The price ain’t right

Share Button

At times there seems to be a million stories about the way the North takes advantage of First Nations and non-residents. We all know things cost more but there are limits to what the market will bear and not complain.

Recently upon hearing that our Air Creebec flight was full we looked into various ways to go from Chibougamau to Montreal. A taxi would cost around $1000. Certainly cheaper than two plane tickets but still a little expensive for our tastes though I have many fine reports of the comfort of the trip.

We looked for a ride but hitchhiking to Montreal is no longer as easy as it used to be. You need a network and more time than we had. We missed a few rides and no more were to be found.

Next up seemed to be a simple proposition. We would rent a car. Fortunately, we thought, there was a multinational car rental vehicle in Chibougamau named appropriately National. If you go online you will get an estimate of $223.49. We tried to get hold of the National counter in Chibougamau but couldn’t get through to a live person.

So we decided to phone the convenient 1-800 number to see if we could rent that way. When we phoned the 800 number we were told yes and the estimated cost of the rental came out to $539.18. Though this last figure was high for a one-day rental we decided to go with it and even reserved a compact-sized car over the phone.

Then we discovered the perils of car rental in Chibougamau. First, the general manager of Chibougamau Auto attempted to assist us. Then, she disappeared for a while and returned to tell us the person responsible for the National counter was coming from the airport to help us.

After sitting down and looking at the quote sent by the National chain Vicky Lemay said the quote was wrong. The costs were $52 per day and it was 55 cents rather than 50 cents per kilometre. The costs are little higher but not much until she let the other boot drop. The fee for dropping off the car in Montreal went from $200 to $800. Hurried calculations made the total cost jump to $1200 to rent a car for one day to drive to Montreal.

Unbelievable, right! This seemed to be a case of a monopoly based on the assumption that the Crees and their compatriots are hemorrhaging money. True, Lemay said the drop-off fee included a bus ticket to Montreal, hotel, gas and meals for a Chibougamau-based driver to pick up the car and return it. But one would have thought these things weren’t necessary for a franchise chain.

We phone the main office via the 800 number and asked about this insane rate change. The person requested to talk to Chibougamau Auto’s Lemay at the National counter. A rude Lemay then got into an argument with the well-mannered National representative eating up my cellphone minutes like they were candy.

After the call, there was still no change in Lemay’s stance. It was getting cheaper to take the taxi but a quick call showed one seat had opened up on Air Creebec.

We had found the only real means of getting to Montreal. It was Air Creebec all the way, baby! Never was I so happy to see that familiar logo when I boarded the plane.

During our search, we found an alternative to Chibougamau Auto’s unreal pricing. For those in need of a renting vehicles just go to Diamond Taxi. One of their drivers rents out vehicles at a mere $49 a day and 20 cents a kilometre. No drop off in Montreal though. Too bad but we can hope for the future.

Share Button

Comments are closed.