Earlier this summer, we wrote about how Paul was being gouged by Advantage Rent-A-Car on repairs that had to be made after his rental was damaged in a hit and run. Paul was willing to pay the repairs on the vehicle, but Advantage wanted almost double the amount. After we posted his story, Paul was able to get in touch with a higher-up at Advantage who passed him along directly to the Chairman. Here’s what happened.
I wanted to follow up with you about my situation with Advantage Rent-A-Car and the “diminution of value” charge. I called Lauren Wilson [the director of sales and Marketing]. Lauren listened to my story, took down my info, and said she would look into it and get back to me.
Within minutes, she emailed me saying that she had spoken with the Chairman and Owner of the company, Denny Hecker, and that he was interested in speaking with me. We scheduled a call for the following day.
When I spoke with Denny he was polite and understanding. He understood my frustration, but was concerned about my perception that “diminution of value” was a scam. He explained that when cars are damaged, they are unable to sell them back to the dealer under their contracts, and that they can lose money. I listened, explained that I understood the principle, but that I felt that the charges were unreasonably high. Denny said that he wanted to look into the situation on his end, which was understandable since the issue had just been brought to his attention the day before.
Long story short, Denny and I spoke again and Denny decided that he was going to wave the entire thing – not just the ~$2500 in diminution of value, but the ~$4500 in repair charges as well. He said that customers are very important to him, and that he wanted to ensure that I left a happy customer. I thanked him, but insisted that I (through Visa) cover the damages to the vehicle. After all, the vehicle was damaged and I had no problem being responsible for the physical damage. Denny and I had a laugh, he explained that he wouldn’t turn my money down, but that he wanted to be clear that he was willing to walk away from the the entire thing. That it was that important to him. I said I understood, but would pay the damages, just not the diminution of value. Done.
While obviously I would have preferred to have never gone through this, I was impressed with the way Lauren and Denny handled it. At the end of the day everyone makes mistakes, people and businesses, and in many cases what’s important is how the mistakes are handled. Advantage’s mistake here was contracting with Subrogation Management Team, which profits off Advantage’s customers, and not keeping close tabs in the impact this has on their reputation. In this case, in my opinion, Advantage made a mistake but when confronted with it, Denny went above and beyond by offering to wave the entire charge, including the physical damage. He also indicated that he would be reviewing their relationship with SMT.
All-in-all I will probably give Advantage Rent-a-Car another shot and rent from them again, though this time I will probably buy the insurance :)
It’s always interesting to see how the people at the top behave when confronted with unfair business practices. Now if only they could find a way to pass that one-to-one sense of customer service downstream to every customer.
We’re glad Paul was able to get the outrageous $2500 charge waived, because it was calculated by assuming that 49 hours in the shop somehow equaled 22 days of labor. We just hope that whether the fault lies with Subrogation Management or Advantage, they fix it so others aren’t hit with the same high fees.
(Thanks to Paul and Debbie!)