I get a call from a friend in Boston — he’s arriving in Fort Lauderdale, and needs a lift to the car rental agency.
No problem, man. Hey, how about those Patriots?
“Fuck you, asshole!”
That cost him Sunday morning breakfast for me, Guido, and himself at the Floridian. Three amazing omelets — he wanted the heart-stopping cheddar, I got the Greek, Guido went for the Eye-tie (naturally).
This friend and I go ‘way back — nationally, he’s emerged as one of the leading intellects behind education of the deaf, while, me, I just don’t listen — but this thing called the Real World causes him a lot of problems.
After breakfast, he needs a ride to the car rental agency. I know this place. They have a pure south Florida business model that would wag the head of a hardened Mafioso. Or at least, that’s how I figure it.
The place is actually two businesses. One is, you’re going out of town for a while, either on by plane or a cruise. So you drive your car to their lot, park, and they pick you up in your own car when you return. You pay by the day. Neat, clean, efficient.
The second business is car rental. You arrive in Fort Lauderdale, you need a car, they pick you up at the airport and put you in a rental. Same as Hertz, Avis, and Dollar, right?
The scam here is that the car that they rent out is the same one the air and cruise passengers leave in their lot. Their inventory of rentals consists of the cars that air and cruise customers leave with them. They’re charging rental fees to both the customers who leave them their cars, and the customers who want to rent a car for the week or month. Their biggest overhead item is the scumwad they hire to turn back odometers and keep his mouth shut.
Brilliant. Fucking brilliant.
My pal had reserved a mid-size, but he ends up in a huge Mercury for the same price. “Sorry, man, that’s all we got,” says the agent, whose resemblance to a weasel isn’t limited to his clothing or physical appearance. It figures. Lots of old farts in south Florida drive Mercurys, and they go on cruises a lot. They’ll never know their car has been driven all week by a stranger, any more than the stranger knows he’s driving some old fart’s personal car.
Okay. This is speculation on my part. I really don’t know that this is a scam, let alone the details. But I’ve lived in south Florida for a long time. What do YOU think?
PS My pal found a stash of Metamucil tablets in the glove box of his “rented” Mercury. Did I already say “Heh”?