Saturday, February 03, 2007

Avis Salvage Some Customer Loyalty.. just a little!

The DREADED Credit Card Statement from our UK trip to see our daughter Erica at Christmas just arrived - nearly a month after the event and all th careful planning not to exceed the limit failed miserably... please pay the OVER LIMIT amount and minimum payment YESTERDAY - you kown how it is.

The first task was to check off the entries... and those cheap London meals AREN'T so cheap when you multiply the £ amount by 2.5 to get Aussie dollars... but Avis got a star billing.

There was the very reasonable £138 for a prepaid hire of a medium car for 7 days. And another less welcome but expected amount of £73 for a Parking Fine for when we stopped for 90 seconds to drop off our luggage at Kings Cross Station on the way to Heathrow and before we dropped off the hire car.

But what got me was an unexpected $295 charge... and I was on the phone in a flash.

After a short time of punching in ever increasingly long phone digits, I was releaved to be talking to a young english woman - Monica - there was somewhere in the world that hadn't yet outsourced customer service to India!! But a fat lot of good that did me.

"Mr Mansfield, the charge is for BRINGING THE CAR BACK EARLY..."

That's right... Bringing the car back early.

As it happened, I had asked by phone before returning the car, what the charges would be if I dropped it off early or took it back to Heathrow, even if I got a discount for being early so I confidently explained this to Monica but to no avail.

Some 25 minutes latter, and an insistence on speaking to someone who could help me the matter was resolved.

Here is a copy of my letter to Avis UK thanking them for their "kindness"... with the whole tardy story recounted for your reading pleasure.

"Thank you Sally for arranging the refund of $295.

I am however VERY DISAPPOINTED that Avis's service came to this.

After prepaying for my car hire I went to Euston Station to pick up the vehicle and here is how it went.

Here is just a summary of my experience:

1. I was offered a "discount" on a full tank of petrol at approximately £50 pound - when I picked up the car - maybe more 60 litres anyway. After driving to Brighton and a few other places, I only used £35 pound of fuel. That is a very unusual way to "benefit" your cutsomers. At the same time I was also asked to purcase the insurance excess buyout was more expensive than the actual car hire.

It was necessary to return to Australia early and we wanted to drop teh car off on the way to teh airport.

2. I rang the Euston Avis Office when I realised that I would be going back to Australia early and was advised that there would be no extra charge for dropping the car back early BUT if I wanted to take it back to Heathrow it would be approximately £40?? I even tried for a discount becuase of returning the car early - always worth a try.

At NO TIME was I advised a of an "early return" penalty and the paperwork I have certainly doesn't mention it.

3. On returning the car, it was checked by the staff at the Avis office and I was expecting, as is the case in Australia, Italy and the US where I have previously rented from AVIS, to get a computer receipt from the handheld machine.

However, none was offered and when I went to the Office, the young lady advised me that there was no more to pay and that my invoice would be posted to my Dianella Western Australia address. That has NEVER arrived.

4. We received last week notification of the Parking fine - which was from the morning of dropping off the car when we left our luggage at Kings Cross Station which as you know is walking distance from Euston and coincidently is waking distance from my daughter apartment in Islington. If we had of been advised of a penalty charge for an early return of the vehicle my daughter certainly would have appreciated the car for those few days.

4a. Whilst not appreciating the parking fine - 90 seconds at the most unloading the luggage - your quick payment and the attending 50% discount was appreciated.

5. When talking to Monica today I was disappointed that no resolution could be achieved without my insistence that I should talk to someone would could address my concerns.

Her "standard" reply was that she couldn't take my word for it and that it would be 5 working days before some resolution would be reached. she also agreed with my suggestion that I should get my Bank to put a hold on the credit card amount, which indicated to me that my chances of an acceptable outcome were slim.

So, that's the long story.... I do appreciate your action to resolve this matter and I hope that you can implement some systems that stop this happening to some other unsuspecting Aussie tourist.

All the best

Wayne Mansfield
Business Seminars Australia

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