New Complaints Arise Over Rental Co.'s Car Seats

Advantage Rent a Car told the I-Team that it was cleaning up its act and getting rid of any unsafe car seats when we looked into a problem at their San Diego location earlier this year.

But some new complaints have come up this summer.

It was Seattle mom and professional family travel blogger, Debbie Dubrow, who told us about her visit to San Diego when she rented car seats for her two children from Advantage Rent a Car on India street.

"And some of the car seats had like cracker crumbs in them, black marks all over them, several of them were just clearly broken," Dubrow said.

We checked out her claim, renting four car seats undercover.

According to the California Vehicle Code, the seats must be "in good and safe condition -- with no missing original parts --- not older than five years old."

They weren't.

After we told the rental agency about the problem with its car seats, Advantage Rent a Car promised they would take immediate action at all locations.

We thought it was handled, but now, Barbara Matousek of Wisconsin tells the I- Team of a recent visit to Southern California with her six-month-old son. She rented from Advantage at their Los Angeles Airport location "because" of its new written car seat policy.

She tells us she had a horrible experience, that she did not know how to install the agency's infant seats without a base and no one would give her an instruction manual.

"The more I asked for help and became close to the verge of tears, the more the employees seemed to avoid me," said Matousek.

In the end, she said she settled for an older seat with a base because she knew how to install it. But she later discovered that it expired December 31, 2007.

We called Advantage's corporate office -- again -- telling them the specifics of Matousek's concerns.

"Making sure the manuals were with the seats or printing them out online ... why wasn't that done?" asked I-Team reporter Lauren Reynolds.

Advantage Rent A Car spokesperson Erik Dove says they were disappointed to hear the complaint.

"It's something that we're clearly you know trying to take very, very seriously and you know, investigate where we are and take the necessary corrective actions," said Dove.

"Any more changes after this?" asked Reynolds.

"We are making one change to the child safety seat policy which is requiring that the general managers personally conduct a monthly inspection of all the child seats in the inventory," said Dove.

We reported to the California Highway Patrol what we have found. Thanks to our investigation, the agency is looking for a grant to spot check car rental agencies' car seat programs.

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