Our favourite Jeopardy champion (no, not Watson), Ken Jennings, had a terrible interaction with Europcar which he posted about this week. While it may not be clear whether Europcar was gouging Ken (of course they were), it is clear that sticking a customer with an extra bill or penalty months after using their service, is just terrible customer service. Europcar claimed $165 in a letter to Ken for a flat tire and had charged his credit card. Ken is on a crusade to ensure that Europcar loses at least $165 in potential business for his trouble.
There are at least two lessons here:
1. When dealing with a car rental agency, make sure to do a thorough inspection of the car before taking it from the agency. If there are any obvious signs of damage, point them out to the service rep. A reputable agency will provide you with a generic paper print-out of a vehicle with damage circled in areas that you note. If they refuse do this or there is a significant amount of damage in the form of paint scratches, chips, rust, etc., pull out your camera or smart phone and take a quick video around the car. Start the car and take note of the fuel gauge and odometer. It should take you just a few minutes and will provide you with piece of mind. Upon returning the car, be sure to get acknowledgement in the form of a signed document that the car is returned in the same condition and with the same amount of fuel as was provided. It wouldn’t hurt to take another video of the vehicle.
2. Companies should know better than to take money from satisfied customers when they know it will create a terrible customer experience. This transaction was completed months prior. The press, karma, and bad blood this creates is worth well more than the $165. I, for one, will be very wary of Europcar after hearing from a reputable source. I will also spread the word to other potential customers to steer clear of Europcar and the like. Ken, to answer your question, I think you cost Europcar more than $165 already and it’s been less than a week.
Readers: How do you react when you hear a story like this? Would you rent from Europcar? What other lessons can we take away from this story?