After reading these six confessions of a current Alamo car rental agent, you will learn:

  • The commission hungry mindset of a car-rental agent
  • How they’re always trying to get you to do unnecessary upgrades
  • How the cost of these upgrades are discretionary, and therefore, negotiable
  • What a “deeker” is
  • But most of all, you will learn just how much, for at least this Alamo agent, you are his absolute adversary in his battle to get you spring for costly upgrades and beef up his bonuses.

    First I’d like to let the cat out of the bag. Yes, we car rental agents do work for commissions! If we can get you to pay more for an upgrade, insurance, gasoline, a GPS, even an additional driver, we get a cut of the extra charges.

    At Alamo Rent A Car in [redacted], we are handsomely rewarded for good sales and punished if our sales are poor. The pressure this environment produces leads many of us to fine tune our skills to not only offer extras effectively and to have comebacks to all customer rejections, but to also be able to identify the customers in line as to whether they are buyers or decliners, which we call “deekers”. When a customer declines everything you’ve offered, you’ve been “deeked”. Get deeked enough times by a certain type of customer and you begin to feel resentment towards that group. Sometimes a customer can’t be identified as a buyer or deeker until you see the state or country of the driver license. Evidently some states and countries produce more deekers than others. Deekers may at times be legitimate but often they are just cheap people.

    A typical example of a deeker is the young couple with two kids, a 3-year old and a 10-month old, on-line with strollers and packing their own child safety seats. He produces his license and credit card but she does all the talking. Offer them a more comfortable or fun vehicle than the sub-compact they have reserved and she will cut you off with a “no”. She will also cut you off when you offer her the peace of mind that the insurance will give her or the convenience of prepaying for the gasoline at a discounted rate. Of course there’s also a “no” to the GPS because she’ll raise the stack of MapQuest printouts in her folder. Listening in silence is the helpless husband as he looks on while imagining driving a sporty SUV instead of the tiny economy car reserved. Enough of these deekers and you may find yourself working in the exit booth of the garage the following month. This punishment can cost you thousands of dollars!

    First of all, you wonder how this family can fully enjoy its vacation. They are staying in a cheap motel far from the theme parks. The couple’s freedom to roam the theme parks with the kids and the strollers is limited. The kids are too young to have future memories of this trip anyway. You even wonder how this cheap couple is going to eat while on vacation. Are they going to smuggle peanut butter and jelly sandwiches into the theme parks to avoid paying the high priced foods there or are they just going to go hungry? Here’s a suggestion to those of you that fit this customer profile, leave the kids at home! Leave them with grandma or Aunt Betty and enjoy your vacation! Let your husband drive the SUV he’d like or treat yourselves to a convertible! Wander the theme parks freely and enjoy greater intimacy in a nicer hotel located closer to the parks. You’ll enjoy your vacation more and you will help me feed my family!

    I was a manager with Alamo and I quit to become a rental agent. Why? For the money. When I realized that the average rental agent was making far more than I was and agents didn’t have to put up with the stress and responsibilities of management, I resigned. As a part-time agent, I am now making more than 3 times what I was making as a full-time manager! Aside from my modest $8 hourly rate, I’m receiving about $4000 a month during the low season in sales commissions alone! I can’t wait for the high season to begin to see how much I’ll be raking in. I’m not among the best sales agents but believe it or not, the better ones make six figures. Even some part-timers are earning six figures or close to it. So now you can understand how one too many deekers can have us assigned to the exit booth in the garage and cost us thousands.

    If we make so much money, obviously many customers are paying more for our extras. Thank you very much! In particular, we love our UK customers which we affectionately call “the Brits”. When the Virgin and British Airways flights are in, the Alamo counter is full of agents. The Brits are fun folks and love upgrades. We Alamo rental agents have autonomy when it comes to the price of upgrades. There is a minimum which we must adhere to, usually $11 per day, but we can raise it to whatever we believe the customer is willing to pay. If the Brit wants an SUV instead of the midsize sedan reserved, we may charge him $11 more per day or maybe even $99 more per day. Even better, many Brits have long term rentals, 2, 3, 4 weeks or longer. The longer the rental, the better for us if the customer buys something. For instance, an upgrade of $49 per day for a 3-week rental equals a total of $1029. If the agent can average just one or two sales like this per day, he/she will get a 15% cut of the upgrade sales alone. For this one sale, that means $154.35 commission. Add 15% for all the upgrades for the month, plus say 12% of all the insurance sold, plus 4% for all the gasoline sold, plus 10% for all the GPS sold, and more for all the additional driver charges, and you’ve got yourself a pretty commission payout check for the month. Monthly commission payouts of over 10 and 15 thousand dollars are not uncommon to the top agents. Again, thank you very much to the buying customers, you are good sports.

    (Photo: oliliqui)

    Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Consumerist.