An open letter to Avis

I am no longer your customer. I used to be. In fact, I rented with you enough to reach Avis Preferred Plus status, not that that matters.

I have found better alternatives. Individually, at airport rental locations, the experience was wildly variable – from the best service I’ve ever received to by far the worst. This, I accept, is down to the local employees.
But the reason I left? Your customer service is the worst customer service I have ever received, from any company. Every time I had to call, whether to book a car, change a reservation, complain, or even just find out some information… Every time, I had a dreadful experience. Regularly, I would end up stuck in a circular path where an advisor redirected me to ‘the right phone number’ which just booted me back to the menu at the start of the phone call, meaning I’d have to go around again – with an average of 20 minutes waiting every single time. Trying to call a rental desk would almost always result in being redirected to the call centre, where nobody could help.

The single worst experience I had, and the one that started my dislike of your company, was when I was forgotten for an hour and a half. A staff member put me on hold, and I ended up driving back to the rental agency to continue the conversation in person – when she hung up the phone after I had arrived, the call ended on the phone I held in my hand. Then I called to complain. I was redirected to several different people, and eventually determined that the only way my voice would be heard – that Avis would listen – was to write a letter to HQ. I still have that email. I never wrote – it seemed if Avis were that scared of feedback they’d simply dispose of the letter and pretend it never arrived.

This was the beginning of the end, but the final straw came when I asked Avis to move my account (with its status and perks) to the USA, because I had moved from the UK and it made no sense to have an account in a different country. I was told by three separate people including managers, that this could not be done. My account would need to be recreated and my loyalty status would be erased – I’d have to start again. This is appalling. A global company should not have ‘regional’ loyalty programmes. I have not rented with Avis again.

In fact, and I feel this is required, I now rent with Hertz. They have a global loyalty programme. This meant when I contacted them to say I now lived in the USA, they just changed my address. Same loyalty level, same level of reward points, just a new address. Equally, when I need to contact Hertz – which is very rare – there is always someone on the line within 10 minutes and they are helpful, supportive, and clearly attentive to the fact I’ve called a phone number.

This is how a rental company should operate. Your customers are the most important part of your business – how they’re treated at the rental counter is only part of the relationship. Learn from your mistakes, Avis. It might stop others from leaving.

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