While I’ve had my Zipcar membership for 6 months now, I had yet to use it until yesterday afternoon. I waited so long mostly because the nearest Zipcars to me are still a few miles away, so it wasn’t super convenient to use, and most of the time I was able to borrow a friend’s car or their time to shuttle me and my things around, or public transit worked just fine.
Booking & Managing Reservations
I needed to run a few errands yesterday that required a car, and with no one else available and knowing public transit would triple the time it would take, I made my first reservation. I found that the Zipcars at Santa Clara University were pretty popular and only one was available when I needed it, a Ford Focus Hatchback. In the end, I found I wasn’t a huge fan of the car itself (it doesn’t handle nearly as well as other hatchbacks I’ve driven, specifically Mazda’s), nor did I care for the huge pain in the rear that Microsoft Sync turned out to be (painful to navigate, needed to be restarted when the car turned back on before Aux audio would work again, etc..), but those aren’t indicative of Zipcar’s service in general.
The booking process was very simple. I made the initial reservation on the computer the morning of and in minutes I had it confirmed. A few hours before my reservation I got a reminder email and then another just before my reservation.
Originally I only reserved the car for two and a half hours, but half an hour before my time was up, I realized I needed some extra time. I pulled up the mobile app to see if I could extend my reservation. Opening the app immediately brought up details about my current reservation, and by simply tapping a few buttons I was able to see that no one had reserved the car after me and I could add on an extra hour. The app notified me that it would change the cost billed to me and after I approved it, I was done. The whole process took about a minute.
The Tech Wow Factor
Being a tech geek, one of the coolest things was being able to unlock the car with my card. You just hold your Zipcard above the reader on the windshield and after a moment it unlocks the car (or locks if it’s already unlocked). There is also a feature in the mobile app to honk and unlock the car similar to having a remote if you’re in a hurry.
Overall it’s a pretty cool system and works really well for when you need a car for a few hours. And now that I’ve tried it and liked it, I’ll probably be using it a little more often.