Tuesday 21 August 2012

Discount Car Rental Experience

Couple of months ago I took a huge step back from politics and social media. I've been spending my free time concentrating on what I enjoy (rescuing bulldogs) and trying to get in shape (lost 25 pounds so far). I was asked a month ago when I was going to start blogging again. I replied with, "I probably won't regularly blog and when I do, I will need something to really motivate me to get to it". Well that happened this morning with a hugely disappointing customer service experience with Discount Car Rentals.

This is my first and will be my last experience with Discount. In the past I've used Enterprise for various reasons; while on vacation, out of town guests, or for longer day trips when I didn't want to use my gas-guzzling SUV. This time though I needed a rental due to an accident a month ago and Discount was recommended by the insurance company and repair shop. The other party involved in the collision has accepted full responsibility for repairs, rental and my injuries.

Before I get into my bad experience allow me to give you a snapshot of my past experience with Enterprise, so you have a better idea of what I was expecting. There was an occasion when my vehicle had broken down at home and needed to be towed to shop. I called Enterprise, they came to my home right away. I got in the rental car and the rep handed me the paperwork, which I reviewed and signed while he drove to their offices. Once there we did the vehicle walk around, he gave me a quick review of the instrument panel and made sure I knew how to adjust the seat and mirrors. I was then on my way. Whole thing took less than 15 minutes and that includes the drive from my house.

Now for today's experience with Discount. I was told by both the insurance company and repair shop that a rental would be available to me when I dropped off my Jeep for repairs. Last week I booked the vehicle in for 7:30 AM today and they confirmed they would reserve rental as well.

I arrived at precisely at 7:30, checked my vehicle in and the receptionist at shop said she would call the rental company. I was a bit taken aback, I had been under impression it would be there already. I thought, oh no worries, my past experiences with rentals had been simple. So I waited, the representative from Discount arrives (let's call him Mr Jay)  and we proceed to drive back to their office.

It is now after 8:00 AM (when I am due at work). He directs me to "go through that door" and he goes off in another direction. Inside I see one Discount representative at the counter helping a  customer. Let's call the customer Mr Jones.  There is also a gentleman standing near the door, we'll call him Mr Brown.

There seems to be a great deal of confusion going on with Mr Jones. After standing beside Mr. Brown for a bit I ask him if he has been helped or still waiting. He is waiting. I ask how long he has been waiting. Thirty minutes he replies. The Discount lady overhears our conversation and tells me "I'll be right with you. Have a seat".

I take a seat. There are other people seated as well and I begin to wonder if any of them have been helped. I ask the woman beside me "how long have you been waiting?" "About 35-40 minutes". She turns out to be Mrs Brown. Some more time passes and Mr. Jones is now seated too and looking very frustrated.

The Discount lady is at counter hammering away on the computer; Mr Brown is still standing,waiting for invitation to approach the counter.  I ask a young man sitting across from me how long he has been waiting. "A fair bit" he replies in a marvelous Aussie accent. Let's call him The Aussie.

Discount lady throws me a scowl, as if to say I shouldn't be speaking to other customers. I then ask her if she is the only one available?

She replies; "Yes, just me. And you can come here".

Me: "Pardon me?"

Discount rep: "You come here. I need to get you out of here."

Me: "What about him and him?" I gesture towards Mr. Brown and The Aussie.

Discount rep: "They don't have reservations. I will take you so you can get out of here."

I look at Mr Brown and he shrugs his shoulders and says "whatever".
I look at The Aussie, he says "no worries, I have nothing but time."

I approach the counter and give her my drivers license. She pounds away on computer for a bit and then asks me; "So you're not Cory Morgan".

Me: "No, I'm his wife".

She starts to make a big deal of it and then seemingly changes her mind.  We get all the paperwork done and  she yells towards the back of office for someone to fetch me a car.  Mr Jay (who shuttled me there earlier) appears.  He asks her where the keys are?  She replies; "I have no idea. Can you just get this lady out of here."

Mr Jay picks up a clipboard and box containing 20 + sets of keys. We go out to the parking lot. He proceeds to pull each key out, try it and when it doesn't work he throws it on the ground. After about 12 keys he asks me "Hey, isn't this the car I picked you up with?"  I didn't get a chance to reply, I was still amazed at the array of keys in the dirt.  He throws down the entire box, hands me the clip board and tells me to do a walk around and he storms off, back into the building.

He returns with the keys, grabs the clipboard from me and starts to pick up all the scattered keys.  He mutters something about no one really likes working there....... No, really? Could have fooled me.

As he hands me the key, he warns me that the tank might not be full and I only need to bring it back with the same amount. Needless to say it came as no surprise to me when I discovered the interior hadn't been cleaned. On the back seat there was a bottle cap, candy wrapper and a hair band (with hair).

And this is how clear the view is in the rear view mirror. I'm not sure if it's dirt outside or film inside.

Click on image to enlarge

I arrived at work at 9:00 AM a full 90 minutes after dropping off my Jeep, which is only 10 minutes away.

August 24 update

On Wednesday, the 22nd I received a call from Travis at Discount. He is the Alberta Director of Operations for Discount. He had read my blog and was genuinely concerned about the experience that I had the day prior.  He asked what they could do to "make things right" with me.  Given the rental is being covered by insurance, a typical credit to my invoicing isn't an option. He offered a credit towards a future rental. I asked him to give me a day or two to think it over.

I have now given it some consideration and have come up with what I feel is a win/win solution. Before I could call Travis back today, I received a call from Rose. She is the Calgary Director of Operations. I presented her with my suggestion. Rose will be consulting with Travis and then will let me know if it is feasible.

I forgot to mention. Rose did offer to exchange my current rental vehicle with a convertible and even come directly to me to do the swap. I declined, I'm actually quite happy with the current car (sans the need of detailing), which is a Hyundai Elantra.

I will post updates as they occur.

Aug 24, 11:20 AM update

This just arrived at the office. 

Click on image to enlarge

White and milk chocolate covered strawberries and bananas from Edible Arrangements, sent from Travis at Discount with apologies. They were originally destine to my home but I had them redirected to the office, so several people have enjoyed them. :)

And no, this isn't what my suggestion was.... lol