Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Advantage and disadvantage

Public transportation in California, USA is such that one needs to rent a car to get around.
For example, to go from Los Angeles to a town like Temecula, that is located in between Los Angeles and San Diego, only the private Greyhound buses are the option as a form of public transportation.
But they go that infrequently that to think to go by bus to Temecula from Los Angeles is unrealistic.
To this comes that hardly any trains are available in most regions of California, USA.

Renting a car is easy and not expensive.
Within a few minutes a good deal can be made through websites like Orbitz.
Where one can compare prices easily and book the best deal.

The rental car company called "Advantage" offered a Ford Focus for $ 13.97 a day with all miles free.
The best price of all rental car companies on the internet and therefore they got the business.

But once in the office of "Advantage" near Los Angeles International Airport there was a strange surprise.
The Ford Focus was there indeed.
And the price was $ 13.97 also.
But the person working at the "Advantage"-office near Los Angeles International Airport
informed that the Ford Focus was equipped with Sirius Satellite Radio.
And that this would cost $ 5 a day extra.
Obviously the answer was that no Sirius Satellite Radio was needed.
The Ford Focus also had a regular radio with FM and AM, so why spent $ 5 a day for something that was not of any use?
An amount that increased the daily rate for renting the car with 35 %.
While it is known that a subscription to Sirius Satellite Radio is costing only $ 15 a month.

But the person working at the "Advantage"-office near Los Angeles International Airport
explained that there was no option but to take the car and pay the 35 % extra.
In spite of the agreement as was made through Orbitz.

Obviously this is a sneaky way of "Advantage" to make extra money.
If they rent the car for 30 days a month, they make $ 150 minus $ 15 is $ 135 extra.
Denying any preference of the customer.

The person working at the "Advantage"-office near Los Angeles International Airport
said that he could do nothing about it.
That the "Advantage" Customer Service needed to be called to complain.
And that sometimes they would deduct the costs of the Sirius Satellite Radio from the customer's invoice charged to the credit card.

So why not call the Customer Relations of "Advantage" rent a car?
A toll free number.

The effort was made during half an hour.
And the caller was getting nowhere.
Because a real person is only available to talk to at "Advantage" rent a car in case one wants to make a reservation.
But for all other matters a computerized voice explains other choices of connections that all end up saying that the customer has to call the office where the car was rented.
While the people at the office where the car was rented suggest to call the Customer Relations.
In that way a full circle is made: the customer simply can't complain.

It is not about the money of course in this story.
But it is about how a company is doing business.
How customers are squeezed out of their money indecently.
Not much money, but enough to remain with a bad feeling and the promise never to rent a car anymore from "Advantage".


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why not pay by credit card and then challenge the charges when the bill comes.