5330 East 31 St CIMS 7080
Tulsa OK 74135
Phone: (918) 669-8588
Fax: (918) 665-5882
February 17, 2005
Dear Ms. Punaro:
I want to complain about my treatment during a rental car return to your Boston/Logan Airport office, to explain why I will never use Dollar again, and why I have gone to the extraordinary effort to receive assurance from my travel agency – one of the biggest in Chicago – that they will never use Dollar for any of their customers ever again.
The issue is a winter windshield ‘ding’ (photo attached) [but not included here -B] which the check-in agent assured me would have been noticed on said car’s previous return/turnaround, and thus must have been acquired during my use of the car. Since it is/was so small, there is of course no way for me to confirm or refute that claim.
But even if it was entirely my responsibility, that does not excuse your employees for their absolutely belligerent and rude treatment of me.
Entering your office, a particularly mean-looking and mean-acting young woman named Barbara greeted me, with her first words being “That will cost you five hundred dollars, at least, for a new windshield. Fill out every line of the accident report right now, including the VIN of the vehicle.” I had thirty minutes until flight time at that point, and Barbara didn’t even offer me a pen to fill out the form. I was supposed to decipher from the rental agreement she thrust in front of me the vehicle’s VIN, rental agreement number, and so on, when I had never seen such forms before. Barbara offered no help, and when I inquired, “Does my signing the accident report amount to an admission of my guilt and my willingness to pay any and all costs, without having any idea of what those costs might be?”, she replied, “Sign or I’m calling the cops.”
Then, I knew I was in real trouble, confronted by totally unsympathetic and hostile individuals, so I explained that I needed to call my insurance agent in order to get advice about whether signing such a document committed me thusly. This delay in signing the form indeed induced Barbara to call the police, and further induced her manager to enter the fray by bringing out a camera and photographing me as I waited for the police and tried to shakily dial my insurance agent. This individual never spoke to me but merely photographed me as if I were a common criminal.
Hopefully, your office will receive said photograph and will understand why your company has lost the good will of yet another customer, and a link with yet another travel agency. Furthermore, if this complaint is not satisfactorily resolved in a timely manner, information about this incident will be provided to the Tulsa Better Business Bureau.
In a service world, such behavior is not only inexcusable, but is just plain insanity for your employees to engage in!
Will said windshield cost $25 to epoxy-patch or $500 to replace? Your loss of revenue in this case will be far greater, in the long run, and that you surely deserve.
One kind word, one moment taken to offer sympathetic explanation of “company policy” regarding such incidents, would have sufficed to lead to a completely different outcome. I suggest you offer more job training (or some psychiatric care), especially for your charming “Barbara” in the Boston office.
Note: The boss is a research scientist at a major U.S. medical school and was on a business trip with a little bit of personal fun (visiting one of his sons, who goes to college in the area) thrown in, so technically this was a university-sponsored trip.
This is almost exactly as recorded on his microtape recorder and transcribed by me, with some cleanup, specific contact details added as yanked from the Tulsa BBB site, and formatting as a letter.
I know there was some arguing in this community earlier over whether or not the BBB is a valid avenue of complaint. However, I believe that it is certainly one of many avenues available, and it has helped others resolve their problems, so it's one of the things I'm doing to make sure this gets addressed. (That is, if Dollar doesn't help on its own, the BBB gets it.)
A friend of mine who worked for Hertz/Avis in college recommends them, says they take good care of their fleets.
I should also note that the repair/replacement cost of such a ding will vary based on its severity, type (pit or crack?) and location. Small rock chips can be filled with filler kits available at AutoZone and similar stores for $5-$10, so that they do not develop into nasty cracks. Actual cracks, especially those in your field of view while driving, often will not pass many state inspections and can't be just repaired, making replacement of the entire windshield necessary, which usually costs between $250 and $600, depending on make and model of the car and whether there is special equipment like rain-sensing wipers, tinted bands at the top, etc. (I'm a car buff and VW fanatic and it cost me $330 to have a windshield replaced when a fellow STLVW.org member accidentally kicked up a rock on a trip to Chicago.)
Rock damage, as the letter states, is accidental, often missed when it happens (though I heard a loud CRACK! and knew something was wrong even though it was the middle of the night), and could easily be missed at first. Holding someone liable for it is unfair -- damage to windshields, paint, headlights, etc. happens all the time. (This is why there are headlight protectors, invisible paint protectors, etc. available, as well as repair kits).
update: Turns out it's a tiny chip, not a crack, way up in the corner, and that before he even got out of the car at the return location, a guy came out with a grease pencil to mark this chip. Now how could they know about it before he even returned the car!? And there's NO reason to need to do a full replacement when it's a tiny chip in the corner! Use a fill kit!