Posts Tagged ‘rental cars’

Zoom-Shroom in the Mazda 5

January 27, 2010

Yale economist Dean Karlan reports on a nudge gone bad in the Mazda 5. Its choice architecture turned out to have serious consequences during a recent trip out west. Beware the car’s dashboard.

(The Mazda 5) has sensors to know whether it is dark out, to turn the lights on. But here is the kicker: it only turns the dashboard lights on, not the headlights! So my subconscious thought the headlights were on, and I didn’t turn them on. Until a cop pulled me over. And then said we fit his “profile”: one way rental from Phoenix to Tucson, 14k miles on the rental, licenses from the east, and two of us from different places which he says is an indication that we don’t know each other (I was with JZinman, and he didn’t seem to get it when I told him that if he doubts we know each other, he can google me and get the suggestion “karlan and zinman”). We didn’t even tell him we were daytripping to Nogales, Mexico, that clearly would have been the kicker. We just told him Tucson. Next step? K-9 unit arrives after 20 minutes (all this at 2 a.m.).

Here is the funny part: the dog found something! Clearly our rental car was recently used for a drug run. The dog was going nuts. But only residue, they never found anything. Took an hour for the cops to let us go. But then when we pulled out, I did remember to turn my headlights on despite the dashboard lights already being on.

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A nudge for driving on the other side of the road

January 7, 2010

The painted Look Left/Look Right reminders on London’s streets are a helpful nudge that keep visiting Americans alive. Reader Amanda Beatty sends along this shot of a similar tourist-saving nudge from an Australian rental car.

Read the fine print on your next rental car contract

May 6, 2008

A devilish little default rule in Avis rental car contracts:

“You may bill all charges, parking/traffic tickets included, to the card I use for payment, without any additional signature by me on a voucher.”

These defaults are increasingly backed up by state and city laws (plus more enforcement cameras to catch red-light runners). Joe Sharkey says this means…

…that in some places, tickets issued through enforcement cameras are classified in the same category as parking tickets — which, of course, are slapped on a windshield, and cite the vehicle owner, not a specific driver. In these cases, if you are driving your own car, you are responsible, as the owner, for the ticket. If you are driving a rented car, the rental car company is responsible and can choose to settle the fine and then bill you for its costs. Either way, penalty points are not assessed because a specific driver has technically not been convicted.