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We hate it when our car rental companies become successful

We hate it when our car rental companies become successful

Streetcar and ZipcarI’m lucky enough not to need my own car, partly because there’s a car rental company called Streetcar who let me hire a car at the end of the street, for a minimum of 30 minutes for just £3. Which is extremely efficient, useful, and has worked out very very well for me.

So inevitably, capitalism and globalisation had to come in and ruin it all for me. To whit, American company Zipcar went and bought Streetcar, which was doing perfectly well all by itself.

To begin with, they were doing very well. Zipcar went all American in the merger process, producing glossy websites and letters detailing the merger procedure and what would happen next, reassuring us all and giving us lots of glossy if useless information (so I can hire a car at two specific streets in Cleveland, USA if I want to. Great) before the switchover happened.

Then the switchover happened, and two rather annoying things transpired:

– I can no longer hire cars by the half-hour. The minimum rental period is now one hour, which makes hiring a car to collect a pizza a bit of an economical non-starter.
– The UK website at keeps quoting the American contact number. And I can’t really call a 1-888 number from my British landline without incurring a significant cost.
– When I ask to hire a car, it shows me all the cars that are available across London. Not exactly handy if I don’t feel like traipsing all the way to South London to pick up a car.

Oh, and can I find a way of complaining about all these changes? Nope!



    Phone: 0333 240 9000

    Melbury House
    51 Wimbledon Hill Rd
    SW19 7QW
    0333 240 9000
    fax 0207 681 3233

    There you go. Did you even look for this info?

  • Caroline

    I agree wholeheartedly, Streetcar was just fine and dandy and has not been improved by the amalgamation with Zipcar. It is irritating not to be able to hire a car by the half-hour (just greedy, Zipcar, when there is clearly a demand for short trips) and much less user friendly website when making a booking. Shame that Streetcar has been subsumed by a big American giant.

  • Me too. Sadly lamenting the passing of Streetcar. Longer journeys are more expensive with Zipcar now because they make an additional charge for all mileage above 40 miles per day. Streetcar had a much more generous mileage allowance built in. My last round trip of 400 miles in 2 days cost me about £80 more! Methinks a littel competition wouldn't go amiss!!!

  • MarkB

    I've been with Streetcar (great) and then Zipcar since 2008 spending literally thousands of pounds on their service.

    It takes billions of years for a star to turn into a black hole but Zipcar have achieved the feat in one. The US company should never have been allowed to take over. Customer service now appalling.

  • I'm sure the founders of the company didn't mind, though :). Is it really bad for the people who worked hard to start the company to get a pay out? Not sure anything was "ruined."

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