April 14, 2011 by: Ben Heimsath

In a previous post, I documented my frustration when I tried to use the innovative Car2Go program.  Within hours of that post, a representative of Car2Go had me on the phone and arranged to deliver a new card within 24 hours.  Wow! 

Car2Go austin successSo, as I mentioned previously, I'm impressed with the concept of Car2Go, and I'm also impressed with the customer service.  Last week, I had a new opportunity to test Car2Go, and even the car impressed me.  But the access technology once again proved flawed.  I remain frustrated with Car2Go.  I'll keep trying, but right now, I can't recommend it as a reliable alternative transportation.

But first, the good experience.  With my regular car in for a scheduled part replacement, I looked up the location of several available cars within a short walk of the garage.  Once again, the vehicle was easy to find.  This time, I placed my BLUE card on the windshield card reader and within seconds the signal was confirmed and the doors unlocked. 

Car2Go impressive interior

The semi-manual transmission took a bit longer to figure out.  But it worked smoothly once I understood what to do.  I breezed back to the office and proudly pulled up to the front door.  I made sure to photograph the event, my first Car2Go drive!

I could have parked in the office lot, and kept the car until I wanted to drive it again.  But that would keep the meter going and I didn't know how long I'd be waiting.  It could be hours.  So as instructed, I parked on the street and followed the simple screen instructions to end the rental.

Later in the day, I was ready to go back to my garage.  I was just a bit late for "my" Car2Go vehicle.  I stopped to discuss a pressing issue with Eric and we both watched through the window as someone else walked up to the car, got in, and drove off.

Car2Go Heimsath Rental!But hey, that's the beauty of Car2Go.  Everyone shares.  So I pulled up my i-phone app and looked for another vehicle.  There was one, just one a few blocks away.  In ten minutes I was once again placing my card on the windshield reader, ready to start my rental. 

The BLUE card triggered the initial response - a text said the signal had been sent for confirmation. But the confirmation never came.  After a long wait, a new text appeared on the screen.  "No Signal."  The note apologized but said the car was temporarily unavailable.  But then the screen went right back to the "Vehicle Available" screen.

Which was it?  Could I rent the car or not?  A helpful 800 number rep found the car, found my account, and said it should be available.  I repeated the same action over and over for 15 to 20 minutes.  A long check for "confirmation", a short note of "no signal", then back to "vehicle available."  The rep even asked her supervisor, but they'd never heard of anything like my problem.  Their data showed a car that was ready to rent, but there was no way for them to open or access the car for me.  They suggested I call the local office. 

Car2Go finder mapAt the Austin office, a nice woman went through all the issues again, but couldn't help me.  Long wait, no signal, no car, no unlocking to start the rental. 

She offered to help me find another car nearby, but sadly, there were no other cars.  At the time, that car was, in fact, the only one for miles.  I got off the line with Car2Go, and made another call as I headed back to the office.  It was time for me to use a more reliable form of transportation.  "Hey, can I bum a ride?"