Sarah Steffen thought she was making a routine call to Dollar to add a child seat to her confirmed car rental reservation. But the company had some bad news for her: it didn’t have a seat for her — or a car.
In fact, a Dollar representative informed her, she was out of luck if she wanted a car from them. Rent elsewhere.
How could it do that?
Steffen explains what happened to her in an email late yesterday:
Back in April/May 2009, I confirmed a reservation with Dollar rental cars for a one-way rental from Dallas to Oklahoma City, picking up on 9/4/09 and returning on 9/7/09.
I called them today to add a toddler carseat to my rental only to be told that they no longer offer one-way rentals to Oklahoma City. This wouldn’t be an issue, except for the fact that my reservation is for $217 and to make a similar reservation with another company, my rate will skyrocket to close to $500.
This may not have been an issue if they had let me know of this change in advance when I called 6 weeks ago to change my pick-up/drop-off times (due to flight schedule changes), and again last week to confirm my reservation.
I have been through the telephone chain of hell, speaking with reservations, customer service, and their “pre-rental” assistance center with no avail.
Normally, if a car rental company can’t accommodate a customer, it covers the difference to rent a vehicle from a competitor. But first, I wanted to know why Dollar was turning down a confirmed customer.
Here’s what my Dollar contact told me:
There is nothing I can do on this one. Here’s the deal … Just this week, the Oklahoma City location has been converted from a corporate store to a franchised store. One-ways were not a big deal when OKC and Dallas were both corporate-owned. Now that OKC is franchised, it presents problems when they are driving a corporate car and wanting to drop in a franchised city.
Unfortunately, this person is a victim of really bad timing. It’s one of those things that I have no control over.
Dollar said it would send Steffen a few vouchers for a future rental.
Case closed? Not quite.
A few hours later, Dollar contacted Steffen with some good news. She explains:
I spoke with [Dollar representative] Kathleen Hernandez and she offered to pay the difference between the Dollar rate and Hertz’s rate. I am happy with this resolution and am very impressed with her professionalism. She got to the bottom of this issue very quickly.
I’m impressed, too. Dollar did the right thing.
Good thing Steffen phoned Dollar to ask for a child seat, otherwise she would have been in for an unpleasant surprise in Dallas. Dollar should have contacted anyone affected by this refranchising move before their rental date, of course.
Had Steffen found herself car-less in Dallas, she would have had few options for recovering the extra money she had to spend. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that.
(Photo: ragingwire/Flickr Creative Commons)