Deluxe Rent-a-Car of LAX: Worst Car Rental Agency Ever?

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I need to rent a car in Los Angeles next month, so I went onto and ran a quick search. The cheapest option at LAX was through a place called Deluxe Rent-a-car, at only about $20 a day including all taxes. It seemed so cheap, I instinctively ran a quick Google search for some reviews of this unknown company.

Wow, I have never seen such bad reviews for a rental car agency before. “Don’t do it!” “Stay far away from this place!” “Worst car rental agency in the galaxy!” “Economic Terrorists!” “They wiped my account clean of over $5,000” And those were only the first 5 entries. I kid you not.

What did the LA Better Business Bureau have to say? Oh, just their worst grade possible of F:

It’s almost comical, as if there was a competition to run the absolute lowest cost car rental agency possible without being shut down by law enforcement. (They’ve somehow been in business for 9 years.) Check out these user reports, including direct quotes from Yelp, TripAdvisor, and other review sites:

  • They don’t seem to actually check that they have the actual car you want before accepting the reservation. They just take all of them to get your business. Then when you arrive, if they have it, great, otherwise, they just give you whatever is available and refund you any difference. “My “standard convertible” became a Toyota Corolla with 65k miles with the check engine low tire pressure lights lit. It also had not been cleaned on the inside.” If they actually have no cars left at all, then oops – too bad!
  • They charge everyone a $400 deposit, which is actually charged first onto your credit card, and then they have to reverse it later if they deem everything acceptable. If you get a parking ticket, they’ll charge you $125 + the cost of the ticket.
  • The shuttle doesn’t actually arrive in the Rental Car pickup section of LAX. It picks you up in the Courtesy shuttle area, with a “Johnny Park” sign instead of Deluxe Rent-a-Car. Does one area cost more to use or something? Finally, they only promise to run every 15 minutes instead of every 5 minutes like the other major agencies. Users complained of 45-minute actual wait times. I lost count of the reviews from confused customers.
  • The cars are dirty. Lots of pictures of stains on Yelp, and also claims of broken glass and bad smells. Don’t expect your “non-smoking” vehicle to actually be that way.
  • Multiple instances of the car registration being expired, yet the car was still rented out. Nice.
  • Rude employees. Too many stories to generalize any other way.
  • Gas policy: You get whatever the last renter left in the car. They apparently don’t have gas pumps at their facility. So you might pick it up empty, 1/4 full, or whatever. If it’s nearly empty, they generously tell you whatever is left is yours. If it happens to be half full, they tell you to bring it back half full.

Let this serve as a warning for potential renters, and entertainment for everyone else. Caveat emptor. As for me, after some more searching I found a coupon for Enterprise that resulted in an even lower rate than “Deluxe” per day. (I also grabbed an additional 2% cash back from Mr. Rebates.) Kayak should really remove this company from their price comparison engine!

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  1. I found Enterprise has the cheapest cars.

    Just be picky on which car you accept. Ask to see other cars if they first take you to a car with many miles. They have new cars. They also have some older mileage cars (i.e. 20-30K miles) in the mix.

    I generally found them the best value for money and I was happy with their service. They have many offices all around the So Cal area so you can easily go into another office near you to make any changes, if you prefer that than over the phone.

  2. Fox Rent-a-Car has low prices and I usually use them on the West Coast.

  3. I have a Hertz #1 Club card and a corp discount rate. Using those to make my reservations lowers the price by a good 60-70% compared to the quote on their website w.o. card or discount.

    I find the Avis and then Hertz have the best service.

  4. Even the mainstream rental car industry is about sleight of hand, hidden fees, and useless “insurance,” so the actions of an independent company shouldn’t shock anyone. I’ve never seen an independent rental agency that was cheaper than a brand name for the same quality either.

    I often rent cars 1 way, and end up with Avis or Hertz because they allow that option. I’ve had much better service from Avis than Hertz, as Hertz keeps worse business hours and comes across as arrogant. Note also that Budget often shares facilities with Avis (with the same desk staff and lower prices on the same pool of cars), so it seems they have the same ownership. I use Budget over Avis when possible.

  5. Hertz is much, much better than Avis.

  6. Here are some additional tips.

    1. Know what coverages your auto insurance policy gives you for rentals.
    2. Know what coverages your credit card/amex/etc will give you when you rent a car with their card.
    3. Find out if any of the organizations you belong to offers a discount.
    4. If you are traveling for personal reasons, know if your company rental benefits can be used.

  7. I found recently when scheduling my aunt an emergency trip that flights and hotels generally state the true costs online when you reserve, but car rental places disclose only about half of what it will really cost. The online confirmation stated about $270 to rent a car from Dollar Rent-a-Car in Spokane, WA from the airport, which incurred a large airport tax as well as numerous other fees they did not list on their website. The end result, without all the extra insurance, was still over $450. With the full insurance it was over $600.

  8. LAX has a great local car rental agency called Midway. I found them on Yelp and had a great experience there this April (inexpensive, easy pick-up and check-out, a quick trip to and from the airport, and a nice basic car).

  9. I recently rented a convertible through

    i picked up the car in Santa Ana airport. When going through hotwire, you dont get to specify the rental agency. i ended up with Hertz.

    I had a great experience. and i was able to get the car for 30 dollars a day before taxes.

    the only thing that i got billed extra for on top of what i agreed to pay through hotwire was the gasoline i forgot to fill up .

  10. After the Majors, foxrentacar has always been good with the exception of the one in SF. Decent cars, low prices… consistently. I still prefer dealing with the majors, because they are less likely to sleeze you out after the rental.

  11. What’s the big surprise? If you get a ridiculously low quote (without applying any promotions/coupons), you must expect questionable service. In the end, you get what you pay for. That applies to everything in life… …why should rental cars be an exception?

  12. Heads up that credit card companies are lowering the CDW coverage limits. My Fidelity Visa card sent me a letter dropping it from $100,000 to $50,000.

  13. Moemunee says

    I’ve had good luck with using Priceline’s name your own bid. I always get a major car rental agency (National, Avis, etc) at a great price.

  14. I just got back from a trip to LAX (E3). Got a rental from Alamo for $153 (total all-in price) for a full week. Was supposed to be a mid-size, but we ended up getting upgraded to full-size after the first car they gave us had no license plates and an expired “Temporary Operating Permit” (which I didn’t discover until getting to the hotel, good thing I didn’t get pulled over…) The second car was fine and the price was right. (Malibu with 12k miles, clean)

    I had originally booked with Advantage (despite negative reviews), but ended up canceling it since a flight delay caused me to get there after they closed for the night. Alamo ended up being cheaper anyway despite the last-minute reservation.

    I’d steer clear of the no-name companies, it’s not worth it.

  15. SP Haircare says

    My last experience with Deluxe Car Rental was just horrible. When i arrived to pick up my car not only was it on a quarter tank of gas, the staff was very rude and unaccommidating because i wanted a car with a full tank of gas. The young lady that was helping me told me not to worry about all the scratches on the car that i pointed out to her and told me to record all the scratches that i saw on the car. They threatened not to give me a car because i was going to write a bad review about them and they told the bus driver to drop me back off at the airport at 12am MIDNIGHT! And they want to hold $500 of my money each time and never have i gotten a car that had a full tank of gas. So if i had gotten the car i would have had to fill up the car at a gas station at 12 at night. What woman would want to fill up a rental car at 12 at night. I will not do business with Deluxe Car Rental ever again. If you want a car that you dont have to fill up when you get it go to Fox Car rental. And they only held $150 for the car. Im so glad they were able to help me or else i would have been stranded in the streets of L.A. at 12 at night.

  16. It’s worse than you think… the currently have taken the governors emergency 2009 Vehicle Licensing Fee due to the economic crisis and decided that they needed 23x more than the state does. They are collecting California Tourism Taxes and yet the Board of Tourism doesnt know who they are. Their lawyers have set up a pyramid of protection using Johnny Park shuttles, Johnny Cars, and Deluxe Rent A Car to avoid regulatory controls and enforcement complications…. Its organized crime

    This was my thanksgiving with Deluxe

    Here is my Deluxe website

    and send your complaint to the Attorney General… I’m going to put them out of business

    Kamala Harris
    Office of the Attorney General
    1300 “I” Street
    Sacramento, CA 95814-2919
    Phone: (916) 445-9555

  17. Anna Pizza says

    HORRIBLE! I requested a Hyaundi for my reservation. They gave me a Toyota minivan and said it was all they had. I left their lot and realized the tank was completely empty. I drove back and they said they changed my contract to “return empty” I had to fill up before I ran out. The van was FILTHY and smelled. I returned the vehicle on January 16, 2011. They said my 500.00 deposit would be refunded that day. It still has not been returned and no one will answer or return my calls! I called my credit card company to dispute the charge. I will NEVER use them again and I’m telling everyone I know not to use them!

  18. They are in the middle of a BK and contstantly ripping people off. Spend a couple minutes on line reading the countless reviews of dissatisfied costumers. click the review for bankrupcy verification:

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