Why the #%@** doesn’t my power outlet work?

By | May 23rd, 2014

The auxiliary power outlet in Robert Mitchell’s rental car doesn’t work. Was it intentionally disabled, and if so, why wasn’t he told about it?

Question: I rented a car in Gloucester, England, through AutoEurope and National. I had my own GPS navigation system with me, but within two hours it died, even though it was plugged in to the auxiliary power outlet.

I called the Gloucester office, and they said if I brought back the car they could “check it out,” but by then I was over 150 miles west of there. So I was not able to use my GPS for the remainder of the eight-day rental.

When I turned the car in at Heathrow Airport, I made a note of the problem with the agent, who said someone from National would get back to me. Nobody ever did, and after repeated attempts to get someone to answer my question, I finally heard back from the car rental company, which admitted that it had disabled the auxiliary power outlet in the car to prevent people from smoking.

I am surprised that they would do such a thing to keep people from using the power outlet. There was no cigarette lighter in the car. I think people should be informed of the runaround you get while trying to address a complaint, and warned about this practice that would prevent them from charging a phone or using a GPS or other device. — Robert Mitchell, Downers Grove, Ill.

Answer: Disabling the power outlet in a rental car is no way to stop drivers from smoking. Haven’t they ever heard of lighters or matches? Also, in this era of power-hungry smartphones and GPS navigation devices, without which we’d literally be lost, I just don’t see how any car rental company could do a thing like this and not tell customers about it. Come on.

Making matters worse, no one could give you a straight answer about the auxiliary power outlet. (I edited your letter for brevity, but let’s just say you jumped through some serious hoops to get that written response from the car rental company.)

AutoEurope should have helped you get a fast answer, not deferred to National. After all, you booked your rental car through AutoEurope. It took your money, and accepted the responsibility for your rental booking along with it.

I think National may have offered a straight answer sooner if you’d pushed a little harder, but what good what that have done? You really wanted something in writing: a confession. Once you had that, you could share it with AutoEurope, and possibly get some compensation.

I contacted AutoEurope on your behalf. Like me, it was surprised to hear that National had disabled its power outlets. It refunded $50 of your rental charge and offered a $50 voucher off a future rental.

Should National have disabled its outlets?

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Posted May 23, 2014
  • Bill___A

    Hertz does not disable theirs. I am surprised that one company would do this when their competition does not. What if someone needed help and their mobile phone was out of power?

  • I find this one hard to believe as I frequently rent from multiple vendors in Europe, always with a GPS. And the GPS is always a portable unit that plugs in to the auxiliary power outlet. So any company which had the outlets disabled would be doing themselves out of revenue. Hardly seems likely.
    More likely is it that this car had a fault in the system.

  • $16635417

    I’m with you. If it was known to be disabled, why would they tell him to bring it back so they could “check it out” and not tell him then it was disabled? I understand why the cigarette lighter is sometimes removed, but I’ve never heard of the power supply being disabled.

    Did he check the fuses? If that were the problem, much simpler to pick up a fuse somewhere than go through what he did.

  • Sam Varshavchik

    Another thing that does not make sense here: every portable GPS unit I owned had an indicator LED on their charge that indicates when they’re receiving power. All GPS units I had would come on automatically, when the car starts and the power comes on.

    It would be pretty obvious to me, right away, if the car’s power plug is not working. I’d have to go out of my way to manually power on the GPS, off its battery.

  • I had something similar happen to me. Rented a car, one outlet didn’t work for some reason, but there was another that did. I plugged my own GPS into the first one when I got the car. I was in a hurry, wanted to get where I was going, and didn’t pay that much attention. Got a low battery notice eventually on my GPS unit. Only then did I realize that the outlet being used wasn’t sending power.

    I made an assumption (shame on me I guess) that by plugging it in, it would work. I found that other outlet, and lucky for me things were OK after that. But I was long gone from the pickup place at that point. I can understand how this could happen for the OP

  • Checking fuses? really? First, not sure one should be messing with fuses on a rental car. Imagine if you did something and messed up the electrical system. Second, not mechanically inclined, and have no desire to have to play auto mechanic on my rental, nor searching for auto parts while on my trip.

  • Molly

    Seriously? There are 4 people who feel a car rental company can do whatever the h#%% they want with their cars just because they own them? How about the jack? The spare tire? Can they just remove those because, after all, they own the cars? Please tell me the 4 of you are trolls and not for real!
    I am a woman who frequently travels on business, both in the US and OUS, I consider this a definite safety issue as it could affect my ability to use a cell phone in an emergency. And I would be furious!
    And please note, he has the rental agency’s admission that they disabled it, he didn’t make it up! Some of the comments below suggest that wasn’t true and the car had an issue a fuse might have solved.

  • John Baker

    I voted that they could do it and I’m not a troll. The cigarette lighter on a vehicle is not a piece of safety equipment like the jack or the spare. Its a convenience like the radio. Not having one doesn’t effect your ability to use your cellphone. Not charging your cellphone or excessively using it does. I use mine all the time without a lighter. I just make sure it stays charged and when I get down to the last 15% I quit using it except for emergencies.

    Having said that, I would choose not to rent from a company that made this choice but it doesn’t mean that they CAN”T do it.

  • MarkKelling

    In your case you are renting a car AND a GPS from the rental company. They make money off that, so having the plug working is a good thing. Renting a car and using your own GPS does not allow the rental company to make extra money.

  • SoBeSparky

    Such a weighty problem in consumer affairs.

    Really, every device I own shows when it is charging. I always look when I plug something into a USB or power port to make sure it is indeed charging. The OP waited 150 miles? Attention to detail is important to a happy life!

  • MarkKelling

    Do you have a cigarette lighter adapter for your phone? I would bet that most people don’t these days given the long battery life in cell phones so having a working plug does no good in that situation.

  • MarkKelling

    Yes, a rental company can do whatever it wants with its vehicles. They can take out whatever piece of equipment they want, remove whatever fuses they want, charge you whatever they want, rent it to you knowing the clutch is about to go out. As long as whatever they do does not violate local laws they are free to do anything they want with the vehicle before renting it to you. If you don’t like what they do, then choose another company to rent from.

    If you are using your cell phone so much that you need to charge it in the car, then get an extra battery or external battery pack for it. In an emergency where a car breaks down there is no guarantee there will be power coming through the plug anyway.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    My cell phone is now over 2 years old and the battery drains quickly, despite good management practices on my part. I always pack an auto charger when I travel, if I know I’m going to be in a car for a while. I would be very angry if I could not charge my phone and run navigation from the phone while I was renting a car. I didn’t get to vote this morning – it was already voted when I opened the website, but I’d like to vote based on the word “should”. Should National? No. Could National? Yes, their property. So, a “No” vote from me.

    Two things I do, since I seem to be related to Murphy – bring an external charger and bring paper maps and routes I’ve printed out. I survived for years using only paper maps, so it’s a good back up and gives me a larger overview of the area through which I’m traveling. I might have missed seeing Taliesin West if I’d only used my navigation function on my phone while in Scottsdale. Sometimes you can’t get a satellite signal and pre-printed routes help get you on the road and in the right direction until a signal is acquired. Folks on this site steered me toward getting a heavy duty external charger (I use Anker) a couple years back, since my little external battery charger only has room for one charge in it. (I don’t remember the exact case we were discussing, but we went waaay off-topic in the comments). Hope these tips help someone else.

  • jerryatric

    Great reply to 2nd paragraph! When travelling I ensure to take an extra battery,& the necessary plug ins to use at hotels so if needed my cell phone is fully charged.
    First portion of your reply, not so accurate. He did not anticipate, nor was he advised of the fact it had been disabled. He found out on route. He could only change companies after the fact

  • Cybrsk8r

    But it makes no sense, unless you seriously believe that smokers carry around cigarette lighter plugs.

    But there’s an even better way to handle this, so the outlet will work for small devices, but will not light a cigarette. Splice an inline fuse holder into the power lead. Put a 2 amp fuse in it. The outlet will work with a phone charger or other small device, but if someone plugs a cigarette lighter into that outlet, the higher current draw will blow that low amperage fuse.

  • Bill___A

    I have a “sat nav” as the British call it and I also have a lighter adaptor for my phone. It is a high amperage one that can charge 2.1 amps – dual output. I have one in my car at home and one in my case for travel. I also have a reserve battery. Since I use a local SIM card, I use my phone a lot more when travelling. I just came back from a 1400 mile road trip in the UK, rented from Hertz.

  • Zod

    I guess cigarette lighters and matches haven’t made it to England yet. Here is my bit of conspiracy theory on this. They disabled the outlet because you did not purchase their GPS option.

  • Oh, now that is a conspiracy theory. Yummy!

  • emanon256

    I’m thinking that he just got a BS answer in the hopes he would leave them alone. They asked him to bring it back to check it out, why would they say that if they knowingly disabled it? I am guessing it was just a blown fuze. As someone who used to travel the country for work and rent about 50 cars a year, and bring my own GPS (Before it broke), I have had to replace the fuses on rental cars on several occasions. Every time I have not gotten power, its been a blown fuse, and I can always find one at a gas station. Now that I use my phone for GPS, I also always carry a high capacity battery pack.

    As a side note, I don’t see how disabling it would prevent people from smoking unless the lighter was still in there and then they could still use a lighter. But I really really really hate it when people smoke in rental cars.

  • emanon256

    HA, I just wrote almost the same thing. Maybe I should read the comments first. My first thought was the fuse as well, I’ve had to replace them on several rental cars.

  • emanon256

    I bought a portable USB battery pack, and it was one of the best purchases I ever made. It was $50 and can charge my cell phone from 0 to 100% 6 times, and my iPad from 0 to 80% once. It can even charge multiple devices at once.

  • Vec14

    That was my thought too – “You don’t want to pay for our GPS, we’ll make sure you can’t use yours.”

  • emanon256

    I also voted that they can disable the outlets. I am not a troll, and have never worked for a rental car company, in fact I despise a lot of their practices, but this one I dont; have a problem with. A cigarette lighter is nto a saftey feature on car. Remember back before people had cell phones? Yeah they help, but just don’t over use it and you will have juice if you really need it.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I don’t know anybody that drives any amount that doesn’t have a car adapter for their phone. And certainly many travelers would have one for exactly the reason the OP did.

  • emanon256

    Google this one: “Anker 2nd Gen Astro3 12000mAh Portable External Battery USB Charger with PowerIQ”

    I have the prior version with 1 smart port and two dumb ports, this one has all 3 smart ports and is $5 less than mine was. This charges my phone fully 6 times. It’s amazing!!!

    I am a big fan of maps, I know I kill trees by using them, but I always have paper directions just in case. I too am a frequent victim of Murphy.

  • emanon256

    Back when I was a consultant, I drove new places every week for many years, and I have never owned a cigarette lighter adapter for my phone. If it was a true emergency and I had no power, back before I bought my battery pack charger, I could charge my phone from my laptop.

  • EdB

    I’m surprised, with it being National, that they didn’t claim he damaged it and tried charging him $499 in repair cost.

    I would agree with what others have said and the “disabled it” comment was just to get him to go away. If they admitted it was broken, they might have been worried he would come back with a demand for compensation since they would have admitted to renting him a car with a defect.

  • That’s really funny.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    If I had to guess, I’d say they probably just unhooked the plug behind the dash. They could go the fuse route, but only if the plug was on its own fuse. But I’d have no clue where to look for a fuse in England and even less desire to do so.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Amazing the difference between folks. I always have a car adapter for my phone. For me its a no-brainer. Dead phone = unhappy Carver

  • Joe_D_Messina

    But nobody rents out a vehicle thinking that only safety equipment will be functional. And it’s arguable that in this day and age an electrical plugin is, in fact, a safety device. What if their phone was totally dead and they needed to make an emergency call?

    And not telling people the plugin isn’t functional beforehand just invites people to take their eyes off the road and fiddle around with the plugin to see why it isn’t working. If somebody had an accident doing that I wouldn’t be surprised if the rental car company wouldn’t be found liable in some court someplace.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I think the point is they can disable but, but that they need to disclose this decision so that the renter can make an informed decision.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    As long as they disclose whatever they do.

  • Dutchess

    “given the long battery life in cell phones”

    Apparently you aren’t a smartphone user! I ALWAYS have a car adapter with me for my phone. I’m leaving for the airport in about 2 hours and I make dang sure it’s in my bag before I leave.

  • bodega3

    I think ‘fiddling’ when driving would be found to be a safety issue.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I’m not sure I agree with you about the safety issue. People’s habits/expectations change as well as the infrastructure that we live in. Most notably the near extinction of pay phones given the assumption that most people have cell phones. If you ever get stranded and you cannot make a phone call to AAA, tow truck, police, etc. you might be stranded for a very long time. I don’t even keep a flash light in my car because my smart phone as one built in.

  • LeeAnneClark

    I’m with you Carver. GOTTA have my phone. I don’t go anywhere without a car adapter.

  • ChBot

    In a true emergency, I hope you never have to rely on charging your cell phone from the cigarette lighter plug !…
    Difficult to do if you just had an accident and the engine isn’t running anymore…

  • emanon256

    I guess I am old school. I drove for many years without a cell phone and never worried then. While cell phones are an added convenience, I don’t see is as a mandatory safety item. I always have a flashlight and towel in my travel back for emergencies. Even today, the most common place that used to have a pay phone, gas station, wills till have a phone inside you can use to call AAA. besides, most cell phone don’t work if you break down in the middle of no where anyway. My attitude is be prepared, but don’t worry about what might happen, enjoy what is happening.

  • emanon256

    I woudl hope they woudl pull off the road before fiddling with anything in the car. Than again, almost every day on the way to work I see people stop at green lights, swerve in and out of lanes, and they are almost always either talking on their cell phone, or holding it up like they are reading e-mail or texting. If people can’t learn to be patient, or pull off the road, I think smart phones are going to be the downfall of society.

  • MarkKelling

    iPhone 5S. Never have battery life issues. Maybe I’m just lucky?

  • MarkKelling

    Many rental cars now come with no spare tire or jack because the manufacturer chooses not to include those items. This is not a choice made by the rental company to remove the item but is not disclosed anywhere. Many renters are shocked when they have a flat and find no spare. Should the rental agreement therefore have a statement is easy to read type stating “No Spare Tire In Vehicle”? If not for this, then I would argue not for anything the rental company removes or disables as well.

  • EvilEmpryss

    Thank you! That was my first thought! There’s no way it was actually disabled — at least not for the lame reason given. They just didn’t want to have to give the LW compensation for a faulty component that some travelers would refuse the vehicle for.

    And external charging packs for portable devices are readily available, making it easier to go longer between chargings, and would have made it a lot easier for the LW to get around with that GPS. Annoying to have to do it, but not unreasonable to have one as a precaution.

  • MarkKelling

    True on the current rental, but the company will then loose a customer for future rentals. But since most travel related companies don’t seem to care if you do business or not, probably won’t make them change their ways.

  • MarkKelling

    I knew one co-worker who was a smoker who carried around a cigarette lighter plug because he was upset about how many rental cars didn’t have them. I tried not to travel with him because a) I don’t smoke b) he always smoked in the rental car we had to ride in c) he would argue with the rental car return person that it was his constitutional right to smoke anywhere he wanted.

    The fuse issue may be exactly what happened – the fuse blew because the last renter plugged too many things in. Not sure what amperage the lighter fuse might be in a car (never had to replace the fuse for that in any vehicle I ever owned), but 12 V DC amps are a lot higher than 120 V AC amps to produce the same relative power to the attached devices.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I don’t think we can reasonably compare something that many manufacturers do, i.e. not include spares and jacks, with cars destined for rental lots with something that a single car rental company location is alleged to have purposely done, i.e. disable the power port.

    It comes down to would a reasonable consumer be able to make an informed decision.

    The former is an industry practice thus renters may be charged with constructive notice. Plus, many car companies will remediate a flat tire at no expense thus no detriment to the renter. The disabled car charger is unique to this location and no consumer could reasonably know this before renting a car. Further, the car rental company does not provide an alternative for the disabled power port.

  • ShrimpBoy

    Or the idiot could have just spent 39 cents on a fuse…..

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    That’s not my experience. Many of my local gas stations do not have pay phones or even phone books as I learned the hard way. In retrospect that makes sense. Why would a company install and maintain a pay phone that no one uses. That would probably loose tons of money.

    Outside of airports, I don’t know anywhere that you can depend on finding a pay phone. I”m not even sure about the airport now that I think about it.

    My guess is that pay phones exists primarily in places where the law requires the phone company to install them.

  • MarkKelling

    Agreed on pay phones at the airport. The airports I go through regularly have removed most all the pay phones that were easily found and installed free charging stations and/or laptop desks. They also provide free WiFi.

    I do still occasionally find working pay phones at gas stations along secondary highways where cell service is spotty.

  • MarkKelling

    If your business requires you to be on the phone, then I can see your concern. I don’t spend that much time on the phone either for business or personal purposes so my phone lasts without issue until I get to the next location where I can plug it in to either a wall plug or a USB port on my computer.

  • bpepy

    We rented a car from Budget (SUV–that’s what you need) in Costa Rica recently, and a GPS, also a necessity there. When we were about half way to our first destination, the GPS battery died, even though it was plugged in to the cigarette lighter. There was no Budget facility there so we went to Alamo, our only choice. The mechanic there checked it out, found a blown fuse and replaced it for free! Props for Alamo! Budget still charged us $15/day for the GPS, didn’t care that we had repaired the car ourselves. Don’t use Budget!

  • $16635417

    Yes really. Glad I was taught early in life how to make some simple home and auto repairs like changing a fuse or a tire. (Thanks Dad!) If that was the cause, I’d have the GPS going in no time, or at least know the fuse was good.

  • emanon256

    I just looked at my car and the lighter fuze is 7.5A. Of course, not all cars are equal. I had a previous car where the lighter fuze blew all the time and it was 2A, I finally put in a 5A and never had an issue again.

  • $16635417

    That’s fine. If it’s too much trouble to check and pop out a fuse and replace it (spares are generally stored in the fuse box) then go without the power outlet until you can get it looked at.

  • emanon256

    I’m thinking of switching to the 5S. When I had the 4 it lasted 2 days with heavy use. Now I have the 5, and after upgrading to IOS 7 the battery dies in a few hours even if I don’t use it. I have turned off all of the features, including background app refresh, and it still dies on me all the time. Others with the 5S are like you, no issues. Although I try not to be dependent on my phone so I will wait until this one finally dies to get the next model.

  • bodega3

    Hope you tipped the person.

  • emanon256

    I think replacing a fuse is easier and safer than changing a tire. I mean no insult, but if your car blows a fuse, do you take it to a mechanic to replace it? My cars have always blown fuses pretty frequently. I always keep spares, an most of the newer cars have spares right in the fuse box including rentals.

  • crash025

    You’ve caught a lot of flack in the last year to support travel companies. With companies like this whom intentionally drag their feet and refuse to cooperate… why do you still support them? This is unacceptible behavior. Travel hasn’t gotten any better over the years. Why won’t you name and shame some of the companies whom have intentionally and majorly screwed up.

  • Yep. Said I wasn’t mechanically inclined. I don’t know, and that’s I have a good relationship with my mechanic. ;) but I can easily change a tire. So, to each their own

  • Helio

    I have an USB adapter, and I’m able to plug almost any device with an USB cable (of course I need to carry the cable too.)

  • bodega3

    National has many locations throughout the United Kingdom. If this was so important, why didn’t the OP go to another location and have them look at the port? People have traveled in years past without a GPS and road maps are still available in the UK for purchase so all wasn’t lost I am sure. AutoEurope does have a toll free number to call that is always on the voucher and the OP could have called them to find a local National desk.

  • Helio

    Same for me ;-)

  • emanon256

    I bet you could do it if you tried :) Its actually easier than changing a light bulb. Give it a shot the next time it happens and save some money.

    http://www.edmunds (dot) com/how-to/how-to-inspect-and-replace-automotive-fuses.html

  • omgstfualready

    I agree – I was at Midway last month and saw a pay phone and put a pic on facebook and got exactly the reaction I expected (people over 40 had ‘memories’, under 40 laughed and laughed). When people see a car on the side of the road most people keep driving and don’t offer to help – you assume the driver has a cell to call for themselves.

  • Helio

    My 5, with no use, spends about 20% of its charge each day. But depending on the apps I’m using (games and navigation, usually), a full charge may last few hours.

  • bodega3

    BTW, thumbs up to AutoEurope. I have sold them for years and rented our car in EDI through them. They have never let me down on any booking…ever!

  • emanon256

    Mien was like that before IOS7, not too bad. But now if I actively use it, say to read this site, it will die within an hour. Its really sad.

  • Helio

    I agree. If I see an outlet, I’ll assume it will work. If the car has a sign that it was disable, OK, I can decide if I want or not this car. But I have to have the opportunity to make the decision knowing all the facts.

  • Or you didn’t just come off of a cross Atlantic flight. I almost always plug my phone in right away. If I’m domestic then I also use my phone as a GPS. I’d be peeved if the power port didn’t work.

  • Helio

    I agree with you, but they need to disclose it. Everybody assumes that all you see you can use.

    Let’s think about the radio. The renter can buy a car without a radio, or remove the radio and put a cover in the dashboard. If I don’t see the radio, OK, I’ll not have any expectation to listen music or news. But if the renter keep the radio on the dashboard, but disabled it, without disclosing it, and I find it later, I’ll be very, very upset.

  • I found out that the “find my iPhone” app was draining my battery and also sucking up my data. I had to remove the app and refresh the settings. The problem went away.

  • I may do that, but not on a rental.. ;)

  • emanon256

    After I turned off Background App Refresh tat app stopped working. Ill just try deleting it and see if that helps, thanks!

  • Helio

    The cigarette plug will work until the car battery ends… ok, the car key must be in the ON position, but the engine don’t need to be running to have electric power in the car.

  • OP might have been jet-lagged. And the default is that you will get a power port that actually works.

  • EdB

    Some cars, the key doesn’t even have to be on for the plug to work.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Towel? Douglas Adams fan, are you?

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Oooh – shiny new technology! Thanks for the update.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    My Ford will charge without the key. Imagine my surprise when I learned that’s not universally true. Dead phone…unhappy Carver

  • emanon256

    Perhaps :) Actually, I only read the book once, but I thoguth the towel was such a good idea and I always have one with me. I can’t tell you the number of times it has come in handy.

  • Mark Carrara

    In the US at least I could see leaving a jack and spare tire as a liability issue. When I got a flat on a rental car I didn’t even look for a spare I called the 800 number. It’s their car let them change the tire.

  • bpepy

    Yes, we did, quite generously.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I’d sure appreciate a sticker or something like that on the glove box exterior. You know, where people normally put the manual for the car. Come to think of it, if there’s an outlet in the car that’s been disabled, why not put a sticker on that, too? A little red sticker with an X on it, or something like that.

  • $16635417

    I had a college roommate who was driving back to school on a busy Sunday. He mentioned he had a flat tire and it took over 2 hours for AAA to come and change it. I asked him why not change it yourself and keep driving. He looked at me like I suggested changing a fuse or something and said that he PAID for AAA up front to do that, so he shouldn’t have to do that himself. I shrugged my shoulders and said something like for 15 minutes work, I’d do it my self to be able to keep moving.

    Several days later asked if it really takes 15 minutes to change a tire and if it was really that easy. We went outside, and showed him how to put the spare on. I had him take off the spare and put the tire back on.

  • emanon256

    Wow, I always thought AAA was to tow you if you break down or end up in a ditch, I didn’t even know AAA would change a tire. I guess I was brought up differently than a lot of people. Ive always done as much as I can myself, and I learned most of it from reading the manual that comes with the car, or those cheap guides they used to sell at auto parts stores.

    Glad you taught your roommate. I would rather just change it an be on my way than wait around too.

  • JimDavisHouston

    I check outletss before I leave the lot. No power? Exchange the car

  • fshaff

    I recently rented a car from Budget at IAD. Upon leaving the parking lot, I attempted to hook up my GPS and found that I had no power from the 12V outlet. I immediately turned around and spoke with one of the reps. He noted it on my paperwork that the outlet did not work, however, the one in the rear did, so I was happy and continued on my way. I don’t know if it was disabled or if a fuse was blown, and neither did he. On a side note, this car (2014 VW Jetta with about 10K on the odo) had numerous scratches and some minor dents/dings on it. I documented all of this on their damage report as well as taking numerous pics. I asked the agent to sign the form and he told me “those are not big enough or serious enough to report”. I told him I didn’t care what he thought, I am reporting them and I wanted him to see them and acknowledge them. He did. I’m still somewhat worried that I will get a claim against me sometime in the future.

  • sunshipballoons

    Should National have disabled its outlets?
    No – what were they thinking? (94%, 547 Votes)
    Yes, the cars are their property. (6%, 32 Votes)

    — I mean, clearly the cars are their property and they have the RIGHT to disable the outlet. But that has nothing to do with whether they *should* and whether they should tell you about it if they do.

  • sunshipballoons

    If it’s draining in an hour, and you have an Exchange account, that is likely the culprit. You can google how to fix this, but the gist is delete and reinstall the exchange account.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I doubt that they would go and disable the cigarette lighter if you don’t rent their GPS

  • Jim

    You mean they didn’t try to chagre him because he broke it!?!? Hehehehe…

  • Travelnut

    So I was kind of dimly aware these kinds of things existed but never really gave it much thought otherwise. You guys have convinced me! I just ordered the exact Anker battery pack you suggested ($46 on Amazon – $54 off!) plus the Anker Mini. Last summer I depended on Google Maps on my phone to get around. I was on the city bus in Stockholm when my phone ran out of juice. I had memorized which stop to get off at, but if not I would have been in a pickle. It would have been nice to just get out the charger. I learn so much from this forum…

    I use Google Maps as my GPS pretty much all the time. I’d absolutely expect the outlet to be working, and sadly I would also be the type to not notice it wasn’t working until I was far away. If they did permanently disable it, that would be a pretty dirty trick but I will assume it was just the fuse.

    But find and install a fuse myself, in England? LOL! I’m doing great just to check the pressure in my tires and add air. (I’m my mother’s daughter… she never even pumped gas in her life.) GPS sucks the battery life for sure.

  • Travelnut

    I’ve used Auto Europe for over ten years and have always had a good experience.

  • orsay

    True, it depends on what you use your phone for!

  • JenniferFinger

    If they were going to disable their adapter, they should have said so, not just disabled it and casually said, “Oh, it’s to keep people from smoking in the car.” That makes no sense. People don’t need power adapters to light cigarettes, and it’s just plain dishonest that they provide a disabled feature and don’t tell you about it.

  • Cornhusker

    I know of no car rental companies that intentionally disable the 12V power outlets. The most common mode of their failure is a past renter’s phone or GPS charger having a short, due to the cord accidentally having been pinched in a door or in a glove box or when packed for travel. This short can quickly pop the fuse. Other than there being no visual indication of power present at the charger, there is no audible evidence of this fuse being blown. With a zillion people having been in that vehicle before you, the chances multiply that at one time or another, they have suffered the demise of their charger and thus the failure of the outlet fuse in the vehicle. If 12V power is essential to you, make sure the LED is lit on your charger or the charging indicator on your phone or GPS screen gives positive indication of charging taking place. Otherwise, just tell them the vehicle is unacceptable for this reason and don’t take their “that is the only car left” excuse not to fix it or give you another car. Since I am also a ham radio operator, I make sure I have a couple of spare fuses in my bag of the values common to these circuits to be sure I have power available to power and charge my handheld radio. I also have one of those 12000 ma chargers precharged and ready to go if on a long trip.

  • BMG4ME

    That’s fine, it’s one less company for me to choose from, makes the choice easier.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    A new low in screwing your customers plus telling them they’re idiots! Keep people from SMOKING? Who would buy such a lame excuse? Maybe the customer carries various little cigarette lighters on the trip to use in the rental car?? Our last visit to France, the outlet was dead, there was only one in the whole car … I chalked it up to coincidence. Even the “car guru” hotel maintenance guy couldn’t figure it out. We always meant to stop at a dealer but instead just charged our stuff in the hotel rooms. We rent through AutoEurope, so can’t remember the rental company. OK, I’m adding this to my list … soon it will take me an hour to get out of the durn rental car lot and get the trip started.

  • PsyGuy

    I use a map and compass, which usually gets me hopelessly lost. Then I start asking people for directions, which has introduced me to some great people.

  • Dutchess

    I have the 5s as well, it lasts the day (mostly) but I don’t consider that long life. If you’re doing any type of GPS that’s going to suck the life out of your phone.

  • innchfromnj

    While I’ve never experienced such an occurrence, It is pretty easy to surmise why National does this. The answer is simple. For a price, Most car rental companies offer some sort of navigational aid. Now why would anyone want this when they can simply use their GPS enabled mobile phone or a standalone GPS device. The short answer is ‘no one’.
    By disabling the power point(s) in the vehicle National is ‘trapping’ ( should the GPS be a must have) the user into paying for national’s gps service. Not very consumer friendly.
    I don’t think National/Alamo would ever get to pull that crap here in the States.