Posts tagged “rental”

It’s the sharing economy all the way down

When things start getting really silly, you know you are in a bubble.

A San Francisco startup called Breeze is renting brand-new Toyota Priuses to people who want to drive for Uber and Lyft. There is huge demand from people who don’t own cars to be part of the ‘ride-sharing’ economy,” said CEO and co-founder Jeff Pang. Breeze now has 25 cars, all fully booked by drivers who answered its Craigslist ads or heard about it from friends. “We don’t buy outright as that’s a capital-intensive, asset-heavy model,” said co-founder Ned Ryan. Instead, Breeze rents the brand-new vehicles from an unnamed partner in the automotive space.

Yes, Breeze rents cars from their source, then rents them out to people who don’t own their own cars who then rent out their unused vehicle capacity to people who also don’t have cars but need rides.

Someone has been watching too much Portlandia.

Mixed Signals

From a recent rental, here’s a dashboard indicator I’d never seen before. As far as I could figure out, while the car is warming up, the engine temperature light shows a green “cool” indicator. At least, it disappeared after a few minutes, so I concluded that was associated with the car warming up. We don’t want the engine to be too cold, and any indicator at all is perhaps a bad (or less good) thing, so it seemed to be a warning. But green is good, so is it good that it’s lit up? Is it good that the engine is cool? Is it bad when it goes out?

See more of my Vancouver pictures here.

Lame Budget practice

I rented a car from Budget earlier this week. I probably won’t do so again. They have a new practice, presented as a time-saving feature. If you drive less than 75 miles, they add $9.00 to your bill as a flat rate for gas consumption.

If you filled up yourself, present the bill and they’ll deduct the amount.

I didn’t pay that close attention upon renting when they asked me in their script-like manner if I planned to drive more than 75 miles. I mean, who the hell knows? I didn’t realize until checking the paperwork later that it wasn’t an optional program. I guess I could have used the odometer in the car to track my mileage to see what was going to happen, and then do some estimating math to see if the price of gas available locally at the car’s typical MPG would be more or less than $9.00. But I didn’t. I filled up the car myself, and remembered to have the receipt handy.

When I pull in to the return and am unloading the car, the usual parking-lot-Borg comes over with all their electronic gear, and when I ask about the charge, they tell me I have to go inside. So they ring me up, effectively charge me the amount including the $9 and then I have to take my bags back inside and wait for the one employee working inside to look over my receipts (one for gas, one for their service) and issue me a new version of the latter.

This is not a time- or money-saving feature for me. It probably makes money for them based on some estimated cut-off level, etc.

It’s not optional; I’m forced to alter a fairly traditional way of managing things to suit them. I’m not doing it. I’ll go somewhere else. It’s pretty much a commodity business anyway.

Renting Possessions has a story [via Techdirt] about all the different services where people can exchange or “flip” their products, in essence you buy something and then resell it, so you’re only owning it for a short time for a small cost. This it the Netflix model (packaged differently). I guess that’s the gold standard now, Netflix-for-X.

But one model they mention is eBay – where the exchange is between individuals, rather than a controlled top-down facilitated exchange via a Netflix. As Dirk pointed out in email, there’s a too-much-stuff semi-conservation thing at root here as well, we can’t deal with any more stuff. That led me to consider a few other services that are out there as part of the “access-not-ownership” trend.

Freecycle is a grassroots organization that sets up local email groups (I run the Coastside group where I live) for people to get rid of stuff they’d otherwise throw out by offering it free (and only free) to somebody nearby. We got rid of an old shed yesterday – someone came and disassembled it and hauled it away. For free. I got service for free; they got a shed for free.

BookCrossing is all about sharing free books.

I think these peer-to-peer models for exchange of extra stuff (whether free, or commercial, like eBay) are equally valid and hold great potential. Instead of trying to be the next Netflix, maybe more companies should try to be the next Napster?!


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