Consumer Reports

No Spare Tire in Rental Sidelines Tourist

When you rent a car, do you check the trunk for a spare tire?

Perhaps you should.

NBC DFW spoke with one viewer who found herself stuck, stranded, and frustrated while traveling with her son in Scotland.

It was the trip of a lifetime. Her son had successfully completed his first two years of medical school and was celebrating his 25th birthday.

"We both enjoy hiking and national parks, and we both enjoy whiskey!" she said chuckling.

So for the close mother and son, Scotland with its rich landscapes and tours of commercial distilleries was the perfect vacation spot. They rented a car from Avis which had a rental facility at the Glasgow Airport.

On the second day, while riding through beautiful countryside, they got a flat tire.

"We opened up the trunk. There was no spare tire in there! I'm looking on the ground. I'm looking - where in the world can this spare tire be? No doughnut. No compressed gas. Nothing," she said.

They were on a lonely road without shoulders outside a tiny town more than two hours away from the airport. They rode the rim a mile to a safe place to pull off the street to make calls.

"It was round and round and round for almost the entire day. Nobody would take responsibility for the situation," said Cannell.

She and her son lost an entire day of sightseeing. They had to find a hotel in the tiny town because no one would provide roadside assistance.

Finally the next day, Avis sent a tow truck driver who towed the car back to the airport. They had to pick another vehicle, and this time, Cannell was sure to get one with a spare tire.

"In the end, they did offer us a 50 percent reduction on our bill," said Cannell.

Her bill was supposed to be $486.10 Since she says she was promised a 50 percent refund, she was expecting a bill for about $243.

Instead she says they charged her credit card more than the original contract - $623.94.

Now when she rents a car, one feature is more important to her than any other.

"One with a spare tire please! I don't care about the make or model. I want one with a spare tire," said Cannell.

Auto industry experts tell us in recent years, fewer automakers are offering a full-size spare tire in new cars in an effort to reduce weight and meet fuel economy standards.

Consumer Reports has taken a look at the issue and finds while some rental car companies routinely provide a spare tire, while others do not to avoid the liability of a consumer being hurt while changing the spare. They provide roadside assistance instead.

NBC 5 Responds reached out to Avis. A spokesman declined comment stating it was out of respect for Cannell's privacy, but also said the company was working directly with her to reach a resolution.

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