Re: Thank Goodness For Large Families

1

fyi, it seems you shouldn't rely on zipcar for liability insurance.


Posted by: BA | Link to this comment | 06-19-10 1:57 PM
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I like Jeeps with the old 4.0 liter engine that pollutes too much to make anymore but uses less gas than the new engines.

I've never tried a Zipcar, but there are about four of them within an easy walk of my office and one within a long, but not unpleasantly long, walk of my house. So, if you were me, it might be convenient.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-19-10 2:04 PM
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2.1: We found out, on a trip to DC to play a gig right after this year's huge snowpocalypse, that late '90s Jeeps Cherokee are (1) highly sought after by car thieves, in part because they're (2) really easy to steal.

So I can confidently recommend against a Cherokee in a big city if you'd be parking it on the street much at all. Not that it's directly related to LB's concerns, but 2am with all your music gear sitting out on the snowy curb because your car's gone? Not fun.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-19-10 2:11 PM
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3: We've had one since the mid-90s and it's never been stolen, nor broken into. It was not parked in a garage for most of that time, but then again we weren't in the hugest cities nor was it parked on the actual street very often.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-19-10 2:19 PM
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I used Zipcar before I had my own car, and I still use it occasionally when I need a vehicle to transport furniture or something. It couldn't be easier.

I would recommend checking out not only how many and what kind of Zipcars are in your neighborhood, but also how often they are rented. The ones near my last apartment were busy all the time; for some of the cars you'd have to reserve several days in advance. The ones near my current apartment seem to be available much more of the time on much shorter notice. Depending on the kind of driving you do, this might be relevant to you.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 06-19-10 2:49 PM
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They probably aren't available used yet, but we're eyeing a Mazda 5.


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 06-19-10 3:22 PM
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5 gets it exactly right. I've got a Zipcar membership for the same reasons, and it's awesome.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 06-19-10 3:26 PM
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I'm glad somebody is joining Zipcar. If somebody steals our Jeep, I may have to get a membership and I'd like the company to do well.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-19-10 3:29 PM
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Jefferson Township police

i liked them better when they were Jefferson Airplane.


Posted by: cleek | Link to this comment | 06-19-10 3:38 PM
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I don't think it costs much to join a car club organisation like Zipcar, so why not just try it for a bit and see? If it turns out to be OK, you perhaps won't feel the need to buy a car.

Here in London, it works well. (Actually Streetcar, but I'm told that it's pretty much the same thing, and as it happens, Streetcar just sold itself to Zipcar). The two worst things: having to scrupulously check the car for damage before you take it out, and having to keep an eye on the time, which is stressful. The best way to reduce the stress is to book for quite a bit longer than you need and then just to think of it as having bumped up the hourly rate to stress-free luxury level or something. Will still be much cheaper than owning if you don't drive much. Another plus is access to a range of vehicles, so you can have (say) a van when you need one.


Posted by: Charlie | Link to this comment | 06-19-10 4:41 PM
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so you can have (say) a van when you need one.

I checked and they don't have conversion vans with eagles painted on the side and shag carpet interiors.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-19-10 5:05 PM
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What Charlie said (from experience in the Bay Area with city carshare and zipcar). The reward for planning ahead being that you get to choose a pickup or a van or a convertible, as pleases.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 06-19-10 5:26 PM
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I'm selling myself on Zipcar here: I think I'm going to try to talk Buck into giving it a whirl before we think about car shopping.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-19-10 5:30 PM
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I don't know about the situation in NY, but there are real differences between nonprofit car-shares and for-profits like ZipCar. You may want to look into the various options before deciding which one to try.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 06-19-10 5:34 PM
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I'm selling myself on Zipcar here

It probably is the most economical option if you rarely drive, given the cost of parking, insurance etc. And I think the way you frame the answer is exactly right. Give it a whirl--how bad could it be--and see how it works. There will always be used cars for sale if you decide to car shop later.

So is one of the cousins to get you from New Jersey back to New York?


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 06-19-10 5:35 PM
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13: excellent idea.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-19-10 5:40 PM
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Oh, we took a bus back home -- I'm home now. Really, for a day involving a funeral, the unexpected demise of our car in heavy traffic, and an unplanned bus trip, everything went very smoothly. The magically appearing rescue-cousin took basically all the annoyance out of the situation.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-19-10 5:46 PM
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Sounds like a rough day. Which makes me think it would be good to know what happens in a Zipcar that breaks down. Like, would somebody come and get you?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-19-10 6:13 PM
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but there are real differences between nonprofit car-shares and for-profits like ZipCar

Care to elaborate? I don't know anything about how nonprofit car-shares work.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 06-19-10 7:33 PM
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Some of the non-profit car shares use only locally sourced bamboo cars.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-19-10 7:34 PM
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18: I used Zipcars 1-2x/week for a few months for work, and I had a very good experience. I only had trouble with a car once, and when I called the customer service line the kid on the other end spent a few minutes trying to fix it from his end (it seemed like an electrical problem where that might be possible) then had roadside assistance on its way within 20 minutes. Then they credited my account with some free driving time for the trouble.

I seemed to need to fill up the gas tank just about every damned time, though. People seem to ignore the "at least" in "return it at least a quarter full." You don't pay for the gas, so it wasn't a huge deal; it was just annoying.


Posted by: Osgood Yousbad | Link to this comment | 06-19-10 7:47 PM
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19: As it's been explained to me, the nonprofits have more of an environmental and/or social mission, so they're more likely to invest in hybrid cars, to pitch the service as a values choice rather than merely an economically wise move, etc.

They may also be more likely to market their service to poorer and not-as-likely-to-be-white people, by locating cars in neighborhoods where other services don't. I haven't looked at a map so I'm not certain of this.

I admit to being personally put off by the ubiquitous and poorly trained young marketers sent out by Zipcar in Philadelphia (plus, trashing your competition is just tacky) but that's not a commentary on for-profit car-sharing in general, just my own baggage.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 06-19-10 9:41 PM
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I admit to being personally put off by the ubiquitous and poorly trained young marketers sent out by Zipcar in Philadelphia

The ones in Pittsburgh seem trained and fairly rare. But, there is no competition for the car share service. It's Greenpeace that keeps annoying me as I walk around. I suppose I should listen, but with that number of clip-board carrying undergrads around something is wrong. Either the environment or the kids are getting ripped-off. Probably there's a subcontractor and both are getting ripped-off.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-19-10 9:54 PM
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you'd buy if you wanted a cheap reliable used car big enough for four big people and a dog.

If you want a to make a personal statement and a science project rolled into one, choose an old M-B diesel and run it on bio-diesel.

Otherwise a simple and cheap choice for people who don't like driving could be a surplus black car (e.g., Lincoln Town Car Executive L).


Posted by: Econolicious, hoopty-do | Link to this comment | 06-19-10 9:58 PM
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with that number of clip-board carrying undergrads around something is wrong. Either the environment or the kids are getting ripped-off. Probably there's a subcontractor and both are getting ripped-off.

Oh, yes. I have exactly this series of thoughts about the Child-whatever group that is always around, with their t-shirts and clipboards and stories of how You!Can save!A child!in Africa!fromHunger!

Although lately it's been Doctors Without Borders, which I admit to having a soft spot for, and whose street solicitors have always backed off cheerfully when I tell them I'm a longtime donor and I've already seen the movie.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 06-19-10 10:08 PM
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Oh, yes. I have exactly this series of thoughts about the Child-whatever group that is always around, with their t-shirts and clipboards and stories of how You!Can save!A child!in Africa!fromHunger!

Tsk. For you, I will quote Gerry Cohen:

"People say that they'd like to give to charity, but that they are so bewildered as to be paralyzed by the multitude of good causes and would-be servers of good causes that they don't know to which charity to give. No similar paralysis affects them when they have a surfeit of restaurants to choose from. They simply choose one that they know or believe to be good, even if it is not the best, and they think that's good enough."

Get out of that one, backsliders.


Posted by: Charlie | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 2:24 AM
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Somebody should tell Mr. Cohen about the analogy ban. Also, with charities as with restaurants, usually the one the spends the most effort trying to attract your attention isn't the best place to put your money.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 4:04 AM
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27: Indeed. Some of the more prominent charities have appalling levels of overhead. That's why Doctors Without Borders is my go-to charity, with Planned Parenthood second.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 7:37 AM
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I used ZipCar for a while, and was generally very pleased with it, except for the reasons already stated above, and all those problems are exacerbated in NJ.
In NYC cars can be hard to come by, especially in the summer, unless you reserve a week in advance (maybe they've got more cars now?). Folks always return them with way too little gas. Again, this is a bigger pain in NYC where there aren't gas stations on every corner, which is presumably why this is such a common problem. I was barely able to make it to a station once on the gas I was left. Plus once you are using the car for longer than, say, 4 hours, it's cheaper just to rent a car. (Renting Mini convertibles to drive to the beach was fun, though! In the summer you needed to reserve those a month in advance.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 7:44 AM
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I used ZipCar for a while, and was generally very pleased with it, except for the reasons already stated above, and all those problems are exacerbated in NJ.
In NYC cars can be hard to come by, especially in the summer, unless you reserve a week in advance (maybe they've got more cars now?). Folks always return them with way too little gas. Again, this is a bigger pain in NYC where there aren't gas stations on every corner, which is presumably why this is such a common problem. I was barely able to make it to a station once on the gas I was left. Plus once you are using the car for longer than, say, 4 hours, it's cheaper just to rent a car. (Renting Mini convertibles to drive to the beach was fun, though! In the summer you needed to reserve those a month in advance.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 7:45 AM
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Weird. I posted twice because my comment wasn't showing up in Firefox, but there they are in Safari. Oops!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 7:47 AM
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And NJ should be NYC in the first sentence. I plan on posting over and over and over.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 7:48 AM
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And NJ should be NYC

Greater Mannhattan?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 8:04 AM
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33: Well, I only ever rented them in NYC, so I do not know the NJ-related problems, plus the "there are no gas stations" complaint does not apply in NJ.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 8:19 AM
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I don't mind a few scattered kids with clipboards, but I do find it obnoxious that charities target my neighborhood--particularly the street where I live--so heavily that I have at times had to duck upwards of ten separate clipboard-wielders in the distance between my apartment and the subway. Don't you care about gay rights? Don't you care about children? Don't you care about the environment?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 9:11 AM
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I was barely able to make it to a station once on the gas I was left.

I hope you reported the previous driver!


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 10:44 AM
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As it's been explained to me, the nonprofits have more of an environmental and/or social mission, so they're more likely to invest in hybrid cars, to pitch the service as a values choice rather than merely an economically wise move, etc.

Zipcar seems to have a lot of hybrids, though maybe that's just in hippier-(or SWPLer-)than-thou Cambridge.

As for the values vs. economic reasons, I'm pretty okay with them trying to sell it on the economics. After all, turning the focus on the high costs of car ownership is a good thing in and of itself, no?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 10:48 AM
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I'm pretty okay with them trying to sell it on the economics.

The economics of Zipcar for the renter are great. For the company, not so much. Zipcar has never made a profit (but nevertheless filed a registration statement this month for an IPO). That's one reason the insurance concerns Felix Salmon raised resonate, because they obviously could be looking for corners to cut at your expense, though they seem to have improved things of late. Assuming you are comfortable with the insurance, there's no reason not to take advantage of their continued willingness to lose money, but Zipcar may not stick around to be your long-term car replacement solution.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 11:07 AM
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36: I sure did! I was pretty pissed off, too, so they threw in a free couple of hours or something.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 11:14 AM
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the "there are no gas stations" complaint does not apply in NJ

At least in this part of NJ I've found that there are fewer gas stations than you might expect, actually. But then I don't have a car, so it doesn't really matter to me. And I'm sure other areas have more.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 11:23 AM
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Our two closest locations are literally a block from a gas station -- I could push a car in neutral that far. So that doesn't worry me.

37: This does, a bit -- I was doing the math on what a Zipcar would cost us at our current usage pattern, and we'd actually do better than breakeven only accounting for running costs (garage, gas, insurance, repairs) and ignoring having to actually buy the new car. It doesn't seem like the sort of business that could possibly be profitable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 11:52 AM
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