Dollar Rent a Car Refund: How I got my money back

Were you scammed by Dollar Rent a Car or its twin, Thrifty Car Rental?

Don’t panic – there might be hope for getting a refund!  I got a refund for $224 after I complained on Twitter.  Seriously.  (You can read about how I was scammed by Dollar Rent a Car here.)


My Dollar Rent a Car refund.  I only got anywhere with this company once I complained on Twitter.

Get on Twitter

I got my refund by complaining to Dollar Rent a Car’s Twitter account, @DollarCars

I didn’t try Twitter until I had exhausted the traditional avenues of complaint. I’m not a big Twitter person, in fact, I think my Dollar Rent a Car complaints constitute the bulk of my tweets. In-person help and the 800 number were useless, and my credit card couldn’t undo the charge. Twitter is your best chance at a refund from Dollar Rent a Car.

  1. Create a Twitter account if you don’t have one already
  2. Go to
  3. Author a tweet of your own, beginning with @DollarCars and explain what happened.  Like this:

@DollarCars I was charged $XYZ for add-on(s) I did not accept on date/place/time.

Send as many as you like, but they don’t seem to monitor or respond on weekends, so keep tweeting on weekdays until you get a response asking for your Rental Authorization number.

Be Nice

Remember, you’re an innocent victim even though you’re probably very angry.  You were just ripped off for hundreds of dollars for coverages you didn’t agree to and the smug asswipe at the airport desk refuses do a thing about it. Even better, your flight’s leaving in an hour.

I really wanted to spew a bunch of expletives at this company, but I kept my complaints factual and “safe for work” so that the issue was clearly Dollar’s rip off, not my own psycho craziness.

Dollar Refunds: What Doesn’t Work

The desk agent in the airport probably won’t give a damn about you or your complaint.  The guy I got sassed me and blamed me for being the victim.  When I complained about being scammed, all he could offer was “If that’s how you want to look at it.”

The Customer Service number (800-800-5252) is equally useless.  The best I got out of them was an offer for a $30 discount on my next Dollar rental (upped to $50 when I refused).  I refused the $50 offer as well, because 1) it’s insulting and stupid and 2) it might have invalidated my eligibility for a full refund if my complaint was marked as “resolved”.

Besides, I’m never renting from Dollar again, so what good is $50 in Dollar Rent a Car money? It doesn’t even cover a full day’s rental once Dollar’s added its overcharges onto the bill!

Still Mad? More Places to Complain

Are you a pissed off customer? I got a refund, but I very easily could not have. I think most people ripped off by Dollar won’t jump through these hoops to get a refund.  Here’s a few good places to tell your story and warn others about this unethical company:

Consumer Affairs

Consumer Affairs is a popular place to complain about lousy companies.  Add your grievances about Dollar here:



You’ll have to create an account first, but once you’ve got one just put in the city where you were ripped off and tell everyone what happened.


Angry victims of Dollar’s scam have formed a Facebook group, “Dollar/Thrifty Rent a Car Overcharges“. Complaining here doesn’t get you a refund, but it does get the word out to people who follow you on Facebook.

50 Ways to Feel Warmer in Your Freezing Cold House (Without Cranking up the Heat)

Winter's here, but it doesn't have to feel that way. Make your FREEZING COLD house way more enjoyable with these heat-saving bill-slashing tips.

I love winter, but everyone around me thinks I’m nuts. Do I know the divine secret to keeping warm all winter? Maybe!

The over-arching theme to all of these tips is to focus your efforts on keeping heat in your house and warming yourself, not your entire house.

Here are 50 ways to feel warmer in your freezing cold house – without spending a fortune. (In fact, most of these tips should save you money in the long haul.)


20 Free Fixes

Free ways to be warmer?! Sign me up! Even better, some of these tips can save you more than new windows or appliance upgrades ever will!

1. Lower the thermostat

Sure, every “how to save on heating” list starts with this one, but what does it mean? It means if you normally keep your heat at 72 F, drop it to 66 instead. You’ll survive. Heated air is expensive and it likes to escape, so the best thing you can do is to not produce it in the first place.

The rest of the tips on this page will help you live with the lower temp.

2. Bundle your butt up

Double up on socks, get some nice thick slippers, wear a hoodie over a short-sleeve shirt over a long-sleeve shirt. Shirts within shirts, folks, that’s the secret! You get a choice: be bulky or have a bulky heating bill. The first time I got slapped with a $400 bill for the luxury of wearing a T-shirt in January was the last time that happened.

Level Up House: 50 ways to keep warm in your freezing cold house! Tip #2: BUNDLE UP!

Photo credit: Mark Turnauckas

3. Close your chimney flue

Is it closed all the way? Our flue is stupid and likes to open itself on its own. Leaving a window or a chimney flue open is like opening your wallet and letting dollar bills flutter out.

4. Lock your windows

Locking windows makes the seal a bit tighter. Oh, and duh – don’t leave windows open.  If you do open a window to get some fresh air, shut the door to the rest of the house.

5. Keep outside doors tightly shut

Even if you’re stepping outside for just a few minutes, pull that door all the way closed.

6. Minimize use of your kitchen and bathroom fans.

Kitchen and bathroom fans pull lovely heated air out of your home and into the outdoors. (Wallet, fluttering bills…)

7. Wrap yourself in a blanket.

Be a human burrito. It’s winter, no one will judge.  If they do, give them a good kick.  Kicking warms you up!


You should see her sexy heating bill!

8. Rob a bank

Or just pretend you’re going to rob a bank by pulling up the hood on a hoodie. It’ll trap heat and keep you warmer. Bank robbers might suck at being kind to society, but they do save a bit of cash on not having to keep the house so warm.

9. Drop and give me 20! 

Pushups or jumping jacks will warm you right up – and help negate the effects of tip #14.

10. Move furniture away from vents

If you’ve got any furniture over or near your heat source, it’s probably soaking up that heat instead of letting it float around the room. Try re-arranging your furniture, if feasible, to work better with the heating vents.

11. Open drapes during the day, close ’em at night

If your summers are hot, you’re probably in the habit of covering your windows to try to keep the rooms a bit cooler.  The same principle works in reverse for heating a room: open your drapes and blinds during the day to let heat in, then close ’em up at sunset to keep that heat in.

12. Block door drafts

My first apartment’s doors were the first in the hallway to the outside, so anytime someone came in from outside I’d get a whoosh of icy air under my own door. I wised up and stuck a rolled-up towel at the base of each door.  Instant improvement!  

If you’re crafty, Not Martha shows readers how to make a pretty DIY door draft stopper. And if you’re not crafty, there’s always something like this As-Seen-On-TV Draft Guard.


DIY draft stopper by Not Martha

13. Take a walk outside

Counter-intuitive, maybe, but a brisk walk in the freezing weather outside warms me up and gives me a new appreciation for the inside temperature.

14. Eat (or drink) something warm

Warm food makes cold temps more tolerable. Food in general kicks up your metabolism, too, so dig in.  That’s what I tell myself as I polish off the last of the Christmas cookies.


Photo credit:

15. Close the door to unused rooms

If you rarely go into a room, close the door and don’t heat it.  Cold air from the unused room won’t mix with the heated spaces.  Keeping 1500 sq feet warm instead of 1800 sq feet will save you quite a bit of cash.

16. Raise your door thresholds

If you see daylight under your front door, you’re losing expensive heated air through that crack! That metal bar you step over when you go through the door can usually be made taller to close the gap.  Turn the screws counterclockwise until the daylight is mostly gone.  Don’t make the door harder to open and close, just shrink the gap a bit.

17. Plug gaps around electrical boxes

Remove the cover plate from an electrical outlet – is there a large gap between the drywall and the electrical box?  Most hardware stores sell little sheets of insulation shaped like the outlet cover itself to stick in here. (PS: Don’t pump caulk or foam into the electrical box, that’s bad advice that sometimes shows up in lists like this).

18. Typing gloves!

Don’t heat your whole house just so your tiny fingers can feel warm. DIY typing gloves:  cut the fingertips off a pair of cheap garden gloves, and you can still use your keyboard, tablet, and phone while your hands stay roasty toasty. Or, get a nice pair of handmade typing gloves like these from ElenaLittleCreations on Etsy.

50 Ways to Feel Warmer in Your Freezing Cold House: #18 - wear typing gloves!

Typing gloves by ElenaLittleCreations

19. Roast a chicken

Fire up your oven and bake something huge – your whole house will smell great and feel warm and toasty!


Roasted chicken credit: Elsie Bauer SimplyRecipes

20. Snuggle up close to someone

The world needs more snuggling.

20 Cheap Upgrades

Easy upgrades that cost less as little as a few dollars and no more than $250.

21. Get a space heater

Drop the thermostat, corral everyone into one room, and fire up a space heater for $BIG SAVINGS$.  It’s way cheaper to heat just one room via a space heater than it is to heat the whole house.

My family used this space heater trick when I was growing up and I use it in my own place now, and it’s seriously the best. It’s below freezing outside as I write this, but I am toasty warm in my heated computer-room cocoon thanks to the space heater pointed at me.

Don’t have a space heater? Browse Amazon’s full selection of space heaters to find the right one for you.


Here’s a nice portable space heater by Lasko. It doesn’t take a huge space heater to make a room cozy.

22. Install a smart thermostat

No, not a programmable thermostat, unless you promise to program it and use it as intended (most people don’t). Read more about the programmable thermostat energy savings myth here and here.

Keeping the house the same temperature 24/7 is expensive and wasteful, but many people do it.  If you have a programmable thermostat, setting it up to lower the temperature during the work day and during the night could save you hundreds of dollars over the heating season.

make your home warmer in the winter with a learning thermostat

It’s crazy popular for a reason – the Nest thermostat finds the most efficient heating routine for your home with almost no effort on your part.

23. Change your furnace filter

A dirty filter makes the furnace work harder, which increases the cost to run the thing and wears it out faster.  This YouTube video shows how simple it is to change a furnace filter.  Measure your existing filter before shopping, since they come in lots of sizes.  Change the filter every 6-8 weeks, or whenever it looks really dirty, for the duration of the heating season.

Shop for furnace filters of every size at Home Depot.


The humble furnace filter can save you $$$.

24. Upgrade your insulation

You know that fluffy pink stuff that itches like hell if you touch it?  Stapling it into your garage, attic, and crawlspace or basement is messy and unpleasant but should save you some cash.  Even better, a lot of people have a few rolls of it left over from their own insulation, so ask around – I insulated the walls around my first garage door with some leftover insulation from my parents.

25. Wrap your hot water tank

If your hot water tank is in an unheated part of your home, such as your garage, a water heater insulation blanket might pay for itself very quickly.   Many people also report their water is hotter and arrives faster, so there’s that, too.

26. Replace weather stripping

Weather seals compress and wear out over time, making it easier for expensive heated air to escape. ThisOldHouse offers a simple guide for replacing your weather seals.

27. Caulk windows and doors

Depending on your window and door style, a thin bead of caulk applied to cracks between the trim and wall might save you some cash.

28. Locate and fix air leaks

Warm air escaping through tiny cracks and crevices wastes money. offers a guide on detecting air leaks.  Keep in mind, though, that you do need some airflow.  Blocking everything will cause a moisture build-up, so plug the big ones and then move on.

29. Tape duct cracks

Follow the heating ducts from your furnace: are there any cracks or sags?  You may need to seal (or fully replace) your duct work.

30. Give your chimney a pillow

Your chimney(s) are pointed in heat’s favorite direction: up!  Plug that thing with an inflatable draftstopping pillow.  It’s basically a glorified pool toy for your chimney, and it’s much cheaper than retrofits or new fireplace doors. Sizes vary, so measure before you buy. (PS: Always remove your pillow before lighting any fires.)


Plug your chimney with a chimney pillow and keep heat inside where it belongs!

31. Get a heated toilet seat

One of the worst things about lowering your home’s ambient temperature is having to sit on a cold toilet seat.  A heated toilet seat changes everything. I got a UltraTouch Heated Toilet Seat several years ago and it is amazingOne sit and you’re spoiled for life. 

32. Apply window film

Heat lost through windows accounts for 10-25% of your heating bill.  Covering your windows with clear plastic film (find kits at your local hardware store) can reduce this loss. If you want a really cheap window fix, try this bubble wrap window insulation technique.

33. Get a furnace tune-up

For about $80-$100 a technician inspects your furnace to ensure it is performing at its peak.  Doing the maintenance is also a great way to avoid being the proud owner of a dead furnace on Christmas Day, scrambling for your city’s only available repairman.

34. Clean and repair your roof

Moss, leaves, and pine needles retain moisture, so get those things off your roof. Also, repair any existing damage while you’re up there. Replacing damaged shingles and repairing flashing around vent stacks and chimneys will both help your roof last longer and make it a bit more energy efficient.

35. Insulate hot water pipes

Pipes that are warm to the touch should be wrapped to help keep that heat where it belongs (inside the pipe).  Pre-slit pipe foam is available at most hardware stores.  Just cut to size and fasten it in place with duct tape. The catch? Your pipes are probably in your crawlspace or otherwise awkward to access.

Level Up House: Wrap your hot water pipes with foam insulation to keep heat where it belongs.

I wrapped my own crawlspace pipes – took a few hours and several yards of foam insulation. Totally worth it – our crawlspace is exposed to the ambient temperature, and no busted pipes yet.

36. Insulate the attic “access door”

Even if you pumped your attic full of blow-in cellulose, if the access door itself doesn’t lay flat or lacks insulation it’s just another way for hot air to escape.

37. Hang thick curtains

Room darkening thermal curtains are a real thing and they are awesome. Open ’em wide during the day, then close ’em up at night.  The heavier the curtain, the more it will do to retain heat.

38. …or hang thermal liners

I use a Eclipse Thermal Liners on the back of my bedroom curtains year-round.  It makes them heavier, but the liners are very effective at keeping winter heat in and summer heat out.


My Eclipse-brand thermal liner hangs on the backside of my bedroom curtains, which keeps the room dark in the summer and a bit warmer in the winter.

39. Roll out some rugs

Floors can account for up to 10% of your heat loss if they’re not properly insulated.  Mitigate heat loss with rugs (or blankets).

40. Hug a heating pad.

A 50-watt heating pad can make winter so much more tolerable for the always-cold among us.  This Sunbeam Heating Pad is a family favorite.

10 Long-Term Investments

Here’s the big upgrades: for just a few hundred or thousand dollars, you can help your freezing house be a bit warmer for the rest of all time. Unfortunately, most of these things take a long time to break even on.  Still, buying these things make sense if you’re staying a while, or the one you have is already a complete piece of junk, and will help you sell in a buyer’s market.

41. Live in a small home

The practicality of this tip varies by region. Ironically, in my area smaller (1200-1600 sq ft) homes cost just as much, if not more, than larger (1800-2400 sq ft) homes. I think other people are onto this secret. But if you’re choosing between a small home and a larger one, consider the cost to heat the additional space.

42. Replace your furnace

Depending on what you’re replacing, a new model might be way more efficient and could pay for itself in a few years.

43. Install a heat pump

A heat pump isn’t something you just walk into Home Depot and buy – it’s more like a new furnace.

If you live in a climate with mild winters, you’ve probably heard of heat pumps, which move heat rather than generate it. They’re popular here in the Pacific Northwest, and can serve as air conditioning in the summer, but it will will take several years to recover the installation cost.

Read more about heat pumps at

44. Insulate your attic

Here’s an easy way to tell if your attic insulation isn’t cutting it: icicles are hanging from the edges of your roof.  Ice dams and icicles mean there’s heat escaping from your house through your attic – it goes through the roof, melts the snow, and that snow becomes icicles on your gutters.

We insulated our attic with blown-in insulation (it’s a fluffy cellulose material sprayed onto the “floor” of the attic). Our upstairs used to be “the cold floor” of the house: after the blow-in insulation, it’s now the warmest. 

45. Increase your home’s thermal mass

Heavy materials retain heat better. Mr. Money Mustache wrote a comprehensive guide on the concept of a home’s “thermal mass” – things to keep in mind when choosing materials for your renovations.

46. Replace your windows

New windows are expensive and messy, but depending on how ancient your windows are you may wait as little as two years for a return on your investment.  But most homeowners will wait a lot longer for a return on their window investment (like, a decade). Figure out what windows you have, and compare them to what you’d replace them with, before jumping into a new windows project.

(PS: Windows aren’t just about heat retention. This guide by Andersen Windows points out some of the other advantages of replacing your windows.)

47. Replace your front door

Is your front door super crappy? It might be beyond simple caulking and weatherstripping – replacing the whole door can also improve your resale value (assuming you pick a nice door that suits the house’s design, but you knew that).

48. Insulate your crawl space

Are your floors cold in the winter?  The crawlspace under your first floor might be poorly insulated. Explore EnergyStar’s guide on checking your insulation levels for region-specific information.  (In the meantime, house slippers help a lot.)

49. Get a tank-less hot water heater

Provides hot water on-demand, and the lack of a tank means hot water isn’t sitting around 22 hours of the day doing nothing.  I don’t have a tank-less, but some of my friends do and they love it.

50. Move!

When all else fails, relocate to a warmer climate! I happen to enjoy the cold weather, and I feel bad for people who complain from October to March about the winter season.  Las Vegas and Texas are affordable and booming – check ’em out!

Note to readers: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. They are provided to help you find the recommended product quickly.  If you shop through an affiliate link, a tiny % of your purchase (if you make one) helps support this site with a tiny kickback at no cost to you.  As always, I encourage you to shop around and price compare to be sure you get the best deal!

Dumb Money Mistakes I Made in 2013

I’ve been leveling up my frugal skills for years – I’m well beyond newbie money mistakes like lunches out, expensive TV habits, and retail therapy, but even us high level frugalists mess up occasionally.  My biggest doozies tend to be related to travel.  When I’m in a strange environment, my usual habits don’t serve me.  I’m buying things and services I don’t normally buy, and there’s a lot of opportunity for screw ups.

In celebration of 2014, I’m rounding up the dumb money mistakes I made in 2013!



Ready to learn from my money mistakes? Let’s start with the biggest:

Didn’t invest my emergency fund: -$6300


My emergency fund sat around earning zero interest in 2013.

Technically, I didn’t lose money, but I missed a great opportunity to earn some. The market climbed in 2013, but I kept my emergency fund ($35,000) sitting in my no-interest Capital One 360 account “just in case”. My Vanguard investments enjoyed a 18.4% rate of return, and my emergency fund missed out!

My obsession with readily accessible cash cost me about $6300 in appreciation. If there was an emergency, I could have sold off some of my investments and retrieved the needed funds.

In the eight years since I established my own home the worst “emergency” I’ve ever seen was for $8,000, when I got a job on the other side of the country and needed to move.  The second worst? That time last year when I paid $3,500 to fix a broken water line under our driveway.  My fund is too big – and too idle.

This year:  I’m shrinking my emergency fund down to $10,000 and moving the rest into a diversified collection of Vanguard funds.

Flightseeing puke-fest: -$800

A spur-of-the-moment decision to go on a flight-seeing tour in a small aircraft left us both puking and ruined our day in Denali National Park.  We didn’t even see the mountain!  We were face-down in our puke bags for a view… of clouds.

This year:  Eh, this mistake was pretty one-off, but the moral of this story is probably to not go flight-seeing. Lesson learned.

Paid for unused landline: -$600

dumb money mistakes in 2013 landline

Paying for cell phones AND a landline – now that’s stupid.

We spent 2013 paying for two cell phones and a landline – that’s one more line than we have people.

We had the landline for two reasons:

  1. Verizon told us we had to have it in order to have FIOS when we first got the house hooked up with service
  2. We liked using our Plantronics headset with it for hours-long calls home on the weekends

A $17 TTY adapter from the Apple store let us use the Plantronics headset with our iPhones, ruling out need #2. But what about #1?

Well, we tried to cancel the Frontier landline back in February but Frontier said they couldn’t do it.  Fast forward to December 2013 when we were feeling angsty about how much we were shelling out for a landline we weren’t using, and tried again – this time, canceling the phone line but keeping the FIOS was no problem.

Why the inconsistency?  Paying for three years of phone service we didn’t need and rarely used cost us $50 a month, or $1800 total since the purchase of this house. Egads.

This year:  The landline is canceled and I’m looking forward to the $50 in savings each month.

Overpriced Hotel Stay: $-260

I bought into the “moderate hotel” hype at Walt Disney World.  We were going to stay at a Disney value resort, but decided at the last minute to go with a moderate hotel thinking the extra $260 would entitle us to comfortable beds and a quiet room.

That didn’t happen – our  hotel sucked.  Port Orleans Riverside has springy flat beds, incredibly loud flush toilets, and just as much noisy foot traffic as anywhere else I’ve ever stayed.  Now, I’ve never stayed in Disney’s value resort, but I can’t imagine the bed or noise being much worse.

This year:  Eh, we’re done with Disney for a few years, especially since the new FastPass+ system spoiled it, but if I went again I’d stay at a value resort.  It can’t be much worse, and the same Magic Hour and free parking perks still apply.

Didn’t scrutinize rental car receipt: -$224

Dumb money mistakes I made in 2013 Dollar Rent a Car rip off

Hidden charge by Dollar Rent a Car for $224 was expensive and anger-inducing.

We were scammed by Dollar Rent a Car in Orlando with a bit of receipt trickery. We declined an expensive add-on, but they sold it to us anyway without our knowledge. Had we unfolded the receipt when we accepted the vehicle, we might have discovered that Dollar sneaked in a hidden charge for an unnecessary $28.99/day “Loss Damage Waiver”.

Update: I got my $224 back, but not without having to complain a lot on Twitter like a crazy person.

This year:  I won’t leave the rental desk until I’ve read every. freaking. line on that receipt. AND THE BOTTOM! AND THE BACK!

Wasted money on in-game purchases: -$210

I work in freemium video games, so there’s some work-related pressure to play along (and buy in-game stuff), but not to the extent that I got carried away. I spent a whopping $210 on in-game stuff over the course of early 2013.  It was fun to win, but it wasn’t fun to be on a never-ending treadmill that pumped out content faster than I could play it, creating an incentive to spend.

This year:  I quit playing. It’s not fun to be hounded for cash just to keep up.  Most of my gaming right now is in premium games, where the first purchase is the only one, though I think freemium can be done well (2011’s Tiny Tower remains my favorite example of freemium done well).

SimCity: -$70

What has EA done to my favorite franchise?  And had I waited 6 months to buy it, I could have gotten it for 40% off, too. It didn’t even run at launch! Stupid.

This year:  Hehe, maybe they fixed it by now. I think I’ll hop in and check it out. :)

Didn’t Sign up for Company 401k

I started a new job in February 2013, but the company doesn’t let employees open a 401k and distribute pre-tax earnings into it until they’ve worked there for 90 days.  Needless to say, I forgot to sign up.  My last two jobs let me sign up for the 401k at the start and I contributed the max and the whole thing ran on auto-pilot, but this new job wanted me to remember to sign up later. Nope, I forgot about it for six whole months.

The impact of forgetting to set this account will be minimal, but I feel pretty silly.

This year:  I set up my automatic 401k contributions in December, which is just in time for the company 4% match to kick in at the start of my second year with the company.  Hooray!

In Conclusion

In writing this, I’ve realized that my money mistakes come in two varieties:

  1. Trusting a company to be honest with me about whether I can opt out of what should be an optional service.  The hard lesson here is no one cares about my money as much as I do.
  2. Thinking a “premium” experience is going to be worth it.  In effort to get “the best experience” (be it a pricey flight-seeing tour, a better hotel, or upgrades in a game), I think we just set ourselves up for disappointment.  Jim and I don’t seem to enjoy “premium” experiences, they never live up to our expectations and we just end up feeling like we wasted our money.

How about you?  Any shameful spending in 2013 you’d like to fess up to?  Tell us about it in the comments!

Yes, you can have Frontier FIOS without a landline

frontier_logoI know, it’s 2013, who the heck still has a landline?

We did, for two reasons:

  1. Verizon told us we had to get the phone line in order to get FIOS, and we believed ’em. (Verizon has since sold the FIOS service to Frontier, and maybe the rules changed along the way.)
  2. We liked using our Plantronics cordless headset for long weekend phone chats with our parents and didn’t know how to use it with an iPhone (yet)

But it was ridiculous to pay $50 a month for a landline and $250 a month for our iPhones – that’s one more phone line than we have people!

Something had to go.

Now, there seems to be some confusion online about whether it’s possible to have Frontier FIOS without a landline, so I’m writing this to say that yes, you can have FIOS without a landline.  We called Frontier to request dropping the landline, and yes, it was possible (thanks, Frontier).  We are now a FIOS-only home – no landline, no TV, just FIOS internet.  This cut our monthly bill almost in half.

I have been very happy with my FIOS Internet for the last three years and being able to cut a service I wasn’t using is the kind of good service I expect from companies I choose to do business with.

Stay awesome, Frontier.




Secured By miniOrange