In many years of renting cars, it seems they tend to be in three categories. Good, bad or horrible. Not much else to describe them anymore. The service you receive when making the reservation would lead you to believe you're going to receive a great car and great service. Don't believe it. If you reserve a Ford Fusion, you might get a Nissan Maxima. If you're told you'll get a new car, you might get one with almost 20,000 miles on it. Think it will look good when you pick it up? Guess again. Most of the cars I've received over the past years needed a better wash, had dings and scratches and were not very presentable. Good Lord, the US rental cars are starting to look as bad as the Yaris from Ireland that went through the thickets with each driver, and they thought the long lines of scratches on both sides were normal!
Some examples of really crappy cars, and service:
- A Ford Taurus where the tire went flat within a mile from the airport. I had to change the tire in a thunderstorm (no cell service) and the rental car company refused to swap the car for another one and wanted me to drive hundreds of miles on the spare "donut" tire! (Not allowed in any case...it's a TEMPORARY spare) I had to call their home office to get them to agree to swap the car out for another one.
- An Oldsmobile with a huge dent in the side and when I walked to the other side, the tire was already flat, yet they rented it to me anyway. That entailed another 60 minute wait to get another car, since they were low on vehicles and had to wait for a car to be returned.
- A Dodge with a dead battery within several hours after I rented it. The rental company insisted I must have left the headlights on. It was bright daylight and the headlights were not on. They would not deliver another car and pick up this one or at least jump start it; I had to ride the light rail back to the airport, take the shuttle to the rental pickup, and pick up another car while they sent a tow truck for the dead vehicle. Cost me a half day of work.
- A Ford Taurus that the steering wheel locked up on when you made a turn. It was defective so every time you turned a corner, the steering wheel would not release and you had to force it to come straight. Rental car company wanted me to keep driving it, but to drive slow! Really bright!
And those are only the really bad ones I can think of off hand. The latest one was just a piece of junk. A 2010 Nissan Altima with over 17,000 miles on it already, scratched, gouged, front end road rashed, and dirty. The positives were that it had comfortable seats and a big trunk.
Add to the cars that are sub-par, the staff at many of the rental places, and the entire experience is less than ideal. Some are actually surly, and on the latest rental, the attendant at the exit, who simply checks your contract to be sure you're not stealing the crappy car, wouldn't lift his ass off the seat to provide assistance. Yet the rental companies send you thank you e-mails? Send me a survey and let me tell you what I really think of your service!
Folks, that's one of the problems in America today. Service industries forget what the word service means. They can't figure out why people quit using their "service" and go somewhere else because they didn't provide the service they promised. But the big issue is that so many have defaulted on providing a level of service commensurate with what they charge, and promise, that the public doesn't know where to turn anymore. And that loss of public confidence starts a downward spiral that's hard to recover from. Factually, some companies don't deserve to recover at all.