My First and Second Experiences with Turo
Perhaps you'll recall my How To Afford A Tesla Model S article where I mentioned Turo as a method that can be used to offset the cost of the electric luxury vehicle. I figured it would be best to put my money (or in this case, my car) where my mouth is and see where the road leads. I began my journey many years ago, when the app was still called RelayRides. I listed my old 2004 GTO on the app at the time, but never rented it due to key exchange time issues or other related scheduling.
I sold that car after someone crashed into me, and largely forgot about the app altogether, until I was researching for my Model S article and stumbled back onto the newly branded App. For those of you unfamiliar, the skinny is that you rent your car day-to-day or week-to-week, just in the same way you might rent a room or a house on AirBnB. You meet your guests, do a quick identity verification, driver eligibility verification, and take snapshots of your car in varying angles to document pre-existing damage or concerns of the renter. If I continue to do this when I have beefy, rear wheel drive cars, I will probably note tread depth and a lack of rubber spatter on the rear quarter panels to the renters. I have a feeling people might be inclined to do burnouts in a 425 lb-ft monster that my 1986 Corvette is going to be.
Once the renter ID is verified and you are both satisfied with the description of the condition of the car, you hand them the keys (the app also has accommodations for people who want the car picked up/dropped off at the airport), and they are on their way. The cash starts rolling in.
Or at least, it would, in a perfect world.
First customer is what appeared to be an elderly gentleman in his profile. He had some extra guests coming into town and needed an extra car/ seat space so they could go on AZ adventures with the whole crew. He had used Turo before and knew what to expect. He wanted the car for a long weekend, and noted that his wife would also be driving at some point. OK, cool. As long as all this stuff is told to me upfront, I'm fine with it. I have to wonder about the renters insurance policy regarding family and friends driving the car that you rented under your name. There's probably some issues there, but not really my problem. Anyway, I thought great, my first customer. My earnings (after Turo fees shaved off the top) would be $90.00 even. I have a backup vehicle (actually several) so extra money is always welcome.
The evening finally arrives and the guy shows up at my house. We do the pre-car inspection, and he comments that the car is a manual. "Cool, it's a stick. I can drive a stick." He says. Yeah, I figured buddy, especially since it lists that in the car profile, and he should have known far ahead of time that this was the case. Whatever. We continue the inspection until I finally hand off the keys and he begins to cruise off. Alright! He doesn't stall it or grind any gears going out of the driveway, so I think I can trust this dude to not wreck my car mechanically. Turo has a policy on clutch replacement, you can read it here, but it doesn't cover clutches older than 3 years and nothing on-OEM or self-installed. So you're pretty much screwed if someone jacks up your clutch if you happen to be renting an old car, or one you service yourself. I go inside and continue on with my evening. Five minutes later the doorbell rings and there he is, the same guy with shame and sadness in his eyes. My first thought was that he crashed the car just down the road and walked back, but it was nothing as catastrophic as that. He admitted that his wife was going to be the one driving the car and she couldn't drive a manual transmission. He apologized profusely, and asked if I would be ok with cancelling the rental and talking with the Turo guys to get a refund. I obliged because he was honest and respectful. It goes a long way!
After 10-15 minutes on the phone with a Turo service rep, we got everything sorted out. The guy offered me cash for my time and trouble, to which I declined. I think that's the sort of thing that would get us both kicked off of the app if Turo found out a cash exchange took place, so I figured it would be best if I didn't take a dime. He went on his way to go find an automatic rental that his wife could drive. So that was my first "rental." Not going good so far.
This one isn't quite as complicated as the first, but had a more reasonable result. I'm going to Tarantino this one and start by saying no one ever drove the car. But I did get paid. Now we go back. That's how that works.
This dude was visiting from out of town for a conference, I was going to pick him up at the airport, drop off the car with him at his hotel, do the pre-inspection, then head home so he could go about his business. He booked the car about a month in advance so I was prepared, the car had been freshly vacuumed and I was even going to wash it on the drive to the airport. I send a final message the day of the rental, about an hour before he was supposed to receive the car, just to make sure everything was in order for his arrival. I get some terrible news from him and he was forced to cancel the rental, about 45 minutes before it began.
Welp, looks like another fail.
"But wait," Turo says, "you've earned 67.50! Tell us how to pay you!"
The cancellation policy is such that if a renter cancels the day of the rental, the forfeit the entire cost of the trip. So not only did I get to keep my car, I also got paid. Not bad! The money feels a little dirty with guilt because he had to cancel due to a family emergency, but the app didn't give me an option to let him off scot free. I'd have had to go out of my way to not earn money. So I added my bank details and the funds transfer was completed the next day. Woo! So I've made some money, but still never actually provided any service. My next rental is booked around the Christmas holiday, we'll see if that one actually ends up as a real rental!
Reflections on earnings
After some deliberation I decided the best use of the money received through Turo is to invest it back into the vehicle. I'm not inconvenienced by renting it out, and I don't necessarily need that money for any specific purpose, so I made a list of small issues that I've never bothered to address on the car that I'm going to fix with Turo income, in order to make the car more appealing to new and repeat renters in the future.
1.) New rear tires
2.) Windshield washer lines replaced
3.) Exterior paint touch up/ full paint job
4.) Drivers seat reupholstered
I intend to do those things one at a time as my earnings allow.