**Update** ~ Apparently, they do pay attention to blogs and cyber “stuff”. I got an email and a phone call from the corporate office. The guy was nice and very apologetic. He gave me a credit, which at this point I don’t care about but I appreciated the offer. The part I did care about was his genuine concern. He made a real effort to understand my problem and listen. He also gave me his personal work email for future problems.
Don’t get me wrong, all is not forgiven but at least someone is finally paying attention. The face I had to bad mouth the company in a public forum to finally get a response hasn’t escaped my notice either.
I discovered Zipcar when I first moved to SF. For those not in the know, the concept is simple. Instead of having to rent a car by the day or week, you rent by the hour. Your hourly rate includes the cost of the car, insurance, and gas. The process is also very simple. With registration, you get a card with a digital chip in it. You log online via the web or various mobile apps, sign up for an available car of your choice, show up, slide your card over the scanner, start the car and drive away. Great idea right? It used to be.
Zipcar started out as a bright, fun, spunky little company with a novel approach to renting cars. A niche market for sure, but in a city as dense as SF one would think there is virtually no way to fail.
Where do I start with my frustration? I don’t know if its because they’ve grown too big or just plain greedy. Either way, this fun little company is ranking one step below AT&T for all time worst customer service right now in my mind. Oh yeah, you begin to feel my pain.
It all started about 2 years ago with a car that had a flat tire. I didn’t notice the flat until I hopped in the car to drive away. I made it less than a block, turned around, drove back to the spot and notified the company. Imagine my surprise when 2 weeks later I got a bill for the repair. I called, got a credit, and went on my merry way. A month later I find a suspicious charge on my bank statement. Turns out I got re-billed for the flat. Even though I went out of my way to help, because I physically drove the car before noticing the flat I got tagged with the bill. As disappointing it was, I accepted my part in the process and ate the cost. I figured one hiccup along the way was acceptable.
Sadly, things have gone from bad to worse. I’ve experienced so much frustration since then I’ve lost all faith in the company. Granted, no business model is perfect and one that depends as much on its customers as it does its employees is bound to have problems. I totally understand that. But when I do have problems, the outright lack of concern and open disdain from the employees is not acceptable. More often than not, the line employees seem more intent on putting me in my place and citing policy vs actually listening. Out of the last 10 reservations, 4 have gone smoothly.
Today, I show up to pick up my car and its not their. If the car isn’t in use you can pick it up up to 14 minutes early with no extra charge. My time slot arrives, still no car. I call in to find out what’s going on. I’m already feeling annoying expecting the worst. The rep couldn’t find the car or a previous reservation. After some digging he discovers the car was taken out of service for repair and returned. Apparently not as the car is missing. After some more searching with no luck, he offers to move my reservation. Keep in mind my start time has already come and gone. He ends up moving me to another car 4 blocks away. To be fair, he did adjust my slot and gave me an hour credit. However, at this point neither of which was any consolation. I’m just plain tired of crappy to non-existent service.
I show up at the new location to find my 2nd car parked and ready. While I’m picking it up, I notice the car I was supposed to have is parked 2 slots away. Stupid me, I was considerate enough to call back and let them know where the first car was. The 2nd rep didn’t seem to comprehend. Mind you, I am pretty angry at this point and I’m being none too polite. Her stupidity only made it worse. I finally got her to understand what I was saying or at least I thought I did. As I’m preparing to end the call, she says, “ok sir, I have changed her reservation and your new drop off time is all set.”
Excuse me? No ma’am. One, I was already in my new reservation so she was flat out lying to me. Two, my slot was already adjusted so double whammy. I finally lose my temper, let loose a string of obscenities about her stupidity and hung up. I’d had it.
I’m at the point now where I’d dump them all together if there was a easier alternative. Of course, if they keep this up, someone better will eventually replace them. City Car share has a footprint here but they are much smaller and don’t anywhere near the number of cars or pickup spots.
Customer service is a dying art in most companies these days and to see a company with so much potential fall so far in such a short period of time is extremely disappointing.