First Time Tried Virtuo Car Rental App, One Problem Solved

  • I tried Virtuo, an app-based car rental service, for the first time.
  • I rented a Mercedes GLA and enjoyed using it, but had trouble unlocking it with the Virtuo app.
  • I called Virtuo customer service several times but they said they can’t help.

Anyone waiting in a long line at a rental car counter spends some of the waiting time imagining hopping straight into the car and hitting the road.

As someone who rents a lot of cars, I appreciate an agent helping me get in my car faster, and that’s part of the appeal of app-based rental services that eliminate waiting lines altogether.

Traditional agencies such as Avis, Hertz, Sixt and Enterprise compete with app-based services like Getaround, Zipcar and Virtuo in a global car rental market that will be worth approximately $127 billion by 2028 by one estimate. .

I used Virtuo, which offers luxury cars from Tesla and Mercedes to rent a car in France. I settled on a Mercedes GLA that cost $580 for seven days.

no early bird

My flight arrived in Nice earlier than expected, so I contacted Virtuo customer service via the app to see if I could pick up the car 45 minutes early.

I couldn’t. I was told I would get a text message when the car was ready and where it would be, but they couldn’t get there sooner. I waited too.

After I got the message, I ran to the car. Check-in was easy: I scanned the car for dents and scratches and made sure everything was level and artificially confirmed the same in the app using the smart damage report system.

Then I unlocked the car using the digital key in my app and jumped. The feeling was different from when I drove a Ferrari for the first time, but it was still exciting.

Unlocking has become a problem

Insider's reporter unlocks the car on his phone.

Insider’s reporter unlocks the car with his phone.

Sam Tabahrit / Insider

Driving from France to Italy, the car never ceased to impress me and the going was smooth.

However, I had some issues with the app itself.

Virtuo’s digital key requires a Bluetooth connection between the app and the vehicle. As we were getting ready to leave for Cannes one day, we tried to unlock the car. It didn’t work.

At first, I thought it was an issue with my phone, so I rebooted – but after trying for about ten minutes, I gave up and called customer service.

The Virtuo rep who replied seemed as lost as I was about the problem. We were out of the car for about 20 minutes and Virtuo was unable to help us.

We logged into my Virtuo account on my partner’s phone and thankfully we were able to unlock the car. I assumed it was a one-time glitch. we set off

After stopping in the town of Grasse, I tried to unlock the car with my phone again but it still didn’t work. I could lock it but I couldn’t unlock it.

I called customer service and they still couldn’t figure out what the problem was. So we used my partner’s phone again.

While the car was fun to drive, the glitches with unlocking, the rigidity of arriving early, and my customer service experience took some of the shine off the ride.

Still, I’ve been using apps like Virtuo for a few years now and would choose them over traditional agencies. Even if you made a reservation months ago, they sometimes eliminate the hassle of waiting in line for hours. Also, there are no agents trying to sell cars and overcharge you for insurance.

I would use Virtuo again even though my experience wasn’t perfect. And hopefully next time I can use one of the Teslas it offers.

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