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July 2, 2002

Try Harder

Ang decided to rent a car for the last week she'll be spending out West. She chose to go with Budget rental cars for two reasons:

  1. They will allow her to drive to Vancouver.
  2. They will only charge her $10/day underage fee (since she's under 25).

So I drove her to the rental office with on my last day with my rental car. I dropped her off at 9:00am and then drove off to find a gas station, to avoid the ultra-expensive gas charge my rental company charges. When I got back, she told me her car wasn't ready yet. The woman behind the counter insisted Ang's reservation had no mention of a trip to Vancouver and that we needed to wait for a car with BC plates to arrive from the airport. She was a heavyset black woman with frizzy hair and a lazy eye who felt no need to apologize. The car would be there any minute. Fine, we could wait. That was at 9:30. 10:30 rolled around before the car actually arrived. At that point a second woman arrived who handed Ang the bill.

$20/day for underage charge. Ang pointed out that she was quoted only $10/day. The woman was unfazed. She arrogantly informed us that $20/day was the cheapest underage charge in town. Who had quoted us $10 then? Clearly it was some miscreant who did not represent Budget, but was somehow put in charge of answering their phones. I then noticed a sign on the counter that described the penalties for paying with a non-American credit card: 2.5% surcharge + the exchange rate decreed by the all-powerful Bank of Budget. Ang was using her Canadian Visa, so I suggested I pay for it on my American Visa. The woman quickly snapped that only the driver of the car can pay for it. Ang reluctantly signed the bill for over $350. That's US dollars.

I could remain silent no longer.

While the lazy-eyed clerk led us to the car, I very loudly enumerated everything they had done wrong (including making me late for work) and topping off the list with their failure to apologize. The clerk stiffened but said nothing. She didn't even make eye contact. I insisted Ang reconsider. It wasn't too late; we could still get out and extend my car rental. We arrived at the car and the woman held out the key. Neither of us reached for it. Ang told her she had changed her mind, and we didn't want the car. The woman led us back to the counter, onto which she slammed the keys. The second woman looked up.

"They don't want it," Lazy-Eye spat out.
"Why not?" the other woman asked, genuinely confused.

Ang repeated my list to the second woman, and insisted her credit card charge be voided. The woman finally apologized, but it was a hollow apology. She sounded like she had done nothing wrong and that we were just a pair of finicky customers who were wasting her time.

We drove to Avis (my rental company) and got a week-long rental for $200. No hassles, no problems. Avis truly Tries Harder.

00:00 | Rant

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