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This is warning to all flying in to Sacrament Airport that DOLLAR CAR RENTAL IS NOT AN AIRPORT CAR RENTAL OFFICE. Southwest Airlines is promoting Dollar Rent a Car at the Sacramento (SMF) Airport by sending emails to customers flying to SMF offering additional frequent flier miles for booking with Dollar. Unless you have hours to spend waiting for a rental car, please read further.
Dollar in Sacramento is an OFF AIRPORT CAR RENTAL OFFICE, not an airport rental location. Your Southwest reservation will erroneously say, "Rental Counter is located outside of the Airport Terminal. Shuttle is provided."
To get to the Dollar location from the airport you will have to take TWO SHUTTLES. If you have booked with Dollar and cannot get out of the reservation, give yourself an extra hour at least on both ends to get to and from this off airport site. Your wait could be longer on arrival if they are out of cars, a frequent occurrence, especially on Thursdays and Fridays according to one of the Dollar workers. They also may not have car seats for children available.
At the Sacramento airport all car rentals are accessible by a shuttle bus and there are no rental offices in the terminal. Anyone who has rented a car at the Sacramento airport before will look at the statement printed on their itinerary and think that Dollar is located at the car rental location at the Sacrament airport. But that is not the case. After taking the shuttle to the car rental depot you'll have to wait 15-25 minutes to get a shuttle to the off airport location for Dollar Rent a Car. The office is located on Del Passo Road off of I-5, approximately 4 miles south of the airport. It is in the back of a business park / retail shopping development and Thrifty Rental is located in the same office. This location does not have any way to wash cars so expect your car to be dirty. The office also is often out of cars, or out of the car reserved by a customer. If a car is not available, cars are driven from the Hertz car rental terminal at the airport (but not immediately), making a very long rental process even longer. See the Yelp! reviews on Sacramento Dollar for very typical experiences.
Trying to lodge a complaint with Southwest Airlines after the fact may be fruitless. Even supervisors in customer service can only send comments on to the executive office, they cannot contact the Vice President in charge of this relationship directly. Calls to customer service reps result in a request by customer service to file a complaint online. There's a "Talk to the Hand" attitude. Until Southwest's relationship with Dollar Rent A Car at the Sacramento airport is severed, unsuspecting car renters will be inconvenienced, wait for car rentals, and miss appointments and important family functions (weddings, reunions and funerals) because of this bait and switch off airport office.