Avis update: all is well that ends well (I hope)

A big "Thank you" to all my friends and colleagues who asked me for an update on what has happened with my Avis Rental Car adventure.

Background
I started this blog experiment after I had unsuccessfully tried four times to resolve a problem with Avis. I signed up for "Preferred" status so I could bypass the rental counter, but I had to go to the rental counter anyway. Finally, I started blogging about my efforts to resolve the problem and my offer for a resolution: give me a free weekend rental and make sure I can bypass the counter on my next rental. Surprisingly, I was contacted by an Avis customer service supervisor named Ray who had read my blog. After some back and forth, Ray emailed to let me know the problem had been fixed and he mailed me certificates for four free rental days.

The Next Rental
My next rental was right where it started in Portland, Oregon. The free rental certificates came in handy since I combined a business trip with an anniversary weekend in the Willamette Valley wine region with my wife, Sally. The sad, sweet irony was that I had to go to the counter to redeem the certificates. Argh.

The Next, Next Rental
A few weeks later I needed to rent a car in Boston during the week of Thanksgiving. It was a last minute trip so I rented with Avis because I didn't have time to search for a new rental car company. Lo and behold, my 'Preferred' status worked like a charm! The shuttle driver dropped Sally and I off at our car and we were on the road in a hurry. The extra time came in handy since we were able to get to the Boston Unversity vs. New Hampshire hockey game and snag two tickets just minutes before they sold out. (BU 4 - UNH 2, ha!) That never would have happened without 'Preferred' status!

What's Next
For now, I'm willing to forget the whole ugly chain of events and become a satisfied Avis customer if the 'Preferred' status continues to work. I have a couple of trips coming up, so I'll let you know.

Lessons Learned
Here are a few take-aways from the whole thing.

  • Customers can sometimes have inertia, even when they are unsatisfied. I know I didn't switch to another rental company because I was worried the experience wouldn't be much better.
  • Companies can turn things around. This story really has turned out better (so far) than I expected.
  • It pays to blog. None of this would have been resolved if I didn't blog about it. (Caveat, if you are going to blog, be fair and be honest. Nobody will be sympathetic to a chronic complainer.)

Avis experiment: It's a shame about Ray

Yes, the title of this post is a reference to that Lemonheads song. Now it's stuck in your head too.

It's also a reference to the latest update with Ray, the person who contacted me because of my blog post on poor customer service at Avis. Ray had identified himself as an Avi customer service supervisor and offered to help me. At the time, I was excited to hear from Ray because I think it is a great way to respond to customers who are ranting about your company via social media. I was also guarded in my optimism since Ray represented Avis employee #6 to try handle this situation.

Here's what happened:

  1. I emailed Ray to give him the run-down on the situation and my proposal: I'll try Avis again if I can get a free weekend and I get the Preferred experience on that weekend with no hassles.
  2. He left me a voice message in response to my email and said he could help me out, but needed some more information so he could sort out the problem.
  3. I called and left him a voice message last Tuesday (September 21) with the requested info.

Then I waited. And waited. And probably heard that Lemonheads song on the radio today which reminded me it had been a week and I hadn't heard back from Ray. "It's a shame about Ray." So, I emailed him back to ask for an update.

Ray did email me back today to say everything should be all set and he had mailed out coupons for two free days (the equivalent to a weekend). Again, I'm cautiouly optimistic, but I've also heard promises like this before so I'll wait to see how it goes.

Background: I started this blog experiment after I had unsuccessfully tried four times to resolve a problem with Avis. I signed up for "Preferred" status so I could bypass the rental counter, but I've had to go to the rental counter anyway. Now, I'm using my blog to chronicle my attempts to see if Avis will finally resolve the issue or cause me to find a new "Preferred" rental car company.

Avis experiment: I get contacted

On Friday, I received an email from someone named Ray who identifed himself as a Customer Service Supervisor with Avis/Budget. His message explained that he had been referred to my blog and he offered to discuss the issue with me and try to make it right. 

Today, I sent Ray an email detailing the situation. I also put my proposal on the table.  I'll rent again with Avis if they can provide two things:

  1. A free weekend rental.
  2. A hassle-free experience that includes me being on the Preferred list.

This is a bit of a surprising development because I honestly didn't expect to hear from someone at Avis. I'm now cautiously optimistic, but Ray's response will let me know if I really do have something to cheer about. I'll let you know how it goes!

Background: I started this blog experiment after I had unsuccessfully tried four times to resolve a problem with Avis. I signed up for "Preferred" status so I could bypass the rental counter, but I've had to go to the rental counter anyway. Now, I'm using my blog to chronicle my attempts to see if Avis will finally resolve the issue or cause me to find a new "Preferred" rental car company.

 

Avis experiment: the call to customer service that goes nowhere

I wish I could build a time machine so I could go back in time and reclaim the past 19 minutes that I just wasted on the phone with Carl at Avis customer service. Carl acknowledged their motto is "We try harder", but he definitely didn't.

Background: I've unsuccessfully tried four times to resolve a problem with Avis. I signed up for "Preferred" status so I could bypass the rental counter, but I've had to go to the rental counter anyway. Now, I'm using my blog to chronicle my attempts to see if Avis will finally resolve the issue or cause me to find a new "Preferred" rental car company.

Today's Update: Calling customer service

I called the Avis customer service line today. Their phone menu set-up should have been an indication of the type of service I was likely to receive. On menu #1 I had to press #5 for "all other inquiries" and on menu #2 I had to press #4 for "all other inquiries". The end result is I'm on the phone for 1 - 2 minutes before I even get dumped into the queue to wait for the next available agent.

After a few minutes, Carl answered the phone. I told him up front about my situation, admitted I was frustrated, and then told him I hoped he was the guy who could finally fix the situation. Carl's response, "Do you know why this is happening?"

**Crickets**

Uh, Carl?! That's why I'm calling.

It went downhill from there. Carl made the classic customer service mistake of trying to find an easy way to get me off the phone rather than taking the time to acknowledge the issue and then resolving the problem.

Here are just a few of tactics he used to get me to end the call without him having to solve the problem:

  • He looked up my account and tried to tell me everything was fine and I should be OK the next time I rented.
  • He put me on hold to "check with someone" and then came back to me and again said everything would be OK.
  • He tried to blame me for the problem by saying I had changed my profile (I hadn't).

I finally ended the call with no resolution, no apology, and not much hope for Avis. Does the quest end here? No, simply because that wouldn't be fun and wouldn't make for interesting blogging material. What it does do is raise the stakes. I now require a service ransom before I rent with Avis again. I figure Avis owes me one hassle-free weekend rental on the house to prove they can get it right.