Budget Rent-a-Car: Incompetent and Incompetenter

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jon_Are, Jul 28, 2002.

  1. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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    I am fed up with places of business that sanction poor customer service. I have enough horror stories of incredibly unfavorable encounters with corporations that are riddled with inept personnel that would send chills down Stephen King’s spine. I feel like sharing, so here is my latest adventure.

    My recent family vacation was marred by a business transaction that went about as smoothly as driving a go-cart down I-94. What should have been a simple business affair deteriorated into a performance of what I will call "Iincompetent and Incompetenter".

    This experience can serve as an illustration as to how not to interact with customers. I will let my letters to the corporation’s two Chief Executive Officers tell my sorrowful tale:

    Mr. Miller:
    What should have been a straightforward business transaction with Budget Rent a Car has left me and several family members financially poorer, extraordinarily inconvenienced, and angry enough to tell anyone who will listen to avoid patronizing Budget at all costs.

    My large family group had been anticipating a vacation together for several months. We planned on renting a 15-passenger van for the trip and were excited at the prospect of riding together, minimizing fuel expenses, and spreading out the driving duties. Our trip was to begin on July 13 of this year.

    Approximately one month prior to the vacation, I reserved the van with my Visa credit card. I was to pick up the vehicle the evening of July 12 – the day before our trip – at the Livonia, Michigan Budget location.

    Around 1:00 p.m. on July 12, I phoned the office to inquire if I could pick up the van an hour early. I was astonished to learn from the office clerk that no van is – or would become – available for our use. The clerk (Amanda) offered no explanation, even when pressed for one, and no apology. I explained that I had reserved the van with my credit card one month ago, but Amanda clearly did not care. I asked when Budget was planning on notifying me that I had no van, since I was supposed to pick it up in less than four hours. Amanda replied that I had already been notified (I had not). I asked to speak with a manager, and Amanda replied that the manager, Brian, was out and would return in 20 minutes. I asked that Brian call me as soon as he arrives back in the office.

    Forty-five minutes later, I called again and got Amanda. I asked for Brian. Amanda replied, “he was here, but he just stepped out. He’ll be back in an hour.” I identified myself as the customer in need of a 15-passenger van and asked Amanda if she had given Brian the message to call me, as I had asked in our previous conversation. She responded that he just stepped out. I repeated the question, to which she replied that he had to run some errands. I asked the question a third time, politely and calmly.

    Amanda slammed the phone down in my ear.

    During this time, my wife was on her cell phone with various Budget employees, including the main office and customer service department. She explained the situation and was told repeatedly that there is no van and there will be no van. She was told, several times, that she should have reserved the van with a credit card (which I had done). Eventually, a customer service representative called back and offered us a pair of Lincoln Continentals. Considering that our need was for a single, 15-passenger van, I consider this “solution” absurd and insulting.

    Next, I went to Budget’s website. I typed in my confirmation number The site indicated that I have a 15-passenger van reserved for July 12, 2002 to be picked up at 5:30 p.m. It also told me to enjoy my trip.

    Brian then returned my call. He said the customer service rep had been in contact with him and it was going to be “the two Lincolns or nothing”. I reiterated the urgency of my situation but was again met with a “take it or leave it” position. No empathy. No offer to explore other avenues of resolution. No apology.

    I informed Brian that his employee had hung up on me earlier. His reply: “I can’t confirm or deny that, I wasn’t there.” He clearly had no intention of pursuing the issue further. Is this the sort of response Budget wants its managers to make to a customer who registers a complaint? Or should the manager have, perhaps, apologized and promised to investigate the allegation?

    Eventually, another family member contacted Budget’s corporate office and spoke with a representative, who secured a pair of vehicles for our trip. The vehicles sufficed, but compared to our original plan, they were an extreme compromise. We used twice as much fuel. We required twice as many ‘driver hours’ (this was an issue with us). And we were robbed of the togetherness we had planned on and looked forward to with the large van.

    Upon picking up the vehicles, we dealt with a desk clerk named Candy, who was the only Budget employee we’d encountered who was polite and helpful. She was also the only employee who apologized for our inconvenience.

    I am surprised that I did everything properly to reserve the van and there was no van available.

    I am dismayed that I was not informed by Budget that there was a problem; it was only by chance that I learned of it myself, two hours before the van was to be picked up and 12 hours before we were to leave for our trip.

    I am appalled that I was treated with such indifference, disrespect, and even hostility by various Budget employees.

    I have never before been subjected to such incompetence and apathy in a business situation.

    I am the editor of a local newsletter. My next editorial, still being edited, will detail my experience with Budget Rent a Car. People will hear about this.

    I have also filed a complaint on the website complaints.com, in which consumers relate unpleasant or unfair business interactions. Interestingly, I found many complaints against Budget on the site, three of which I’ve attached to this letter.

    I have also been in contact with Fox2 Problem Solvers, the Detroit area news program that works to expose questionable business practices, about airing a show based on my complaint.

    Finally, I will file a report with the Better Business Bureau.

    I trust you will take this letter seriously. I do expect a response.
     
  2. Cameron Seaman

    Cameron Seaman Supporting Actor

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    Wow.
    Jon, I work for a rental car agency (not Budget) and while what happened with the you reservation's availability happens often, you shouldn't have been treated the way you were (of course!)
    Many rental car agencies will overbook, overbook, OVERBOOK. They don't care if it turns out that a car won't be available, they figure that they will work that out when the time comes. The top priority is to have a high utilization. "When a car is sitting on the lot, it's not making any money". (They are always afraid of reservations not showing up). I constantly have employees from Enterprise Rent a Car come to me at my place of business to see if I can cover some of their reservations. This happens all the time. I used to have a friend who worked at Budget and late at night he would have to put alot of people in Pickup trucks (they had reservations for other vehicles) because their reservation center would just book vehicles without checking availability.
    But this does not mean that you should have been treated this way. Often when this happens (no van) a compromise will try to be made. Most of the time a replacement for a 15 passenger van will be two 7 passenger minivans. If not that, I will usually suggest a discounted rate, and even the opportunity to exchange the vehicle for what you actually reserved from another location.
    They definitely did not handle the situation in a proper manner.
    Good luck! I hope you have their heads on a plate! [​IMG]
     
  3. Bruce Hedtke

    Bruce Hedtke Cinematographer

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    This sounds alot like the one (and only) time I've rented a vehicle. A group of buddies and I were going on a multi-state trip and we decided to rent a van for the trip. This was when the Safari's were the newest models available and we went with that. We were going at a "downtime", so pressure was light and they assured us the van would be available. We signed all the necessary paperwork and left. The following Friday, we went to pick up the van. The manager took us around back (which was strange) and gave us the keys and said "Here she is". Instead of a brand new Safari, there sat a 1975 conversion van P.O.S. The manager explained that, at the last moment, a group of people showed up and rented all 5 of their Safaris. We explained that we had rented the van last week, paid in full and had a legal contract. The manager was clearly getting angry because he thought we were just a bunch of young guys who wouldn't mind getting f*cked over and now that we had the gall to complain, it pissed him off. We told him we wanted our money back, that in his own words, this was the "slow season" and surely we could rent a Safari somewhere else. He said "No dice". He refused to refund our money and didn't even offer a reduction for not having the vehicle available that he promised in writing. Well, we promised legal action and went and rented a van down the road and after having a lawyer call him, we got our money back. It would've been something if on the contract it said "van" or something like that. But, on the contract, he listed the specific type, year and VIN number.
    For what it's worth, this was a Smaltz Bros. dealership.
    I just don't understand business's like that.
    EDIT: Jon, your restraint and approach to this problem is remarkable and commendable. Go right to the top and make sure your voice is heard. Great work.

    Bruce
     
  4. Cam S

    Cam S Screenwriter

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    Jon, your experience is utterly amazing. I am in shock as to how you were treated, despite the way in which you acted, which sounded more than nice. I hope you get what's yours, and a little piece of mind for the next time you have to rent a vehicle.
     
  5. brentl

    brentl Cinematographer

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    Also make sure you have tha copy of the confimation from the website.

    Brent
     
  6. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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  7. Robert_eb

    Robert_eb Supporting Actor

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    I used to work for a couple of rental car companies several years ago. While it's true that they do overbook, in many instances, the previous renter does not return the vehicle the day promised and often keeping it longer. This happens quite often. I'm very surprised about how they treated you. It's amazing how bad some businesses treat their customers. Please let us know the outcome.
     
  8. Chet_F

    Chet_F Supporting Actor

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    I'll keep this in mind next time I need to rent a car
     
  9. Mark Frank

    Mark Frank Stunt Coordinator

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    It is unfortunate that this sort of thing happens all the time with rental cars and hotel rooms as well. My spouse is in the hotel biz and they are constantly having to send people to other, usually inferior, hotels, even though they had reservations.

    On a lighter note, this story reminds me of the Seinfeld episode with Jerry at the rental car agency. Anyone else remember that one? Hilarious!!!
     
  10. Danny Tse

    Danny Tse Producer

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    I used to work for National Car Rental and your experience is not surprising at all. Bad customer service from Budget however.

    Mark,

    You beat me to the Seinfelt reference!
     
  11. Leila Dougan

    Leila Dougan Screenwriter

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    Without trying to take over this thread, Mark reminds me of what happened on my wedding night. We booked a room at a very nice hotel and when we got there they said they were booked solid and sent us to some inferior hotel. They were courteous, though, and paid for our night. Maybe they were extra cautious about creating a scene since I was still in my wedding dress? [​IMG] I'm not sure but it was mildly annoying.
     
  12. ollie_k

    ollie_k Stunt Coordinator

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    Hmmm, UHAUL does the same crap, I had a similar experience when trying to rent a moving truck. Bastards!!! [​IMG]
     
  13. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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  14. PatrickM

    PatrickM Screenwriter

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    Jon, that is one of the worst stories of employee indifference I've ever heard. Hopefully you'll get a response and hopefully not a canned response.

    I know that most rental companies are the same but I would recommend getting a Hertz #1 Club Gold card if you travel alot. Cars waiting in the slot and you walk up and drive away without talking to anyone. Now that's sweet.

    Patrick
     
  15. Charles J P

    Charles J P Cinematographer

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    I tried to rent a U-haul to move two apartments from college back home (mine and my fiances). We called the day before to confirm the truck and they didnt have it. And they werent going to have it. All the trucks had been picked up. The day we needed the truck was also the day that everyone had to move out of the dorms (mid May), which is why we made the reservation in FEBRUARY!!!! After much arguing we finally got to the truth of the matter, which is that they will let any truck go off the lot to a paying customer at the location no matter how many of the trucks are reserved. So basically, you have to be willing to pay for an extra day or two and go get the truck before everyone's parents show up in town. Because the property management companies in the college town have a monopoly and can act like Nazi's, if we hadnt got our stuff out we would have had to pay the whole next months rent X2 plus a penalty fee... $1800+ in the end. We ended up having to go get the truck in another town 70-80 miles round trip rather than them sending someone to get it, and no one ever apologized or anything. I think there should just plain be laws against this kind of business practice.
     
  16. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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  17. Hugh Jackes

    Hugh Jackes Supporting Actor

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    I was looking for a bargain and reserved a 7-passenger van with Rent-A-Wreck. I reserved it in April to pick-up on July 21. The clerk called me on the 20th to ask if I still wanted the van (I did) and then, just before I hung up, asked if I planned to drive the van more than a hundred miles from Orange County. Yep, we were taking the extended family on a road trip up the Central Coast and then to Yosemite. The clerk told me that he couldn't allow me to take the van that he had outside of a hundred mile radius because it was overheating. They had discovered this problem two months ago but didn't bother to tell me until the afternoon before we were to pick it up. To his credit, he did offer me a 15-passenger van (although for more than twice the price).

    I ended up renting a more expensive 7-passenger van from a different no-name outfit that worked out well.

    Not in the same level of disservice as Jon_Are's initial post, but I sure related to his outrage as I read his tale.

    BTW, Budget announced today that they are bankrupt. Good.
     
  18. Peter Kim

    Peter Kim Screenwriter

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    Deleted duplicate post
     
  19. Peter Kim

    Peter Kim Screenwriter

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    Jon...let us know what kind, if any, responses you get from your executive complaints. I've written executive complaints before (not those addressed to the regular customer service/relations depts. - those people are not empowered to do anything) and have received some pretty nice compensations.

    Did you try to augment your letters with calls to their executive complaints/advocacy dept? While I agree that it's best to address your concerns through a well-written and detailed physical letter, any additional fronts of attack can help expedite satisfaction.

    BTW...I'm in the midst of an executive complaint with Qwest, my wireless service carrier. I'm no longer amazed at the lies and aggression employed by large companies when conducting business with end users.
     
  20. Mike__D

    Mike__D Supporting Actor

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    I've had a bad expeirence with Hertz. Some friends and I planned a vaction in Vegas and rented cars to drive to the Grand Canyon.

    We get to Vegas and immediately head to Hertz to grab the cars. From there we drove to MGM Grand. As I pulled out, I heard a clicking noise. Didn't think too much of it and was preoccupied with getting checked in a what not.

    Thurs. comes and it's time for our road trip. My girlfriend and I hope in the car, and follow my other friends enroute for Hoover Dam then on to the GC. I heard the clicking again. We get to Lake Mead and I got out to check the car. I see a huge screw in the tire. I tried to called Hertz and asked if they can send someone to Hoover Dam to fix the tire. Couldn't get through since my cell phone died.

    We get to Hoover Dam and I use the public phone and explained that the car had the screw in the tire when I picked it up. Asked if they can send someone out to repair it. All they could was to send someone to change the spare! I explained I was driving to the GC and the little doughnut tire would be useless and is only rated for so many miles. They told me I should drive back in town to get it fixed. After arguing how in NJ we have people come to your car and fix the tire on the spot (I've had that done a few times), I got nowhere with them. They said to send them the bill.

    Well, I go 15 miles back into town, get the front tire fixed and leave, only to realize the click is still there... there was ANOTHER screw in the rear tire! Turn around and go back to the tire place and got that fixed. Finally, all is well, but I missed the Hoover Dam tour and was down $20. When I got home from my trip I called Hertz, explained the situation and they said they'd reimburse me and maybe take a day or so of the rental charge. I never got reimbursed nor did I ever hear from them again!!!

    Mike D.
     

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