I still haven’t used Car2Go, in part because of its horrible web interface, and in part because it never seems to be more convenient than biking or TriMet — there were a few times recently when I would have liked to use it, but I would have needed to walk farther than I could at the time.
I was trying to again this morning, though, because I have to be someplace weird (out of my normal travel pattern) today, at a particular time, and I can’t bike right now (my foot is still injured), and it’s not that easy to get there by TriMet, so Car2Go seems to make sense as a way to do it — I don’t need to keep the car, I just need to get there, so it’s a classic case of when Car2Go would be better than Zipcar financially. But because I have to be there at a particular time and it’s an important appointment, I’d like to do it in advance, and not just rely on the availability of a car at the time.
In order to try to do this, I went through the following hassles:
1) Searching for Car2Go or just going to their homepage doesn’t take you to a page with a login button. You have to either have it bookmarked, know the URL (which is not car2go.com, or portland.car2go.com) or search for “portland car2go log in”, which I always forget. I’ve now bookmarked this page, so I should be able to skip this in the future, but this is the 21st century and your top search result page SHOULD HAVE A LOGIN LINK IF YOU ARE A MEMBERSHIP BASED SITE. Dear god, how is this not obvious?
2) Once I eventually found the login page and got logged in, I still had to find the page where you can click to make a reservation. You first have to click on My Car2Go (I think this is what you’re supposed to do) or on the map, if you want to make a reservation via the map (but as I mentioned previously, this is fairly painful), but I didn’t because I wanted an advance reservation. And this isn’t made obvious at all — the My Car2Go link is just one of many sidebar links, some of which do take you to a page with the submenu for reservations, some of which don’t.
3) Then I had to cope with their strange way of choosing a time to start a reservation, with a slider that does minutes in the selected hour, or hours, and switches between the two in a somewhat confusing way. (There’s a reason most websites or apps with time selectors use text entry, dropdown, or [on the iPhone] wheels.)
4) After that I had to enter a start location for the reservation. I tried entering my address, which worked, but added an extra step of “confirm you really meant this address with more details like city and zip”. After I said yes, it returned “We were not able to find a vehicle to match your information.” Hm. There are usually some cars nearby, why didn’t this work? Tried the major intersection nearby, which returned “Unknown address. Please try again.”. Seriously, your address thing can’t cope with intersections? I think this is pretty much expected functionality at this point in the life of address-location on the Internet. Okay, I tried the address of one of the buildings in the shopping center at that intersection (this time I added the city and zip, which made it fail at first — even though otherwise it adds them itself). Nope, back to not being able to find a vehicle. WTF? Maybe none of them are close enough — try another address that I know always has a car nearby because it’s right by the Car2Go office. Nope. Can’t find anything.
5) Okay, I’ll see if maybe my question is answered somewhere. Nope. Their FAQ just says “You can reserve a car in advance”. No instructions on how to make that happen. No troubleshooting section.
At this point I gave up. I’m sorry, Car2Go, but if you’re going to make it this hard to use your service to reserve a car in advance, so I can feel comfortable getting to an important appointment, I’m just going to use Zipcar, even though it costs more. Because I know that when I visit their website, I can immediately log in, select my home location, see available cars, reserve one, and be done, and more than anything, what I like about carsharing is having a car available when I want one, and not having to hassle with it otherwise.