#protip – never rent a ZipCar unless you know exactly where it is located. As in you’ve eyeballed the spot and the car yourself BEFORE you book it.

Am spending the day down in Palo Alto today, and had a gap between meetings. I’m meeting up with a mate down here for an Advance event at 6pm, and he’s going to give me a ride back to the city, so I thought, sweet, I’ll catch the Caltrain down.

Then a friend at Google messaged me and suggested I come over there for lunch, meet some people in the field, hang out – perfect. The cabs here in Silicon Valley are really expensive and hard to find, so I thought, sweet, I’ll get a Zipcar from Mountain View, duck over to Google, have lunch, do the meeting with the lawyers at 3pm, then drop the car back at Mountain View, train it a couple of stops to the 6pm event, and get a ride home.


The first unfortunate thing is that Zipcar’s Mountain View location isn’t actually in Mountain View. Doh. Get off the train in the wrong place, and have to head back one stop to San Antonio. One stop in these rip off dirty stinky taxis – $14 please. My mistake; booked the Zipcar in a hurry at a cafe in Palo Alto and was on the train when looking up the address, and was too slow.

Then I get dropped off right where Google Maps says the Zipcar will be – 175 S San Antonio Road. Turns out, though that Google Maps on the mobile is wrong. Wrong by miles. Would have taken 45 mins to walk between where it said the location was, and where the car actually was.

Of course, I didn’t realize this until I’d been looking – on foot, in the sun – for the car through the large parking lots around the Safeway, or the business park, or even in the underground garage next to the Caltrain. I inspected every Prius, hoping for it to be a Zipcar. FAIL.

So, after 45 mins, I call Zipcar, and we have an entertaining chat about the nearest cross streets. Then I realized Google was way off, and decided more than an hour after getting off the train in Mountain View to give up on the whole plan entirely.

So, relying on technology for location, and Zipcar to actually have the car in Mountain View where they say it is on the listing, not Los Altos where it actually is located, ended up with a whole day of fail. Perhaps I’ll have to buy a car to survive here after all.

3 thoughts on “ZipFail

  1. i had similar issues when I was in SF and looking to go down to Palo Alto for 1 day only.

    I checked out Relay Rides, Get Around, Zip Cars, CalTrain, walking, biking and eventually ended up going through the normal route and hiring a car via Priceline (Enterprise was the vendor).


    – Zip Car: needed to pay $40 registration fee + plus some other fees. Wasn’t worth it for 1 day

    – Get Around: i got halfway, then it asked for a US credit card. I borrowed a friend’s. Then it asked for US drivers license. Fail

    – Relay Rides: Similar issues to above.

    – Priceline: typical car hire with added bonus of being able to provide your price and vendor can match it. Enterprise was recommended to me and it was good. Cost me about $110 for the day, including petrol. I wasn’t aware of being able to negotiate the price until i purchased it. it was great for one day, but you couldn’t do it every day.

  2. I did the move to the USA back in 2009 (back in Aus now), good luck getting a loan for a car. 🙂 I’d stick with ZipCar, even with it’s issues – it’ll be way cheaper and easier for you until you’re fully “setup”.

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