Saturday, August 7, 2010

Budget Truck Customer Service Sucks, and is also OK...

So the biggest news of the month is that I've officially moved. I have left Manhattan and moved back halfway across the country to a new apartment in Chicago.

No, I didn't renounce my consulting career to run back to Chicago and become a deep dish pizza artisan. Transferring offices at the firm was actually surprisingly easy, it only took about a five minute conversation with a partner. One of the perks when you're working in a transient environment, no one really cares where you are when you're not at work.

Anyway, I needed to move all the stuff from my apartment out to Chicago. Seemed simple enough. I went on Budget Truck rental, who had a location in Manhattan, and booked a one-way rental to Chicago for a Friday pickup at noon. I did this a few weeks before my move, got my confirmation, and was all set.

In the weeks leading up to the move, I started to line up all the other logistical details. I began packing boxes, I arranged for the elevator with my super, I cleared the move day as vacation with my project team, I even got my brother to come up from Philadelphia to help me load the thing.

Everything was all set, just needed to take the subway up to Midtown and pick it up.

I found the lot easily enough, it was the one with a couple trucks sitting around.

My brother and I went inside the office and up to the counter. There was a woman in front of us renting a truck.

I waited patiently while the woman finished up her forms, went outside with the agent and got in a large truck, driving off.

As she departed, the agent came back in the office and I gave him my credit card and license.

He took my stuff and worked at his desk. He worked for a while. Too long, it seemed.

Finally, he came to a realization.

"Oh, I was supposed to hold the 15 foot truck for you"

I wasn't sure exactly what he meant, but I suspected the worst. The clerk then confirmed the worst.

"That woman had reserved a van, and we gave her the truck being held for your reservation"

I quickly thought of Seinfeld, and that I was in a bizarre cosmic rerun of that scene.

I tried to remain calm, explaining that they needed to find me another truck.

We don't have any other trucks

What about those in the lot???

Those are all broken down

What about two smaller trucks???

That was our last one

This round of dialogue went on for a while, me asking how I could get a truck, the clerk explaining why I couldn't.

Needless to say, it was seriously screwing up my plan.

My brother and I quickly put backup plans into action. He called UHaul, I called Penske. Our prospects seemed dim, as it was a hugely popular period for moving.

The Penske woman even laughed when I asked her for an immediate reservation. However, we were in luck, as one office had just gotten a 15 foot truck back and had it available.

Of course, it was in Brooklyn.

So I ended up having to take a couple trains over to Brooklyn and pick up the truck. Not only was it more expensive, but it set us back a couple hours that ensured we left Manhattan for our drive right in the teeth of Friday afternoon rush hour.

Needless to say, when I got to Chicago, I wanted to make sure Budget knew what had happened.

So I looked up their customer service email address (as well as their CEOs), and wrote them a polite but firm email.

They responded, but they responded twice and in wildly different fashion.

The next day, I had a voicemail from the General Manager for the New York area. I connected with him the next day, and he was very apologetic. He agreed that it was completely unacceptable, and that if I would send them a copy of my Penske receipt, they would reimburse me for the difference between it and my Budget reservation. I thought that was fair.

I haven't gotten a check yet, but I'm assuming I will. Anyway, I thought the case was closed at that point. But then I got an email. Two emails actually. Both from the 'Budget Truck Customer Service Executive Response Team.'

Sounded serious, like a crack SWAT team of Indian call center workers. Maybe it's a team of experts, each with a different specialty like an action movie. There's a pilot, a strongman, maybe a smooth talker. That actually is most of the A-Team, but you get the idea.

Then I read their email. Wow.

Budget Truck takes seriously it’s commitment to have the rental truck our customers reserved available for them at the time and locations it’s reserved at. Unfortunately, there are instances when there may be an unexpected vehicle maintenance issue or the previous customer’s plans change causing them to keep the truck longer or drop off at a different location. This is the reason we do not guarantee a specific size, time, or location as specified on our terms & conditions which are accessible on our webpage.

As you stated, the end of the month is a very busy time for moving and trucks are in short supply.

We will also send you via email and apology letter with coupons you can use with a Budget Truck or Budget Car.

We do apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you.


Budget Truck
Executive Desk

I'm still blown away by the content of that message. They may as well have told me to go screw myself. Allow me to summarize...

1. Sucks to be you
2. We never promised you a truck at a time and place, we promised you some kind of vehicle at some point in the future, potentially
3. Here are coupons, because we know you're anxious to use us again.

I'm not even going to talk about the grammar errors in the email. Of course, the next email was also there to distract me from playing language police.

The next email had the subject line

BTR (APOL) Standard CS Apology Letter.xls

The content, was an excel file, that had a little text. The most salient part was the section where they asked me to accept their apologies for any inconvenience I may have experienced due to inventory delay.

Is inventory delay the technical term for 'Your idiot clerk gave my truck away to someone else' ?

Anyway, they also gave me a couple coupons in the attachment.

- 15% off my next Budget Truck rental
- Up to 25% off a Budget car rental

Note: Coupons expire 12 months from the date of the letter

So in the event that I need to move again in a year, and want to take a Budget truck again, I'll get 15% off, which falls somewhere between a AAA discount and a mark down the clerk will give you if you show some cleavage.

In short, the Budget manager seemed like a reasonable guy, but their 'Executive Response Team' is borderline absurd.

Rest assured, I won't be using Budget Truck again. Get bent Budget Truck.

1 comment:

Frances said...

The next time you opt for a pickup truck rental service, you should see to it to read through the fine print as well as check what's under the hood of the truck you're about to rent.