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FlightCar launches new rental service

August 5, 2013 7:32:23 PM PDT
A startup that promises cheap car rentals and free airport parking is continuing to expand at SFO, even in the face of legal challenges by the city of San Francisco. You may have seen their billboards on the freeway. ABC7 News takes a look at the latest on FlightCar.

Renting a car at FlightCar isn't that different from anywhere else. What's different is where the cars come from -- ordinary car owners take free parking and a little cash to let someone else drive their car while they're away.

"I do get a little worried, but it always comes back clean and nothing's happened, so it's all good," said Taylor Behmke, a car owner.

FlightCar's growing by leaps and bounds. Now it's launching a new monthly service offering cash to city dwellers who rarely use their cars and want to rent them out.

"It's about from $150 to $400, it depends on the type of car. So they can make that additional income if they don't use the car," said Andrei Parenco, the FlightCar SFO Market manager.

It'll help keep up with the flow of customers looking for a cheap rental.

"The pricing is amazing. Like they tell you up front, it's going to cost this, and then there's not an additional tons of taxes, tons of surcharges," said Joanna Jones, a FlightCar customer.

But it's that very lack of taxes and fees that has FlightCar entangled in a legal battle with the city of San Francisco. FlightCar maintains it's not a rental car company, even though its primary business is renting out cars. The city attorney's office says if it quacks like a duck, it should pay tax like a duck.

"The fact is, they're a company that rents cars," said Matt Dorsey, the San Francisco City Attorney's spokesman.

San Francisco filed a suit claiming FlightCar is just like Hertz and Avis, and should pay the same 10 percent tax and $20 fee per rental. They also say FlightCar's breaking the law by picking people up in limos. Rental customers are supposed to take the AirTrain -- which eases traffic.

When asked how is FlightCar different than any other company that rents out cars to people flying into the airport, Parenco said, "So to start with, we don't own the cars. The cars are, you know, they're listed by owners. So what we're doing, we're trying to match owners' cars with renters."

In other words, they're just the middleman, but the city doesn't buy it.

"I think we're all rooting for them to be a successful company. They just have to pay the fees, get the permits, and abide by the traffic rules. Just like everybody else," said Dorsey.


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