Everyone complains about air travel during the holidays. Soul-sucking airports, cramped seats and unexpected delays can ruin everyone’s weekend. But these disadvantages cannot take into account the car rental experience outside the airport. Most locals can’t even begin to grasp the horrors of this world, but those of us in the New York market know all too well how these parking outposts invite nothing but the madness.
Because you would think that a major car rental brand would provide some degree of brand consistency. A quarter pound is a quarter pound wherever you go. Unless it’s a Royale with cheese. But the point is the brand and the expectations it carries. Airport branches allow you to walk directly onto the grounds and follow a sign with your name on it to a parked car. Wouldn’t a border office in the city center offer the same convenience?
Or maybe the problem in this case was too much brand consistency.
Professor Kate Klonick teaches property and Internet law at St. John’s Law School. But she knows enough about contracts to know when she’s getting jerked off. Over the holiday weekend, Klonick embarked on New York’s centuries-old tradition of renting a car from the local Hertz office before finding out that the office was closed at the time of booking.
After the clerk helped some but not all Among the many who also showed up for reservations after the store closed, Klonick entered the Lovecraftian nightmare of phone customer service by hanging up, teased with cars in remote locations, and ultimately demanded to shell out more. $ 1,800 to enter the car she had already reserved. In the end, Klonick ended up in a dirty Kia… a day late… and still charged about $ 600 more than the original fare. Maybe if they unplug Tom Brady, they’ll have enough room to make their reservations.
If this confuses you, you’ve missed New Yorkers trying to tell you about it for almost 30 years.
If you don’t have time for the video …
Jerry: I don’t understand. Do you have my reservation?
Car Rental Agent: We have your reservation, we just ran out of cars.
Jerry: But the reservation keeps the car here. That’s why you have the reservation.
Rental Car Agent: I think I know why we have reservations.
Jerry: I don’t think you do. See, you know how to * take * the reservation, you just don’t know how * to * hold * the reservation. And this is really the most important part of the reservation: the outfit. Anyone can take them.
Here’s the whole story in Klonick’s words:
The accomplished law professor: Never. Stop. Detection of problems.
But, as Klonick points out, if her complaint hadn’t gone viral, she might not have gotten anything from the company. Did his compatriots in the Brooklyn Hertz office that first day get the help they needed? She asked the service rep who responded to her after the story rose to prominence:
Oh, an “executive” email for the serious customer service complaints.
All kidding aside, this is a serious PR blunder for Hertz. Shares of the company have fallen about 18% over the past month, and major news organizations detailing their customer service failures and their jaded approach to extorting desperate vacationers to pay massive additional fees are not helping. Perhaps this is an opportunity for the age-old brand to return to its roots and remind us of its glory days as a trusted national supplier.
Maybe bring back a classic spokesperson. Someone who everyone remembers as a synonym for the brand.
A Hertz customer’s Thanksgiving reservation gone wrong was every rental car nightmare wrapped in a [Washington Post]
Joe Patrice is editor-in-chief at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe is also the Managing Director of RPN Executive Search.