There’s no doubt about various companies struggling in times of financial crisis. There is also little argument about lowered consumer spending. So if you want to keep doing business you have to provide an outstanding customer service to keep clients and to attract new ones – and that has to be just a part of overall picture.
Enter Advantage Rent-A-Car, where I booked my vacation’s car rental through Expedia. Upon arriving at Orlando International Airport I was trying to figure out where’s their desk, since itinerary didn’t show anything about them. Finally I figured it’s out of terminal location (my bad, didn’t read the fine print) and nice electronic voice on the courtesy phone told me that there are Advantage Rent-A-Car shuttle buses every 10 minutes departing every 10 minutes from one of four locations at the terminal.
There were a few people in that location already, but they were quickly picked up by two other car rental shuttles. Then those shuttles came again. Then again. The Advantage Rent-A-Car representative told another waiting couple over the phone that they have four buses out there. As we found out later – he didn’t lie, we saw other three buses peacefully standing on their designated parking spots when we finally were picked up – 30 minutes later! Well, spending 30 minutes under Florida sun isn’t all that bad experience – but I rather do it on the beach, than all dressed up at the airport.
Upon arrival at Advantage Rent-A-Car off-the-terminal location (a convenient 15 minute drive, keep adding travel time) we were greeted by a couple of sales representatives who quickly distributed people among themselves. We’ve got nice young lady who were indeed very friendly. In fact, one thing good about this location is that reps are friendly. They obviously poorly trained and lazy, but at least they’re friendly. We picked gray Ford Mustang with black interior, just to have a bit more fun, turning down more bland cars. All formalities are done (took twice as long since there was this “one system not talking to another system” excuse that I keep hearing for the past few years pretty much everywhere), we started to loading our stuff into the car… only to noticed that this car is infested with ants. Ants were everywhere – in the trunk, in the salon, even coming and going through speakers on the door. They were hard to spot against black interior, but once you saw them – you saw them. Quickly, we got out.
Our nice young lady greeted the sad news with “Oh, our pet got away”. Still not sure what it means, but at the moment I translated that as “Too bad you found out while you’re still in our parking lot”. When pointed out there’s been enough problems with Advantage Rent-A-Car’s customer service already, we asked for another car. However, all they had to offer was either Toyota Avalon or Mercury Grand Marquise. With all the skills we couldn’t pretend to be 80-year olds, so we picked Toyota (is there a more bland car?). The lady, apparently tired of such demanding customers, didn’t even bother to reprint the registration, making some simple hand-written alterations to the previous ones while promising she would come with us to the security guard to let us through. Aside from one of the drivers who parked his bus right in front of our parked car (even though he saw us loading the car), there were no other issues we’ve encountered. We drove off to the gate.
When we were exiting the gate, the was no lady in sight. In fact, the guard admitted that he already diverted back quite a few people who’s registration wasn’t correct or some other issues with paperwork, but he’s just going to let us through, because he’s bored with people in the office doing stuff wrong. So we took off to our resort.
The car we got isn’t quite a pick either. Don’t know what happened to it before, but it jerks on the road a bit, like it’s transmission has run over 200K miles. The speedometer shows only 45K which is okay for a year-old rental, but the car sure doesn’t feel like it. Has dentures and benders on driver’s door, rubber pieces falling off here and there. Not exactly the experience I had with other companies.
My overall experience with Advantage Rent-A-Car in just a single day showed that this is a company that shouldn’t be trusted with your vacation trip. If you just need a box on a wheels to get from one meeting to another – it may suffice (given you’re not gonna get an anthill with it), but if you’re planning to enjoy your ride – pick something else, just don’t go with Advantage Rent-A-Car company.