Ok ok let me beat you to it:
- “You dummy”
- “Well duh”
- “Hey where’s that $20 you owe me?”
I did a dumb. Here’s what happened.
It all started at Skogafoss
Skogafoss is incredibly beautiful. This also makes it incredibly crowded. But the crowds are worth it, honestly, because look.
I had pulled into Skogafoss at about 2pm. It was crowded all over the place so I didn’t really worry too much about taking many pictures. I figured I’d stop by to see it, then drive to my lodgings for the night, about 20 minutes north of Seljalandsfoss.
So I stopped at Skogafoss. I walked over near the falls, took the above picture, then decided to keep moving, preferring to come back to Skogafoss later.
A note: Iceland is cold
So, I was wearing jeans, a long sleeve thermal something or other, a t-shirt, and an outer jacket. Iceland is cold and windy, even at the end of summer. That said, the heater worked really well in my rental car so I usually tossed the outer jacket in the back of my rental car.
So I did the same this time. Tossed my jacket into the back, closed the hatch, and made my way over to the front door. It was locked. I reached into my jeans pocket for the car keys. There were no car keys in my pocket.
Here’s the thing about Andy and car keys
I’m very much a creature of habit. My phone has always been in a particular pocket, car keys in another, and wallet in another. I’ve been this way ever since I could drive, almost twenty years ago.
Surely you see where this is going at this point, but…
So the one thing that annoyed me about my rental car was that the button to open the hatch was broken. There was an electronic button that just didn’t work, so I had to take my keys out and unlock/open it with the key every time.
So basically what happened was I unlocked the hatch, opened it, threw my camera backpack into the car, and then dropped my keys. When I picked my keys up, for some dumb reason I put my keys in my outer jacket pocket. At the last minute, without realizing my keys were in the pocket, I threw my jacket into the back of the car for reasons still unknown to me.
So when I walked over to the car door, it was still locked. And the electric button to open the rear hatch was still broken.
My keys were locked in my car.
What options did I have?
I called Reykjavik Rent-a-car, from whom the car was rented. They told me there wasn’t anything they could do remotely. They said they could call a courier on my behalf to drive the spare key out to me though. I asked how much that would be.
THEY WANTED TO CHARGE ME $450 FOR A COURIER TO DRIVE A KEY OUT TO ME. This was more than double what I paid to rent a car for a week and was actually $11 more than I paid for my roundtrip airfare to Iceland.
I called my credit card company to see if there was anything they could do. After quite a while on hold, my Chase Sapphire Reserve representative said there was nothing they could do. Thanks, Chase! I subsequently cancelled my Chase Sapphire Reserve and heartily enjoyed telling them why I felt like I wasn’t receiving any value for the $450 annual fee I had paid.
I called Reykjavik Rent-a-car back and asked what the price would be if the car came back with a broken window. They said damage to the car started at $2000, which was hilarious, because the car was not worth $2000.
So what did I do?
I didn’t have a choice: I told them to send the courier. They demanded my credit card number before the courier could leave because he was an independent service and would charge me separately (one of the reasons my credit card insurance couldn’t help).
The courier set off on a 2-hour drive to Skogafoss and I walked around cursing for a while. Then I walked into the cafe near Skogafoss and got some food and stewed in my anger (at myself). I then started to think practically. I called Chase and initiated a chargeback against whoever it was that had just billed me. The agent then said I couldn’t charge anything back since it was my fault and I asked for the service being provided, so unless the guy just randomly didn’t show up they couldn’t do anything. Another thumbs up Chase!
Three hours later
I was sitting in the cafe eating a $40 meal of a burger and fries when I saw a big shiny Mercedes van pull up directly behind my car, blocking it into its parking space.
I walked outside to speak with the guy, who got out of his car to greet me. The following is a retelling of one of the most ridiculously hostile conversations I’ve ever had:
- He asked if I was the guy who called the courier, and, not being in the mood for chit-chat, I replied, “keys.”
- He replied, “Oh, you are still mad you locked your keys in your car,” with a bit of unnecessary attitude
- Not being one afraid of confrontation, I replied, “No, I am mad you are charging me $450 US dollars and showed up an hour late.”
- He replied, “Well I had to stop for a nap, I was very tired.”
- I speechlessly replied, “……….”
- He asked me to sign a credit card receipt, I told him to show me the keys. He showed me the keys, I signed his stupid receipt, and got the keys and my jacket out of my rental car
- I sat down in the car to get my bearings and check the map for where my hotel was when suddenly the driver appeared next to me, his van (and now the driver himself) still blocking me in
- I asked what he wanted. He replied, “I am very tired, do you mind if I have a cigarette very quickly,” and exhaled an enormous amount of cigarette smoke in my face
- I looked at this psycho with every bit of seriousness I have in me and, as calmly as I could, replied, “You have five seconds to move your car before something terrible happens.”
- He saw the truth in my eyes, got in his van, and sped off
As I try to shirk responsibility, let’s talk about Reykjavik Rent-a-car not fixing their cars
Reykjavik Rent-a-car gave me a good price on my vehicle for the week I needed it. They advertise “quality cars” on their site, but the entire reason the keys remained locked in my car was because they bought the absolute cheapest version of my car they could find. When I spoke to a reservations agent upon my return to Reykjavik she informed me that they didn’t pay extra for the ability to unlock the hatch with the remote. That this was untrue didn’t make things better, what a weird way to justify the whole situation: “it’s not our fault, we’re really cheap and try to cut costs wherever we can!”
So, the moral of the story…
Don’t be a stupid like I was. Oh, and make sure trunk buttons work on hatchbacks you rent.