Talk about Friday the 13th. My family and I arrived in Denver last week for a business trip/Christmas vacation. Upon arrival we visited “Company H” to pick up our rental car as we had made reservations to have a mid sized car ready for us. As we walked into the rental office, we heard through the gossip in line that the company had run out of rentals and that wait time for a car, even though we had made reservations, was about an hour and a half. Fortunately we did manage to acquire a car in less than an hour and, for the circumstances, the customer service reps did well. The person who took care of the financial transaction and told us the fee was $335 and some odd change.
The same day we checked into our hotel, “The I”, which is an upscale, beautiful place. My husband’s company was paying for our room since this was a business trip, however the hotel needed our credit card for any room service, restaurant, or other charges that my husband’s company was not covering. Fair enough. We provided the desk with our credit card information and off we went.
Now, please note that in both of these interactions with Company H and I, company reps made NO mention of any “cautionary fees” that we would incur. Thankfully I checked our bank account a few days into the trip. H charged us an additional $200 and the hotel charged us $250. When we contacted these companies, they informed us that these are cautionary charges in case something happens like we ding the car or trash the room. If we keep our noses clean this money will be refunded within 3-5 business days after we return the car and leave the hotel. When we explained that we were not told about this, both company reps responded that it was in the contract that we signed. Really? I’m confident that most people know these contracts have clauses about customer consequences for being irresponsible, but to have some hidden statement saying I, the customer, am going to give you, the company, an interest free loan for $200-250 is not right. (Not to mention that I would have preferred to spend that money while on vacation!)
Legal experts have begun to share a voice with this in regards to the solidity of legal grounds for these hidden terms because: 1) most people don’t read these purposely, overly lengthy legal speaks, and 2) unreasonable terms are not legally enforceable. The legal piece aside, let’s look at this from a marketing standpoint. The poor financial service provided by both companies completely negated the high quality customer service…and I have to tell you that the customer service at Company I goes beyond the front desk. Housekeeping brought up extra coffee and tissues within minutes of my call. The valet parking was spot on speedy, and so was the hotel shuttle. These acts of undeniably fabulous customer service, though, just don’t matter because, in the grand term of “the company”, they screwed us out of a collective $450 that we had planned to spend on vacation enjoyment. Had a company rep told us about these charges up front, I would have been fine with paying it. I understand that companies have to protect themselves from unsavory customers, however not disclosing this information up front is, in my opinion, shady business. It’s unfortunate because I would much prefer to be blogging about them by name and sharing examples of above-and-beyond, truly genuine, excellent customer service. Instead they get a nomination for a raspberry award. The bottom line is a shame on you to the management.
Next week’s blog will return to a positive, uplifting tone. Enjoy the holidays.