#92 Zipcar - Worth It?

Last night we took our first Zipcar trip. It was convenient but with some complaints, I'll go into it later.


We drove to the new house to pick up the mirror we wanted to return to IKEA, chatted with our contractor for a bit, and then headed to IKEA. While my wife stood in a massive returns line I went on a journey through the catacombs of IKEA's warehouse display in search of the perfect towel rack.

After scrummaging pass the house plants, wall art, rugs, and lighting I finally arrived at the bathroom accessories. And there it was the perfect towel rack displayed on the wall. A double railed piece of perfection for a couple of bath towel to hang freely with a satin nickel finish.

Unfortunately, that's all it was, a display on the wall. They were out of stock. And the alternative, less than perfect but similar designed version, also sold out. Both with no option to order online.

So we settled for the twice the price four railed version of the perfect towel rack. It's twice as deep which means it will protrude from the wall by nearly a foot. It's going to be placed next to a bathtub, which may be annoying when getting up and out. Worst case scenario it becomes a storage rack in my closet.


Zipcar Is it Worth It At Its Given Price Point?

The trip was 2 hours long. We were charged $29.52, which is the overnight discount rate, more than I was expecting to pay, but we are not quite efficient yet with our driving. My wife didn't feel like she had the greatest experience since we wasted 10 minutes going to fill up the gas because the previous person only left us a 1/4 tank. Leaving a 1/4 tank is the rule, but leaving that much means you are screwing the next person over by forcing them to go to the gas station. I get the feeling this is going to be a regular annoyance.

I would be grateful if Zipcar gave a 10 to 15-minute discount to drivers that fill up the tank.

On the positive side, we were able to have a comfortable journey, instead of lugging the mirror all the way back to IKEA on the subway, we comfortably placed it in the trunk and drove it back. We didn't have to transfer from shuttle bus to train to bus to get there and back. And the total trip of 2 hours was probably half the time it would have taken with public transport. 

We got good utility from the Zipcar, it came at a steep cost of nearly $30. But that's the cost of getting around with convenience. Sometimes it will be worth paying. Sometimes it won't be. But on average it's a good incremental service to get around.

I'm slowly learning to separate, in my mind, the cost of transportation from the specific usage. I cannot see this $30 Zipcar as a part of the cost of the items I bought from IKEA. For a healthy lifestyle, it's probably better to look at total transportation cost for the whole year and compare it to the cost of owning a car. A much more sane way of getting around town.


Save Money Retire Early is written by Jon Lo, a barely 30 something Chartered Financial Analyst. I believe anyone can be rich or poor, it's what you save that makes the difference.

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