several times if I would like to prepay for gas. The rate that she quoted me was for approx. $76 dollars. She stated that the gas "around the area" was about $5.00 per gallon and they could fill it for $3.67 per gallon with this option. There is no refund for unused gas.

    Now, initially DH wanted to get the option. But I asked exactly what kind of car would be getting - $76 seemed pretty high to fill a standard car even if we drove it down to the fumes. The desk agent said that the typical "full sized" cars we would get (no standards in MCO) would Altimas, Malibus or Camrys. At that point, I said it seemed high for a pre-paid option. She said that it would be adjusted for the type of car :confused3. That didn't make much sense to me at all. So we declined. The Desk Agent told me what a great rate I was getting and I should really get the gas option. Now, we had been up since 3am(6am flight from Chicago to Orlando) and it was 9:45 a.m. and I was starting to get a wee bit annoyed when I told her again that we declined.

    So, we ended up getting a Camry LE with 32k. We stayed at the Portofino Bay Hotel on Universal's property, drove to Sea World, down I-drive several times and round trip to Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay. The TOTAL amount we spent on gas for the 8 days we had the car as $31.78. This included stopping at the gas station and topping off before we got the airport. The only way that it *may* have been a good choice for us to pre-pay for gas would be to completely drive the car down to empty fumes- something that most responsible people don't do when they are at home, let alone when they are on a family vacation in a different state.

    I'm sharing this because I know that sometimes travelers are tired and hungry and stressed and may agree to things that really don't make economic sense. I also understand the desk agents at Alamo have a job to do - which is to upsell when possible. That said, just be careful and don't feel pressured into buying things you don't need. I've read the DIS for years and consider myself pretty savvy but I would have totally wasted money on this part of the trip if I hadn't been careful.
     
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  3. pigletto

    pigletto DIS Veteran

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    Agree. We were there from the 28th to the 7th and had a Town and Country. We drove absolutely everywhere. From the airport to Universal, to Disney, all around Disney every day, and back to Universal (because we forgot something at the hotel) and back to Disney. Then we returned to the airport. We were almost on empty and completely filled the tank for under $60.
    We did the math before we left and declined the prepaid gas. We used the kiosk at Alamo so we weren't asked multiple times.
     
  4. TamaraQT

    TamaraQT Mouseketeer

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    I also agree. Our very first trip back in 2007, we prepaid for gas. Never again. It costs almost $2.00 more a gallon, so it was a lesson learned for us. Now we just allow ourselves an extra few minutes to fill up on our way to the airport. We will never do prepaid again. :)
     
  5. Lewisc

    Lewisc <a href="http://www.wdwinfo.com/dis-sponsor/index.

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    Nothing new. You won't save any money even if you return the car with low fuel indicator lite.

    Once I'd like to take the fuel plan and time it so I literally run out of gas while I'm at the car return area.
     
  6. Inkmahm

    Inkmahm Disney nut<br><img src="http://www.wdwinfo.com/dis DIS Lifetime Sponsor

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    Does anyone ever buy the prepaid gas option? :confused3 I figured only lazy people who don't want to fill their own tank or business people on an expense report (even then I fill my own car) would buy the prepaid gas option.

    With the rates they charge, it never has made any sense to me to get this option. Thanks to the OP for making it very clear. I started to read this thinking the OP HAD gotten the prepaid gas and now regreted it. Glad to see that wasn't the case!
     
  7. ruadisneyfan2

    ruadisneyfan2 DIS Veteran

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    So true. They always lie about price of gas in the area.
    With Alamo, I use the kiosk so I don't have to hear any sales pitch. I know what I want, and what I need, and the kiosk makes it easy to get out of there quickly.
     
  8. lost*in*cyberspace

    lost*in*cyberspace DIS Veteran

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    No need to do any math. All pre-paid gas programs through rental car companies are ALWAYS a rip-off. Just say no.
     
  9. mco65

    mco65 Mouseketeer

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    Car Rental Pre-Paid gas is definitely a convenience I can't afford.. Keep in mind that there are gas stations close to Orlando Airport that don't post gas prices.. BEWARE. I pulled into one of those early one morning prior to returning a car and they were charging $6-$7 a gallon per gas.. HONESTLY! :scared1:
     
  10. gmeh1

    gmeh1 DIS Veteran

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    The prepaid price for gas today is 3.56 per gallon. The price per gallon IF you do not fill your tank before you bring it back is 5.40. the average price for gas in the Orlando area is 3.627 according to gas buddy.

    Yes, many people opt for this option and they are informed that they will not get a refund for any fuel not used, it is fully disclosed.
     
  11. gmeh1

    gmeh1 DIS Veteran

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    No we do NOT lie about gas prices, we tell you that the gas stations near the airport are price gougers, which is true. They do not post their gas prices and most people don't pay attention once they get to the pumps. I used to tell people who did not opt for the fuel service to beware of those stations and gave them directions to the "normal" priced ones. If you don't want the service, just say NO.
     
  12. gmeh1

    gmeh1 DIS Veteran

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    You would have been charged what it cost to fill the tank for the specific model of car. It would be impossible for the agent to give you an exact price, because at that point, he/she did not know what you were renting. It would have been a "ball park" amount which would have corrected itself when your car was assigned to your reservation (that is what that scanning thing does when you exit the garage). The agent was correct in telling you that the gas stations near the airport do charge more than 5.00 per gallon, what the agent did fail to mention is about 2 miles down the road are "normal" priced stations.
    When I used to rent on vacation, we always prepurchased the fuel and went through the entire tank and practically limped into the return area, which is the only way this becomes cost effective.
     
  13. dioxide45

    dioxide45 DIS Veteran

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    The rental car companies plan on people not being able to do the quick math while standing at the counter. Sure everything is fully disclosed and the people are informed, but they know they won't have the time to do the math to determine that prepaid gas is a raw deal. It is a convenience only option, nothing more. They sell it as a cost saver when it is not. Still deceptive IMO.

    I could be wrong, but it was my understanding that they based the number of gallons on the average tank size of the cars in that car class. So if the average tank size is 14 gallons, you pay for 14 gallons, even if the specific model you rented only has a 13 gallon tank.

    In the end, the prepaid gas option is not cost effective, it is a convenience product only. Even if you drive it in on fumes which really isn't possible. In many cases if the car reads empty, you probably still have about half a gallon in the tank.

    So for a 14 gallon tank at 3.56 per gallon it works out to $49.84 for the prepaid tank option. If you filled it yourself the 13.5 gallons at 3.627 would cost you $48.97. Cheaper than the prepaid option. Sure you could argue that the convenience is worth the $1. The problem is that very few people drive that car in with only a half gallon in the tank. If you have a quarter tank in the car the night before you are heading out to the airport, is someone realistically going to drive around a bunch to burn off the fuel so they can "get their moneys worth"? Not really.

    Say there is still 4 gallons in the tank when they return the car. The prepaid fuel option still costs the same at $49.84. But you could have bought 10 gallons for $36.27. A huge savings. If you took the prepaid fuel option, you paid $49.84 for 10 gallons of gas, or $4.984 per gallon. That is as bad as the gas stations near the airport that don't have their prices on signs by the road.

    While the car rental companies claim that people are informed when they sell the option, they truly are hoping that they are uninformed about the stuff they don't tell them.
     
  14. dioxide45

    dioxide45 DIS Veteran

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    I know some (many?) companies don't permit business travelers to take the prepaid fuel option when renting a car for business purposes. It is because the companies already know that it is a bad deal and not cost effective. They expect the employees to fill the tank before returning the car.
     
  15. gmeh1

    gmeh1 DIS Veteran

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    I am not arguing with you about this. :) It is a convienance and sometimes we are priced less than average. Many people enjoy this convienance and don't mind paying for it, like some people like to stay onsite at Disney for the convienance and don't mind paying for it (probably a bad analogy, but, the only one that immediately came to mind). Some people don't mind paying the 13.00 more for the option. Not exactly a huge savings, but, significant to some.
    When the car is scanned (that cute little bar code on the window) it tells us all about the car. It also lets us know exactly how much the fuel option will cost, right down to the penny. An Impala is 17 gallons, an Altima is 20(for example), the program we use knows this and calculates this to give the accurate amount to charge. If the exit agent is doing his/her job correctly they will inform the customer of exactly what the fuel will cost for the particular car they are renting, they will also disclose the fact that the cost is plus tax and airport fees and there is NO refund for unused fuel and they need to stamp the contract which is supposed to be reprinted IF they opt for the fuel service at the exit booth.
    We hope our customers are informed and we do make sure that we disclose, the fact that they are uninformed or not paying attention is really not our fault.
     
  16. gmeh1

    gmeh1 DIS Veteran

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    Many people opt for the gas option and I would not call them lazy, they have their reasons, to paint them as lazy is definitely not a nice thing to do.
     
  17. Lewisc

    Lewisc <a href="http://www.wdwinfo.com/dis-sponsor/index.

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    Paying for the pre-paid gas plan makes less (economic) sense then paying the hotel to launder your clothing or taking advantage of the mini-bar in your hotel room. There are some people who are willing to pay for convenience. I'm basing my analysis on the time saved. The pre-paid gas plan saves you the (at most) 10 minutes it takes to gas up.

    I suspect most of the customers who purchase the gas plan don't understand the economics of the plan. An Alamo agent in TPA advised me to get the gas plan (one way rental) telling me there aren't any gas stations in Orlando. I asked what the poor people in Orlando do when they run out of gas. She told me I misunderstood her, there aren't any gas stations anywhere near MCO. I asked her why the local price of gas displayed on the sign looked high. She said that's the average price for premium grade gas. I asked who in their right mind would put premium gas in the rental car. Obviously I declined the option.

    The pre-paid plan only saves you money if you return the car with less then .5 gallons. The low fuel light generally comes on when you have a couple of gallons left.

    Assume your gas tank holds 14 gallons and you return the car with half a tank. You wasted around $27. Assume you don't take the gas plan and are too lazy to top off the tank. You pay the penalty price of 5.40. You can pay for almost 5 gallons of gas before you'll save money with the pre-paid plan. A person who only drives between MCO and WDW with a few theme park trips might use 5 gallons. A person who tops off the tank near the end of their trip, but wants convenience will do better paying the "penalty" rate then using the pre-paid plan.
     
  18. gmeh1

    gmeh1 DIS Veteran

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    Of course, you have the people who prepay the gas, take all the coverage offered and then ask if there is a way to avoid paying the two tolls (on either 415 or the Beachline)!!! Things that make you shake your head. LOL
     
  19. Inkmahm

    Inkmahm Disney nut<br><img src="http://www.wdwinfo.com/dis DIS Lifetime Sponsor

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    Okay, I'll switch it to "not very bright" then. Or they have money to burn.
     
  20. Alexander

    Alexander DIS Veteran

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    I guess I fall into that category because I spent $36.00 on a case of water on DCL last month because it was easier and more convenient that schlepping a $6.00 case with me.

    People are on vacation and if they want convenience, why is it your place to call them lazy or not too bright? I suppose you never ever spend more money than "normal" when on vacation?
     
  21. ruadisneyfan2

    ruadisneyfan2 DIS Veteran

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    Been there, done that too! Then we decided to do a grocery stop and bring our own case of water onboard but you have to carry it on and dh got tired of that too. So now we've gone back to paying their high prices. :blush:
     

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