Jul 11, 07, 3:32 pm
I'm in MKE this week on a business trip. I reserved a midsize Sebring/Avenger or similar car. I got to the counter and the agent said "suddenly all my cars have disappeared--only thing I have is a minivan or you can upgrade to a Durango for $5 more per day." I was kind of aggravated....said I don't want a van and my co-worker said well can't you upgrade us to the Durango at the same price since you don't have our requested car? She stated that the van was the upgrade....grrr. Probably a bait-and-switch. I didn't care...company's money. I upgraded and got the Durango.
So off to the garage I go and suddenly there are at least 25 cars there for Thrifty. I go to the desk to get my keys and ask the guy about the deal. He agreed that we'd get a Durango. I asked him "what about this 300 right here?" He replied that it was dirty. As we walk to our Durango, a Dodge Avenger pulls up from clean-up. I say...hey that's what we reserved...can we have that? He said, no that's my manager's car...he gets to drive one home every night. I didn't buy it. They were nice but I didn't believe them. If it were my own money, I would have left and rented elsewhere. I know how that game works. I'll probably rent elsewhere next time.
Aug 24, 07, 12:21 pm
I experienced similar one evening at the SFO BlueChip counter (in the garage). They said they only had minivans and did not try to upsell me. I went out of the office and discovered lots of other cars. They claimed these were reserved for people. I pointed out that one of them was reserved for me. I was soon driving away in a non-minivan.
Aug 24, 07, 8:51 pm
In their defense, I have to say that it's entirely possible that the agent was surprised that there were no more cars. It's happened to me. On some days (today was one) we were so under the wire that people were getting free upgrades all over the place. By the end of my shift, all that was left on the board were three keys, all of which were to twelve-passenger vans. (Hopefully, some more were returned before an onslaught of customers came upon the night shift...)
Right as we were about to go home, we were having trouble finding cars for the last two or three people. One of my coworkers went out into the garage and saw several cars out there, but we had no idea where the keys were. Finally, we ran the unit numbers through the computer and found that half were oil changes and half had been rented but not driven away yet. One was unrentable because a customer had replaced the spare tire with a non-OEM tire, and it needed to be replaced before it could be safely given out.
25 is a stretch, but it's entirely possible that none of the cars was (yes, that is grammatically correct) available to rent. It's also possible for there to be five keys on the board when you go to pull one for one customer, and by the time you get to the next customer, four of them were used by your coworkers renting to other people. Then the "oh crap" feeling sinks in--"Uh, let me go find a car for you."
For a $5 per day upgrade, I really don't think the agent was intentionally trying to do a bait-and-switch. If she was really interested in making a boatload of commission off of the situation, she would have asked for $20 a day or more. I think she was instructed by the manager that the minivan was the next step up from a regular car and an SUV was a step up from a minivan. Therefore, the minivan was free and the SUV was an upgrade. (Both are technically bigger and nicer than the midsize, so, at least from the company's point of view, you can't really complain and demand one over the other.) (Of course, a minivan can, in the right circumstances, also be an upgrade from an SUV for someone needing the room, so when you get to those classes of vehicles, it's hard to determine exactly the procedure for what to do. Same thing with the luxury--if you run out of Chrysler 300s, is a Durango an acceptable upgrade? They may not have as nice of an interior, but they do have more room. These are the kinds of problems you run into in this industry...it's not unlike the stresses a gate agent goes through--read DullesJason's very informative post about how a UA gate agent has to handle fitting all the people in the right places while being thrown curve balls left and right.)
As for the manager driving the car, I believe there is a program--I'm not sure if it's IRS rules, fleet rules, or internal to Dollar/Thrifty or just our specific franchise--that says that certain managers who qualify can opt for a $500 per month plan which allows them to drive any vehicle in the fleet for personal use--one manager actually got the company to lease a Dodge Ram with a Hemi and used that as his personal vehicle.
Re: xyzzy: True, one was reserved for you. But someone eventually is going to have to take the less desirable one, and so if you're willing to take it without a major argument, it saves the agent from a confrontation with an ******* customer later. Again, technically, it's a bigger/nicer vehicle, so the company's perspective is that you shouldn't complain about getting it. (But you and I know that minivans are very rarely considered nicer by most customers...)
Re: xyzzy: True, one was reserved for you. But someone eventually is going to have to take the less desirable one, and so if you're willing to take it without a major argument, it saves the agent from a confrontation with an ******* customer later.I wanted anything other than a minivan. I got what I wanted. I was happy. I've been that last customer, though, and was once walked (by someone other than Thrifty) when all that was left were huge vans.