My girlfriend and I recently returned from our vacation in England (3 days in London and 4 days in Suffolk). We had planned a rental car for the Suffolk portion of our trip, and the story below is the overview of our experience that I sent to Avis Customer Service after they deserted us with no car to drive. I’m one of those people that’s very loyal to a given company until something like this happens–you won’t see me making any Avis reservations in the future.
To whom it may concern,
I’d like to offer some feedback and a complaint related to a recent rental experience with Avis. As an Avis preferred customer who rents primarily for business, my girlfriend and I selected Avis for an upcoming vacation to the United Kingdom.
I booked the reservation on January 24, 2012 for pickup in Ipswich on April 21, and return to Heathrow airport on April 25. After booking the reservation, I followed up with a call directly to the Ipswich branch, and spoke to ****** on January 25, 2012 to confirm everything was correct with the reservation (since I was booking it from the United States). I also emphasized the need for an automatic, having never driven a manual (and especially not on the opposite side, shifting with my left hand, on narrow British roads). On April 18, 2012 Avis sent me a reservation reminder that our car was ready to be picked up as booked.
You can imagine my surprise now, when we get off the train in Ipswich, walk across the street to the Avis office and get told “We have a slight issue with your reservation—we have no automatics available”. I then learn that this is the same person that I spoke with on the phone to confirm everything with, and that the car is there but unable to be rented because it has “been pushed back on its mileage” (whatever that means).
Trying to make the situation better she then offers me my choice of anything on the lot, failing to recognize that none of those are cars I can physically drive. She made a rude comment about how if I “needed an American car” she did have a Chevrolet to choose from, and then continued to tell me that I wouldn’t be liable for any damage to the vehicle or transmission. I’m unsure as to if she actually had the power to give me a car to trash with no liability, but that sounded too good to be true and certainly wasn’t something I was going to risk.
Luckily I had family in the area that was able to meet us and take us to another rental company who was not only able to help us, but did so in a professional and understanding manner. Had family not been available we would have been deserted in a foreign city with no means of transportation. As a result of changing companies, walking in and having to accept whatever vehicle they had available, our car rental also ended up costing almost twice as much as planned.
This was certainly not the way we wanted to start our vacation—that alone is bad enough, but the fact that I took the extra steps of confirming directly with the local branch only to still have issues is unacceptable. If this is the type of service you offer your “Preferred customers” then Avis is not a business I wish to do business with, and this will be the last time I give Avis an opportunity for my business domestically or internationally. I’ve also cross-posted this overview of our experience on my blog, and on Facebook and Twitter.
The silver lining to all of this is that we had an awesome experience at Enterprise. They were friendly, helpful, and genuinely interested in helping solve our problem (unlike the staff at Avis who basically said since it was the weekend and many of their locations would be closed for the afternoon they had nothing they could do for us). If you find yourself needing a rental car at some point in the future, I’d highly encourage you to give Enterprise a try. Maybe you’ll learn, like I did, that there’s nicer people out there.
The other interesting thing to note here, is that I tweeted kudos to both @EnterpriseCares (Enterprise Rent-A-Car), and to @ApexHotels thanking them for excellent service on our vacation. Both replied almost instantly thanking for the feedback, but despite the fact that Avis has replies to peoples issues in their timeline for the last few days, there has been no peep from them (since the tweet on April 21, 2012).