FestivalBuzz Pages

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Pause and Reflect...

This morning in my inbox was a notice from Zipcar, the car sharing service that I have been a member of since 2002, when cars were finally parked within a mile of my building. The notice said that Zipcar was being  acquired by Avis Budget Group and directed me to the press release on their web site.

You may notice the little Zipcar logo at the top left of this blog, and that's not a random thing. I put it there myself, because I use Zipcar and for the most part, I love it. It hasn't always been perfect but it's great for anyone who lives in the city.  One thing I love about them is that I don't have to have a car for a whole day. I can't always get the nearest cars to me, but there's usually a car available in a convenient enough place.  And gas and insurance are included, perks that I have made use of in the past.

Zipcar has made me feel ok about not having a car in the city. I used to - back when I first moved to New York. I was young and didn't make a lot of money, and $175 seemed like a lot to park a car back then (how I long for those days again!). So I parked it on the street, and it was stolen in 5 days. It was recovered with a broken steering column and a minus a few parts, but usable... until one year later an unlicensed driver hit us going 35 while we were stopped at a red light. Even still, the car was drivable until its next inspection date, so I drove it. Until someone else broke into it 6 months later and broke the steering column while trying (unsuccessfully this time) to steal it again. I had it towed to a salvage yard and signed over the title. That was the last time I owned a car - April 2001.

But Zipcar was already on my radar. I desperately wanted to join but waited until a few cars were put into a Park Slope garage - and then I was in. I loved not talking to an agent (which is a waste of a good 1-2 hours depending on where you are).  Christmas 2002 we found Zipcar-branded fleece scarves waiting for us on the dashboard. I still have mine. 

I know Zipcar is not going away, though I was concerned by the lack of specific language in the release stating the company would operate autonomously. The software - which is indeed cool and useful and user-friendly - was cited as a key asset in the purchase, so I expect that will stay the same.  I'm afraid everything will be a little less hippy-dippy. I have to acknowledge it's probably for the best, particularly when it comes to purchasing new cars - a key perk for me. 

But I hope that Avis-Budget (Avis being my favored traditional car rental company  realizes the vibe at Zipcar was as neat as anything else about the company. And with the key market being in cities and colleges, among younger 20 and 30-somethings who want to have less and also maybe help the environment, it would make sense for them to stay cool. 

So for now, the referral button will stay up. If I think it doesn't make sense, I'll take it down. But until Zipcar really loses it's mojo, I'm sticking with it.

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