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Saturday, June 28, 2014

5 Things missing in Carzonrent Press Release on Benz Self Drive

This post is again about cars- those not interested may click and read travel stories here

One week ago, last Wednesday, June 18, I broke the story that Mercedes Benz cars can now be booked for self drive with Carzonrent (and also with Zoom, who've added new A Class). Read: How to drive a Merc without having to rob bank. This post was shared by Zoom and few others and has got 76+ likes so far and 1000+ pageviews in 10 days.

For several days after that, Mainstream media as well as Myles and Carzonrent facebook pages were silent on this development. Not a mention of the Mercs.

Early this week, on June 23rd, Carzonrent issued a press release and next day almost every mainstream newspaper have copy pasted it, almost word by word. Read it on Overdrive * Business Standard * ET * Zigwheels *

Whoever wrote that press release for Carzonrent did a good job- reading it sounded as if one could walk in and drive out with a mercedes benz. Journalists who wrote about it also didn't do any due diligence. Probably many of them never rented a car on self drive). They also comfortably forgot that Zoom cars is already offering a BMW 320d and also has added A Class recently.

However, there're many things completely missing in the Carzonrent Press release about their adding Mercs to the self drive fleet. Below are the facts you should be aware of, if you're thinking of renting these cars on self drive from Zoom

1) To rent such cars you should have a credit card with minimum 70000 available limit. This amount will be blocked as security.

2) It takes 15 working days, which could be 20-21 calendar days to release this amount. That means the amount remains unusable and if you have some other expense, you should have alternate plans. Either you should have a credit card with lots of limit, or you should have multiple cards or you should plan your expenditures such that next 3 weeks you don't need to spend big. If you've to rent another car within next few days or few weeks, go rob a bank! My feedback that this process is not viable hasn't resulted in anything worth mentioning.

3) Rental amount is Rs 7446 per day for C Class and 10900 per day for E Class, after adding tax. PR cleverly mentions pre-tax amount of Rs 6500 and 9500

4) These may not be new cars. The C Class given to me in Chennai was close to 2 years old with 83000 kms on the odo and was being used by a regular driver, whose personal stuffs were all over the car. Car also seemed to be tuned for fuel economy, not performance. There could be some new cars, but it is also possible that existing Merc fleet has been offered in self drive probably because of lack of patronage from corporate sector.

5) Paperwork could take 20-40 minutes easily, depending on how busy the attendant is and how easily they manage to swipe your card for pre-auth. I feel they should learn a thing or two from Zoom Cars in this regard.

Read my C Class Rental Experience & Photos and review of the car.

I am not very clear what is Mercedes Benz's involvement in Carzonrent luxury fleet self drive-Was it included for sake of publicity? Apart from selling cars and servicing them, which Merc will do for both self drive or chauffeur driven rental models, it is not clear what's extra they're offering in Carzonrent Merc self drive scheme. May be they're giving some extra discounts to self drive agencies to promote Benz cars, hoping that some of the rental customers who are impressed by the car might eventually end up buying it one day. (If this is the objective, Merc should insist rental agencies buy some intermediate/high end variant and not the cheapest variant without any features. Also self drive customers usually want cars tuned for performance and drive-ability and not really fuel economy. Fuel economy is good, but not at the cost of performance or driving pleasure.

Happy journey!

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