For the past couple of years, I’ve been hearing the name Turo when it comes to car rentals.

What is Turo?

Think of Turo as your non-traditional car rental. You don’t rent from huge companies such as Hertz, or Avis, or Enterprise. Think of Turo as the AirBNB of car rentals. You are renting someone else’s personal vehicle. It’s a way for folks like you and I to earn extra money on the side. And what’s the most attractive feature? Many are finding more reasonable rates with Turo vehicles than the vehicles from the typical car rental companies.

I booked with Turo

We have an upcoming trip to Maui in the summer and with all the car rental shortage that’s going on around the nation, renting via Turo proved to be the most inexpensive option. What I learned along the way with my Turo rental:

  • I was charged immediately and in full
  • Renters may cancel free of charge up to 24 hours before their trip starts
  • Turo hosts may also cancel more than 24 hours prior or within 24 hours of the rental
  • The Turo host will charge me extra to bring the vehicle to the airport (otherwise, I would need to take a cab or Uber to her place)
  • The driving allowance with my rental is not unlimited mileage
  • Credit card companies that typically provide car rental coverage do not cover Turo
  • Not all personal insurance companies will cover Turo rentals, but I had to call my own insurance (Liberty Mutual) and I was told they will cover my Turo rental

I decided to cancel my Turo booking

Since I had some time to plan for our trip, once I had a booking with Turo, I opted to continue searching for availability from a usual car rental company. This was the reason I tried pull all the stops in finally securing a rental from an established car rental company for our trip to Maui.

READ: Car rental headaches? Top 15 tips and workarounds

Once I had secured a reservation from a rental car company, that was when I then decided to cancel our Turo reservation. I didn’t like the idea of paying Turo (or its host) the full amount way in advance. All it took was for me to cancel the reservation online and the refund was given in full, and was refunded rather quickly – within the same day. For the record, I did not have a bad experience with Turo. I just chose to go with another rental option.

Meghan’s Turo Experience

I was browsing through Facebook, and came across Meghan W’s post regarding her Turo experience. I was shocked to read her post and felt compelled to reach out so I could ask her more questions, and had asked her if she was willing to share her story. Fortunately, Meghan allowed me to share her horrific rental experience with Turo and the two (not one) of their hosts. At the time of this blog entry, Meghan and family are in Hawaii, right in the middle of their Hawaiian vacation – juggling between this issue while trying to enjoy Hawaii at the same time.

Meghan and family

Meghan, in her own words

Buyer Beware: Turo will not cover the full cost for last minute cancelations. You will be stuck paying the difference. It has cost our family an extra $1,200 for our trip because of not one but two hosts that would be considered reputable, and cancelled on us last minute.

Meghan’s Turo booking process

We booked our cars six months in advance (back in November 2020). The prices were reasonable and in line with rental car companies but we got to pick our exact color and have a bikini top on the Jeep so we could pull it down with the kids ,and we were supporting local! When choosing a host we made sure to choose people that had multiple trips so they had good reviews and a history of renting.

Image from Turo screenshot (provided by Meghan W.)

As our trip approached we saw horror stories of hosts canceling and later seeing the cars advertised on social media for more money. I didn’t worry too much because our first host had been in contact with us regularly with updated COVID information. The second host was an LLC and seemed to be a reputable company with multiple cars that all had multiple trips.

Meghan’s first nightmare

Well, the nightmare began ten days before we left for Oahu. Our host cancelled! We contacted Turo for help securing a car. Turo was willing to help us find a car but they were not willing to help cover the more than double the price because all the reasonable cars had been rented. Turo only offered a $210 credit. That still left us with an additional $361 out of pocket for a car above what we had already paid Turo and a much smaller car. Due to this incident, I immediately reached out to our second host to confirm that our second car would be available when we arrived on Maui. The response we got was “Yes… all is still good.”

Meghan’s second nightmare

I was feeling better. If we could just make it to the island all would be ok. All other reservations were confirmed. Well, on day two  of our vacation on Oahu, and just three days before we left for Maui, the nightmare reared its ugly head again. Our host on Maui, who confirmed the car was available, cancelled the reservation without any explanation. This was three days before our arrival on Maui.

Image from Turo screenshot (provided by Meghan W.)

 

What Turo did for Meghan

Again, we were left scrambling for a car with even less time to figure things out, and not to mention we were in the middle of what was supposed to be a fun and relaxing vacation. Again, cars were 2x-3x the price we paid compared to when we booked six months before our vacation. Turo refused to cover the entire cost again. They only offered another small credit leaving my family paying another $800 out of pocket above what we had already paid Turo.

Are there good Turo hosts out there? I am sure there are but do you really want to roll the dice and possibly end up in the same situation? I highly recommend you STAY AWAY FROM TURO!

Oahu Turo Booking

  • Original Booking: Jeep Wrangler
    • Booked 11/26/2020
    • Turo rental cost = $571.55
    • Rental dates: 5/30-6/5
    • Cancelled by Turo host: 10 days prior
    • Turo offered $210 credit to be applied to new rental
  • Replacement booking: New car Acura TLX (much small and different car)
    • Total of new rental $1,136.19
    • Applied previous rental cost $571.55 + Turo credit of $210, this left us with an additional bill of $354.64

Maui Turo Booking

  • Maui Jeep Wrangler
    • Booked 11/26/2020
    • Turo rental cost $921.96
    • Rental dates: 6/5-6/13
    • Cancelled by Turo host: 3 days prior
    • Turo offered $370 credit
  • Replacement booking: New car BMW X3
    • Total of new car rental $2,128.92
    • Applied previous rental cost $921.96 + Turo credit $370 and left us with additional bill $836.96 

Overall costs between original and replacement bookings

  • The original bookings would’ve cost us = $1,493.51
  • The total additional costs from the original booking = $1,192.01
  • The replacement bookings costs us = $2,685.11

 

Meghan’s final thoughts

This fiasco cut in to our vacation time. I spent hours and hours on the phone with Turo with no help at all. They just put us on hold. No managers were available, and we were told that they would call us back later.

I am sure that there are just as many Turo good stories. When the cancellation happened the first time, we were stressed but thought “ok, bad luck.” When we were sitting on the beach yesterday at Hanauma Bay, and the notification came through on my watch, my heart sank and I started crying. We were at one of the most beautiful places on the island, and we basically had to spend the rest of the day dealing with a new headache.

Don’t get me wrong this could happen with a car rental company as well. We flew home for Christmas to my parents. We had booked our car through Travelocity with Alamo. We showed up and they said our reservation had been canceled. The difference is when they couldn’t explain who or when the cancelation had been made they ultimately had to honor our price and give us a car.

Needless to say we will never use this company again and want to make sure everyone else knows the risks if they go this route.

My thoughts on rental fiascos

Picture this. My family, a party of six. We flew the red eye and arrived in Philadelphia in the heart of the winter. I had rented a 7-seater SUV to fit all six of us plus our carry on luggage and backpack. Upon arriving at the Dollar Car Rental office, I was given the keys to an SUV, and although I was standing far from that SUV, I just knew that it was not a seven-seater. The Dollar agent insisted that it was a seven-seater and I knew my SUVs, and had to walk her to their own SUV just to point out the fact that it was merely a five-seater. It was not going to work. We would not fit.

Long story short, the Dollar agent apologized, and I was asked to wait for the first available SUV that got returned. We waited close to an hour. The first one that came back was larger, not what I paid for. I ended up with a free upgrade. Case solved. We were happy. No major harm, no foul.

The free SUV upgrade from Dollar Philadelphia

Why did I bring that up? Nothing is perfect. Things happen. Dollar Car Rental did not dwell on the issue. Dollar gave me a solution, and did not charge me for the issue that I did not cause. I’m a believer that when things go awry, someone just needs to fix it and own up to it.

Turo’s host cancellation is not even a slap on the wrist

The two cancellations created by two of Turo’s reputable hosts, guess what the fees were for hosts who cancel? According to Turo’s Host Cancellation Policy:

Hosts will be subject to a $50 fee if they cancel a trip less than 24 hours before the start of the trip. If they cancel more than 24 hours before the start of the trip, the fee is $25.

Both of Meghan’s hosts cancelled more than 24 hours before the start of the trip. Together, they each paid $25 each, a total of $50 combined. For Meghan? Their cancellation ended up costing Meghan another $1,200 just to secure two different rentals.

My takeaways

Am I here to say renting with Turo is a bad idea? No, I am not. My goal is to share what happens when a Turo host cancels on you. Meghan’s goal was to share the risks when a cancellation happens. Not all Turo customers go through what Meghan and her family went through. As she had pointed out, there has to be many Turo success stories out there with hosts that make this a great rental experience. It was just very unfortunate for Meghan to have to deal with this with not just one, but two hosts, two reputable hosts. Plus, not only did she have to deal with this prior to flying to Hawaii, but she also had to address these issues while on vacation.

On the financial side, many of those who travel to places like Hawaii, consider their trip as a once in a lifetime trip. There are those who saved up paychecks for this opportunity to visit Hawaii. Many have calculated their expenses, and not many are fortunate enough to easily pay the price difference when issues arise. So, I feel for those who have to go through this, and incur further financial burden.

Given today’s rental crisis, I would hate to go through what Meghan had to go through. I would hate to have to deal with a crisis right before my trip, and during my vacation. This was supposed to be fun and memorable for Meghan and family, and I’m sure they are doing their best not to think about this setback.

Does this stop me from renting from Turo? Remember, I didn’t really go through my rental with Turo. What I can tell you though, it has truly made me rethink Turo. I am not ruling out a future rental with Turo. But, I would have to fully evaluate my rental needs and weigh all of my options before I decide to go with Turo.

If you have an upcoming Turo reservation, I am not telling you that you should cancel. Now that you know what could possibly happen when a cancellation occurs, you are now aware of the potential risks. My suggestion is to try and find typical car rentals as well, and you could then decide which is the best fit for you.

To Meghan W. and family, I thank you for entrusting me with sharing your story. Thank you for providing me with the details. I’m hoping that others see what could happen if a Turo host was to cancel a reservation. In the meantime, while you’re still on Maui, please try to forget or set aside this fiasco, and enjoy the rest of your vacation. Wishing you all lots of aloha, shave ice, warm ocean breeze, majestic sunrise and sunsets!

 

 

 

By Jason

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