Tuesday, August 3, 2010

An Open Letter to Thrifty Car Rental

Dear Thrifty Car Rental,

In an early Seinfeld episode, Jerry and Elaine are at a car rental counter and the rental agent informs Jerry that there are no more cars available. Jerry goes into a comedic rant that, if you don't mind, I'm going to quote here for you.

Jerry: I don't understand, I made a reservation, do you have my reservation?
Agent: Yes, we do, unfortunately we ran out of cars.
Jerry: But the reservation keeps the car here. That's why you have the
Agent: I know why we have reservations.
Jerry: I don't think you do. If you did, I'd have a car. See, you know how to
take the reservation, you just don't know how to *hold* the reservation and
that's really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody
can just take them.

All this leads me to last Wednesday when we went to pick up a car we'd  reserved. Or at least, I thought we'd reserved one. But as it turns out, your company appears to be very good at taking reservations, but not so good at the actual holding of the reservations.

I'll be the first to admit I don't know the details about how a car rental agency works. I imagine it to be fairly simple in that you have a finite supply of cars and you rent them out for a specific period of time. Don't double-book a vehicle and allow enough time for it to be cleaned before re-renting it seems to be the extent of things. Add in your attempts to sell unneeded 'Loss Prevention Insurance' or whatever the hell it is you call your insurance that's totally unnecessary (since both the customer's credit card and own car insurance cover rental cars, but you know that and simply want to suck a few extra dollars out of uniformed consumers. Real classy system you guys have there) and that's pretty much your whole operation. I'm sure somewhere in your policy there's something about 'don't rent cars we don't have,' but then again, maybe it's not there since you obviously haven't mastered that fact.

And while I'm writing to you, let me say a few other things. First of all, if we wanted a gas-guzzling SUV, we would have gotten that in the first place. Offering to upgrade us to that for and extra $20 a day isn't exactly putting the customer first. And why is it you couldn't upgrade us for free? Oh, that's right, because 'technically' (your word, not mine) you still had a vehicle you could give us. Granted, it was a 15-passenger van and not, you know, the Toyota Corolla we'd reserved, but you did 'technically' have something you could have rented us.

Second . . . really? A 15-passenger van? Do I look like a church youth group in need of transportation to the mountains? Is this really how you go about treating your customers? Because you had one of those, you couldn't give us a free upgrade? Also, not everyone thinks an SUV is an upgrade. Some of us would rather drive a mid-size car and don't consider an SUV something to aspire to drive.

So, all that is to say that I look forward to never utilizing your company's services ever again. You're a rental car company and you can't manage the simple task of renting cars. If you can't perform the one task you're company claims it does, I can't think of a single reason to give you another chance.