How to Choose a Rental Company
Choosing a bouncer rental company is more than just finding out who delivers in your area then comparing prices. If you've read our section on Bouncer Basics, you'll know that there are a lot of different kinds of interactive inflatables out there, and not all companies are going to have what you're looking for. Additionally, there are factors of safety, deposits, and extra charges to investigate.
What Are You Getting
Ignore the price for now. You certainly want an inflatable that's safe and clean (more on that later). Now decide exactly what kind of inflatable you want. Is a small standard castle-looking bounce house good enough? Do you want something a little more creative? Do you want an attached slide? A giant stand-alone slide? Something really large and memorable?
Sometimes the lowest price will get you the same thing for less. Many times, however, you're just getting a cheap inflatable that could look a little sad and droopy. Be sure to browse the web site of the rental companies you're considering and see what they have to offer - make sure you're comparing apples to apples when you're pricing out your rental.
Make sure your rental company carries insurance. You simply don't want to deal with an operation that doesn't, even if your state law does not require it.
Most rental companies will charge a deposit - usually held on a credit card. This is to protect them in case their bouncer gets damaged at your event. This can happen by something as simple as someone leaving keys in their pocket, which fall out, or someone lands on them, and it punctures the inflatable (see our section on Bouncer Safety to learn what to watch our for during your event).
Ask your rental company if they charge a deposit, how much it is, and under what circumstances you will be charged against the deposit.
Be sure to ask your rental company what their policy is on cancellations due to weather. A reputable rental company will not set up an inflatable in rain or high winds, so find out if you're charged anything if mother nature interferes with your event.
Most rental companies have a standard free delivery area, and will deliver farther out for an additional fee. Be sure to check to see if you'll be charged for delivery or setup.
Some companies will let you pick up and set up the inflatable yourself. We highly recommend against this! Safely setting up an inflatable is not as easy as it looks, and doing it wrong could result in truly bad consequences. Make sure your rental company will set up and tear down your inflatable.
With the recent surge in the interactive inflatable market, a lot of new companies are manufacturing interactive inflatable, and not all of them are the same. Here are a few quick questions to ask your rental company:
- Does the inflatable use lead-free paint? Some cheap inflatables manufactured overseas use thin material and lead-based paints that can flake and be inhaled. Make sure yours is safe!
- Does the inflatable comply with all New Jersey regulations on inflatable amusement rides? New Jersey has the strictest safety standards in the US, and you want to be sure your inflatable will meet those high standards.
- Does the inflatable have finger-safe netting? All bouncers have some kind of mesh or netting on the walls to allow you to see inside. But on some cheaper inflatables this is a wider net that kids' fingers can get caught in! Be sure the netting is fine enough that small fingers cannot fit in the holes.
Additional Safety Questions for Slides
Slides present a couple more safety concerns, because they stand so high off the ground.
- Does the slide include a built-in sunshade? This is a piece of fabric or vinyl across the top of the slide. While blocking the sun is fine, what it really does is keep children from jumping or flipping from the top of the slide - and thus keep them from falling off.
- Does the slide have a sealed chamber to prevent collapse, as required by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC Safety Bulletin 20207-0001). This is an important and mandatory safety feature that many slides do not have! If the blower stops working for any reason, it keeps the slide from collapsing quickly. An example of this is the CAS Support System by Cutting Edge Creations.
Some companies will provide an attendant to monitor the equipment included in their quote, while others will charge extra for an attendant. Having a professional at your event is a good idea - someone who is familiar with the capacity of the inflatable, the manufacturer guidelines, as well as when the winds are too strong etc.