AirSnark’s Book Is Out!

So a while back I wrote a travel book, detailing exactly how someone who is new to the business traveler world should navigate.  Points this, hotel that, and the like.  Then the book sat unloved for a while.

Well it’s not only been resurrected – it’s published!

Currently the book, titled A Million Miles Amok: A Guidebook For The New Road Warrior, is available in the iTunes iBookstore and from Amazon.  So if you are interested, check it out!

Here’s the cover art:

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Rental cars: Hertz – 30 minutes, Budget – 18 seconds

I think the headline pretty much says it all.  I rented a car last week and this week.  My rental experiences were quite varied.  When Hertz sent me a survey asking about my rental, I responded.  I think this pretty much sums everything up:

Hertz Survey Response

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In which I bid AVIS adieu

I’ve rented from AVIS almost exclusively for the last many years.  And as I said in a previous post, I’ve not always had the best experience.  But now, this is a new low, even for AVIS.

Every few weeks, I get an email from AVIS saying, “Enjoy a free weekend rental!” along with a coupon code, etc.  I’ve used them in the past, and I’ve only ever had to pay the tax on rentals.  This past weekend, because of an incident with our own car and a deer, I used one of my free weekend rentals, just like I had in the past.  I made the rental for Thursday 8PM to Monday 6AM.  In the past, when I have made reservations with these coupons, it’s warned me if the period is too long or too short, etc.  No warning.  I picked up a Toyota Camry (which should have been my first clue, since Toyotas have all been massively recalled, yet again.  I got gas on the way to the airport this morning and turned the car in.

That’s when the guy handed me a receipt for $91.31 charged to my credit card on file.

Now I’m used to paying something for taxes and such, and that’s fine.  But this bill clearly says “Time and mileage: $67.50”.  Now if they started something new, then fine.  That’s their right.  But when you allow someone to use your coupons, and you DON’T tell them you’re actually going to charge them, well that’s bullcrap.

So I have a rental with Hertz this morning.  We’ll see how long they can go without pissing me off.

Oh – and one more thing.  For that previous post that I mentioned, a followup:  Ann from AVIS was quite concerned over Twitter, and someone was to call me “the next day” at the number I gave them.  No call.  No call the following day either.  I got home and had a voicemail on a number I did NOT give AVIS.  When I called, they’d already given me coupons for $75 off a future rental.  Most consultant business travelers don’t pay their rental fees, so these were useless.  The person I finally talked to said he was sorry and that the district manager would be calling me.  He didn’t.  Not that I expected them to.  For most companies out there, AVIS included, customer service is in the toilet.

And one more thing…  Here’s the difference between AVIS and Hertz, in my own findings.  I’ve had exactly two incidents with rental cars, one with AVIS and one with Hertz.  Upon reaching the drop off point, Here was the discussion:

AVIS
ME: There was an incident with the car
AVIS Rep: You know you’re going to have to pay for that

HERTZ
Me: There was an incident with the car
Hertz Rep: Oh my goodness. Are you okay? Do you need anything?

THAT should have been my clue to switch over.  Oh well.

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What customer loyalty gets you (or why AVIS sucks)

Okay, this is frustrating. Hotel loyalty, and you get the best rooms.  Airline loyalty, and you get free upgrades and frequent flyer miles.  But car rental loyalty?  Here’s what 7+ years of renting SOLELY from AVIS at least 45 weeks per year has gotten me.

Take a look at the pics below.  This is the car they gave me in Kalamazoo.  Mud-rally dirty on the outside, and trash on the inside.  And not only that, but I was to feel “appreciative”, because this was a FREE UPGRADE.  It’s harder to see with the clouds, but this car is covered in mud.

Anyway, I take the car (the Kalamazoo AVIS is deadly slow, and they won’t even do the Preferred program, so it’s 15 minutes to get your car – and there were people waiting behind me).  I’ll get it washed myself and take it back to them.

But tonight, I had to stop by the AVIS in Grand Rapids, because they found my TomTom GPS.  In June.  June 10th, to be exact.  I called today when I realized it was not in my bag, and they said they indeed did have it.  They’ve had it for six weeks, My phone number is on the GPS.  My phone number is in my AVIS profile.  They called me when they found someone’s iPod – six times – to make sure it wasn’t mine.  But when I needed them to actually do something for me, they do squat.

Last straw.  I actually send a message to AVIS First customer service.  It’s ignored.  What does one of their best customers have to do to get a response from a company they use?  Well, I guess this is a first start.  The second is to start renting from Hertz.

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It’s all about the customer service

Got good customer service?  Think again.  Some of the most troublesome conversations that I have had as a traveler have been with American Airline’s Executive Platinum line and AVIS First customer service.  These are the ELITE levels of these two companies, and it seems, some of the most incompetent people work there.  Want a real world example?  I just called AVIS First customer service a bit ago, and this was my conversation:

Me: Hi there. I’m coming in on AA 5044 and we’re delayed 4 hours. We won’t be in until at least midnight. I want to make sure you’re going hold the center open.
AVIS: Well sir the center closes at midnight.
Me: I know, but my flight information is on my reservation. Don’t they have to stay open if flights are delayed?
AVIS: If you want us to stay open after closing time, you must alert us 3 days in advance.
Me: 3 days in advance? So I have to know 3 days in advance if my flight is going to be delayed?
AVIS: Yes sir.

This is complete nonsense, but it is exactly what this person was trained to say!  The more and more I work online, the less I expect out of companies.

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