Is This Lost Rental Car Key Penalty Excessive?

Have you ever lost the keys to your rental car? D. did this past weekend, and tells Consumerist that she thought that Alamo’s method of issuing a replacement key was a little bit inefficient and expensive. She was instructed to hire a tow truck at her own expense to bring the car back to the lot, then charged a $250 key replacement fee.

Last weekend, I foolishly dived into the water with my rental car key. Not an electro-remote-clciker key, just a plain-old turn-it-and-it-goes-on key.

I assumed that I’d call the rental place, and they’d charge me something to have a guy drive out with a new key. That’s what happened about ten years ago, when one of my friends lost his key.

Instead, they told me to call a tow truck. We towed the car back to the lot (at my own expense!) and then paid the “Key Replacement Fee” ($209, discounted from $250). This sounds a little excessive–after all, my car at home has at least two spare keys, precisely for situations like this. Why not Alamo?

What have your experiences been, Consumerist Hive Mind? Was D.’s experience unusual, or understandable?