Soon after waiting for almost 4 several hours, Patricia Wall Erbe watched as the keys dangling on the wall of the Avis Funds Group rental motor vehicle station at the Myrtle Seashore airport dwindled into the one digits.

It was late on June 19, just about 9 p.m., but she bought fortunate. She was ready to get a Toyota RAV4, so she could however generate across city to her friend’s property in North Myrtle Beach. Guiding her stood a large amount extra folks, she reported, and she wasn’t so confident they would be equipped to get a rental on their own.

But when she opened the doorway to her rental vehicle, she didn’t truly feel as fortunate as she had immediately after standing in line for ages.

“The vehicle was filthy,” Erbe mentioned. “There was dried white things on the driver’s seat. Milkshake? No, I really don’t feel so. The floorboard was worn down the the steel. I believe any person was smoking cigarettes weed in there. The odor was awful.

“I did not really feel secure in that motor vehicle,” Erbe included.

Erbe reported she had rented autos in Myrtle Beach front right before, but her experience experienced in no way been this terrible.

Erbe’s knowledge is just just one case in point of the rental car or truck scarcity in Myrtle Beach, a consequence of a nationwide offer-chain issue that has been unable to preserve up with the rapid return to getaway journey this summer time.

In Myrtle Seashore, the rental auto scarcity has manufactured it more challenging for the speedily rising range of tourists flying below to get around. Uber and Lyft drivers are still scarce, a further nationwide challenge, and the region lacks a powerful community transit method, creating driving truly the only way to get all over.

Rental car or truck enterprise Avis Spending plan Group, in a statement to The Sunshine Information, blamed Erbe’s undesirable expertise and some others like it on the “Rapid, uneven worldwide restoration from COVID (that has) led to unpredictable fluctuations in demand and rental styles.”

“We are functioning with customers at all places to minimize the affect of this field dynamic and be certain they can get their motor vehicles as safely and successfully as feasible,” the enterprise claimed in its assertion.

Rental Car Line_June 19 2021.jpg
Patricia Wall Erbe, checking out from Pennsylvania, took this image though waiting in line for practically 4 several hours to get a rental auto when she flew into Myrtle Beach front on June 19. She said she received 1 of the very last handful of autos accessible, but that it was filthy and smelled like marijuana when she eventually picked it up. Courtesy of Patricia Wall Erbe

Erbe experienced rented her car as a result of Costco Travel, which she praised for its buyer provider and reported they were being doing the job to make certain her situation was fully resolved.

Her frustrations with Avis Price range Group, the enterprise in the end dealing with her rental pickup, did not finish with the vehicle alone. She was also offended that the corporation unsuccessful to notify her in advance of time that she may well have to hold out for hrs to get a car. She only realized of the dire scenario after she arrived walked out of the airport and saw the traces.

“The people today in the back again of the line had been expressing they experienced been there for a few or four several hours ready to get a vehicle,” Erbe stated. “No drinking water, no foodstuff, practically nothing. The equipment were all empty since people experienced been waiting around for several hours.”

Nationwide rental car lack

Erbe isn’t on your own. Throughout the state, rental automobiles are in brief source due to the globally scarcity of the microchips utilised to make new cars and trucks. A lot of rental companies also sold off substantially of their fleets final yr, according to Jefferies Group, an expense lender, leaving couple autos remaining when vacation all of a sudden surged again.

“It’s the starvation online games out below with people today battling for vehicles simply because you have none…in the Atlanta airport? NONE?” actor and singer Audra McDonald tweeted at rental car or truck company Hertz earlier this month. “And when one particular arrives up people today are all managing for it? This is absurd.”

There is just one vivid spot: Waiting for a rental automobile is not a day-to-day issue. Like with stability traces at the airport, which peak on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings and afternoons, rental auto waits peak on weekends. People buying up a car or truck on a weekday can hope a a lot calmer working experience, even though challenges with car availability could even now persist on individuals days.

Some persons have resorted to renting U-Hauls for their vacations because so few cars and trucks had been readily available, in accordance to Washington Put up travel website By The Way. In Myrtle Beach front, WBTW described very last 7 days that some people ended up renting U-Hauls for their stop by due to the fact of the decrease rate. U-Haul even touts itself on its web-site as an reasonably priced substitute to standard rental motor vehicle firms.

Due to the fact of the nationwide shortage, Myrtle Beach front Hospitality Association CEO Stephen Greene reported it’s necessary to book rental cars and trucks as significantly in advance as prob
able to guarantee you get just one.

Is the auto drivable? Then you can take it.

Dennis Buron, of Parker, Colorado, also experienced a irritating rental car or truck encounter at the Myrtle Beach airport. He rented a vehicle for his relatives of 7 more than 6 months in advance. But not like final 12 months when he flew into Charleston, there weren’t any large SUVs offered when he made his car or truck reservation for this summer. He settled for a minivan, hoping it would still have ample place.

Nonetheless when he arrived in Myrtle Seaside, the clerk operating for Avis Price range Team said there weren’t any minivans offered, as an alternative supplying him a Chevrolet Traverse, which however experienced seven seats. A Traverse would not operate for Buron, however, since not only did he have 7 persons to transportation, he also had a week’s really worth of luggage for seven people today, which could not match into this kind of a small vehicle.

The agent checked all over again, Buron reported, and he’d gotten blessed. A minivan experienced just been turned in, so the agent informed him that “as lengthy as the tires are tires aren’t flat and windshield is not cracked, we can get you in it,” Buron stated. All he experienced to do was wait around about 50 percent an hour for the vehicle to be cleaned and introduced up.

“It was most likely one particular of my worst ordeals with Avis, but they did acquire care of me and they did get it right,” Buron stated. “Given the constraints and almost everything else that they’re heading by way of, I feel they have been in all probability undertaking about the greatest they could.”

That working day he flew in, July 3, was also a single of the busiest days the Myrtle Beach Airport has seen in months, according to the TSA.

“We have viewed significant demand in the Myrtle Seashore location, but in each scenarios, we were being in a position to rapidly aid the clients at the time they achieved our counter,” Avis Spending budget Group reported in a statement responding to Erbe’s and Buron’s ordeals.

Karen Riordan, the Myrtle Beach Location Chamber of Commerce CEO, reported she was at the airport numerous months in the past and overheard a individuals expressing that they hadn’t booked a rental but prepared to “see if they experienced any rental cars obtainable.”

“I looked at the gentleman shocked, like, ‘Oh my god, you’re considering about inquiring now that you’ve landed? You essential to do that back residence, on line,’” Riordan mentioned. “I consider that’s an aged carryover terrible behavior primarily based on previous practical experience exactly where there have been loads of rental cars.”

In today’s travel ecosystem, Riordan mentioned reservations are necessary at all concentrations of journey setting up, from plane tickets to motels to, in some scenarios, even restaurant reservations.

“It’s going to take a minimal bit of time for men and women to understand that setting up in advance is likely to help save them so significantly aggravation down the line,” she claimed.

Even the most properly-ready tourists are affected

Buron and Erbe experienced completed their thanks diiligence, however, and manufactured reservations properly in advance. Their activities exhibit how disaster can strike even the most very well-ready in the latest journey ecosystem. The two felt lucky to get rental cars and trucks at all.

Neither put in much time driving for the duration of their time in Myrtle Beach, but Buron said going without the need of a rental is not definitely much of an alternative here. The region lacks popular community transportation and has been element of the nationwide lack of Uber and Lyft drivers.

“It would be incredibly hard to get all around, specifically if you are staying on the south aspect,” reported Buron, who rented a house in Yard City. “Maybe if you have been remaining additional centrally in Myrtle Beach front, perhaps it would be easier” considering the fact that there are extra points of interest, places to eat and grocery retailers close alongside one another in Myrtle Seashore right.

Greene, the Hospitality Affiliation CEO, mentioned the area’s deficiency of general public transit is motivated by its relatively smaller residential inhabitants in comparison to metropolitan areas like Washington, D.C., or New York with comprehensive subway and bus units.

With no a rental vehicle, website visitors may possibly uncover it difficult to get about. “We’re a 60-mile extensive desired destination,” Greene famous.

As for when the rental car circumstance may well get greater, that’s up in the air.

The earliest estimates are following calendar year, but not till right after the microchip shortage receives greater, the Washington Article claimed. In May possibly, the everyday median selling price for an Avis motor vehicle rental nationwide sat at $68.07 and could jump to $103.40 in August. Other rental automobile firms are not much far better. The day-to-day median price tag for Hertz in August is envisioned to achieve $114.49, practically 150% larger than its pre-pandemic charge.

Profile Image of Chase Karacostas

Chase Karacostas writes about tourism in Myrtle Seaside and throughout South Carolina for McClatchy. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2020 with levels in Journalism and Political Communication. He began working for McClatchy in 2020 soon after expanding up in Texas, exactly where he has bylines in 3 of the state’s most significant print media outlets as well as the Texas Tribune covering point out politics, the ecosystem, housing and the LGBTQ+ community.

By Harriet