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Angry Engineer

Nice review - thanks for writing it up! I like the idea of this service and hope that it's successful - it's gotta be very useful for a lot of urban dwellers.

Josh Wardell

Thanks for the review, I have been waiting to hear how it worked. I think it's a great idea for the many, many people who live in metropolitan areas and don't have regular need for cars.

Can you give a more detailed price structure? OK it is $8.50/hr or $65/day, but what are the annual and set-up fees? Don't they have some trial program too?

I hope they remain successful. I imagine they get free or discounted cars because it's also great advertising for the trendy car manufacturers.


In Switzerland this service is called "Mobility" (www.mobility.ch), and when you combine it with the fantastic level of public transportataion and the (VERY) high cost of car ownership, it makes perfect sense. There are a full range of cars and trucks to choose from (over 1700 vehicles), and they are available at over 950 lots distributed accross the country (including almost any train station). The cost/km is still pretty high, and for longer trips a traditional rental car is cheaper, but if you need to get somewhere into the back country (Like that remote alpine chalet) the combination of train and Mobility is absolutely fantastic!

PS - Mobility has been in business since 1987,... and now has almost 60000 customers!

Thatcher Ulrich

I have sadly discovered that in NYC, Zipcar seems to be entirely useless for impulse weekend driving, because all the cars in the metro area are reserved months ahead of time.

Robert Grabel

Zipcar is a joke! Last night, after I almost ruined yet another evening for my wife and I, I simply canceled the reservation and membership. On this particularly, I arrived at 4:56 to pick up a car at 5:00. The attendant told me the car had just be taken out 10 minutes ago. When I called Zipcar service (who cannot disclose their location - fear of retribution I guess), the women politely said, it's not quite 5:00 yet! For 15 minutes, the rep was back and forth with the prior driver telling me that their records indicate that the car is there. Well, needless to say, no car. After the prior experience with zipcar, when the car had also not been there, my wife had made me promise not to go nuts if the same thing happened. Respecting her wishes, I told them to stop looking for the car, cancel my reservation, cancel my membership and return all funds. I do have to say zipcar is pretty consistent - just about everytime I went to use the car, something bad happened! Stay away!


Can you tell us a little more? What town were you in? How far in advance had you booked the car? How did Zipcar handle the refund/return of deposit/cancellation process? Thanks,

robert grabel

This incident took place on the Upper West Side as have all the others. The car had been booked the previous Thursday. In all candor, I have yet to check my credit card for the refund; however, I'd share with you this sequence of events. I surrendered (canceled) at about 5:10 and in the same conversation told them to cancel everything -reservation, membership, deposit and have my funds returned immediately. Still feeling quite irriatated and interested who I should write to, I called at about 5:20 to confirm that my cancellations had been completed. At that point, my reservation still hadn't been canceled and I was told the other (previous) rep was on the phone still trying to find my car. I told her to have the rep stop looking, that I was no longer interested and simply wanted my money back. I'll update this site as I go forward.


I just cancelled my zipcar membership as well. I live in NYC and this service is too stressful here to make it worth while. If you return the car 1 minute late they charge you a $25.00 penalty. Yes, I am clear that you need to have the car back for the next renter but talk about increasing their revenue at renters' expense. Furthermore, if the problem is their fault, say a conjested parking garage or problems getting into your locked car, you still pay.

I completely agree with the above review that mentions that you can forget about impulse use on weekends; no cars.

Finally, the cars are often FILTY (they only check them once a week) and I find riding around with someone's used kleenex and empty coffee cups disgusting.

This is a juvenile company with one goal: make lots of money for them while providing meager service to you. Rent at Enterprise or Dollar or whatever for what SEEMS like a few more $ but realize you get the car for 24 hours.

robert grabel

I had meant to update my comments for sometime but got sidetracked. In a way, I'm glad as I had the chance to read Jen's comments so I can present, as they say on everybody's favorite, Fox News, "fair and balanced comments.

To be fair to zipcar, I ultimately did get my membership fee, deposit and application fee back. No return of rental dollars. This was, howevever, after I sent an email to an employee who was no longer there at the advice of one of the "service" representatives. My return was ultimately handled by a Julian Espurito in the Company's New York Office. Julian was very surprised by my comments and emphasized that if my car was not available, I should have been offered renumeration on whatever means of transportation was required. As noted, this never happened. So I guess that's the good part.

I do, however, concur with Jen's comments. I never had the opportunity to bring in the car late since I rarely actually got the car. And, I didn't bother to mention that on one occasion the car was absolutely filthy. Finally, in the end, I have to agree - if you truly need a car for a specific time and place, pay the very little extra and reserve at Hertz; when you compare the day rate vs. zipcar, it's probably another $20. But it's worth it to save your anger and frusration for the many other opportunities New York has to offer.


I just got home from my first and, probably, last experience of renting a Zip Car. I rented a Volvo, which seemed fine until about 5 hours into my 24 hour rental. Then the tranmission failed completely. I called Zip Car and went through a lengthy voice response system. After explaing my problem 3 times to a curteous but unbelieving operator, was put on hold for several minutes. I finally hung up and called again. After a repeat of the same lenghthy process and explaining my problem yet again, the operator informed me that I had to stay with the car until a tow truck came. However she did not how long that would be. She also refused to call a taxi for me. When I asked for a supervisor, the put me on hold where I stayed for 29 minutes!. I called a third time. This time I spoke to yet another operator, who took my information a third time and informed me that a tow truck had been called, but would not call a taxi for me. He did put me through to a supevisor. She confirmed that their policy is that the renter must stay with a disabled car, but offerd to pay for a taxi ride back home, if I submit a bill. This taxi finally picked me up 3 HOURS after my original distress call!!

Dissatisfied ex-customer

Joined last week cause I was desperate for a car for the holiday weekend. Called the Zip sales person and shes like, "Oh yeah we definatly have PLENTY of $69/day cars for that weekend, no problem (yeah right). So i joined, got my card, activated my membership and as soon as I called, WHAM! some 1984-ish phone-robot "knows" via caller ID that its me & sayz I'll get charged $3.50 to talk to a real person. I go on line and lo-n-behold theres no cars available!
I call the place again and talk to "John" and only THEN I find out they charge you extra for milage over a certain amount PLUS any rental over 3 days you gotta get some special approval from HQ...WHA?!?!? So he makes special arrangments insisting there IS a car a few blocks away, says I got it and he just has to get this approval (a mere formality), says he'll call me first thing the next day to confirm. Next day comes....no John, no phone call, no nothing, not gettn "zip" (heh heh). Go on line, I got no reservation. So I finally get though to a live person and the only car they got for me is 50 miles away in another state!!
THATS IT!! Called National, fixed me up in 5 minutes (at Laguardia airport) I coulda reached though the phone and KISSED that agent.
Called Zip and told em, "ITS OVER ROVER!! GIMME MY $$$ BACK!! You guys don't know ZIP about doin business in NYC!!"


My experience with Zipcar was very positive for the initial 3 months of my membership. The cars worked (had minor issues with the XM radios, and sometimes the cars were left in a very dirty condition by other Zipcar members). What I didn't know, and is indeed specified in an obscure area on their website, is that if Zipcar has ANY problem charging for a car then you are immediately and permanently placed on their "charge at the time of reservation" list and all future reservations will be charged up front. Normally a Zipcar member is charged for the use of a Zipcar AFTER they're done with it. This policy is specified in an obscure area on their website, but it is not mentioned anywhere else. The downfall for me came when they imposed this unfair and punitive "pay in advance" policy to my account after a minor problem with my credit/debit card (note that they were paid in full by the next day). I had given Zipcar over $3400 worth of business in the 3 months of my membership with no billing issues. One minor billing problem and they impose a policy on me that implies that I'm an habitual deadbeat that can't be trusted to pay my bills. The larger problem is that they ignored my 2 emails and phone call to further discuss the matter to come to fair resolution. I offered to pay a penalty fee of up to $30 for their inconvenience but they apparently didn't want to discuss the matter. Consequently, I am again a car owner and have reduced my Zipcar membership from the maximum to the minimum, with little likelihood of much further business with Zipcar, except for emergencies. Zipcar lost well over $10,000 of my future business from simple neglect. So unnecessary and unfortunate.


3400? in 3 months, I'l lend you my car. jeez . what a sucker, they saw you coming a mile away!


If you are lucky enough to live in Chicago, you can have the car share experience with I-GO Car Sharing, Chicago's only non-profit car share. Visit www.igocars.org today!

CP replies: this is a naked advertisement. However, it appears to have been posted by an actual person, rather than a bot. So it can stay.

The only thing of interest to me in Chicago is our friend Amy. You can keep the rest.


Has anyone gotten in-depth details on Zipcar's liability insurance coverage?

According to the terms on the website, Zipcar insurance gets only the MINIMUM liability coverage in each state, which is around $15K-$25K, depending on the state's minimum requirement. Usually, if you rent at a regular car rental company, you can buy SLI (Supplimental Liability Insurance) for about $10-$12 per day. Non-owner auto insurance costs about $300-$500 per year, which is not economically feasible if you are an occasional Zipcar user. I am very surprised that Zipcar does not even offer SLI as an OPTION!

Zipcar client base may compose of mostly students, but if anything happens (knock knock), the person will still be liable for the claim (extending into the future) even if the person does not have a lot of assets right now. I might be wrong on this so any insights will be greatly appreciated!


I have used Zipcar for about 6 months - living downtown M'tan with no rental firm nearby, I thought that having a car in a garage next door was a good thing...
But I can only confirm problems others mentioned with non-availability on weekends, severe problems with reliability/late returns (which undermines Zipcar's business model) and with sub-standard customer service.
I downgraded my membership and will probably not use it much in future...


I'm a Boston resident thinking about selling my car and subscribing to Zipcar. I find it interesting that CarPundit is from Boston and gave Zipcar a positive review, yet so many of the comments have come from unsatisfied subscribers in NYC. New York is a much bigger market than Boston. Perhaps Zipcar can better handle the volume of customer service necessary to operate in Boston than New York? I'd appreciate hearing from Boston residents. Zipcar seems like a great option, but if the service isn't reliable enough to make it worthwhile, I don't want to learn that after having sold my car.


I am glad that I found this blog. I have a situation to share with you; do with it as you may… My accident was April of last year (2006) and I never found out that I was liable for my accident until I got a letter from a third party biller (October 2006). Zipcar never kept me in the loop or informed me that I was responsible for anything OR that they had settled with the other insurance company (wonderful communication with the customer!) I found out after chasing people down at the insurance company that covers Zipcar, that my accident was only covered for 5K (MA minimum). The amount of damage to the other car was 19255.00 according to their insurance company....that means I have to cover the rest of it (>14K)!
I guess one good thing is that if I can give the insurance agency (or
collection agency-whatever they are) a lump sum, they deduct 50% on the
whole thing so I would only have to pay 7K . After doing my research w/ my insurance friends and a lawyer I guess this is normal practice for the third party billers that the other person’s insurance company sold the claim to. ZIPCAR should be clearer in their insurance statement so they don't
come off as if they are going to pay for any accident that happens. Misleading the public to believe that they are fully covered could get them into false advertising claims. If they would have told me what they covered I could have filed a claim w/ my credit card company since I rented it w/ the card. But since there was a delay in telling me, coverage only runs for 30 days past the rental day! Since I live in Boston, I am making sure to tell all of my friends that they really are not covered fully by Zipcar and I would not suggest that they use them. I was a huge advocate to ZIpcar, but once I found out their misleading practices, I am no longer on their side.


Zipcar was quite frankly the MOST horrendus service i've ever experienced. Sound Surprised? I was too.

I've been raving about zipcar positively form onths before i finally became a member. Unfortunately frmo day one of my membership in san francisco the entire company has been nothign but hassles.

In a 5 month membership:

-Zipcar has fcked up my billing on 6 occasions by either double charging me for my monthly fee, NOT using my prepaid charges to cover my car usage ( wtf is the monthyl fee for then?? ), charging me for parking violations it says it paid and then receiving delinquent charges from the city b/c it turns out they were not paid AND then zipcar reps can't agree on whether or not they paid it form week to week - and meanwhile dleinquent charges are piling up

so yea

very disatisfied - cancelled my membershhip last night

and lo lget this

they DOUBLE charged me upon exit - fckn ridiculous

Ziggy Tomcich

I've been a Zipcar member for 2 years now. For the most part it's great. Their cars are far nicer and the experience is usually better then dealing with a car rental agency.

What sucks about Zipcar is their lack of liability insurance. They claim that you don't need to worry about insurance on their website, that it's included in the price of the rental. What's buried in the legalease is the fact that they only cover state minimums for liability coverage, which in many states won't even cover a fender bender.

This should constitute fraud in my opinion. How can they get away with this? I wonder how many other people Zipcar has screwed over. Most Zipcar members have no idea that they'll need their own liability insurance coverage to avoid potential bankruptcy if they get into a major accident.

If you are a zipcar member, MAKE SURE TO HAVE YOUR OWN LIABILITY CAR INSURANCE. I just bought my own non-owners car insurance for $20 a month.

I've had no billing problems with Zipcar yet. Their vehicles are very nice- way way way better then the Detroit rejects you typically find at car rental agencies. Getting a hold of customer service usually is quite painful. Fortunately i only had to deal with them a few times.

There's a nonprofit car-sharing organization in San Francisco called Citycarshare, which is better in almost every way to Zipcar. Zipcar has better rates for daily or long distance rentals. Otherwise Citycarshare is definitely my car sharing organization of choice for a majority of my driving needs.

But on the whole i still like Zipcar. Zipcar, along with Citycarshare, makes living car-free more of a blessing then a curse. I'm so happy that i'm able to have access to a car anytime i want without having to deal with the hassles or expenses of buying and maintaining my own car.

I just hope that we're able to shame Zipcar into providing adequate liability insurance for their members.

-Ziggy Tomcich



Living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and not always wanting to rely on the subway for transportation, I considered joining zipcar. But after the many negative comments, especially from my fellow Manhattanites, I've changed my mind. I'll just continue to rent from the professionals. At least they clean their cars on a daily basis, and inform you of unavailability. Boy, am I disappointed.


I raved about zipcar for months until my experience today. I was in a zipcar, driving down the NJ turnpike heading for Philadelphia when I was pulled over by a NJ state trooper and informed that the license plates for the zipcar I was driving had been REVOKED by the NY DMV and thus he had to impound the car. The tow truck came, the trooper dropped me off at the next rest stop. I called zipcar and told them, they denied it and said all they would pay for is a cab ride back to NYC to pick up a new zipcar. I told them that was unacceptable as I was headed to Philly overnight and already behind from the whole incident. They refused to pay for a rental car to remedy the situation. I ended up having a family member drive two hours to pick me up while I had a great time hanging out in the rest stop.

I called zipcar later in the day again once more to make sure I'd be refunded for the 1.5 hours I actually had the car. They actually said no, that I'd be charged for 2 hours no matter what - even though I went through a major inconvenience, for which they should've bended over backwards to remedy, and I didn't even take them up on their offer for a cab ride back to NYC which would've been about 5x more than the 2 hours of car rental.

I am completely appalled. Zipcar is great ONLY if you never have any problems or come across any unexpected situation. Just pray you never have to deal with their customer service or you're doomed. I am canceling my reservation tomorrow b/c even though I asked to do it today, I am sure they didn't manage to get it done! I will be calling their corporate office tomorrow but I'm not optimistic that anything will actually move them to fix the situation. However, nothing will save my business at this point...time to just buy a car already.

Basically, do NOT use zipcar unless you don't mind spending 45 minutes on the side of the NJ Turnpike and some time in the back of state trooper's car.


I live in Chicago and have three ZIP cars in my building (Marina City - The corncob looking buildings on the river) ZIP car has been a great alternative to owning a car. I've experienced none of the problems others have had in NY. The cars have been clean, ready and available. I'm also a member of I-Go, slightly cheaper and only a block away. Both programs have their advantages and disadvantages. The problems listed seem to be endemic to NY and NJ -
Lived in NY for 5 years, not too surprised by the comments or problems, one of themany reasons I moved back to Chicago.


Be careful about memorizing the fine print on their fees, their late fees are ridiculously high (I just got one for $125 after calling to say I was late).

Similar to DKM's experience above, their stubborn customer service policies just aren't worth dealing with the service.


To echo the comments above, Zipcar is absolutely abysmal in the NYC area. I live on the Upper West Side and concur that the chances of getting a reservation on a weekend are slim to none. I have heard that this is because some of the more 'saavy' members reserve large blocks of time many weeks in advance and then simply cancel the day beforehand to avoid charges. So to get a car you basically keep jamming the refresh button on their website first thing on Friday morning and hope to see a cancellation. It's like waiting in a bread line in Soviet Russia. If you do happen to hit the lottery and get a car, it'll most likely seem like a vagrant used it as a toilet and moved on. Horrible cars, horrible service, horrible fees, horrible company.

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