Student CarShare goes out of business with little warning

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Student CarShare closed March 3 due to bad weather. The next day, the company experienced technical issues, before Student CarShare disappeared entirely shortly after. They deleted their Facebook and Twitter accounts, disconnected their phone number, weren&rsquo;t responding to any emails, and took down their website. The website, now updated, tells the whole story &mdash; they&rsquo;ve gone out of business and anyone who is looking for a refund is out of luck.</p>

Student CarShare was a rental car company aimed at the 18- to 21-year-old demographic. For a $50 membership fee, students could rent a car, with gas and insurance covered, for anywhere from $10 to $15 per hour. The company seemed to be doing well with fleets at multiple universities and promotions with Feds, so when Student CarShare unexpectedly went under, it came as a surprise.

“At first I thought it was a really great opportunity,” said first-year environment and resource studies student Emma-Rae Therrien-Jones over an email to Imprint. “It was pretty expensive but at the time I thought it was better than having to buy a car and pay for insurance.”

One of the major surprises of Student CarShare shutting down was its abruptness. No one, not even its loyal customers, was told of the closing. The only contact Student CarShare had with students was an email, notifying them of a temporary shutdown. 

“It was actually a night I really needed to rent a car. I checked my emails and they said it would only be temporary. There was no advanced warning, though,” Therrien-Jones said.

Yifan Feng, an employee at the parent company of a competing car rental company, had some insight as to why Student CarShare failed. 

“The [founder] took an attempt at the 18- to 21-year-old market, back when I believe [the competitor] was only 21 plus. He tried to hit this niche market, and he was successful for a short term,” Feng said. “Once [the competitor] got to this market, it was only a matter of time before Student CarShare went out of business.”

The biggest slap in the face for students in the wake of the closure is that there hasn’t been a word of the possibility of refunds for customers. Some students have tried to get their money back through credit card chargebacks, but those are time-sensitive and may not be applicable so long after the initial closure.

Student CarShare’s reputation was not spotless before their sudden closure, with some students reporting issues with management, damaged cars, and unfair fees relating to the first two problems.

“The one time I used [Student CarShare] the car was actually pretty badly damaged,” Therrien-Jones said. “Then, when I called them about it, they thought I was lying to them and tried charging me for it. There was an extra fee of $5 to return the car early.”

Students ready to cut their losses do have options in other car share services around the city, including Community CarShare, Zipcar, and Grand River CarShare.

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