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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hell, frozen over.

Or how conventional wisdom rules all. Having just rented a car for a business trip, I looked down at the counter in Enterprise and noticed what I thought was a typo, but no, there it was: $1.15 per gallon for gas if you pre-pay. Surely a seam in the universe opened up and things were going to start self-destructing, no? For newbs, let’s review some of the time-honored rule-of-thumb travel mantras:

- Don’t vacation in Lebanon.
- Only drink bottled water.
- Never buy the extra insurance
- Whatever you do, don’t ever pre-pay for gas.


But, in a moment of weakness, I have to say I was tempted. Easy. I didn’t give in. When asked about it, the friendly Enterprise dude Jim said, “Yeah, we need to do a better job of telling people about this. They don’t have a clue.” Which makes you realize that how much of an uphill battle that would be because of the baggage that comes with the rental experience. People just automatically expect to get screwed, so they become numb to something like gas prices being waaaaaaay lower than the national average.

Because of that conditioning, when they do see something like lower prices, what’s their first reaction: “What’s the catch. There’s a catch, right? There’s always a catch.” Turns out, no catch. It’s just that you’re so used to being screwed that something like this takes you out of that defensive mindset and you aren’t sure how to deal with it.

As tempted as I was to go for it, I didn’t. Why? Because everyone knows you never pre-pay for gas. Ever. Geez.

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