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Sharing is Caring: A Zipcar Review
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Sharing is Caring: A Zipcar Review

Car-sharing isn’t exactly a new concept, and certainly not one that originated in the US. It has, however, become...

Sharing is Caring: A Zipcar Review
PRODUCT REVIEW

Car-sharing isn’t exactly a new concept, and certainly not one that originated in the US. It has, however, become increasingly popular since fuel prices went up, along with concerns over carbon emissions. Simply put, car-sharing is a business model that provides its customers with the use of a vehicle on an as-needed basis for a nominal fee.  Zipcar is the leader of this growing trend in public transport.

 

A Community of Commuters

There are numerous car-sharing companies in the US, and more pop up all the time, but the business with the lion’s share of the current market is Zipcar. More than 11,000 vehicles are scattered all over the US, Canada, the UK, Austria, and Spain under the Zipcar banner. This armada of autos serves a community of over 700,000 members.

 

Convenient Cost and Coverage

The service is considered a necessary one from both an environmental and an urban-planning perspective. One Zipcar reportedly replaces the need for up to 20 cars that would otherwise be clogging busy urban streets. Overall, Zipcar is an agreeable experience, well worth the one-time $25 application fee.

 

The efficacy and efficiency of Zipcar is obvious from the stellar reviews this service receives.  Most of the praise is due to the appealingly low rates. The savings effect is compounded when you compare Zipcar’s rates and flexibility with the policies of traditional car rental companies.

 

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Depending on your location, Zipcar rates per hour range from between $8 to $12. This rate also includes the required insurance coverage and fuel. A member can choose to book the vehicle for as little as an hour and is required only to return the vehicle at the end of the booking period. All necessary payments are made via the Zipcard, a special piece of plastic linked to the user’s credit or debit card.

 

It is also a major plus that the cars are accessible day and night at strategic locations. A member has only to book the service online or by phone/text.

 

All Zipcar vehicles are equipped with RFID technology, which all allows members to unlock their vehicles with a membership card. It’s essentially self-service, making it all the more economical. In some areas, such as New York City, members are given the choice of an annual membership fee or a monthly fee for occasional drivers, as well as special packages for members who drive more frequently.

 

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Every Rose Has its Thorn

It’s not a perfect system, though. The Zipcar vehicles aren’t always as well-maintained as traditional car rentals. There have also been reports regarding egregious charges. It should be noted, however, that such mistakes can be chalked up to the occasional electronic glitch, and can usually be cleared up with a cordial phone call to the Zipcar support staff.

 

My only real gripe with Zipcar is that a one-way trip isn’t possible. Every vehicle must be returned to where you picked it up. As far as inconveniences go, it’s a minor one, but it’s worth  mentioning.

 

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Regardless of the occasional gaffe, the convenience and economy of Zipcar undoubtedly provides a growing number of commuters and occasional road-trippers with the option not to purchase a vehicle.

Have you ever tried the Zipcar service? Let me hear about your experience in the comments.


 

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