Over the weekend I rented a car from Budget Rent-a-Car. I did so because it was relatively convenient, a competitive price, and prior experiences with them had been satisfactory. Mind you, this all happened in the following context: pressure to get to a flight on time, a boatload of stuff being carried, a cranky child in need of a nap, and a mind splitting headache.
Upon return of the car yesterday, the young man checking me in said “you’ve only driven 71 miles.” I said, OK, whatever is on the odometer I wasn’t tracking since this was an unlimited miles rental. He then said “I’m going to have to add $10.50 to your rental fee.” At which point I give him a quizzical look and he goes on to explain “Unless you drive more than 75 miles our policy is to charge you $10.50.” Why I inquire? “Because it’s possible to return the car with a full gas tank without having fueled up.”
To which I answer, I just put fuel in the car, it was on 3/4 and now it’s full. He responds “Where’s the receipt for the gas?” Now is the time that I make a decision, do I tell him about the hillbilly Circle K that had a broken receipt printer and I didn’t want to spend the 10 minutes waiting in line to perhaps get the receipt while my family is being harassed by the local wildlife (this really was a rough Circle K…) So I say “No, I don’t have it, the receipt printer was broken. Are you really going to charge me for not driving enough?” He hands me the Budget policy stating you’ve got to drive 75 miles or present a receipt for fuel or they’ll charge you $10.50.
The young man is now given a choice, I say to him “Turn on the car, look at the fuel gauge. It’s sitting above the “F” line. When I put fuel in it, it was at the 3/4 line. Do you think this car gets sufficient fuel efficiency to go 71 miles and still have the fuel indicator on “F”? Also, carefully consider this, I rent cars all the time and if you enforce policy without common sense, I will never rent from Budget again.” To which he responds “I’m just doing my job. You can take it up with customer service.”
Budget, no doubt you spend boatloads of money like every other large company on customer loyalty and satisfaction. This is something right out of Dilbert tales of Induh-viduals – I am neither satisfied nor loyal. Here’s what your $10.50 cost you: On average, I rent cars 3 times a year for personal activity (not business, that’s a different number unfortunately…) and each of those rentals cost around $200 on average. I figure that I’ve got another at least 30 years of rentals in me, so doing the math the total addressable Mike rental revenue is: $18,000. Up to this point, Budget was getting every other one, so that’s $9,000 in future revenue traded for 4 miles on a stupid policy and $10.50 of revenue now. I hope you make it last, because it’s the last revenue you’ll ever see from me.