I just would like to share my experience with Zipcar and tips for using their service. In addition, let people be careful of some policies and consequences of car sharing. (e.g. account suspension/account termination/account cancellation)
I love the way Zipcar works compared to a conventional car rental service. Their hub network has high density, you can conveniently rent and return cars anytime and they also have workday night discounts.
In spite of my love of the Zipcar, I recently ran into a small accident with my rental car while pulling my car out from a public parking lot. Though I’ve drove the same car for 100+miles already, I still felt that the steering wheel was a bit harder to operate than the car’s which I usually drive. (But that’s not a valid excuse, that was fully my fault). I left an obvious long dent mark on the bumper. Luckily, no one was hurt and there was no property damage either other than the car itself. (thumbs up for the solid pole builder!)
I called Zipcar immediately to apologize and see what I need to do. They asked me to describe the situation and fill out a form for insurance. After confirming with me that the car was still safe to drive, they told me that I could still operate it until the end of the rental. They would inspect it later once I returned the car. My account was suspended after I returned the car which made sense during the investigation of their insurance company.
Fortunately, since I have been paying for their damage fee waiver insurance monthly, I was not charged a penny. During the 3-week investigation, they had been quiet and at the end I got two consecutive emails one said that my damage fee waiver was cancelled due to the accident which I would expect as a common sense. And the second one said that my account was closed and it was non- negotiable.
They were friendly in the email and told me that I could email them or contact the claim company for any concerns. I asked them for the factors that led to the cancellation of my account and was told:
“Zipcar may also, upon notice to the Member or any Associate Member, terminate this Contract if the Member or any Associate Member is involved in an incident with a Zipcar vehicle that, in Zipcar‘s reasonable sole discretion, renders the Member or any Associate Member ineligible or inappropriate for continued membership.”
And I was welcome to return in one year and with an account review. I ended up with “tears” and regret for not being more careful before the car kissing the pole. (:’p)
What do I think? I still believe that car share concept is great. Customers, however, may need to be aware of the one-strike rule of car share companies like Zipcar. One at-fault accident = termination of the membership. This might not be absolute depending on the specific case. Poor accident makers like me who also did not pour much profit to Zipcar could expect this rule. The accident could be as small as clipping a side mirror according to a reddit folks.) Or this thing was based on a decision making neural network? Any survivors? Who knows?
Anything more? I would say that be cautious of the plan you choose especially for annual plans. As in this case, my account was closed before the membership term ends and there was no refund for the rest of the term. My damage waiver was paid month by month and was only good for one cover so I didn’t have much to lose on that. Though the termination of account due to minor damage might sound a bit oppressive/tyrannical, a company is obligatory for preventing potential loss after all. It is great for new users/drivers, who are not 100% confident on their car adaptability and driving skill, to try a monthly plan out at first (or stay on it) before putting much commitment for a shiny deal on the table.
R.I.P., GGWP, my poor Zipcard 🙁