...and out the door I went.
Since I rented a car, I naturally followed the signs directing me to the Rental Car Center (RCC). To get there, I hopped on the elevated train (or Mover) for the 1 1/4 mile trip to the RCC. Many rental companies are based at the RCC, but ACO was located off-airport. I had done this in the past and knew where ACO Car Rental shuttle busses pull in at the RCC so I went to that space and waited. Then I noticed a sign listing a bunch of companies (ACO included) and the respective phone numbers to call to request a shuttle pickup.
PROBLEM: If someone is coming from another country (after all, MIA is an international airport!!) the likelihood their phone is going to work is close to nil. I was in that category. And, the pay phones at the RCC were kaput. Sooooo....HOW THEN, was I supposed to call ACO?
I asked a driver of a competitor company if he would call ACO for me. He did, and he conveyed to me that I was supposed to go stand at space #5. I did. After a half hour of waiting, I began to search for alternatives.
At the bottom of my printed ACO reservation, there was small print informing me to go to the Departure level, gates 3, 9, 16, or 30 and watch for a black van with green letters Florida something something. GRRRR!!! How many people read the fine print on a long full-of-disclosures print-out? How many people would imagine they should NOT go to the Rental Car Center when they have a pending rental car!!!???
PROBLEM: If you're coming into the airport from outside, there's plenty of signs directing you to the Departure and Arrival levels. BUT, when you're INSIDE the airport, there is ZIP. Imagine, you're in a humongous airport consisting of many satellites, long corridors, moving sidewalks, escalators, and hundreds of gates to navigate. How would I know WHICH departure level to go to, as there are several, each serving many airlines. So, I hopped back on the MIA Mover to go back to the main airport terminal. There, I found an Information desk. I showed the lady ACO's instructions and she had no clue what it meant. She asked me 'What airline?'. I told her I just arrived, I'm not departing. Then she called ACO for me and handed me the phone. I told the agent my predicament and she had no idea how to get to the departure level either!!! GREATTTT. She told me to go BACK to the RCC and stand at space #5. I told her I already did that but no one bothered to show up.
Back to the RCC I went and stood at space #5. For a half hour. Another couple was standing nearby and were clearly ticked off as their shuttle hadn't shown up either. Come to find out...same shuttle.
FINALLY, the black shuttle bus appeared. I and the other couple boarded. The shuttle took us to a company called 'Green Motion'. HUH? I was then informed Green Motion is handling ACO rental cars' accounts!!! Gee, might've been nice to have been notified!!!
We entered the office and I was first in line. I showed the Green Motion (GM) agent my reservation printout. He checked his computer. Then he handed me a blank piece of paper and asked for my name, address, phone, and email address. I asked 'why' when I clearly entered all that info in the computer when I booked the car!! Then, he asked if I had insurance. I said 'No, that's why I selected the insurance online when I booked it'. He said it wasn't in the computer. Sigh. This is going well, isn't it?
Standing nearby was a young man grinning at me. He recognized my dilemma as he, too, was waiting to lodge a complaint.
The GM agent started whipping out papers for me to sign. First, a $300 damage deposit. OK. Then, a sheet with a profile of the car with markings of where there was damage. It looked as though the car had been caught in crossfire. He asked me to sign it. I asked why I should sign it BEFORE seeing the car and comparing their map of gunholes with the real thing? Shouldn't we do a walk-around first, THEN sign if it's correct? He 'assured' me if I found something different once I got the car, I could let him know and he would adjust the drawing accordingly. BASACKWARDS!!!!
The next thing I was required to sign was a charge slip for the cost of the car. Ummmmm, I informed him I already paid for the car when I booked it online. He said he had no record of it. I wanted to show him my receipt and the fact it had been withdrawn from my PayPal account, so I asked if there was WiFi so I could connect to the internet. He said 'Yes, but it doesn't work'.
I just wanted to get the H__ outa there so I signed it and thought I'd just deal with it later. He handed me the keys and started to help the next customer.
'Oh, and do you have a map?' NOPE. I asked the girl behind the desk who seemed to be doing nothing, even though there was a line building, and she had no clue. After all, her job was only to direct the shuttle drivers to pick up customers. OH...so YOU'RE the one who doesn't know how to tell me to get to the departure level????!!!! Soooo....no map...I asked her how I might get to Biscayne Park.
Let's just say the time it took me...from the time I landed in Miami to the time I arrived at my Airbnb apartment....was the same amount of time it took me to fly from Quito...Ecuador...South America.....to....Miami....Florida....US of A!!!!
The process was further complicated by Miami's street naming convention. I mean....try to figure out what the difference is between 936 NW 136th Street SE and 936 SE 136th Street NE!!!!! ARRRRGGGHH!!! Then, on top of it all, they don't have just one name for a street!! Nooooo!! In My Yammy there can be THREEEEEE names for a particular street!!! 936 NW 136th Street SE can also be known as (the 136th street part) as Pischcaluma St!!! Annnnnnnd...it don't stop there....nooooooo...it can also be known as 'Senator Gracie Maxine Cogburn Ave'!!!!
I was exasperated.
So, I spent the next 3 days going here and there. Went to WallyWorld (WalMart) three times, primarily due to my muling tasks I'd been given.
After my short stay in Miami, I returned the rental car. A different agent was working. I tried to explain to her the double billing. She wasn't buying it. I was prepared. I printed all my receipts and account transactions on PayPal. She tried claiming what I paid when I booked was just a deposit. I returned fire by showing her the screen printout where it says '3 days = total $XXX' and there was nowhere on the screen that showed I had a balance owing of $XXX. Of course, she couldn't explain how insurance of $22.99 per day didn't add up to what I paid either.
I didn't want to leave without getting a refund as I felt I would lose influence by not being there physically. But, I had a plane to catch.
When I was back at the airport to check in, I didn't know whether to stand in LATAM's Economy line (which was long) or go check in at the Business Class line (with only 1 person). I chose the latter. I told the agent about the upgrade I bid on, and won, and I flew TO Miami in Business Class, but didn't know if the upgrade was for one-way or roundtrip. She looked it up and told me I was schlepping back to Quito in Economy Class, but she checked my bag in anyway.
Then, the agent informed me there's no such thing as Business Class on this plane. Furthermore, it was the SAME plane going back as the one that came up. Wellllll, missy, that can't be true because I was IN Business Class when I flew up...ya know, where they fold the middle seat down in the front section and provide higher class service??? Nope, she said there was no such thing.
Ok, I thought maybe going back the plane was booked full, so they opted to sell the entire plane as Economy Class and not define the first 3 rows as Business Class.
I boarded the plane. Yep, there was Business Class...3 rows of 2 - 2...and exclusive service. GRRRRR!!!
Well, at least I was able to get an exit row and long leg room. And, no one broke into a fight over Trump, or for talking in a foreign language, or for not staying seated until the pilot turned off the fasten seatbelt sign.
Sorry folks, no photos this time. Well, 'cept this one of two of the three doggies we sent to a doggie hotel while we were gone.
|Bella on the left, Gracie on the right. Not pictured: Mia.|
When I got back to Quito, I overnighted again at Quito Airport Suites. In the morning, I drove into the old town and picked up friends from Cuenca, Reg and Cherry, and we hit the road for the 2 1/2 hour drive to the town of Mindo, nestled in the 'cloud forest'.
But.....did we make it?
Tune in next time to read about the adventures we encountered!!!!
...To be Continued...