I had an interesting experience renting a car from Avis yesterday. Initially, it seemed like just another example of poor service. At the end, I was pleasantly surprised to see the agent make an attempt at recovery.
This situation was a "moment of truth" because I had just signed up as an Avis "Preferred" member where I could skip the rental counter and go straight to my car. Unfortunately, my name wasn't on the "preferred" list when I got to the rental car area, so I was a bit deflated. I noticed an "Avis Preferred" office, so I decided to go in and see if they could get my rental straightened out.
The agent who helped me definitely didn't live up to the "we try harder" motto. He tried every trick in the book to make me go away. "You'll need to go to the rental counter." (Well, can't you at least look up my reservation?) "I'll have to stop serving you if a Preferred member comes in." (Aren't I a Preferred member?) "You're not in the program until you get your card in the mail - it takes 2 to 3 weeks." (I DID get my card in the mail, now what?) "You'll have to call customer service." (I'll HAVE to call?! Can't you help me?)
Finally, after trying everything he could to get me to go away, the agent found my reservation in the system, verified I WAS a Preferred member, and printed out my contract. No apology was offered, but at least I had my rental car and I didn't have to go all the way back to the rental counter.
The surprise happened when I got in the car and started exiting the rental car garage. I saw the agent leave the office and motion to me to roll down my window. I stopped and he said with a smile, "I think I figured out why you weren't on the Preferred list!" He went on to explain that since my reservation was made before I became a Preferred member, the reservation didn't automatically upgrade to Preferred status. He assured me that I would be all set going forward with any new reservation.
All told, it wasn't a great experience, but I did appreciate the agent trying to turn things after our initial encounter. To me, that's the true lesson. We'll all have moments when we say the wrong thing or drop the ball in some way. What matters most is what we do after that moment has passed.