A couple of weeks ago, I took a trip to see my parents. As they live in a very beautiful if not slightly remote part of the uk, I decided I needed a car. Nothing easier than that, a quick look through the internet showed my a promising site with some nice deals. Having quickly found what I wanted, the car was reserved, and I looked forward to having a roadtrip with my son up to scotland.
Well the day arrived when we were due to fly out. We arrived at the airport and checked in, only to find the flight then had a 60 minute delay. As it was late in the evening I was concerned that the reception might close and rang the rental company and told them that I was going to be roughly an hour late.“No problem!“ was the answer. „The desk is open till midnight. But you can also enter your flight Nr in our app, against your reservation id, and we will be able to see if there are any further delays.“
Well having now been given another hour, what else is there to do? Open up the App Store, search for the app, download the app, setup a user account. All the usual stuff. After running through the standard 10- 15 minutes of „lets get started“ I was able to enter the flight ID against my reservation. Perfect. Nothing more to worry about.
Well the planes delay grew by another 30 minutes, but I no longer cared, it had all been taken care of. When we landed, I optimistically called from the plane to order the shuttle bus, but was told to call again once I had got through to arrivals. -As if they knew what was coming.
We got stuck waiting for luggage, by another 45 mins. 30 Seconds before the luggage belt came on, some tinny voice, which sounded like an extremely poor recording (perhaps worn out through such frequent use) apologised to no one in particular about the delay, for which there also seemed to be no reason given.
Finally after what spent like forever, we walked into arrivals and the shuttle bus came to pick us up. However long the trip had been, I was still severely unprepared for what happened next. All documentation in hand, I was told that the car rental firm I was going to was about 3 miles of site and in fact had no direct connection to the website where id rented the car. Furthermore since I had a delay longer than two hours they no longer could hold the car and had to let it go. Let it go? They made it sound like it was an animal in a cage, 30 minutes longer and would it have eaten somebody? I wanted that car…
But wait, aha, I had entered in the flight details in the app? „Well Sir, because we’re a sub contractor and not directly connected to the car rental site of the internet we don’t get that information passed on.“ They are only a few miles away from the airport and the magic of the internet seems to have circumnavigated this warehouse completely. Its become a blissful information free oasis, except by bliss you mean cheap office space and a monkey behind a keyboard was definitely free of any further information.
It got worse, Yes I had paid upfront to set the insurance down to zero, but that was for the other company. If I did have any damage with their car, I would have to take it up with them first and try and get it back. „You don’t mind us putting a blocker of 1000 Pounds on your visa card do you sir?“, Er. Yes, I bloody do mind. Was there any alternative? Sure, this was such a forward looking and dynamic company that they had already set up an alternative for me, I only needed to pay a waiver of 250 Pounds extra, no sir you dont get that back when you return the car. Talk about hard rock and a high place. „Its all written in the contract sir.“ As well as paying the extra for getting a smaller car, for the bargain sum of another 50 pounds per day.
Suddenly the (mildly) cheaper alternative had become extremely expensive, I felt as if I was being taken for a ride, except not the one that I had ordered. Whilst wondering on what to do next, I watched the same show happen to the next two customers as well, which more or less decided it for me. I gave my parents a call, explained the situation and got a lift with them to their house.
Reflecting on this on the way back to Germany, I was shocked. This had been the first time where I had really been misled through the internet. Up until then I felt fairly invincible, I read up on the tech blogs and keep up to date of whats going on in the web, because it interests me, (and i feel its part of my job too.)
Customer satisfaction created through a web presence is intended to make you the customer feel great and reassured. Its supposed to tick of all the boxes, Modern, Fresh, easy to use, intuitiv and welcoming. Only It gets broken into a million pieces by the actual people who are relies upon then delivering the actual service.
Everything that I was told was correct. The terms of agreement as well as the sub contractor and insurance ’scam‘ were all written into the contract. Not one piece of this single part was shown anywhere upfront in the UI. All placed into the Terms and Conditions which you have to agree to before getting the deal somewhere around page 3.
Seriously, does anyone expect any long term business, by putting „Mein Kampf“ into the second page of their terms and conditions? Its like expecting huge business referrals by being place 51 on a google search.
But I was the idiot, I didn’t read them, and I got bit in the bum. Argh. I hope never again.
If you have any issue with our software, write me a mail, or call me. It’s my business and please believe me when I say I take your satisfaction as my customer very, very personally.