Monday, 23 February 2015

My First Zipcar Experience!

For Valentine's Day, we decided to go on a last minute trip. The original plan had been to go down to where I used to live in Kent, but it turns out the trains weren't running properly on the weekend and it would take us hours to get back and hours to get anywhere. We began to look at day trips instead, and I chose Whipsnade Zoo, but again we found that the trains were being a bit complicated.

It turned out that my friend had Zipcar membership, but had never actually used it, despite having membership for over a year. As he hadn't driven on the left before he was worried about it and was exceptionally worried about driving in London, but we found out that for £29 (pro-rata) we could add me on to his Zipcar account. We figured that way I could do the majority of the driving but give him a bit of a go if I got too stressed out by it.

Adding me to his account was pretty easy - I had to call them up and give them his account details. They called him to confirm he wanted me on his account, he did, then we just had to go through DVLA to confirm my details. All good! It was a pretty easy experience. My card obviously didn't arrive in time as we only got me added the day before we were going out - this didn't matter to us as he had a Zipcard already, but even if you don't you can use the app to unlock the car. Interestingly, my card got sent to his address, but there you go. 


Meet Lin! Lin is a 2014 VW Golf, and you may be surprised by the size of him. It turns out that Golf's are now much bigger than we thought we were getting, but that was okay. When you book your car you are given the location of where the car is parked. We picked him up from Borough (the picture above is obviously from Whipsnade and not Borough) and this was easy enough to find. We managed to unlock him easily, and from there encountered our first drama of the day.

So, I hadn't driven in probably over a year and a half, but originally I thought I'd be fine - my previous car was a VW Beetle and so I thought it would be pretty easy. I gave my friend the little damage book and sent him off exploring the car to find any problems, whilst I sat there and learnt how to use the car. So far so good - only we couldn't actually turn him on. Cue us sitting there trying every button, googling it, reading the manual and getting nowhere. After about twenty minutes of trying to figure it out, we called Zipcar, and they were able to remotely do something (seriously, it was a bit creepy. We were sitting in the car talking to them when it just started locking and unlocking the doors by itself) which allowed us to actually turn him on, and then we didn't have a problem again.

Picking the car up from Borough was our first mistake. What a bloody nightmare. We didn't have much choice - there are actually lots of Zipcars much closer to both of us, but because we'd booked so close to a popular date the convenient ones had gone, and as Borough was basically in the middle of us both it seemed like a good option. It was not. I was more scared about having not driven for so long than I thought I would be, and therefore trying to drive a brand new car whilst very rusty around bloody Borough of all places was terrifying and I spent the first hour completely stressed. This was not as bad as the end though - because Borough and London Bridge are just filled with roadworks, getting back was absolutely awful. We couldn't get down the roads we wanted, the Satnav was getting annoyed with us as we repeatedly ignored it because we couldn't take the roads we wanted it to, and then when we finally got to our space again there was a car parked way too close so I couldn't actually park the car - which brought out all the stress I'd been holding in for the previous few hours of driving, as I'd actually been totally dreading the parallel parking bit and not being able to do it, and then couldn't! We had to swap with me getting out and directing and it took a grand total of 20 minutes to get the car in the space - obviously this had never been a problem with my own car. If I couldn't park on my road, I would just park one road over, or one road over from that, so I hadn't dealt with having to get into such a tight space. Obviously none of this paragraph is ZipCar's fault though - London is a nightmare to drive in (It really likes having four lanes suddenly turn to one with no warning, or a road suddenly becoming right turn only for no apparent reason), Borough is being dug up, and the car that was parked semi in our space wasn't supposed to be there anyway.

Aside from the horror of the actual driving, Lin was a lovely car. We weren't sure what to expect, but we were very happy with him. He was a nice, clean car, and very new and modern. I drive automatic, and he was really smooth and easy to use. I used the fully automatic mode but I think there was some kind of tiptronic semi-automatic business going on if you wanted to use it (however I have always maintained that if I wanted to use gears then I would save money and use a manual car, so...no idea on that one) It had the convenience of having your speed clearly displayed, and, most importantly, the radio was touch screen, connected to our phones easily so that we could listen to Spotify through them and at really good quality! It was a really comfortable and easy drive (for the person not driving at any given time.)

Overall, the Zipcar experience was a pretty easy one, and worked much better than we were expecting it to. All the issues we encountered (apart from the car not turning on!) were really down to us. Obviously a big problem of using any hire car is that you're probably not used to driving the car, and for us, having one person who did used to drive in London but hasn't for over a year and a half, and one who hasn't driven on this side of the road, added a whole new level of difficulty! However, he thinks we should try and do trips more regularly, once every two months or so, so that we're able to keep our confidence with it and get used to it - but he's the one who drove about 5% of the journey, so he would say that ;)

Check out zipcar.co.uk for all the info - and no, Zipcar at no point paid for me to hire a car or asked me to write this, I just thought I'd do it as I'd always been curous about what it was actually like.

PS. We really enjoyed Whipsnade Zoo, and the little country drive/pub we went to afterwards. Check back next week to see about that!
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3 comments

  1. What actually is zipcar? You didn't explain and I couldn't find muxh info on the website x

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  2. I would imagine Zipcar is just like a car rental company, just hire a car for x amount of days and return it when you're done :)

    http://theunknownbrothers.blogspot.co.uk/

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  3. Ah this was really interesitng as I have wondered about what zip car is actually like! It seems like a good service though. What a pain about Borough, I can totally imagine the panic! I would hate to drive round there even if I drove regularly! x

    Jasmin Charlotte | UK Lifestyle Blog

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