rentalcars.com is a questionable company

during iceland trip, i decided to look for a last minute booking for rental car, hoping to get out for a last chance to catch the northern lights. i decided to rent through a third-party brokerage company, rentalcars.com.  however, the weather turned seriously threatening and i had to leave early.
*btw, real posts about the trip will be up in near future. the trip itself was absolutely amazing.

on way back to town, i had about 30 min to the pick-up time. the company does not have phone lines open on saturday or sunday. without smartphone, i could not even try to get on the web to cancel the reservation.  so i called the actual rental car company directly to cancel. they cancelled it and said they have not received any part of the payment and is unlikely to see any of it, and that i am probably not going to see it either.

and they were right. you can only cancel your booking online, only up to 48hrs to the pick-up time, it was all in the small prints. they are selling pre-paid service (which really was not obvious for me, i didnt even know such business forms existed), meaning they will just keep the money IF ONE CANNOT CANCEL a whole 2 days prior to the agreed rental time. that's pretty hard-nosed.

they sent me a 'evaluation' email of my experience. so i wrote back. im not greatly upset about the lost money. it is my fault for not checking every single line of fine-prints. sometimes, one makes a mistake. however, their business practice do bother me a bit:

i think this is on a questionable start- you want a customer survey but the forms are so rigid that i had to pick out random options that has nothing to do with my situation. so please disregard my choices for section 2 and 3.

i had to cancel my reservation because the weather condition- akureyri was shutting down with a big storm.  being a foreigner traveler, i did not have a ready-access to internet, and it being a saturday, there was no number i could call to rentalcars.com to discuss the matter of cancellation.  

i called budget (which was actually avis akureyri, seeing from the email) while getting back to akureyri, they agree to cancel the trip, as i was calling prior to the pick-up time and they explained that they have not received any payment and unlikely to receive anything.

once i got my internet access back, i contacted rentalcars.com, i was told:
...Unfortunately, as the cancellation wasn’t made before you were due to pick up your car, we cannot give you a refund...
then further request showed: cancellations policy that this company runs a pre-paid service and that reservations will not be refunded if it has not been cancelled to 48 hours before the start of the rental.

there was no disclaimer that clearly indicated that this site is a pre-paid reservation site, nor the policy was easy to find for a normal user.  i suppose yes, you do have your legal rights in small prints to not to refund anything, but to see that no one actually rented anything, the rental company did not get any money, it seems unjust and pushing to the end of the moral boundary for rentalcars.com to keep all the money, hiding behind the small prints.  

if i went through a direct website for rental companies such as budget or avis, they certainly would not have kept the money on rental that was cancelled before the actual scheduled pick up time.  it is a questionable practice to allow quick-booking as a prepaid service without a clear disclaimer to aid customers to understand what the consequence may be in case of necessary cancellation, as your current policy clearly puts you in a great advantage- any quick booking cancelled in less that 2 days, you keep the 'prepaid' money.

i will certainly be motivated to not to recommend your brokerage to anyone that i know, as this particular experience is one of the worst customer-oriented service i have seen in 15+ years of self-organized travelling.  

you are legally covered with all the small print policies, but i am not sure if even you would be satisfied about company's operational moral/ethics boundary, unless, it is purely profit-driven company. if it is so, congratulations on getting the most out of all situations possible. but do try to remember that a business which involves people should reflect human values rather than short-sighted myopic interest in quickest and easiest financial growth.

so peeps, if you ever run into this site, run away. they may be secure but man, they are secure about the fact they will be paid NO MATTER WHAT. i think it's a sketchy business ethics.


connecting the stars, to faraway land

(one of my fav shows ever, 'o' @ bellagio)

it seems that end of 2014 is star-studded, literally. and yes, i thank the universe for giving me the chance to look up and see the beautiful space we live in.

yes, space.

this morning, the orion project launched and returned in success. almost faultless.
here's nasa's brief explanation of the scope of the orion project.

that's right kids, we are returning to space!

20 july 1969, three men- brave, probably nuts and extremely capable, went up and landed on moon.  six hours later, they left bootmarks on the moon.  the mystical moon became a brief reality- and it was so different from what we have pictured for the entire humanity up to this point.  a place with its own love (gravity), bit smaller and starker than our own home, but nonetheless, a familiar face.

however, things then slowed down. nixon axed the space program and dealing with problems at earth, we kept sending people out, but not being able to reach a new place. the international space station maintained our dreams and reality- yes, it is real. the space technology, through satellites and related technology, we can now check GPS location, send emails, connect to the world without too much difficulties. no more pigeons, of course, unless you prefer.

it is easy to focus on practicality.  just like many people who lose their visions without being aware, many look down to their calendar, trying hard to get through the list of things that are demanded of them- family, job, bills to pay.

whenever i cross queen's park to get to/from work, i look up. it's a habit.

since the day i got my glasses (as mentioned in previous post), i cannot help but to look up. i can't help but to wonder what may be there that i have not been able to see.

it is gracefully rewarding, to look somewhere different.  looking up, i found many beautiful anomalies, including plastic bags that flew off, flying higher than any birds.  a runways balloon from a festivity, seeing the world it never could imagine in a ball room.  little planes, carrying people with eyes and hearts, seeking and soaking in the view from the other side.  snow that floats quietly, melting as they come- impossible to see at an eye level. rain drops that magically appear without any warning. the last leaves of the autumn and the first fuzz of the spring on sleepy buds.

yes, they are expected. they are cyclic. they happen.

but when i see them in the moment, they make me 'live' with them. often i make a little noise of wonder. as if i never grew up.  breath escaping the body, in great sense of wonder: how big and how beautiful this world is.

and the success of the morning is a gigantic step for the human kind.  the first one that is specifically designed to take us somewhere new- mars. i texted my friend who's got a wee kid. i asked him to watch it with the little baby. it's important!

there are rashes against such 'adventures.'  what of this earth? what about the people who could use the help now? why are we dreaming of living in a space that we cannot- arid, metallic, harsh and no real source of water or oxygen?  why can't we concentrate here?

if i did just that, i would've never seen the stars that fell into my eyes, forever leaving their marks, right through my heart.

as a small person in the big world, i am dying to get out next monday, to be close to the arctic cycle.  why? i cannot explain exactly. i have seen it on pictures and webcams. i have read about it. however, i do know that i want to get there. once i am there, my eyes will see what they wanted to see. the vision that spoke through the heart, long before i realized it, probably.

going to mars- it's the same thing. sense of wonderment. of awe. this is huge, this IS the apollo of my generation! we are going somewhere and that new direction took a very real step today.

if we are to be practical, we all should dig holes and lie in it. by simply living, we are wasteful.  after all, how many of us are actually 'important' to the rest? when my brother died, i learned that the world didnt change. it wont. it cannot.  last night, hit with heavy nostalgia, i went through list of 'friends' on my crackbook. lost a few friends already. and when tried to recall all the characters that i was so attached to at certain points, i could not.  a few has became apparitions of themselves already, in my mind.  i could see them and recall them. i cannot get back in touch with some of them (i have no idea how to even go about that), and a few, i cannot even real their last names.

may be this is what drives me outward.  gravity, which is very much like love, holds our feet down. it brings us back to where we are.  we were. we can be.  we can go to mars. we can come back.  it may have no practical value, but no life does.

there i was, 7am, on a morning-off, eyes barely open, and i watched orion go. and at 1130am, it came back.

we are going somewhere we don't really know yet.

the call of the north will take me on monday evening, to a place i do not know yet.

i have to keep my eyes open. eyes open, for the wonderment of the world. for it to burn a bright track on my brief mind.  the world is beautiful and we have a new ship. we go. i will sleep with fibrillating heart. with scintillating dreams.

there's time for many words, and there is also time for sleep.
(homer, the odyssey)



… what shall we ever do?

and just like that, the way to the north has been paved.

fuelled by jazz gig i went to last thursday eve (in-your-face-beat-up metal jazz), the little blocks fell into place, no gaps- hyper-real tetris game.

chasing after a feeling over and over and over again, in obsessive manner, decisions simply take shape. it was made already, somewhere, long ago, now catalyzed.

i build a collage. i build a ship. i build a door for my cage. confluence.

each time i travel, there's something to find. sometimes, with people. sometimes, alone.
but always in flux of confluence.  tossing self out of the 32nd floor concrete nest, i always find something. something that was waiting for me- for how long, i may never know.

at the local gear shop, kind salesperson who was helping brought up the idea of solace in desert.  his was the mojave desert. mine, volcanic steam vent desert of kerlingarfjoll.  and now, to ice desert.

the desert is a place of solace, because it is not barren.
in absence, one may see what one has been seeking.

on top of ben nevis, i recognized the weight of the world.
on edge of the coral reef, i sunk, world disappearing into black.
on rocks of finisterre, i saw alone.
on climbs of cascades, i drank alive.
on boiling mud of kerlingarfjoll, i ate elation.
on bright hills of mont rouge, i devoured adoration.
on crosby beach, i swam love.
on okinagan valley, i paused death of brother.
everywhere i went, there it was. solace.

…winter kept us warm, covering
earth in forgetful snow, feeding…
(5-6, t.s.eliot, the waste land)

to the depth of the winter-
perhaps the trajectory was set long ago, even before my time.
like many before me, i follow the call,
in the night silence, my heart sings,
of the songs that i do not know yet.
of calling.

what shall i see
what shall i find
what shall i sing

… we think of the key, each in his prison,
thinking of the key, each confirms a prison,
only at nightfall, ethereal rumours…
(413-415, t.s.eliot, the waste land)

sinking. drifting.
to sleep. to silence. tomorrow.