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Monday, January 4, 2016

The Rental Car Con - Welcome to Costa Rica


Signs say the new LAX is coming but, today, it’s still the same old worn out Terminal 6 only with more construction.  The old bones of the terminal are clearly visible…the circular gate area, the old tiled columns, and the stained acoustic tiles…while new shop and construction barriers sit in the middle.

It’s not ready for prime time, yet, and there are only three places to buy hot food. All with long lines. Instead, we opt to get some sandwiches from Hudson News to take on the plane with us

Alaska Airlines doesn’t serve free food to us in steerage and no First Class upgrades were available this Thanksgiving morning.

The plane does leave on time and the crew is bright and cheery.  This is because, as one told me, they get a 48 hour layover at our destination, Liberia, Costa Rica.

While the crew enjoys their two day adventure on the company dime, we’ll be at the Riu Palace over on the Pacific Coast for the next week but first, we must procure transportation.

The flight was flawless but the rental counter was a nightmare.

We’d booked a full-size SUV through Alamo’s web site for a little over $300 a week. Once at the airport, we found the Alamo rep who got us on a shuttle to the off-airport lot a few kilometers away.

I waited while the three parties in front of me argued endlessly with the two rental agents over their costs and cars. I was thinking “quit whining and get your car” so I could get mine and be on our way.

Finally…it’s my turn at the counter. I hand the agent my reservation. Thinks are moving along swimmingly. Then, he pulls out a notepad, “let’s talk about insurance.”


“I bought a policy from CTA that covers $75,000 in damage,” I tell him. “I just need your cheapest liability.”

“Senor, that insurance is no good here in Costa Rica. You have to buy the mandatory insurance.”

“No, it’s a special policy I got for this trip.”

“It’s no good. You must buy our insurance. It’s an extra $681 dollars.”

“Let me use your phone.”

I call CTA…”our offices are closed for the Thanksgiving holiday. Please call back tomorrow.”
Damn.

I argue for two hours. I have a copy of the entire policy. He won’t budge. I finally make a deal for a smaller car with a smaller insurance policy and only get ripped off to the tune of $120 instead of over $680.


Welcome to Costa Rica. Now I get to feel my way through a dark, narrow, mountainous road to our hotel instead of getting there at sundown like I planned.

Let’s see how the rest of this trip goes.

Darryl
Copyright 2015 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2015 - All Rights Reserved

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