Since 2004 I have been renting cars and using Avis as my first choice. For the most part Avis was my first choice when I traveled throughout the Continental U.S. When my daughter was born, I decided to cut travel down and spend more time at home. But now that I live near the Isla Verde Airport in San Juan, I have been renting more while at home.
Instead of putting wear and tear on my old car, I rather go grab a vehicle for long distance trips for a day or two around the island. This happens at least once a month.
Why Was I So Loyal to Avis?
Most people ask me about my loyalty to Avis. My friends Go online to a travel website and pick the cheapest car rental option. Even if there is a cheaper option, I would not know because I go directly into the Avis website and book.
The main reason is because Avis has always taken care of me. They have been there for me when there were no cars available during big festivals like SXSW in Austin, Texas or after the national disaster like Hurricane Katrina, in Jackson, Mississippi.
Taking Care of us During Katrina
My co-workers use to make fun of my loyalty to Avis until they where stranded in Jackson, Mississippi just after Katrina had hit the region.
My team had decided to book on Hertz and Emerald. Two of my team members ended up not getting a car. Both of them had confirmed reservations. My flight got cancelled that night and I was landing the next day.
Our biggest hurdle was that most car rental companies had rented out their cars to the Government agencies working out of Jackson, Mississippi.
I made a few calls and in a matter of minutes Avis was able to get my co-workers a car and upgrade them to a sweet ride. They also assured me they would have a vehicle for me waiting the next day.
So while Avis competitors could not get one car for people they confirmed, I was able to get two with one confirmation via Avis.
Since that day, Avis won my loyalty and I would have not rented a car from any other company. When I was traveling for work, 50+% of the year was as an IT Security consultant and 100% of my time I was driving an Avis Car.
When a company treats my that well, I feel I have to repay them by renting more and referring others.
Getting a Rental During a Big Event
Another example is how my friends arrived to Austin, Texas for the SXSW Interactive Festival. They had to Drive to San Antonio to get a car rental at a reasonable price. I visited the festival 5 times and on four occasions, I rented from Avis and got a great deal from the Austin location.
Avis Policies Seem to be Different at the Avis in Isla Verde
For the past 3 years the closest Avis location to me is at the Intercontinental in Isla Verde. Every few weeks I go and pick up a car for the weekend. We visit our family members who are two hours away and we venture around the island as tourist.Are @Avis policies different for #Puerto Rico than anywhere else in the world? Click To Tweet
I must be doing something Wrong
On almost every occasion I rent from this particular location, I get complaints on how I made my reservation late and I have to hear how I did something wrong from one of the employees. I know for a fact that the Avis system is not broken. It works like a charm everywhere else except this location. It also happens to be with one particular employee at the counter.
That same employee hardly ever gets my reservation right.
It is not strange to arrive at the counter at their opening hours and have to wait for that person to open.
Once the employee arrives, I have to stand there and let her vent. The complains are about me either picking up the car to early or making my reservations with less than 72 hours notice.
Since my objective is getting a car and moving along, I just try to be as patient as possible. I usually wait a good 20-30 minutes while I get my car once the employee arrives (usually past opening time).
So if I arrive at 8:00 am when they are supposed to open, the earliest they open is at 8:10am and another 5-10 minutes of getting ready. Then I have to wait the additional 20-30 minutes because I’m usually the first one and only one in line.
It’s not any different when returning the car. I usually have to wait to return the car. It is normal for a hotel employee to approach me and take the car and rental agreement from me. I have a suspicion they know that desk employee hardly ever opens on time.
Confirmation in Hand + Rude Unprofessional Employee = No Car Rented
On Friday March 18th, I decided to rent a car at about 7pm in the evening. I went online and checked if they had cars available and they did. I booked my reservation and was confirmed for pickup the following day.
The next day I arrived at the location at around 8:05 am and there was nobody at the desk. Minutes later, I get the employee walking over with her coffee in hand.
The complaint and venting routine started immediately. I was told they had not seen my reservation, that I must have booked my reservation after they left work, they were late because they were talking in the lobby, and finally tells me flat out they don’t have a car for me (I had a confirmed reservation.)
I am so use to the employee’s rants, that I listen to the complaints and go along with them. I sometimes feel like I am the one dealing with the customer. Except in this case, I am at the other side of the counter.
Playing along with the usual behavior, I reminded the employee that I have a confirmed reservation and I need my car.
At that moment a tourist came behind me and she skips me to take care of the tourist. It was bad enough waiting for the employee to arrive late, now I’d been skipped over by someone who had just arrived.
I am all about hospitality with our tourists, but in this case we were both paying customers. The employee continued the rant while taking the information from the tourist.
The employee called her co-worker to see if there was a car. At this point, I am was very frustrated so I was not enjoying any bit of the unprofessional humor. I confirmed with the employee that they had enough cars, but the employee at the counter acted like they were doing me a favor by searching for an available car.
First Cancellation at the Counter in over 12+ years
The employee kept on her rant in front of the customer that should have been waiting behind me while I got my car.
I politely asked her to cancel my reservation. I left very disappointed and called Avis directly. I was told by the representative they had plenty of cars and they could not understand why I was not given one.
I would say a pretty accurate guess is that given the employee’s tardiness, the cars might have been in the parking lot and was not ready. On at least 50% of the occasions I rent a car from that location, the car is not completely clean.
This makes it even funnier when that same employee asks me to make sure the car is clean when I return it. You would think they are joking, but no they rather have the customer work for them than serving the customer.
Canned Response from Avis Customer Service
I went my way and decided not to rent from Avis that day. I complained on Twitter and Facebook. The folks from the Social Media team asked me to email them. Hours later, they responded with a canned response that showed how little they cared about my business.
Avis Tries Harder? In my opinion not anymore
More than a week has gone by and I have not gotten one real response from Avis. Even after sending them the information they requested.
Avis Customer Service also told me that I needed to send my concerns directly to someone in charge of the Puerto Rico branch.
I am sure the old Avis that earned my love and loyalty would have found a solution. They also would have rerouted my communications to the person in charge.
So far the canned responses from Avis show me they might not care as much as they use to for my business.
What Happened to the Car Rental Company I Loved?
Years ago Avis was there for me and my colleagues when it was very difficult to get a car. The Avis folks came through and took care of me.
Avis had been always there for me on many occasions.
After a week of waiting on a response from Avis, I might start doing as many others and just looking for the best, cheapest deal online.
It seems Avis has no loyalty towards me so why should I have loyalty towards them.
By sending a canned response or nonresponse to a loyal customer, they lose my loyalty.
By allowing one location to slip, they impact the whole Avis brand.