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Edition 348 – That Hurts

It seems like my hire car company of choice has the most appropriate name if for no other reason than dealing with them really hurts!

For over ten years, I’ve been a member of their gold programme. Generally, you turn up in the car park, check your name on the board, find your car, hop in and you’re away. Quick. Efficient. Trouble free.

In our travels through Canada recently, we twice hired a car. In Victoria, as we approached the 25 hour mark of our door-to-door journey, the long wait in the queue ended up the highlight of the interaction. The main issue was the quoted rate per the company email didn’t match the bill at the counter. After some to-and-fro, the assistant gave up, handed me the keys to the car, then said they’d sort it out before I returned the car five days later.

After two follow up emails, the matter still wasn’t resolved by the time we returned the car. In fact, it wasn’t until the end of our trip they relented and charged me the original quoted price. The difference was CAD$250 – not a lot in the whole scheme of things, but worth arguing the point over.

Upon our arrival in Vancouver for the second leg of our trip, same-same. Long-ish queues. Frustrated customers. When I was called to the counter, there was a variance of over CAD$500 between the quoted rate via email and the rate they wanted to charge my credit card. In the fine print, all the taxes and charges are not spelt out on the email quote, which, in my opinion, is deceitful. The big fat number on the quote is the price excluding charges. My mistake – not reading the fine print.

Once that battle was lost, it’s off to the car. Part of the hire car checklist must be to “wash car”, though “wash” is a loose use of the term. Apparently “check windows are shut” isn’t on the checklist immediately prior to “wash car”.

First world rant? Maybe. But have a think about this:

  1. It’s a very simple business model – buy a car; hire it out; clean it up; repeat. How can they get it so wrong, consistently?
  2. If you quoted a job, then the actual price you wanted to charge was 40% higher for no reason, do you think your clients would be happy?
  3. Is there no forward planning of car returns, flight arrivals and peak pick up times? By the way, don’t blame the pandemic – this company was the same in 2013 in Calgary.
  4. Rather than walk everyone out to their hire car and take staff away from the front desk, why not hand them a map of the car park with the hire car spot highlighted? Better still, have a hire car valet whose entire task is to escort people to their vehicles.

Ironically, the hire car company emails a survey after returning the car in Vancouver. Whilst waiting to board the plane, I go to complete the survey. The email link breaks – twice. Five days later, they re-send the survey, admitting the link was previously broken. Go figure! Sounds like there’s a lot that needs fixing to stop it hurting so much in the future.

This Week’s Tip

“What simple things are you doing in your business that make it so complicated?”