Via InACents, several rental car companies — Dollar, Thrifty, Hertz, and Advantage — have pulled out of allowing their cars to be listed at AutoSlash.com. This follows on Avis’ early refusal to allow AutoSlash to display their availability and pricing.

On face, that would seem to be a huge blow to AutoSlash. But in reality, the site remains just as useful to consumers as ever.

The concept is that rental car prices change all the time. You book a car, but the price may drop, most people don’t continue to check on the price after booking. AutoSlash does this for you, and will automatically rebook you at a lower price when one avails itself. There’s real savings to be had from customers when car rental companies adjust their pricing.

The key here is that AutoSlash is really two different services in one:

  1. Search and Display Rental Car Prices. Originally they were also applying lots of coupons and discounts to find the best prices, and to some extent that was still part of their model, but on the whole searching AutoSlash was no different than booking anywhere else. It’s just that if you booked through them, you were automatically queued up for the second feature.

  2. Once a Booking Has Been Made, Keep Searching to Find a Lower Price — and Grab the Savings. That’s where AutoSlash delivers value. Anyone can book a car, everyone’s pricing is more or less the same (except for prepaid rentals such as through travel packages, Hotwire, or Priceline). AutoSlash kept checking for lower prices. And they still do that.

Just book your rental elsewhere, wherever you normally would.

Then go to the AutoSlash website, click the ‘Track a Rental You’ve Already Booked Elsewhere’ tab. Enter your confirmation details, and AutoSlash will keep looking to find you a better price.

They make money when they find you a better price and rebook your rental for you. They still do that. You just have to take the step of telling them to do it for you.

That’s not as easy and many people won’t do it I imagine, so major rental car companies pulling out is a big blow to them. But consumers can get the same benefit of savings on their rental cars, for free, that they were getting before.

  1. MB said,

    So, can I still make a Hertz rental on the Hertz site, enter the confirmation on Autoslash, and they can still track for price drops and rebook?

    If so, this isn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was! Thanks!

  2. Sahib said,

    Very sad because I have saved at least $500 for the last 4 rentals that I made through autoslash

  3. craz said,

    Gary have you spoken either in voice or email with AS and they in fact confirmed that they can still do #2 and rebook it.

    If they can I dont understand what took place,hard to believe that all these companys did was to prevent AS from making the original res which is how theyd get their commission. It seemed from ASs post that they dont want to do business as is with AS (which was via Travelocity) So Im at a loss to understand why AS would spend their time doing this and not earn anything for doing so. And why those companys will allow AS to rebook any res since what they want to prevent is us paying less $$ in the end

  4. Stvr said,

    Gary, do you know if there’s a way to forward Autoslash the rental email like to trips@autoslash.com. And then it’s automatic? Like Tripit or Kayak Trips?

  5. iahphx said,

    I haven’t tried it yet, but new entrant Tingo.com is doing something similar with hotel rooms (using Expedia’s rates). Probably more value to “normal travellers” than the travel geeks (myself included) who would be reading this column, though!

  6. BothofUs2 said,

    Any idea what will happen to existing reservations made through AS? I’ve got some Hertz rentals coming up and am curious-thanks!

  7. Sapan said,

    I am confused. Are they still going to look for cheaper rates on Hertz, Thrifty and Dollar?

  8. Avi said,

    I guess the rental companies saw too many no shows booked through Autoslash. It was a great idea to reserve the car with no CC info and no penalty if you just didnt show up.

  9. Gary said,

    @Avi that’s how most cars are reserved, through most booking channels.

  10. Gary said,

    @Sapan yes they will. they won’t auto rebook but they’ll track reservations and let you know when prices change

  11. Gary said,

    @BothofUs2 those reservations have been made, confirmed, no reason why there’d be a problem

  12. Stickbert said,

    I booked two rentals through autoslash late last year after reading about it here. The first was for Charleston, SC, this January. Within minutes of booking a rental via AS from Budget or Thrifty or Dollar (can’t remember which it was), AS emailed me that they could get me a better deal with Hertz. I accepted, and then they automatically rebooked me twice more at cheaper rates. Then out of the blue, they rebooked me at a higher rate. While it was only a few dollars more, I still was bothered by it and entered a long discussion with AS customer service via email and phone that left me very frustrated. Then when I went to the Hertz counter to pick up the car, they stated a rate about 50% more than what AS had given me. I showed the clerk my email from AS, and he adjusted it to almost the same rate (at this point I gave up struggling against the machine).
    The second rental was for Orlando in March. AS showed me a rate from Sixt that was a third of the other agencies, so I took it. It got automatically lowered once. When I went to pick up the car, The Sixt agent gave me a price well over double the AS rate. Long discussions with the agent and the manager resulted in them making copies of all my paperwork from AS and the promise of a phone call the next day. No call ensued, and when I dropped off the car, the invoice still showed the higher rate. Back to the agent (same one, fortunately), and after another long wait, the manager reduced it to the AS rate.
    So I can’t say whether AS is a good thing or not, but I can say that it is essential to have copies of everything with you when you hit the rental counter.

  13. kev said,

    How about you add a ‘reply’ button for each comment here? It gets way too confusing when I don’t know who’s replying to whom, especially when the original comments are all the way at the top and the reply is all the way down at the bottom.

  14. duh said,

    Sites like this just hurt consumers in the long run. Take consumer options with manual ways to take advantage of inefficiencies, automate those, watch the vendors react, and soon enough the automated and original advantages both disappear. Thanks AutoSlash for likely taking a savings option away from smart consumers.

  15. Saving Money on Rental Cars: AutoSlash is Still a Highly Useful Site - View from the Wing said,

    [...] in April Hertz, Thrifty, and Dollar prohibited AutoSlash from displaying their cars during initial booking. Avis had already done [...]

  16. Fred said,

    AutoSlash used to be great. Always came up with great prices. Since March, they no longer seem to be able to find lower rates on any of the rentals I have booked, something that never happened in the two years I have been using AutoSlash.com.

    What happened

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